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14 Great Ideas for Days Out for Free in England

Looking for inspiration for some days out for free? Here are a few ideas for the best free days out in England, and where you can enjoy them too.

england free days out

There are so many excellent things to do in England for a free day out. However you like to spend your time, it’s always better when it’s free, right?

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite free attractions in England to keep you and your family entertained for hours on end without breaking the bank. Let us know what you think!

Best Days Out for Free in England

Here are some of our favourite days out for free from the team…

days out for free

1. Free museums in England

There are loads of free museums in England to enjoy. They’re one of the best ways to learn more about the country while having fun at the same time., and when they’re free, they’re even better.

lives in england

What if you could travel back in time to see a dinosaur, meet a pirate, or discover more about slavery in England? With these great days out for free, you can!

  • The Natural History Museum in London is a great place to see how natural history has changed over time.
  • The Natural Maritime Museum in London offers an interactive Ship Ahoy! gallery for kids who wish to play explorer or pirate. Children may dress as sea captain, light the boiler of the steamer, and go crabbing in this gallery.
  • Visit the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool if you’re in the North of England. In addition to examining historical and present elements of slavery, the museum also serves as a global reference centre for information on human rights problems.

2. Free parks and gardens in England

England is full of lovely green landscapes with colourful flowers and plenty of space to roam. We have the kinds of gardens in England you have to pay to get into, but also, the type where you’re free to roam and picnic as you please. Parks are definitely one of the best days out for free for outdoorsy types.

free days out in england

All the cities in England will have some great parks for you to play and picnic in, and the towns too. Parks and gardens are a great way for you to get friends and family together on the cheap, or free!

  • In London, Greenwich Park offers stunning views of Canary Wharf across the river, Regent’s Park is home to fragrant rose gardens, and Richmond Park protects old trees and roaming deer.
  • Crystal Palace Park has Giant Dinosaurs, a labyrinth, a sandpit, and a boating lake if you’re travelling with kids. There are more than 30 heritage-listed sculptures along the lakeside walk where you may see extinct animals. Continue your dinosaur-themed fun in the playground, where you’ll find bones and hatching eggs in the sandpit.

3. Free public art in England

Art does not have to be restricted to museums or galleries, as can be seen all throughout England in the form of large-scale sculptures.

landmarks in england
  • The Angel of the North by Anthony Gormley, located near Newcastle, has become a cultural symbol and one of England’s most important landmarks. The Angel of the North is said to be the world’s biggest angel sculpture, measuring 54 metres wide and 20 metres high (taller than four double-decker buses and wider than a jumbo jet’s wingspan).
  • Crosby Beach, located approximately six miles north of downtown Liverpool, was similarly created by the same artist. This is where you’ll discover the eye-catching public art. The installation comprises of 100 life-size cast-iron sculptures strewn across 2km of beautiful shoreline. About 0.6 miles out to sea, the figures become more submerged and revealed with the ebb and flow of the tides. The original plan called for the iron men to keep travelling about, but as soon as they arrived here, it was clear that they had found their permanent home.

4. Free carnivals and festivals in England

The calendar of free events in England is jam-packed with celebrations with everything from food to flowers throughout the year. Have a look at your local listings to see what free events are going on in your area.

exeter day trip
  • London’s Notting Hill Carnival is a weekend-long Caribbean-style extravaganza. This world-famous street carnival takes place every year on the last weekend of August on the Bank Holiday weekend. An estimated 1 million people attend this Caribbean-themed extravaganza, which features traditional music, street food, and dance. In addition to the parade on Sunday, the festival has a variety of other events throughout the week. The parade is a particular highlight of the event.
  • Bristol’s International Balloon Fiesta is another fun option. It’s a spectacular show that the whole family would enjoy at no cost. As many as 150 hot air balloons take off from Ashton Court Estate in the early morning, and at night, they light up the sky with exciting activities for families to enjoy on the ground.

5. Free historic monuments in England

In England, it’s hard to travel very far without running into our history. We’ve just got so much of it. In fact, it’s one of the things Americans love so much about visiting England.

free days out in england
  • Wiltshire’s Stonehenge is thought to be more than 5,000 years old but is still a unique and memorable family outing; a remarkable relic of a previous civilisation. Sadly it’s not free if you want to get close, but you can view from afar for free, from the road.
  • The Uffington White Chalk Horse may be found not far from Dorchester. On the Ridgeway hillside, the world-famous Bronze-Age Uffington White Horse may be seen galloping across the crest of a beautiful dry valley. The horse is only one of several ancient artefacts found on White Horse Hill and the adjacent high chalkland.

6. Explore the outdoors for free

Getting about on foot is the best and most cost-effective method to see the stunning British countryside and enjoying one of our best days out for free. England is full of stunning landscapes just waiting to be discovered, whether you’re up for a challenging hike or a leisurely afternoon stroll around the countryside. In England, there are ten National Parks where you can go on a variety of hikes with your whole family.

geocaching england

Or, try geocaching, a popular trend that’ll keep the whole family engaged while out exploring. It’s a digital scavenger hunt where you may enjoy the pleasure of being outside while exploring new places. A geocache, often known as a ‘cache,’ is a little treasure box concealed in the wild. A GPS-enabled gadget is used by Geocachers to locate these buried treasures. They utilise coordinates, which are called ‘waypoints,’ to direct them.

7. Free beaches in England

If you’d rather spend your time outdoors unwinding, consider visiting one of England’s many fabulous beaches. You can take along a picnic, or some games to keep everyone entertained. A day at the beach is a great way to get some fresh air, and have some fun while you’re at it.

Day out in Dorset
  • One of England’s most recognisable castles may be seen on Northumberland’s Bamburgh Beach. There’s plenty to see on this Northumberland sand beach, including the world-famous Farne Islands on the other side.
  • It’s only a short walk from Whitby, the Yorkshire town where Whitby Sands is located. Whitby Sands is ideal for those who enjoy sandy beaches, since it has colourful beach huts and plenty of room to create sandcastles.
  • When visiting the south coast, stop at Durdle Door – one of the best days out in Dorset. Approximately 10,000 years ago, water on the Jurassic Coast began to construct one of the most amazing formations in England. Durdle Door is now one of the most well-known archways in England.

8. Free castles in England 

For a free day out in England that takes you on a journey through the ages, you can’t go wrong by visiting some of England’s best castles

Visit castles for a free day out in England

You might have to pay to explore the interiors of the best-preserved and private castles, but many of these historic structures can be admired from outside for free. There are also plenty of ruins scattered throughout the English landscape that don’t cost a dime to visit. 

As mentioned above – Bamburgh Beach offers sprawling views of Bamburgh Castle, which sits on a rocky plateau off the coast of Northumberland.  

When the tide is low, you can walk along an ocean causeway to Saint Michael’s Mount off the coast of Cornwall for free. Entering the castle costs £21 per family, but visiting the harbour comes with no charge.  

9. Free painted rock treasure hunting in England 

Thanks to a Facebook group called Love on the Rocks, you can now take the kids treasure hunting throughout the UK for free.  

Search for hidden painted rocks for a day out in England for free

Love on the Rocks invites its members – which now number well over 100,000 – to paint any picture they like on a pebble, then hide it for other people to find.  

Write the details of the Facebook group on the back of your painted rock so that finders can share your art. Or, simply follow the group to get hints on where to find these wonderful works of art, and then embark on a treasure hunt with the family! 

10. Free Gruffalo Trails in England 

Fancy taking the kids to search for Gruffalos in real life? Gruffalo Trails in England offer a fun-filled outdoor activity for the family, where you can search for sculptures of your favourite characters from Julia Donaldson’s book in some of the most spectacular British countryside and woodland settings. 

Best Gruffalo trails in England
Photo by Andrew
  • You can search for a life-sized Gruffalo sculpture in the Moors Valley Country Park & Forest, which is located close to Ashley Heath in Dorset. While you’re here, hop aboard the Moors Valley Miniature Railway. Then, enjoy the fairy tale-themed playgrounds in the Enchanted Woods. Admission to the Moors Valley Country Park & Forest is free, but you may have to pay for parking and additional attractions. 
  • Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire is another picturesque setting that hides intricate sculptures based on characters from Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Gruffalo’. The trail covers a distance of 2.7 km. There’s also a trail dedicated to Superworm, the leading hero from another Julia Donaldson book. 
  • Orrest Head in the Lake District is the best place to search for Gruffalos if you prefer views of countryside vistas to woodland. While navigating the two-mile trail, you’ll be able to take in sweeping views of Windermere, its lake the surrounding rolling hills. Be aware that the trail is mostly uphill – suitable for children, but not great for pushchairs. 

11. Free sculpture and art trails in England 

Every summer, free art and sculpture trails take over many of England’s town streets, public spaces and pristine parks. These trails give you and the family the chance to explore a new place, soak up some local culture and see works of art by established and emerging artists. There are already lots of exciting trails confirmed for the summer of 2023. 

  • Starting on the 1st of July and lasting for ten weeks, the Leeds Bear Hunt will invite visitors to search for around 50 giant bear sculptures dotted around the streets and parks of the city. While the bears will be hiding in plain sight, they’ll also be highlighting many of the city’s most famous places and lesser-known attractions.  
  • Morph’s Epic Art Adventure will be hitting the streets of London in summer 2023. Organised by one of the UK’s leading charities for young wheelchair users, Whizz-Kidz, Morph’s Epic Art Adventure will be the first step-free art trail in England. The event will take place from the 19th of June to the 20th of August. 
  • Over 50 super-sized sculptures inspired by the Shaun the Sheep TV show will sit side-by-side with some of Newcastle’s most iconic landmarks from the 19th of July to the 27th of September. 

Free sculpture and art trails aren’t just limited to England’s biggest cities; they’re being held in some of England’s most interesting towns too, such as Southend-on-Sea, Swindon and Lichfield. Not bad for a free day out with the family! 

12. Identify trees in England’s woodlands for free 

Fancy taking on the role of a nature detective on your day out for free in England? Download the free Tree ID app by the Woodland Trust so that you can find out what lives in your local area – or beyond if you want to see some of England’s most scenic forest walks and countryside vistas. 

Free day out in England's woodlands

Using Tree ID, you can identify common non-native and native trees using leaves, twigs, flowers, fruit, buds or bark in just a few simple steps. There are also colouring sheets and craft activities to keep the kids entertained on rainy days. 

Becoming a nature detective for the day has to be one of the best things to do in England for free. After all, more than one-eighth of England’s land area is covered in woodlands and forests. You’re also bound to spot a few adorable critters in these amazing habitats while learning about their flora. 

  • If you’re planning a day out in the Lake District, head to the forest at Grizedale between Coniston and Windermere. On top of a variety of tree species, Grizedale is home to wonderful walks, sculptures and mountain biking trails, not to mention one of England’s only remaining herds of woodland red deer. 
  • Spanning an area of 2,400 hectares, Epping Forest in Essex hides more than 100 bodies of water, former royal hunting grounds and dense historic woodlands. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a free stroll under the natural shade of indigenous trees during a family day out in Essex
  • Ashdown Forest inspired the home of Winnie the Pooh and boasts a wealth of ancient heritage. This Site of Special Scientific Interest is teeming with flora and wildlife. There are also habitats such as woodland and heathland within the site’s 6,500 acres. 

13. Go stargazing for free in England 

If you’re looking for free things to do in the evening in England, we recommend visiting one of the country’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites after the sun goes down. There are seven official Dark Sky sites found in England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but hundreds of unofficial dark sky sites in England also offer amazing views of the stars. 

Go stargazing for a day out for free in England

Dark Sky Discovery Sites exist throughout England where there is little to no light pollution, allowing you to see the Orion constellation and even the Milky Way on a clear day. 

Using the free Star Walk 2 app, which is billed as a ‘free planetarium’, you can learn the names of asteroids, galaxies, constellations, stars and more. You can also find out when meteor showers might be visible in your area. 

  • The South Downs National Park in Hampshire was declared a Dark Sky reserve in 2016, with the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies visible from over two-thirds of the park. Designated stargazing spots within the National Park include Old Winchester Hill, Iping Common, Ditchling Beacon and the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. 
  • You can detect around 3,000 stars on a clear night from the north Devon moors in the Exmoor National Park, which became the first international Dark Sky reserve in Europe in 2011. The best stargazing sites include Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill, Holdstone Hill, Webbers Post and Wimbleball Lake. 
  • In the North of England, you can observe the starry night from four dark discovery sites inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park alone. Drive to Buckden car park if you want to avoid walking through the countryside after dark. If you arrive before sunset, there are plenty of walks across the Yorkshire Dales that offer stunning daytime views of rolling hills and green pastures. 

14. Free National Nature Reserves in England 

You don’t need to spend a penny to encounter an abundance of wildlife in habitats such as meadows, ancient woodlands, moorlands, wetlands, mountains and coasts in England. 

Free National Nature Reserves in England

You can explore almost all nature reserves managed by Natural England for free. In total, there are 229 National Nature Reserves in England that contain nationally important or rare species of insects, birds, mammals, butterflies, insects, and – of course – plants. A bit of wildlife watching never goes a miss when you need a day out for free in England. 

  • The RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve is located by the coast of Suffolk and is home to some of the rarest wildlife in the UK. Various adorable creatures live in habitats including grassland, woodland, heathland and wetland, though the park is best known for coastal birds like bitterns, nightingales, harriers and avocets. Visiting this nature reserve is just one of the best things to do on a day out in Suffolk
  • If you’re spending the day in the West Midlands, head to the Sutton Park National Nature Reserve in the royal town of Sutton Coldfield, not far from Birmingham. Habitats here include marshland, wetland, heathland and lake. It’s also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so you can only imagine how much wildlife there is to be found. 
  • At the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve, you’ll find a sequence of limestone dales surrounded by scrub, woodland and grassland, making it a haven of biodiversity. Keep your eyes peeled for birds such as ravens, buzzards and dippers. Head to the Lathkill Dale to see the ‘Jacob’s ladder’ flower growing in the wild. 

Best days out for free in England

national parks in england

So there you have it, the best days out for free in England. We hope this has helped to guide your plans and make sure that you don’t miss any of these amazing attractions! What are some other great places to visit when travelling through England? Leave us a comment below with your favourite sites.

Quick list of days out for free in England

  1. Free museums in England
  2. Free parks and gardens in England
  3. Free public art in England
  4. Free carnivals and festivals in England
  5. Free historic monuments in England
  6. Explore the outdoors for free
  7. Free beaches in England
  8. Free castles in England 
  9. Free painted rock treasure hunting in England 
  10. Free Gruffalo Trails in England
  11. Free sculpture and art trails in England 
  12. Identify trees in England’s woodlands for free 
  13. Go stargazing for free in England 
  14. Free National Nature Reserves in England 

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