Treat the kids to a fab week off in the UK says VICKY LISSAMAN
BANISH boredom this half-term with these exciting UK days out. From driving a mini Mercedes to transforming power tools into racing machines, these attractions will keep everyone amused.
ENGLAND: Mercedes-Benz World, Surrey: Little Learners offers budding Lewis Hamiltons the chance to get behind the wheel of a mini electric Mercedes and drive on a specially created track. There's also a driving experience for older children with professional driving instructors in dual control cars. Other attractions include the exclusive Formula One exhibition. See mercedes-benzworld.co.uk or call 0870 400 4000.
Sea Life Centre Birmingham: Shark Week offers shark trails, talks, crafts and competitions. Visitors can also experience a 360-degree view of hammerhead sharks. Web prices from £10, book via sealife.com/birmingham.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! London: There are more than 700 curiosities from around the world to marvel at. Check your weight against the world's fattest man, see the double-eyed man and find your way to freedom in the mirror maze. Tickets cost £29.95 for adults and £19.95 for kids. See ripleyslondon.com or call 0203 238 0022.
Enginuity Power Tool Grand Prix, Ironbridge, Shropshire: See how power tools can be converted into speedy racing machines at the Coalbrookdale design and technology centre from October 22-30. Call 01952 433 424 or visit ironbridge.org.uk.
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Dartmouth Steam Railway: Thomas the Tank Engine will be joining the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company from October 22-25. There will be face-painting at Paignton Station, a Pennywell Farm Roadshow and special Thomas DVD show at the Visitor Centre. Tickets are £14 for adults, £10 for kids, £43 for a family ticket. See dartmouthrailriver.co.uk.
Imperial War Museum North: Find out how rationing was done during World War II. Discover why carrots were eaten on lolly sticks and parsnips were used instead of pineapples. See iwm.org.uk/north.
National Space Centre, Leicestershire: The award-winning National Space Centre is the UK's largest attraction dedicated to space. Dominated by the futuristic Rocket Tower, which soars 42metres into the sky, the centre offers an interactive journey through six galleries and a 3D simulator ride. Explore the universe, black holes and try your hand test driving a robot. Admission for adults is £13, kids £11. See spacecentre.co.uk.
Go APE! Nationwide: Tree-top adventures provide a trail of wobbly bridges, zip lines and rope jumps. Flying down the zip wire is sure to provide a lingering adrenaline high. See goape.co.uk.
Tate Liverpool: The Big Draw is the largest drawing festival in the world. Join in the free event for families, Wibbly Wobbly Wandering Lines. Take a journey around the collection making transparent drawings along the way, and then head back to the studio to learn how to transform drawings into 3D wire sculptures. See tate.org.uk/liverpool.
SCOTLAND: Visit Scotland has teamed up with businesses across the country to offer money-off vouchers on activities, attractions and accommodation during half-term week. There are more than 300 offers, with up to 50% off days out. visitscotland.co.uk/surprise.
Land Rover Experience Perth: From one-hour drives to full-day excursions, visitors can choose from the full fleet of Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles for an off-road adventure and obstacle course in the Scottish countryside. Prices start from £90. Call 01350 727720 or see Scotland.landroverexperience.co.uk.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena: Experience an assault course 100ft in the air before hurtling down to earth via a zip slide at the world's biggest climbing arena. Climbs start from £9. Buy one, get one free during half term. Call 0131 333 6333 or visit eica-ratho.com.
Laggan Outdoor: Choose from Segway adventures, mountain boarding, archery, clay shooting and jeep driving at the outdoor activity centre on the Galloway coastline. Prices start from £5 plus get 10% discount on activities during half term. To book call 01557 840217 or visit lagganoutdoor.co.uk
Scotland Ski Show: Join the snow bunnies at Glasgow's SECC for the Scotland Ski Show this weekend. The event features Europe's biggest indoor ski jump at more than 10metres high. Tickets are £12 on the door. Visit scot-landskishow.co.uk for more details.
WALES: Ramsey Island: Take a boat trip to see the the gorgeous seal pups which are born each autumn or walk the threemile trail around the island. Boats depart St Justinians at 10am and 12pm, returning at 4pm. Tickets for adults cost £15 and £7.50 for children. See visit Pembrokeshire.com
National Showcaves Danyr-Ogof: Visit the National Showcaves Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral cave and the Bone cave, or stay above ground with the friendly resident dinosaurs. Some of nature's most impressive geological formations are here. Adult tickets cost £13.50 and £7.50 for kids. Call 01639 730 284, or visit showcaves.co.uk for more details
Welsh Highland Railway: See how the engines work when you visit the engine sheds. Trains leave Portmadog station. Family fare £15, adult £6, child £3. See railway.whr.co.uk
Tree Top Adventures in Snowdonia National Park: Enjoy a day at Betws y Coed. The variety of rope courses guarantees something for every age. Prices from £12. Call 01690 710 914 or visit ttadventure.co.uk.
Anglesey Sea Zoo: Discover the creatures that live in the Irish Sea, including sharks and rays. Admission for adults is £7.50 and £6.50 for kids. Call 01248 430411 or visit angleseyseazoo.co.uk.