Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bath with its extensive Roman remains, including the world-famous Roman Baths themselves, built around sacred thermal springs. The museum focused around them reopened includes encounters with costumed actors talking about the site and film projections onto the stone walls. A children’s audio-tour is included in the family-ticket price. Other must-sees in Bath include the Fashion Museum, the abbey (part of the city’s rich medieval heritage) and the stately Georgian architecture, most notably in the form of the city’s lovely crescents. At the most famous, the Royal Crescent, take older kids into No.1 for a glimpse of life as it was in 18th-century Bath; younger kids can let off steam in Victoria Park in front of the crescent, with its ducks, botanical gardens and space for ball games. Older kids studying literature might find the Jane Austen Centre, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident, of interest, while Walcot Street is Bath’s Camden Town wannabe, with weekend markets and eclectic shops.
Move on to historic Glastonbury, home to atmospheric Glastonbury Abbey, according to legend the final resting place of Arthur and Guinevere. Set in beautiful parkland, it hosts regular demonstrations of rural crafts and concerts.
Explore Wells, the smallest city in England, especially its cathedral, which appeared in an episode of Dr Who.
From Wells, head for Wookey Hole – more than just caves, although they are spectacular. Other attractions at the site include the Valley of the Dinosaurs, the life-size King Kong, the Enchanted Fairy Garden with its dragons and elves, the indoor Pirate Ship Zap Zone Adventure and the Pirate Circus Show in the Big Top Theatre.
Afterwards, discover the Cheddar Gorge – more than 150m wide in places, this ravine boasts the highest inland cliffs in the UK. It can be viewed from the public road through the base of the gorge or from footpaths along the cliff-tops. At the lower end of the gorge, closest to the village, you can enjoy riverside walks, the famous Showcaves (labyrinthine underground chambers), tea-rooms and gift shops. Cheddar cheese was also first made at farms in the region and you can watch traditional cheese-making at the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company in the lower gorge.
Before moving west, take an 8km steam-train trip through the Mendip Hills on the East Somerset Railway at Shepton Mallet.
Beach-lovers should head straight for Weston-super-Mare, winner of several awards for cleanliness, safety and water quality over the past decade and a must on family holidays. Traditional seaside attractions here include the famous donkeys, and there are designated areas for wind- and watersports, plus boat-trips around Weston Bay and further afield. If the weather is a bit too ‘British’, undercover attractions in town include the SeaQuarium, the North Somerset Museum, and the Helicopter Museum. Near Weston, Court Farm is an award-winning working-farm attraction with animals, castles, forts, trampolines, skyways, mazes and rides.
Discover the charm of Burnham-on-Sea, another traditional seaside resort with a distinct character, famous for its unique nine-legged wooden lighthouse. To the south of it lies Apex Park, where you can stroll around the lakes, enjoy the wildlife, fish, or make use of BMX biking areas, a skate park, a trim trail and a children’s play area. Then head south-west again to go fossil-hunting on Kilve Beach.
If you’ve had enough of sand and sea, the Animal Farm Adventure Park, set in 23 acres of lovely countryside, has views across the Levels to the Mendip Hills and plenty to keep the children happy. Animals of a more exotic nature can be found at Tropiquaria further along the coast at Watchet.
Moving inland to Bishops Lydeard, you’ll find the West Somerset Railway, Britain’s longest heritage railway, offering regular steam and diesel train-rides to Minehead.
Head west again to reach beautiful Exmoor. When you’ve spent time appreciating the natural splendour of the place, the Exmoor Pony Centre at Dulverton offers kids the chance to meet rare-breed ponies and go for a ride over the moors (there are also taster sessions for adults and children). Nearby you will find the beautiful Winsford Hill and Tarr Steps.
Venture south-east of Exmoor to reach another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Blackdown Hills, opened up to all the family by the Neroche Scheme, with new features including buggy-friendly trails.
If you’d like to learn more about Somerset’s cider-making, go north towards Taunton, where you can get involved in some apple-pressing at the Fun Farm in Priorswood.
Going east now, visit the Langport and River Parrett Visitor Centre, where you can ride the Parrett Cycleway along an old railway line for about 2km (ideal for those with small children). There are other cycle routes in the area, suitable for varying abilities; bikes, child-seats, tandems, children’s bikes and trailers are available to hire.
When you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, the Fleet Air Arm Museum houses the largest European collection of naval aircraft and Concorde, which you can board and explore (including the cockpit), plus the award-winning Aircraft Carrier Experience, which allows you to ‘fly’ by helicopter to the replica flight-deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, as powerful jet fighters take off and land around you.