Getting out and about: ideal day-trips just outside London


There are myriad reasons why people come to the UK capital (some do so for work engagements, perhaps visiting the likes of Barbican meeting rooms); others purely for leisure with their families. And others still will do so for days out of London as well as to see all there’s see in the city itself. Here are a few examples…

Legoland Windsor

(Winkfield Road, Windsor SL4 4AY)

A theme park that’s unique when compared to all others, in the sense that it’s driven by a commitment to engaging and captivating the imagination and creativity of children of all ages – that is, it’s focused around and dedicated to all things Lego. For, yes, here your little tykes can discover how to drive a child-sized Lego car, pan for (ahem) Lego pirate gold, ride a full-sized dragon on the Dragon Coaster or be bold and take on the Pirate Falls. And both kids and parents alike will doubtless be charmed – and feel a satisfying sense of familiarity – by the fact that the park’s packed full of large Lego sculptures inspired by recent cultural developments.

All in all then, with its 50 approx interactive rides, ‘driving schools’, building bricks workshops and even live shows – not to mention its 150 acres of glorious countryside – this is an established attraction not to be missed, especially if your children are of the age when they’re just starting to discover how much they can get out of when playing, building and learning the world around them via those ubiquitous little plastic bricks. And, of course, the attraction’s merely a few miles outside Windsor itself – more than worth visiting for the iconic castle (The Queen’s favourite of her residences), the beautiful parkland that surrounds it and the village of Eton, home to the world-famous, ornate school.

Thorpe Park

(Staines Road, Chertsey KT16 8PN)

Alternatively, if your kids are that bit older, then you should definitely think of heading Thorpe Park-wards for a day out of town during your short-break in the capital (no doubt staying at the likes of London Suites By Montcalm). For, at this amusement park, it’s all about the excitement and adrenaline generated by white-knuckle rides like Stealth (the fastest roller coaster in the whole of Europe), Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Detonator and Vortex. Yes, with names like those, it’s obvious what you’re letting yourself in for – getting propelled 205 feet into the air and accelerating from 0-80mph in under two seconds! Indeed, the rather obliquely named X: No Way Out is generally referred to by those in the know as ‘Blackwards’; why? Because it’s the only backwards in-the-dark roller coaster you’ll find on the face of the planet.

Now, granted, all these diving, swirling and corkscrewing rides with all their scream-inducing reactions are an acquired taste (not everyone’s stomach is made for them; quite literally!), yet Thorpe Park does also offer its fair share of less hair-raising activities for smaller visitors – and those who definitely aren’t adrenaline junkies – on its sizeable 50 acre site. That said, don’t doubt it; kids tend to love the throw-them-this-way-and-that rides on offer; apparently one 13-year-old has ridden Stealth 49 times in just one year!

Harry Potter: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

(Aerodrome Way, Leavesden WD25 7LS)

Finally, one for Potterheads, both big and small and die-hard and casual; this one – as it presents visitors with the chance to walk around and examine the very sets on which were filmed the hugely successful and ever-popular series of movies adapted from J. K. Rowling’s timeless novels. You can also see with your own eyes many of the costumes and props that contributed so enormously to the finely-realised world of the cinematic Harry Potter, as well as learn all there is to know about the visual effects and animatronics deployed on the films. All housed under the roof of Leavesden Studios (a short 20-mile hop outside the capital itself), you can catch a coach – its journey’s included in the booking entry price – from Victoria coach station, right in the heart of Central London, and be back in the evening in time for a slap-up dinner at one of the restaurants London City. Magic!