These great family deals will keep your kids busy this summer

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For those put off by the cost of vacationing this summer, there are plenty of options closer to home to keep the kids busy – without breaking the bank.

Here, Holly Thomas shares top tips for family fun.

Adventure: Alffi and Lili Jones at the Llanelli Wetland Center

DISCOUNT DAY TRAVEL

Buying tickets to local attractions in advance is almost always cheaper. For example, an online ticket to Legoland Windsor costs £ 29 compared to £ 53 on arrival.

Using a Tesco Clubcard or Nectar points to purchase tickets may further lower the price. When you spend a day at one of the 150 attractions, every 50 pence in Clubcard vouchers is worth £ 1.50.

For Legoland Windsor, that means a day pass could cost just £ 11.50 in vouchers, less than half the price online.

Websites such as vouchercodes.co.uk and hotukdeals.com also list discount codes for major attractions.

Try the discount website picniq.com for deals like up to 23 pc off tickets to Chessington World of Adventures.

EAT CHEAPER

Many pubs and restaurants offer inexpensive or even free meals for children this summer. In Hungry Horse pubs, children can eat for free between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., provided an adult breakfast is also ordered.

At Sizzling Pubs & Grill, young people eat for just £ 1 Monday through Friday, 3pm to 7pm, with each adult main meal purchased.

Farmhouse Inns has a similar offer, but you can eat any time of the day, Monday through Friday. And restaurants without promotions can still be affordable; at Bella Italia, the children’s menu starts at £ 5.99.

In restaurants without promotions, it can still be affordable;  at Bella Italia children's menu starts at £ 5.99

In restaurants without promotions, it can still be affordable; at Bella Italia children’s menu starts at £ 5.99

FUN ON THE FARM

Fruit picking farms allow you to have a healthy day. Strawberries are the most common fruits to pick, but apples, gooseberries, rhubarb and blueberries, as well as vegetables like sweet corn and zucchini, are also up for grabs. Anything you want to take home is billed by weight.

Admission is usually free or for just a few pounds, but there is usually a minimum spend of around £ 4. Farms often provide containers, but to save on plastic, you can bring your own.

Many places also offer additional activities for children, such as adventure playgrounds and nature trails. Visit pickyourownfarms.org.uk and pyo.co.uk to see the different options.

CINEMA NIGHTS

Odeon Cinema hosts Odeon Kids screenings all summer long, with tickets priced at £ 2.50. Check online (odeon.fr) for screenings at your local cinema. There are also Mini Mornings starting at £ 2.49 per ticket at your local Vue cinema (myvue.com).

In Vue cinemas there are Mini Mornings starting at £ 2.49 per ticket

In Vue cinemas there are Mini Mornings starting at £ 2.49 per ticket

HALF PRICE SHOWS

Theater goers should make sure they are signed up to receive updates and offers during Children’s Week, an annual promotion throughout August where one adult and one child (aged 17 or less) can get half-price tickets to shows.

You can book up to eight tickets, with a maximum of four adults. Four or more children must be accompanied by at least two adults. Visit officiallondontheatre.com/kids-week and choose from a wide variety of musicals, plays, comedies and children’s shows in London.

An annual pass is just the ticket

NHS workers Catrin and Neil Jones, from Carmarthenshire, Wales, bought several one-year passes so they could spend the summer with fun outings with their children, Lili, seven, and Alffi, four . Catrin said: “We don’t plan on going overseas anytime soon, so we decided to make sure we explore the UK as much as possible, starting with our own doorstep.”

Their most recent purchase was a family pass to the Llanelli Wetland Center, just 30 minutes from their home. Family membership starts at £ 72.

“We only have to go four times to make the pass worth it – we’ve been there three times already,” says Catrin. The pair, both 39, also have annual passes to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the National Trust and Cadw, which manages 130 historic properties. They documented their travels on YouTube and social media under the name Silver Nugget Adventure.

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If you live near National Trust properties or a local zoo and can visit regularly, then an annual membership can be much cheaper than daily tickets. An annual pass to Longleat Safari Park costs £ 100 for guests aged 16-59 and £ 75 for children aged 3-15. If you are over 60, it costs £ 90.

With a day ticket priced at £ 34.95 for adults and £ 26.20 for children, you only need to visit three times a year to qualify. A National Art Pass gives you free access to hundreds of museums and galleries, as well as a 50% discount on major exhibitions. Passes cost £ 73, or £ 45 if you are under 30 and £ 10 for under 16 (artfund.org).

FAB FREEBIES

The Canal & River Trust (canalrivertrust.org.uk) offers free introductory fishing sessions for those who want to learn. If you own bikes, the National Trust lists a selection of kid-friendly bike paths (nationaltrust.org.uk), while some municipalities offer residents to swim for free in the nearest pool. You can also pack a picnic and head to one of the Woodland Trust forests in the UK (woodlandtrust.org.uk).

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