If you worked last week around having the kids at home for half-term, AND you did it on a budget, I tip my hat to you. Thrifty Kid isn’t even at school yet and already we get bombarded by lovely-but-expensive-sounding ideas for things to do during the holidays.
That said, last week I took Thrifty Kid on a free day out to the National Railway Museum in York, where there were a fair few holiday activities being laid on for kids. The National Railway Museum is already his favourite place in the whole world, so the addition of lots of free mini-adventures was a welcome bonus.
The Chuggington play area for children aged six and under was a hit: toy trains and track as far as the toddler eye could see (above). The children in this part of the Museum’s Great Hall were split into two groups: those who were playing happily, and those who were hurling toys out of prams left, right and centre while being dragged away from the Chuggington toys.
There was also lots of dress-up. There were rails of Chuggington outfits in the play area, but also opportunities to dress up as station announcers, wave flags and make practice announcements on microphones.
My child’s proudest moment on the day was when he got to dress up as a driver and stand in the cab of a steam locomotive called Teddy. As you can probably tell from the picture, he was pleased as punch. (What you probably can’t tell, despite the shaky camera, is that I was standing on the platform praying to God that he didn’t fall off the edge of the cab and down onto the track.)
Many of the special kids’ activities are on at the National Railway Museum until 28 February 2014, and I got the sense that many of them were regular holiday events. If you are in the north of England and planning any free days out now or in the future, this place comes highly recommended by Thrifty Kid and me. And if the orderly queue to play driver on Teddy the steam locomotive was anything to go by, big kids like it there too…
Two bonus ways to save money at the National Railway Museum:
1. Park and ride. Although the National Railway Museum is free, parking costs a rather steep £9 per vehicle. If public transport isn’t a viable option, consider York’s Park and Ride scheme instead. Park for free in one of the five car parks on the city’s outskirts, then catch the bus into the city centre. The bus fare is £2.70 for one adult plus up to two children aged under 16. Details of the car park locations and other scheme details can be found here.
2. Take your own food. The cafes at the National Railway Museum serve delicious food, but they ain’t cheap. (Well, not by my skinflint standards.) There is an outdoor picnic area, but it backs onto one of the cafes, so I don’t know if it’s ok to eat your own sandwiches there. However once the weather is warm enough to eat outside, I’d recommend strolling down the road for a few minutes, under the railway bridge and into the pretty Memorial Gardens.
I’ll bet my bottom dollar that there are Miss Thrifty readers who know the National Railway Museum like the back of their hands, and have plenty more ways to save money or make the most of a cheap day out there. If you are one of them, please make yourself known. 🙂