Family Easter Days Out by Train
What does Easter mean to you? Plenty of chocolate? A huge Sunday roast? A few days off work? The Easter holidays can often be just as busy as the rest of the year but for many of us they offer the perfect opportunity to spend time with family.
Anyone who has had a young family will understand the effort it can sometimes take to entertain the kids during the Easter holidays. With the weather still a bit uncertain and overseas holidays often outside the budget, it can be hard to work out how to create those great Easter family memories.
Well, one suggestion would be to take a train ride together. In some ways it doesn’t matter where; a family train trip can be an adventure in its own right but what if you could find a destination that would entertain the whole family at the same time as fitting in with your current schedule and budget?
Sounds unlikely? Well hopefully some of our ideas and tips for family days out by train will help.
Staying local keeps train costs down
The first thing to think about is the cost of your family train ticket. With lots of seats to book it’s important to get this right and one way to do that is to choose a destination that’s along your local train line. Avoiding travel into and out of bigger stations can help keep your costs down and once you start researching, you’ll find plenty of entertainment options along the way. We’ve given you some more ideas about how to save money on your train tickets at the end of this article.
Once you’ve arrived fresh air is free
Train travel isn’t usually free but your activities when you arrive can be. We have a few ideas of free outdoor activities by train below but once you start thinking, you’ll almost certainly come up with plenty of your own.
Head to a local woodland and enjoy an Easter scavenger hunt.
How about finding something hairy, something pink and something that jumps for a start? You don’t need a massive forest, just a few trees in a park will do. Or if you fancy exploring further afield, how about Lydney station for the Forest of Dean via the Dean Forest Steam Railway or Ashurst New Forest station (which has a campsite nearby if you’re feeling hardy).
Find a viaduct to travel over on the train then visit it on foot below.
You’ll need a map to do this, but the research can be part of the family activity. Viaducts are far more impressive when you’re underneath them than when you’re on top of them but if you choose the right one, you can have both experiences. The Ribblehead Viaduct (Ribblehead station) and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Glenfinnan station) are famous examples that are viewable from their respective train stations but there are plenty of smaller ones.
Take an out of season trip to the seaside.
Okay so it’s probably too cold at Easter to swim in the sea but wrap up warm and beaches can offer all kinds of family fun as well as year-round ice cream and fish and chips. How about creating pebble art on Brighton Beach from London Road (Brighton) Station, rock pooling at Castle Beach From Falmouth Docks Station, playing games on the pier from Teignmouth Station or exploring the sand dunes at Ynyslas from Borth Station?
If it's raining, there are free indoor activities too
Being outside in the rain isn’t for everyone but it would be a shame to cancel your day out by train if the clouds did appear. Instead of packing all those waterproofs and umbrellas, how about taking advantage of one of these free Easter family activities.
- Get creative with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Whilst the RSC does have some paid-for attractions at their theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, kids get free Sunday admission to their The Play’s The Thing permanent exhibition and they also have a free dressing up box and adventure bags. If it stops raining before you catch your train home, you can climb to the viewing platform at the top of the theatre tower. Just a 14-minute walk from Stratford-upon-Avon Station.
- Go on a museum treasure hunt at the Ashmolean in Oxford. There’s always plenty to do and see at the Ashmolean. There’s a charge for their Ashmolean Adventure digital guide but their Family Trails including a Top 10 Treasure Trail are free to download and follow and they also offer free volunteer led Family Tours. On top of all that, if you want to take a picnic there’ a Family Lunchroom for you to eat in. Just an 11-minute walk from Oxford Station.
- Hop into the world of Peter Rabbit at the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge. Available until April 16th 2023 this immersive experience will let young ones experience life just as Peter Rabbit did. With plenty of photo opportunities and even a garden gate to crawl under, this story time tale is set to please both youngsters and adults alike. Just a 9-minute walk from Canterbury West Station.
- Grab a backpack and explore at the British Museum. If your children are 12 or under the British Museum have a set of borrowable (deposit required) backpacks that are themed to suit different age groups. Investigate jobs in Roman Britain, learn about Aztec Gods or get up close and personal with mummification. Whichever you fancy, head for the Families Desk to find out how to join in. Just a 15-minute walk from London Euston Station.
Arrive by train to enjoy a heritage railway trip
If your family love a train ride, they’re bound to get excited at the thought of a trip on one of the UK’s fantastic heritage railways. The good news is that many steam railways have great mainline connections. And if you arrive by train, you’ll gain the opportunity to experience the contrast between old and new. We’ve listed five suggestions below but there are plenty more.
- View the English Riviera on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton Station.
- Ride the Poppy Line on the North Norfolk Railway from Sheringham Station.
- Climb from the sea to the mountains on the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog Station.
- Hop on a tram to enjoy the East Lancashire Railway from Manchester Piccadilly Station.
- Sample the Watercress Line on the Mid-Hants Railway from Alton Station.
Easter events the whole family can attend by train
If you’re after a traditional Easter experience, plenty of attractions are offering Easter egg hunts as well as other Easter excitement, and some of these you can visit by train. It’s not all about the chocolate but we know those little incentives can really boost a family day out.
- Blenheim Palace is putting on an impressive range of activities for Easter Weekend. If you fancy circus skills, balloon modelling, bubble performances and of course an Easter egg hunt, why not hop on the train and head on over. Buses from Oxford and Oxford Parkway Stations are just £2 until the end of June 2023, and what’s more Blenheim Palace are offering a 30% discount for anyone who visits car free (proof of travel required).
- For something really different, how about letting the young ones create their own Easter eggs. Attend one of York’s Chocolate Story masterclasses and you’ll even learn how to make chocolate truffles while you enjoy a mug of delicious hot chocolate. Just a 17-minute walk from York Station.
- You can’t beat Warwick Castle for family entertainment and history and there’s plenty going on this Easter. Discover the world’s fastest birds on the Falconer’s Quest, learn how to become a dragon on the Zog activity trail then survive the worst of our past in the Horrible Histories Maze. All just a 12-minute walk from Warwick Station.
- Roald Dahl wasn’t the Easter Bunny, but he did invent a whole chocolate factory. Join in with storytelling sessions, activities and workshops at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Power pose with Matilda, tackle a giant Wonka chocolate bar and find out more about one of our favourite children’s authors. Just one more activity that’s offering 2for1 entry when you visit by train (proof of travel required). Just a 5-minute-walk from Great Missenden Station.
How to keep the kids happy when they’re travelling by train
Train rides are exciting but if you’re on the train for a long time, you might find the little ones getting a bit twitchy. Try to plan for this before you set off and carry a few drinks, snacks and games to keep them occupied. Getting them involved with the journey will help. Perhaps give them a list of stations you’ll pass through to tick off or, if you know the journey, some landmarks to look out for along the way. Another easy thing to prepare is Passenger Bingo. Make a few bingo cards with different characteristics on them (for example someone with black hair, someone wearing glasses, someone carrying an umbrella) and encourage the family to cross the cards (quietly) as they spot people that match.
Learning how to travel by train is a useful skill and getting the kids involved in checking tickets, looking at screens, finding platforms and listening to announcements won’t just help them learn, it will keep them entertained and make them feel more involved in their journey. You could even put them in charge of showing tickets to the conductor and using ticket machines to enter and leave stations.
One thing that sometimes puts families off travelling by train is the availability of toilet and changing facilities. Once you’ve bought your tickets you can check out where the loos are at each station you’re visiting and find out from the train company what facilities will be available on your train. If you’re concerned about managing getting on and off the train, don’t be afraid to take your time and ask people around you to help, most people have travelled with a family at some point. Network Rail’s Passenger Assist is a bookable service that’s available if you’re travelling with disabled or older passengers.
How to save money on family train tickets
Travelling by train in a group can be lots of fun but it does require a ticket for each person unless that person is under five and can travel free on most UK train journeys. Children aged between 5 and 15 get a 50% discount on most tickets and you can get the same discount with a 16-17 Saver, which costs just £30 a year. All of this helps but there are other ways to keep your family train ticket costs down.
- Travel at off-peak times. Not only will your tickets be cheaper, but you’ll also have more space to enjoy your train ride.
- If you’re travelling with other adults, take a look at group travel tickets. Different train companies have different offers, and you might find they work for your day out.
- Invest in a Family & Friends Railcard to get discounts on adult and children’s fares.
- Plan and book ahead to get the benefit of advanced ticket bookings.
- If you’re travelling a long way, splitting your ticket into shorter journeys can often be cheaper.
Our ticket splitting app can help you find cheaper family train journeys
When you’re booking train tickets for the whole family, splitting tickets can get a bit complicated, but the good news is the Trainsplit app can do all the research for you. All you need to do is enter your starting and destination stations and the number of people travelling and we’ll let you know all the different price possibilities and how much you could save. Then it’s up to you which journey option you choose.
The Trainsplit app is available in the App Store and on Google Play. Why not download it today to find out how to save money on your next train journey. Your perfect family day out by train is waiting for you just down the track.
Living in Devon, Fi is an outdoor writer, blogger and children’s author. She is also an Ordnance Survey Champion and a keen walker and outdoor swimmer. Fi tries to enjoy as many of her outdoor activities as possible by train instead of by car.