Reading is one of the largest towns in the UK. Though it’s 50 miles outside of London, it is surrounded by the beautiful Berkshire countryside, and has the River Thames flowing through it too. The town has plenty of things to see and do and it makes a great, affordable family day out this half-term.
The Reading Museum is split over two sites and both are free to visit. There are 12 galleries to explore, 11 of these are sited at the town Hall, and the other at Blake’s Lock. They tell the story of Reading’s 1,000-year history, with objects and displays covering everything from archaeology, natural history, art and social history.
Look out for the special copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, archaeological remains from medieval Reading and Roman Silchester. The museums also come to life in foyers and outside the galleries, with artefacts and ceramics displayed on walls, so be sure not to miss those.
Take the time to visit The Museum at Blake’s Lock, hosted in two industrial buildings including an old turbine house. It tells the story of the River Thames and the Kennet. It also contains a fantastic gypsy caravan built by local firm Dunton and Sons.
Reading Mystery Treasure Trail
For those who like adventure trails, Reading has a mystery trail of its own with Treasure Trails. It costs £6.99 per trail for up to 5 people and it’s a fun way for all the family to explore the town. The murder mystery themed trail allows you to explore the town, and is approximately two miles long.
It’s suitable for all ages and there’s the chance to win some real treasure! All trails completed with correctly answered clues are entered into a prize draw worth £100 every month. The trail can be downloaded from home or sent to you in the post once it’s been paid for.
A few miles outside of central Reading is the wonderful Basildon Park which is a part of the National Trust.
It’s a great place to enjoy a day out in the gardens and parkland with the family. It has an abundance of wildlife and birds including red kite – get your little ones to try and spot them.
The park has a visitor centre and holds many family events throughout the summer. The park encourages kite flying, den building and making of art in the woods from found objects.
For those who want an extra treat, Basildon Park House is a stunning mansion where some of the indoor scenes of Downton Abbey were filmed. This would make a special birthday treat or surprise for fans of the show.
It’s free for National Trust members, otherwise a family ticket costs £36 for access to the mansion, or to visit the grounds of the mansion, it’s £22 for the family.
You can get more information on ticket prices for Basildon House here.
The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology
The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology is attached to Reading University and the Classics department. Regarded as the fourth largest collection of Greek ceramics in Britain, children with an eye for history and learning about the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians will enjoy this. You’ll find prehistoric pottery, ancient metal and stone artefacts. The museum is open Tuesday to Thursday throughout the summer and it’s completely free.
Want to explore more of the UK? You could start with the capital and our guide to affordable days out in London.