Since Wiltshire is landlocked it's a less obvious choice for family holidays and breaks, yet there is still plenty to keep the kids occupied.
Head for the north-east of Wiltshire, where you’ll find plenty to entertain the children in the countryside around Swindon. At Sevenhampton, Roves Farm is a working farm where children can spend a morning bottle-feeding lambs, watching craft demonstrations, and playing in the adventure playground, soft-play area and sandpit. There are also seven nature trails to follow, the largest willow maze in the world and a tearoom.
A good place to spend the rest of the day is the Swindon & Cricklade Railway at nearby Blunsdon, offering rides on a fully working steam train plus special events such as Thomas the Tank Engine days, Easter Bunny Rides and Santa Specials.
Another day out not far from Swindon is Butterfly World in Wroughton, where it’s always tropical, rain or shine, summer or winter. Small children love getting up close with the beautiful butterflies flying freely against a backdrop of tropical plants and skimming over fish-filled ponds.
While you’re in this area, you may be surprised to see a number of white horses cut into the hillsides, many dating from the last 200 years. To see more, visit Small Grain Picnic Site, which is on the edge of the North Wessex Downs and is the gateway to a variety of scenic walks.
The Downs themselves are a great place to bring young kids, with lots of non-taxing walks; older children may be fascinated to learn this peaceful spot was the scene of a fierce battle between Roundheads and Cavaliers during the Civil War. Nearby there’s a short nature trail around the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Morgan's Hill, an area famed for its butterfly-, bird- and plant-spotting.
Travel west a little to Calne and to Bowood House and Gardens, the magnificent family estate of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, with a brilliant adventure playground with a life-size pirate ship, plus soft-play for younger kids.
Find quintessential step-back-in-time Englishness at Lacock, just south of Chippenham, which has been used as a location for ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and (in the case of the abbey) the first Harry Potter film. It’s lovely spending a morning just wandering round the village, visiting the quaint bakery, pubs, tea shops and shops.
Head west again to join the Kennet and Avon Canal at Bradford Upon Avon – its smooth, flat towpath is ideal for family walks or bike rides, or you can hop aboard a boat trip taking you through the Avon Valley and across the dramatic Avoncliff aqueduct.
Heading south, don’t visit Wiltshire without spending a day at Longleat, which was the world’s first drive-through safari park outside of Africa, with lions, tigers and giraffes, to name but a few, plus safari boats and a railway.
See animals of a different kind south at Bush Farm Bison Centre at West Knoyle, where a farm trail (buggy accessible) takes you for 1.5km or so around herds of bison, elk and red deer and through woodland clearings and gardens (a serene spot for a picnic).
For yet more animals, head back to the north-east of Salisbury, to Cholderton Charlie’s Farm with its pig races ( be warned – it can get competitive). It also has 42 acres of countryside and play areas to explore, including nature trails, and several undercover activities.