Don't fret about entertaining the children this summer, as CHARLOTTE CIVIL highlights some great days out
1 Adrenaline junkies will love Thorpe Park's (0871 663 1673/thorpepark.com) latest ride The Swarm, Britain's first "winged" rollercoaster which is set amid the devastation caused by an alien attack including a burnt-out plane, helicopter and fire trucks. Strapped in a train at the Surrey attraction you creep 127ft up the track before rolling 180 degrees at the top and plunging towards the wreckage below. Other rides include SAW - The Ride, Stealth, Nemesis and Colossus. If you don't mind getting wet, try log flume the Logger's Leap, Rumba Rapids and, worst of all for a real drenching, Tidal Wave. Admission £25.92 per adult, £20.16 per child.
2 Activity Wales (01437 766 888/activitywales.com) organises outdoor adventures in spectacular locations such as Pembrokeshire, Brecon and Bala, which has a watersports lake. Test your strength at rock climbing, explore the coast in a canoe or kayak or trek the Brecon Beacons National Park on horseback. Adventure Days from £40pp.
3 The new National Football Museum (0161 605 8200/nationalfootballmuseum.com) couldn't be better placed in Manchester, the home of Premier League champions Manchester City. Ogle at football memorabilia including the 1966 World Cup Final ball. Discovery areas for children of all ages mean they can transform themselves into football superstars in the dressing-up area or try their luck in the Penalty Shootout as a penalty taker or goalkeeper. Admission free.
4 Get cooking in the spectacular Augill Castle (01768 341 937/stayinacastle.com). Situated between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales the fortress offers luxurious accommodation and cookery courses during school holidays. Aspiring masterchefs rustle up tasty recipes using produce from the garden. Four-hour children's courses £65 per child, including lunch and take-home dish. Family day courses from £150 (one adult and child).
5 Pack a picnic and watch some open-air theatre at Grosvenor Park in Chester (0845 241 7868/ grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk). Some of the country's finest actors will tread the boards in plays such as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the 320-seat theatre until August 19. Tickets from £22.50.
6 If you're potty for Harry Potter the Hogwarts Express Tour covers all the best bits. New attractions website GoSeeDo (0800 980 5551/goseedo.com) offers the chauffeur-driven tour which takes in London and Oxford. Visit film locations such as the building used for Gringotts Wizards Bank and the 16th-century hall which was the inspiration behind Hogwarts Hall. Tickets £117 per adult, £94 per child (five-12 years).
7 Spend a day messing about on the River Avon.
Warwick Castle (0871 265 2000/warwick-castle.com) has teamed up with Warwick Boats to steer you around against the backdrop of the 1,000-yearold castle. You can also watch jousting knights all summer until September 2. A 30-minute boating experience £5pp. General admission to castle £30.60 per adult, £25.80 per child, under-threes free.
8 A new Doctor Who Experience (0844 801 2279/ doctorwhoexperience.com) opens on Friday in Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay. Fans of the long-running sci-fi series can visit the new attraction just minutes from where actual filming took place. Step inside the time-travelling Tardis where you fend off Dalek spaceships and Weeping Angels and come face to face with other monsters including Cybermen. Costumes dating back to 1963 are also on show. Admission £13 per adult, £9 per child, under-fives free.
9 Blackpool Zoo (01253 830 801/blackpoolzoo.org.uk) is 40 this month. Meet star residents, including Kate the Asian elephant and the sea lions who have recently welcomed new family additions Niko and Ruby. Areas such as the Wallaby Walkabout and The Children's Farm allow visitors to get close to some of the 1,500 animals. Various "experiences" are available too (extra cost, minimum age 18), including Keeper For A Day, where you help with feeding and cleaning out, or Trainer For A Day where experts show you how they teach sea lions, birds of prey and parrots to perform. Admission £15.50 per adult, £11 per child (three-15 years).
10 Tour the sights of London and soak up the Olympic atmosphere. Ride on an open-top bus and view landmarks such as the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Take a rickshaw ride around the West End or visit one of the many free museums including the Natural History Museum, Kensington, where an animatronic T Rex is the star attraction. For more information go to visitlondon.com