Some of the most memorable family day trips have incorporated our daughters’ favourite characters (Peppa Pig World and the Stick Man theatre show for starters). In London you don’t have to go far to find literary inspiration: from Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street to Harry Potter’s platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to name a few. But take a day trip out of the city and there’s plenty for book-lovers within a train ride or car journey from London. Here’s some of my top picks for kids and big kids alike.

1. Step onto the Harry Potter set with the Warner Bros Studio Tour

Can you believe it’s 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was published? Hard to remember a time without J.K. Rowling’s books. Together with the accompanying films they have become ingrained in our culture and children continue to be obsessed with the boy wizard and his friends and foes. For a fully immersive experience head to Leavesden studios for the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Step into the authentic sets from the feature films, check out the Hogwarts Express and the new addition, The Forbidden Forest, where you can discover fantastical creatures.
By car, the studios are three miles from M1 and M25 motorways. By train, from Euston get to Watford Junction where shuttle buses operate to the studios

Harry Potter Hogwarts Express And Platform 9 3/4

2. Delve into the world of Roald Dahl in Great Missenden

With the stage musical Matilda performing to audiences in the West End and the BFG now a Spielberg film, Roald Dahl’s place on book shelves isn’t going anywhere. Take a day trip to the author’s home village, Great Missenden, where Dahl created many of his famous characters. Spend time at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre which brings his quirky creativity to life. As well as his old writing shed and rooms detailing the story of Dahl’s life, there’s story telling and craft sessions and the opportunity to get creative by making up your own word or story. It’s on our list of places to go but Cathy from MummyTravels recently visited with her daughter.
By train, Great Missenden is 45 minutes from London Marylebone
Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden

3. Play pooh sticks like Winnie and his friends in Ashdown Forest 

Fancy walking in the footsteps of childhood favourite Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends? Then take a trip to Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, where AA Milne created Hundred Acre Wood (in real life called Five Hundred Acre Wood). You can follow trails in the pine plantation and play pooh sticks on the same bridge as the real Christopher Robin.

Playing Pooh Sticks in Ashdown Forest, Sussex

Search for heffalumps and woozles and see if you can find the North Pole. The Pooh Corner shop in the nearby village of Hartfield will serve you cream tea and as much Winnie-the-Pooh paraphernalia you can afford. You can also pick up walking routes and maps there. Clare from Suitcase and Sandcastles has written a brilliant guide on visiting the area.
By train: Take the train from London Victoria to East Grinstead or from London Charing Cross go to Tunbridge Wells. From either town, take a taxi or ride the 291 bus to Hartfield Village.

4. Meet Peter Rabbit and play in his adventure playground

Childrens’ animal characters don’t get more iconic than Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. While Beatrix Potterland in Cumbria is a bit of a journey from London, Peter Rabbit himself is just a short journey away. Head to Willows Farm where you can meet Peter and his friends and play in the world’s only Peter Rabbit adventure playground.

Peter Rabbit and Friends at Willows Farm

My daughter loved playing in the creative space while getting to meet Benjamin Button, Peter and Lily. As well as the playground, there are shows at the indoor theatre, animals to feed, trampolines, an inflatable slide, a huge soft play area and pretty much anything a child could wish for. The gift shop, filled with cute Peter Rabbit merchandise, will also be hard to resist.
By car, Willows Farm is just off the M25 at junction 22. By tube go to High Barnett and the 84 bus. By rail go to St Albans and 84 bus.

5. See Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales brought to life 

It may have been one of the less popular texts to study at school but Geoffrey Chaucer was a literary pioneer referred to as the Father of English Literature. Learn more about the poet and his most famous work in the cathedral city of Canterbury. Take a guided tour with the Canterbury Tales visitor attraction which brings the text to life with costumed actors. This is a fun, interactive addition to stuffy classroom lessons for older children learning about Middle English.
By train: Canterbury is around 50 minutes from London’s St Pancreas.

Canterbury Cathedral: Day trips from London

6. Visit Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Talking of greats, Stratford-Upon-Avon is the place to get your William Shakespeare fix. The Bard was born in the picturesque riverside town in 1564. Visit the house where he was born as well as the homes of his daughter and love interest Anne Hathaway. You can also visit Holy Trinity Church where he is buried and watch one of his works performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre.
By train: Fastest route is from London Marylebone which takes 2 hours

Shakespeare's Birth Place, Stratford-Upon_Avon

7. Go on a Famous Five Garden Adventure at RHS Wisley

Enid Blyton’s child sleuths turn 75 this year. I was a huge fan of the series as a child and have written about places where you can create your own Famous Five adventure. One of those is Wisley Gardens in Surrey. Along with three other gardens owned by the Royal Horticultural Society, it will be celebrating the anniversary of the first book, Five on a Treasure Island. During the summer holidays (July 22 to September 3), Famous Five themed events will take place for  Five Go On A Garden Adventure. It will include self-guided activity trails, crafts, shows and cookery (treasure biscuits anyone?).
By car, Wisley is off the M25 at junction 10. The nearest train stations are West ByFleet (4 miles) and Woking (7 miles).

New Famous Five book cover illustrations

8. Discover the door to Narnia in Oxford

The Chronicles of Narnia featured highly in my childhood (mainly thanks to the BBC adaptations). C.S Lewis lived and worked in Oxford where he had a teaching post at the university. If you’re a fan, don’t miss the magical door which leads into the world of Narnia. The real one has golden fawns on the frame, looking down on you. But, it isn’t a wardrobe door (sorry for the spoiler). It does mean you get to see it in all its glory at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. For an in-depth guide of Lewis’ Oxford there are walking tours which take you through the architecture and locations believed to have fuelled the author’s inspiration. They include the pub, the Eagle and Child, where he’d have a pint with another well known author, J.R.R Tolkein. Imagine the conversations they would have had!
By train: Fastest route to Oxford is from London Paddington which takes just under one hour

9. Go Gruffalo hunting

Julia Donaldson’s books are a firm favourite in our house. To help bring her characters to life as well as get children out into nature, the Forestry Commission has created trails featuring her most popular characters. The Gruffalo is currently lurking in their deep dark woods. Nearest trails to London include Wendover Woods, Bedgebury Pinetum and Alice Holt Forest in Surrey. Download the Gruffalo spotters app before you go and see the characters brought to life with the aid of technology. Spotters Activity Kits are also available at the visitor centres (£3). For more Gruffalo fun, Chessington World of Adventures has the world’s first Gruffalo ride.

10. Discover Jane Austen in Bath

It’s 200 years since Jane Austen died but her books continue to delight and educate. Take a day trip to Bath where the author wrote Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Visit the Jane Austen museum where you can dress up, have tea and learn about Austen and the Regency era she wrote about. If you are there in September, you may catch the Jane Austen festival which includes a costumed ball. If you are a super fan, read my must-see UK locations for Jane Austen fans.
Bath is an hour and a half train journey from London Paddington

Three women in period costume at the Jane Austen Festival

See Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

If your day trips to the likes of Bath and Oxford mean you’ll be leaving from Paddington station, make sure you say hello to Paddington Bear. He’s sitting on his suitcase alongside Platform 1, waiting for someone to take him home. The bronze statue of the beloved bear takes on an added poignancy following the death of Paddington author, Michael Bond, earlier this year. I’d take him home….if I could lift him!

Bronze statue of Paddington Bear, London, Michael BondHave you visited any of these locations? What other literary day trips have you taken or would like to take from London?

*Disclosure: I am working with VisitEngland as part of the Year of Literary Heroes, looking at the best travel across the country for those who love books. Check out the #bookengland tag to discover more and share your experiences.

** Pictures courtesy of Wander Mum, VisitEngland and Pixabay

CulturedKids
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78 Comments on Day Trips From London For Book-Loving Kids

    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:47 pm (4 months ago)

      I must do Oxford again soon!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:46 pm (4 months ago)

      The Harry Potter books have a place in so many people’s childhood! I’m looking forward to re-reading some of my favourites with my daughter.

      Reply
  1. TraveLynn Family - Jenny
    July 4, 2017 at 8:48 am (4 months ago)

    What a wonderful collection of activities for kids! You’re making us rather homesick 😉 Before we moved overseas, we lived close to Canterbury. Never visited the Canterbury Tales as we thought the boys to young. Perhaps we will go on our next visit home 🙂 #citytripping
    TraveLynn Family – Jenny recently posted…Top 5 tips for travelling with young kidsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:48 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you Jenny! That’s a good idea, it looks like a fun experience. Canterbury is a beautiful city.

      Reply
  2. Wilbur
    July 4, 2017 at 8:55 am (4 months ago)

    The Summer holidays are just too short! Some great ideas there. Amazing that you got a people free shot of the Hogwarts Express. Wilbur #citytripping
    Wilbur recently posted…Jordan’s Jewels – Part OneMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:49 pm (4 months ago)

      I love Bath and the Austen centre! Great place.

      Reply
  3. Lolo
    July 4, 2017 at 9:52 am (4 months ago)

    I loved Peter Rabbit as a kid! Had no idea it was written by an English author! Wouldn’t mind learning more about that! And I’ve become quite a big fan of Jane Austen in the last few years! Shakespeare-upon-Avon is so beautiful and I’d love to go back! #CityTripping
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm (4 months ago)

      So glad you’re a fan of our great authors! Cumbria’s Lake District is the ultimate place to go for Beatrix Potter fans!

      Reply
  4. Mellissa Williams
    July 4, 2017 at 10:00 am (4 months ago)

    I enjoyed a tour of Oxford, it was great and so many literary connections We saw where Alice In Wonderland was dreamed up in Oxford University.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:54 pm (4 months ago)

      Fantastic! Oxford has so much literary history there. You could downs a lot if time there exploring it.

      Reply
  5. Annabel
    July 4, 2017 at 10:14 am (4 months ago)

    Thanks for this, we live fairly near Willows and not visited it yet as there are so many play farms nearby but you might have just sold it to me with the promise of Peter Rabbit, my younger son’s current fav cuddly toy! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:52 pm (4 months ago)

      Willows Farm is great. So much to do so you definitely need a good few hours for the experience

      Reply
  6. Sol Solntze
    July 4, 2017 at 10:46 am (4 months ago)

    I didn’t know there was a real Narnia door. Cool! I really want to go to Bath at some point. Somehow it always seems to elude me, perhaps because it;s a bit far for a simple day trip from London. I think I need to look into staying in that part of the world for a bit so as to have an excuse.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:51 pm (4 months ago)

      Bath is worth a stopover if you don’t fancy a day trip!

      Reply
  7. Sarah Ebner
    July 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm (4 months ago)

    This is such a lovely post, with brilliant suggestions. We are lucky enough to have “done” many of them, but RHS Wisley is still on the list, and as I loved Enid Blyton as a kid, we really should get there!
    #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:55 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you so much Sarah and well done on doing so many! Wisley is beautiful. I’m looking forward to checking out the Enid Blyton themed events.

      Reply
  8. Nicola
    July 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm (4 months ago)

    Yup that Roald Dahl museum is on my list for the summer!
    #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm (4 months ago)

      Fantastic. Look forward to hearing how you get on there!

      Reply
  9. Jules ( Bebevoyage.com)
    July 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm (4 months ago)

    So many good ideas. We are also big on the Gruffalo in our house, I had never heard about the app & trails. thanks for sharing.#citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:57 pm (4 months ago)

      You’re welcome! Seems like a great way for the kids to engage and interact.

      Reply
  10. Elizabeth Newcamp
    July 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm (4 months ago)

    My son has asked to go to London for his 6th birthday so I’m hard at work planning our trip. I can’t wait to add a few of these to the itinerary as some are from his favorite books. Thanks for sharing. #CityTripping
    Elizabeth Newcamp recently posted…Texel: A True Hidden GemMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:57 pm (4 months ago)

      Have fun planning your trip!!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 4, 2017 at 10:58 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you Nell! I’m looking forward to ticking off some of the ones we have yet to do.

      Reply
      • Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me)
        July 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm (3 months ago)

        I’m even more determined to visit some of these places after coming back to this post via #CulturedKids. Perhaps this will be the year we go to the Harry Potter studios. I’ve been putting it off until the children were old enough to appreciate it properly. Thanks for linking up!
        Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted…#CulturedKids July 2017My Profile

        Reply
        • Wander Mum
          July 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm (3 months ago)

          Oooh I think they are almost at an age when they would appreciate it. Mine has yet to get into Harry Potter but I know she’d still love it.

          Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh, is it – how fab. Would make a great summer hol trip!

      Reply
  11. beatravelling
    July 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm (4 months ago)

    There’s still so much I need to see in England 🙂
    beatravelling recently posted…Stay Here!My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 11:10 pm (3 months ago)

      Hope you get to explore more soon.

      Reply
  12. Charly Dove
    July 4, 2017 at 10:24 pm (4 months ago)

    Oh these are wonderful suggestions Elizabeth, love them all! I live ten minutes away from Wisley, so overdue a visit to see all the pretty 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Charly! Definitely pay it a visit over the summer!

      Reply
  13. Umberta
    July 5, 2017 at 8:21 am (4 months ago)

    Oh I would love to visit the Harry Potter world! And Roald Dahl was my favorite author when I was a kid, so I’d like to visit his place as well!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:45 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh you must go then!

      Reply
  14. Jen from Jenography.net
    July 5, 2017 at 8:55 am (4 months ago)

    I had no idea there were so many book-ish getaways within easy reach of London. Would love to go to Great MIssenden. #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 11, 2017 at 6:59 pm (3 months ago)

      I know – and those are just a few. Great Missenden is one my list too! !

      Reply
  15. Christine Keane
    July 5, 2017 at 2:07 pm (4 months ago)

    The last time I was in London, I really wanted to visit the WB HP Studios but couldn’t do it without my son. I really need to go back soon so I can take him to it and so he can see one of my favorite cities in the world 🙂
    Christine Keane recently posted…The Beauty of Florence | Part IMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:46 pm (3 months ago)

      Hope you get to go soon Christine. Love that you’re a London fan too!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:47 pm (3 months ago)

      Yes, I rather fancy going there too!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:47 pm (3 months ago)

      Absolutely! Thank you

      Reply
  16. Lyf&Spice
    July 7, 2017 at 10:43 am (4 months ago)

    Such cute little places to hang out..<3 lovely themes too
    Happy to be linking up again 🙂 #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks. Great to have you.

      Reply
  17. Cindy
    July 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm (4 months ago)

    Great ideas! My son would love visiting the Willows Farm and meet the Peter Rabbit characters. I’m hoping to visit the Roald Dahl museum at some point! #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm (3 months ago)

      It’s really fun there! You should definitely visit.

      Reply
  18. Wherejogoes
    July 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm (4 months ago)

    We love Oxford for a literary day out – Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter as well as the Narnia connection and of course they have the Story Museum. We’re looking forward to going to the Harry Potter Studios later this year for my daughter’s birthday. I’m a bit sad we never made it to the Dahl museum when my children were younger and keen on the Dahl books. We always stop to say hello to Paddington – so sad that Michael Bond passed away recently. I’m looking forward to my girls being old enough to read Jane Austen as we live near Bath and can enjoy some of your Bath recommendations. What a wonderful round up! #CityTripping
    Wherejogoes recently posted…ROYAL INTERNATIONAL AIR TATTOO -WITH KIDSMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:50 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you so much Jo. You are certainly covering a lot on the list! Isn’t it wonderful to revisit places with the children and share the literary love.

      Reply
  19. Lisa - FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com
    July 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm (4 months ago)

    I loved the Famous Five when I was younger! Actually, I loved and still love reading in general, so all of these places sound fantastic! I think our toddler son would enjoy the Peter Rabbit Playground and Winnie the Pooh at Ashdown Forest. Looking forward to reading more of your posts about the Year of Literary Heroes. #culturedkids
    Lisa – FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com recently posted…Top 10 tips for gluten-free travel with kidsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:50 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh, he certainly would! So glad to provide some inspiration!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm (3 months ago)

      You’re welcome! It’s on our list to do one weekend in the autumn I think. Looks fab!

      Reply
  20. Jonny (Daisy the bus)
    July 9, 2017 at 8:08 am (4 months ago)

    Anything that combines travel and literature AND engages kids is pretty awesome in my opinion. This is a wonderful idea for a blog post, and something that I hope inspires many London-based bookworms. Seeing the (Five) Hundred Acre Wood would be incredible. #CulturedKids (p.s. I hated the Canterbury Tales too 😀 )
    Jonny (Daisy the bus) recently posted…Canoeing (and kayaking) on the SauerMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Jonny! They certainly tick a lot of boxes for education and fun. Perhaps I’d have enjoyed Canterbury Takes a little more if I’d taken a trip to Canterbury when studying!

      Reply
  21. Helena
    July 9, 2017 at 11:47 am (4 months ago)

    Growing up I acquired a love for lots of books and love that the UK is steeped in a literary history. #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 11:10 pm (3 months ago)

      There really is so much to discover.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 5:59 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Catherine!

      Reply
  22. Bumble Bee Mum
    July 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm (3 months ago)

    Omg, Famous Five?? I haven’t heard that title in a while! Like since I was a kid… I’m amazed that they are still commemorating Famous Five today. #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 5:59 pm (3 months ago)

      I know! The books are still really popular. I thought they’d have dated but apparently not. I suppose they were already pretty outdated when I read them as a kid. Good to see the stories still endure though.

      Reply
  23. Megan - Truly Madly Kids
    July 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm (3 months ago)

    This is such a good list, so many great ideas! We’ve been to Ashdown Forest, and the area around it is beautiful. We must do the Roald Dahl museum too, looks fab #culturedkids
    Megan – Truly Madly Kids recently posted…Three things to see at KewMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Megan, Ashdown Forest looks so beautiful!

      Reply
  24. Emma Raphael
    July 14, 2017 at 11:48 am (3 months ago)

    Loved this post. So much inspiration for days out with mini book lovers! We need to make it to Great Missenden before we leave East Anglia! 🙂 #culturedkids

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Emma! I have a few I need to tick off!

      Reply
  25. Mama Grace
    July 26, 2017 at 8:00 am (3 months ago)

    Such great attractions that encourage children to delve into the world of books. I’ve done the Stick Man Trail with my niece and nephew. It was great, not too expensive, plenty of family activities, fresh air and a great cafe. #BloggersClubUK

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 26, 2017 at 11:52 pm (3 months ago)

      Sounds perfect. My daughter loves Stick Man so looking forward to him returning at some point!

      Reply
  26. Louise
    July 26, 2017 at 9:11 am (3 months ago)

    Some fantastic ideas for readers of all ages! My little boy is mad about Harry Potter. We are taking him to the studios this summer as a surprise! #bloggersclubuk

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      July 26, 2017 at 11:53 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you. Oh wow! What a treat! He’ll love it.

      Reply
  27. Annette, 3 Little Buttons
    July 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm (3 months ago)

    So many fab suggestions! I actually want to see the Harry Potter one. My little one is too little at the moment though. Willows is brilliant, its one of our favourite places. #Bloggerclubuk
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    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      August 2, 2017 at 3:00 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you. I really love Willows and will definitely go the Warner studios when mine are old enough too!

      Reply
  28. Kate
    July 26, 2017 at 9:31 pm (3 months ago)

    Some lovely places featured in this post some of which I have visited and some not. Can you do a similar one for France please?

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      August 2, 2017 at 3:32 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you! France might be a bit trickier…but maybe!

      Reply
  29. Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    July 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm (3 months ago)

    What a great idea to make a list of places to visit based on books! And you have a place for all ages. I had no idea you could see the real Christopher Robin’s bridge & go t a place that celebrates Pooh Bear! I’d love to go there myself! Thank you for linking up with us at #BloggerClubUK

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      August 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm (3 months ago)

      There’s so many great places to celebrate the written word! I had difficulty narrowing it down!

      Reply

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