Why stare out at the rain while your kids run wild in the living room? Get your coats and hats and go wild with them.
We’ve planned trips to your nearest wildlife park, perfect for half term or the odd rainy weekend. So, leave the car at home and make the train journey part of the experience.
When it comes to train travel, the earlier you book, the cheaper your tickets tend to be. And, there are two golden rules for every journey with the family –
- Use Price Prediction, a nifty bit of tech in our app, which pinpoints the perfect time to book your train ticket, saving you up to 49%*.
- Little children, little prices! Most Train Operating Companies (TOCs) let up to two children under five travel for free when they’re with at least one adult, so team up with a few parents and bring the whole clan for no extra cost.
*Booking in advance could save you up to 49% compared with booking your ticket on the day of travel.
1. Get 2 for 1 at London Zoo
Travel by train to ZSL London Zoo and, as well as avoiding the city’s traffic, you can take advantage of 2 for 1 entry (register in advance), meaning you can use the money you’ve saved for treats like ice cream or hot chocolate.
If your ticket has the National Rail symbol on it (below), it’ll be valid, just make sure you print off the valid voucher in advance.
London Euston is the closest train station to ZSL London Zoo. From there, it’s a short bus or tube ride away – you can add a travelcard to your booking.
Whether they’re crazy about big cats or potty about penguins, your little ones can get hands-on and learn just what it takes to look after all creatures great and small. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything extra, and there’s no need to book.
Why not plan the ultimate sleepover party at Lion Lodge? You’ll get to spend the night in a cosy cabin within roaring distance of the lions – just wait ‘til they tell their friends at school.
2. Save 25% at Shepreth Wildlife Park
Shepreth Wildlife Park is just a short hop on the train from Cambridge and Stevenage, and just over an hour from London Kings Cross, making it an easy day trip if you live in the South East of England. Just show your train ticket at the park’s entrance for a special rate of just £9.50 per adult.
Get up close to playful red pandas, cheeky meerkats and loveable otters, or spend the day being a keeper, for 25% less when you book online before the end of January.
There’s no need to fear bad weather with the Nocturnal House and Tropical House to shelter and entertain you. And you can even get 25% discount on adoptions.
It’s not every day you can tell people you’ve come face to face with a T-rex. Well, at Port Lympne Reserve in Kent you can, in their Dinosaur Forest. Don’t forget to pack your camera, so you can star in your very own Jurassic Park film!
You don’t have to go to Africa to go on safari either, as there’s a free trip included in your ticket price (a family ticket for two adults and two children costs £82). Unlike many attractions, Port Lympne Reserve is open all year, including Bank Holidays, so there’s no chance of being rained off.
Seasoned explorers like you will have no trouble getting to the park from Ashford International Station (36mins from London St Pancras by HighSpeed), then it’s a short hop by bus, or a 10-minute taxi ride away.
The park is spread over 600 acres, so there’s plenty of space for your little tearaways to run wild. And, when they’re all worn out, tuck them up in a treehouse for the night – bedtime stories will feel even more magical.
3. Check out Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo is one of the easiest places to visit by train. Whether you’re coming from Manchester, Liverpool or Wales, your train ticket includes the use of the “zoo bus”, which takes you direct to the entrance gates from bus stop S6.
If the school run and early starts of a normal working week have tired you out, enjoy a lie in this half term and then travel Off-Peak with up to nine people and save 34% with GroupSave*.
The trains will be cheaper and quieter when you travel outside of rush hour. But, if you need to change seats, open up our handy app and use our Seat Finder – we’ll highlight the emptiest carriages on your train.
*This discount will be auto-applied if it’s applicable when you select the GroupSave option from the Railcards dropdown menu at the time of booking.
4. See England’s only polar bears
No need to go through freezing temperatures and arctic winds, catch the train to Doncaster for the nearby Yorkshire Wildlife Park and you can see polar bears up close, as well as lions, lemurs, wallabies and more.
Book the Polar Bear Experience and you can meet these white giants before the park opens, after a VIP breakfast in their Safari Café.
The train from Sheffield to Doncaster can take about30 minutes, and an Off-Peak Return will only set you back £6.40. It’ll cost you even less if you’ve got a Friends and Family Railcard, they cost £30 for the year and give you 1/3 off train tickets.
5. See Birmingham’s Ocelots for not-a-lot
Birmingham’s Wildlife Conservation Park might be smaller than some zoos, but it’s still got great reviews on TripAdvisor. You’ll find some of the more unusual species here, like prickly porcupines, lynx and rare ocelots.
Entry prices are reasonable too – at just £6.25 adult entry, it’s a great choice for those on a budget. Five Ways, the nearest station, takes less than an hour from Wolverhampton and Coventry, and Return tickets will cost under £10 per person*.
If you’ve got an Anytime Day Return ticket, you can return as late as you like so, make a day of it. Cannon Hill park, next door, has mini golf, and there are botanical gardens less than a 10-minute taxi ride away.
*Anytime Day Return from Coventry to Five Ways - £9.30 when searched on 22nd January 2018. Anytime Day Return from Wolverhampton to Five Ways - £9.30 when searched on 22nd January 2018.
To plan your own wild family trips, use our days out tool to find the nearest train stations.