If you told your kids that you were going to take them on a day out to learn about conservation or the environment, they’d probably moan so much you’d be reaching for the ear plugs – or the wine. If you take them to one of the attractions that are part of the Eco Attractions Group, however, they will be so busy having fun they won’t even realise that they are learning things that have the power to preserve the planet for their own children and grandchildren. The EAG alliance officially represents ten major British tourist attractions that have a strong focus on environmental themes, but here are five of the best for kids. Start planning your next day out – it could be good for the planet as well as your youngsters.
The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth in Wales is Europe’s top eco centre, offering seven acres of stunning organic gardens and hands-on displays. There are also plenty of free activities on offer for children during the school holidays. This is a day out that can be as inspirational as it is fun, showing off renewable energy in action, the potential for sustainable building and the spectacular results of organic gardening efforts. This all might sound a bit ‘heavy’, but the interactive nature of the centre and its stunning surroundings make it well worth a visit.
Take the kids on a stroll through the planet’s biggest conservatory, exquisite Mediterranean-inspired terrain and seemingly endless gardens at the world-renowned Eden Project in Cornwall. The Rainforest Biome is the location of the largest enclosed rainforest in the world, and youngsters will undoubtedly be in awe of the canopy that soars 50 metres into the air. They will love discovering steamy jungles and waterfalls and learning that lemons and oranges don’t grow in packets that end up on supermarket shelves. Plan a trip to The Core education centre, perfect for children who like to get hands-on during their days out. There’s certainly no shortage of handles to wind and buttons to press.
The Living Rainforest attraction close to Newbury in Berkshire is great no matter what the weather. There are lots of tropical plants to see and also lots of animals, including a West African dwarf crocodile, a two-toed sloth, red-billed toucans and Goeldi’s monkeys. If your children are more into the sea than the land, the award-winning submarium known as The Deep is a must-see attraction. There are no fewer than nine different sharks on show, along with the only green sawfish pair in Europe. There are rays and more fish than you would find in Harry Ramsden’s freezers, along with a colony of majestic Gentoo penguins.
At west London’s famous Kew Gardens, kids can enjoy Climbers and Creepers, the first botanical interactive play zone in Britain. They can explore a man-sized Badger Sett and a Marine Display that highlights four different marine habitats, along with all of the other attractions that Kew has to offer. The whole family can scale the Xstrata Treetop Walkway to get close to the fascinating canopy level in the arboretum or simply enjoy looking around what is the world’s biggest plant collection.