Beaumaris Gaol and Courthouse

You get two attractions for the price of one at Beaumaris Gaol and Courthouse. There’s the 17th century courthouse and, just down the road, the jail where convicted criminals were sent to serve their punishment. It’s pretty bleak stuff, but the excellent audio tour (and staff) make it a powerfully evocative experience, especially for older children. And when they’ve been released from jail, they’ll fully deserve an ice-cream on the seafront.

stone court yard of goal.
lifesize figure of judge with wig sat at table with reflection.
Room with pink walls, mantel piece, paintings and wooden table with papers and chairs .

Beaumaris Gaol and Courthouse, Anglesey, North Wales

Tudor Merchant's House

The old harbour town of Tenby is the classic seaside resort, with fabulous beaches set around a medieval walled town. The fine three-storey Tudor Merchant's House has been restored to its 1500 heyday, when a wealthy Tudor merchant lived and worked here. There are Easter, Hallowe’en and Tudor-themed family events, or you can play the Tudor Family Fortunes game at any time.

Aerial view of beach and town.

Tenby, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

St Fagans National History Museum

This is simply one of the world’s best open-air museums. More than 40 original Welsh buildings, from Celtic times onwards, have been moved to 100 acres of parkland at St Fagans: National History Museum just outside Cardiff. The buildings in themselves are fascinating places to poke around, but it’s the skills of the traditional craftsmen and women, not to mention native livestock in the fields and farmyards, that bring it all so vividly to life. They also have regular family events – and amazingly, it’s all free.

Kitchen with large oak table
Exterior of a food store and ironmonger with displays in windows.
Red cottage next to a field with trees behind

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, South Wales

Deep Mine Tour at Zip World Llechwedd

If kids today think they’ve got it tough, at least they didn’t spend 12 hours a day, six days a week, working underground in semi-darkness like Victorian children. This vast slate mine at Zip World Llechwedd has revamped its guided tours to include off-road adventures into the lunar landscape of the quarried mountains, and tours deep underground into cathedral-sized caverns. You can also stay the nearby award-winning Llechwedd Glamping safari tents.

exterior view of cavern with visitors stood looking down
Slate cavern and natural spring water lit up with brightly coloured lights.
People looking at a colourfully lit underground slate cavern.

Zip World Llechwedd, Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales


While the TV series Downton Abbey offers a rose-tinted view of master-servant relations, Erddig tells it how it really was. This splendid country house near Wrexham reflects 250 years of upstairs-downstairs life, from the luxurious upstairs rooms where the gentry lived, to the warren of downstairs kitchens and outbuildings where the real work was done. There are festivals, craft fairs and family fun days throughout the year.

Castell Henllys

The Iron Age roundhouses are built right on top of the excavated remains of a hill fort, dating back 2,400 years, now set in 30 acres of beautiful woodland and river meadows near the Pembrokeshire coastal village of Newport. But it’s the guided tours and sheer exuberance of the staff at Castell Henllys which turns an interesting day into a brilliantly fun one – for all the family, but especially children, who are encouraged to get properly stuck in to Iron Age life.

Replicate iron age round house in the background with girl being face painted by woman in period costume in the foreground

Castell Henllys, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

Aberconwy House

Conwy’s castle and medieval town walls are mostly intact (and great for exploring) but Aberconwy House is the only medieval merchant’s house to have survived the last 600 years. What makes this so special is the quality of the staff, who are brilliant at engaging young visitors’ imagination, with children’s trails, ghost stories and seasonal activities.

Llancaiach Fawr

Llancaiach Fawr is a fortified manor house, furnished just as it would have been in 1645, and the costumed actor/guides play the part of its Civil War-era inhabitants. Children love trying to trick the guides into breaking character, but it’s impossible – all the staff remain brilliantly rooted in the 17th century. The Family Ghost Tours are a popular draw in the winter.

Judge's Lodging

There’s a strict ‘hands-on’ policy at The Judge's Lodging in the old shire hall in Presteigne, which means that children can (literally) feel what life was like in Victorian times, when judges relaxed in the apartments above, while prisoners suffered in the cells below. There are activity boxes for kids to explore, with dressing up clothes and toys, and they’ve taken a cheerfully ‘Horrible Histories’ approach by pointing out all the grisly details of what life used to be like here.

woman dressed in Victoria costume holding book onto of a boy's head.

The Judge's Lodging, Presteigne, Mid Wales

Big Pit National Coal Museum

Head deep underground on a mine tour conducted by former miners, and find out first hand the conditions and challenges that miners faced. The Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon is a brilliant industrial heritage museum full of interactive exhibits and displays.

Group of people at a picnic table with a view of the Pit Head at a coal museum.
Four adults wearing overalls and hard-hat helmets with head torches on the front.

Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon, South Wales

Related stories