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Accessible attractions to visit with the grandchildren

21st January 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

For many grandparents, taking the grandchildren on a day out is a real treat, and one that is looked forward to by all the family. However, for those with mobility difficulties, it can sometimes be a worry that an attraction may not cater for both children and the older visitor, with information on adaptations such as disabled stairlifts and wheelchair facilities not necessarily readily available.

We’ve put together this handy guide to help grandparents decide which attractions are suitable, so that children are kept entertained while those with mobility difficulties can enjoy the day as much as the younger visitors.

The Natural History Museum

As one of the top attractions in the UK, with more than five million visitors annually, it’s safe to say that the Natural History Museum in London is highly recommended. Boasting unique collections which include dinosaur skeletons, to temporary wildlife photography exhibitions, the museum is both fascinating and fun, and will appeal to all ages.

The museum has improved many of its facilities over the years in order to be accessible for those with mobility difficulties. Many of the exhibitions are wheelchair accessible, with a number available to be loaned by people who may find walking around a large museum all day difficult. Blue Badge holders are welcome to book the disabled parking spaces available in the private car park by calling 0207 942 6230, and on arrival are advised to use the Exhibition Road entrance to the museum for step-free access.

“The Natural History Museum is a fully accessible fun day out for all the family with facilities on site to support those with mobility issues. The museum has been carefully curated and designed to appeal to families and children and to provide a fun level of scientific knowledge of the natural world. The majority of our visitors are families and as we try to feature various aspects of the natural world, there is a lot to see from minerals, fossils, animal specimens and even the opportunity to experience what an Earthquake may feel like.”

-          The Natural History Museum

Folly Farm

For an all round day out, you can’t get much better than Folly Farm. Whether your family are animal lovers, thrill seekers or just like to make the most of the countryside, this all-weather attraction in Pembrokeshire offers fun-packed activities for everyone. Grandparents can watch in delight as children interact with farmyard favourites, take part in educational opportunities, and can even join in with the fun on many of the rides including the go karts.

“Folly Farm has everything you need for a great day out with the family, whatever your age and whatever the weather - plus we are disabled friendly.  As well as our fantastic zoo boasting a collection of over 400 species of exotic animals including giraffes, Humboldt penguins and a pride of African Lions, we also have a farmyard full of furry friends, a magical Vintage Funfair and indoor and outdoor adventure play areas – plenty to entertain both the young and young at heart. We provide excellent value for money with concessionary rates for disabled guests and senior citizens, (cheaper rates available when booked online) plus there’s free entry for carers*.

“We have plenty of seating areas to have a rest and watch the children play and the majority of the park is wheelchair and buggy friendly.  There are also numerous pit stops to refuel with a tasty snack, refreshments or a meal from one of our food outlets.  Wheelchairs and disabled parking are both available for free of charge, and there are plenty of toilet blocks with disabled toilets and changing facilities available as well as a first aid hut with hoist.  We also have wheelchair access to both our Pembrokeshire Big Wheel and Land Train Tractor rides. (*Free entry for carers but we request proof/ID wherever possible)”

-          Folly Farm

Heritage Motor Centre

Much more than simply a car museum, the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire is home to over 300 vehicles placed in interactive exhibitions, as well as offering a Land Rover Experience and children’s play area. Also, throughout the year there are often numerous exciting events taking place, which range from classic car shows to children’s activities and school holiday events. There are cars to sit-in for photo opportunities, meaning grandparents can capture memories of the day, and under 5s can borrow push-along cars to help keep them amused on the way round the exhibitions.

Ideal for those with mobility difficulties, the centre is all on one level and provides wide aisles to allow easy access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, which are welcomed. The reception desk is also lowered to help those in wheelchairs, and disabled toilets cater for both right and left hand stroke sufferers. There is also plenty of seating around the museum to rest on.

"Whether you are young or old, there is sure to be a car in the museum's collection of over 250 that you recognise, be it reminiscing over the first car you ever drove or owned, or the cars you aspire to - it is a fantastic place for grandparents to impart their bit of social history on to the next generation."

-          Tim Bryan, Head of Collections at the Heritage Motor Centre

Edinburgh Bus Tours

Experiencing a new city can be a magical experience for children, and one that can be made even more captivating with Edinburgh Bus Tours, who has been awarded five-star status from VisitScotland for the third year running. What’s more, those with mobility difficulties need not worry about having to get around, as once securely seated, the sights can be viewed from the comfort of the tour bus. Both grandparents and grandchildren can discover the history of this elegant city, while getting to view all the iconic landmarks that Edinburgh is famous for, including Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Royal Yacht Britannia and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

“We offer five tours in total - three year-round, including the red City Sightseeing tour, green Edinburgh Tour and Majestic Tour to Leith which are particularly accessible to anyone with mobility issues. All tours are child-friendly and the City Sightseeing tour has the added benefit of the Horrible Histories commentary to bring to life Edinburgh’s past. The Forth Bridges Bus & Boat Tour that operates March to November is another family favourite as it takes in Edinburgh’s coastline and kids can enjoy the seals in the Firth of Forth.”

-          Edinburgh Bus Tours

LEGOLAND Windsor Resort

With LEGO dating back to 1949, it’s highly likely that both grandparents and grandchildren have played with these iconic construction toys before. Therefore, LEGOLAND in Windsor presents the perfect opportunity to discover a world of fun and creativity together, taking part in building workshops, going on the wide selection of interactive rides, and marvelling at impressive model displays.

Priding itself on its disabled friendly features, the theme park regularly conducts risk assessments and reviews policies in order to ensure that the resort remains accessible for all guests, including wheelchair users.

“The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort is the ultimate day out for all of the family - with over 55 interactive rides, live shows and attractions the Resort is designed with the needs of our guests firmly in mind.”

-          LEGOLAND Windsor Resort

RHS Garden Rosemoor

Open all year round except for Christmas Day, Rosemoor Gardens in Great Torrington is a great day out for all ages, and in all seasons. Whether you visit in winter on a cold crisp morning and discover the white frost on the foliage, or come in the midst of summer to witness the blossoming vibrant flowers, it’s certain to be a day out enjoyed by all the family.

Those with mobility issues are well catered for, with wheelchairs and mobility vehicles available to be used as well as easy access to most buildings and gardens. There’s also plenty for younger visitors to see and do, with a number of events often hosted in the school holidays which children are welcomed to attend.

“Our garden is ideal for people with mobility issues and visiting with children alike!”

-          RHS Garden Rosemoor

Jorvik Viking Centre

Take a step back in time with the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, and discover the city as it once would have been 1000 years ago. With four exciting exhibitions, built on the very site that archaeologists revealed the houses, workshops and backyards of the Vikings, a more authentic experience couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Talks throughout the attraction can be tailored for people of all ages, and there are numerous facilities that make the Jorvik Viking Centre accessible to all. These include a lift down to the attraction itself, a specially adapted capsule for wheelchairs on the ride, and Welcome All trained staff to make sure there is someone on hand to help at all times if necessary.

“The ride through the Viking streets of York comes equipped with a special commentary just for kids. With a press of a button, you can hear about Toki, a young boy who lives in JORVIK, as he guides you round his village, explaining the different sights, sounds and smells! You can even pick up a Toki Trail, which guides you around the exhibits through the attraction, with fun facts to discover and activities to take part in. Our first gallery even features a map of our glass floor, where children can discover the archaeological treasures underneath, and take a guess at what they could have been used for in Viking times.

“All of our Vikings are trained and knowledgeable, so any questions you may have about the attraction or the Viking age can be answered, whether it’s how they lived, what they ate, or even what they wore.”

-          Jorvik Viking Centre

Image Credit: Heritage Motor Centre, NHM London, Folly Farm, Heritage Motor Centre, Edinburgh Bus Tours, LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, RHS Garden Rosemoor, Jorvik Viking Centre

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.