1. National Football Museum, Manchester
You’ll discover this museum in the uniquely modern Urbis building in the centre of Manchester. The National Football Museum has proved a popular attraction since opening last July and its vast collection includes colourful memorabilia, player profiles, football kits and photographs chronicling the history of the beautiful game. The Discovery Zone is a place where children can dress up as footballers themselves; and in the storytelling corner they can listen to stories of teams’ triumphs.
• Cathedral Gardens, 0161-605 8200, nationalfootballmuseum.com. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm, admission free
2. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
This much-loved institution is among the most-visited museums in the UK outside of London. With 22 galleries and more than 8,000 objects, Kelvingrove really is the kind of museum in which you can while away a rainy day. Fine art and armouries aside, one of the most popular exhibits is the beehive, which is designed to allow the bees in and out of the building.
• Argyle Street, 0141 276 9599, glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove. Open Mon-Thurs, Sat 10am-5pm, Fri and Sun 11am-5pm, admission free
3. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
There are plenty of exhibits designed especially for children at this museum, a great place to learn about the natural and human world. Some of the most remarkable objects on display include a gigantic skull (from a whale named Moby), and that timeless museum classic: a life-sized cast of a T rex skeleton that’s a whopping 12m long.
• Chambers Street, 0300 123 6789, nms.ac.uk. Open daily 10am-5pm, admission free
4. Monkwearmouth Station Museum, Sunderland
Trains are the name of the game at this fun museum in a grand former station building. The galleries look at the history of travel, with fascinating archive footage and photos of journeys past. The subject is brought to life thanks to a restoration of the original 1860s booking office and two beautiful old railway wagons that you can go inside.
• North Bridge Street, 0191 567 7075, twmuseums.org.uk/monkwearmouth-station-museum. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm, admission free
5. V&A Museum of Childhood, London
With its adorable collection of teddy bears, a display of Victorian doll’s houses big enough to outdo most first-time buyers and enough toys to prompt nostalgia from every generation, this is a museum that should charm adults as much as kids. Particularly memorable – for anyone with a penchant for horror – is the macabre collection of china dolls, who seem to watch you as you wander past. If you’re feeling spooked, go on a hunt for the Care Bears.
• Cambridge Heath Road, 020-8983 5200, museumofchildhood.org.uk. Open daily 10am-5.45pm
6. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Torfaen
The prospect of going to a coal museum might be met with groans from your brood, but the Big Pit has the power to entertain as well as educate. The former coal mine was opened as a museum in 2004 and features displays that detail the hard work and sacrifice involved in getting coal from the earth. After taking part in the underground tour – in which visitors don helmets and cap lamps before being lowered 90m below the ground for a walk around the mine’s tunnels – you can also take in exhibitions that depict the story of mining in Wales, in what used to be the pithead baths.
• Blaenafon, 029-2057 3650, museumwales.ac.uk/bigpit. Open daily 9.30am-4.30pm, underground tours 10am-3pm, admission free, car park £3
7. St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff
One of Europe’s leading open-air museums, St Fagans has 100 acres of parkland in which you’ll find more than 40 original buildings from various historical periods. Among those you can explore are a church, a farm, a school and a workmen’s institute, which are all regularly brought to life through workshops and demonstrations of traditional crafts. When the weather improves, wildlife fans can enjoy the nature trail through the museum’s wonderful beech woodland.
• 029-2057 3500, museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans. Open daily 10am-5pm, admission free
8. Coventry Transport Museum
You don’t have to a be a gas-guzzling roadhog with a Top Gear tattoo to get excited about this museum’s collection of vehicles. Not least because the museum has one of the best collections of bicycles in the country, featuring classics from the painfully rigid Boneshaker to the chilled-out Chopper. Of course, motorheads will want to take a look at the world’s two fastest cars (the Thrust 2 and ThrustSCC), which are on permanent display.
• Millennium Place, Hales Street, 024-7623 4270, transport-museum.com. Open daily 10am-5pm, admission free
9. Royal Armouries, Leeds
We all know families aren’t averse to an occasional bit of fighting. A trip to this place, which is brimming with around 70,000 weapons, is more likely to stop bickering siblings in their tracks than prompt an all-out war. The thrilling collection is a testament to the creativity and innovation that has gone into developing tools of combat, and it’s hard to know whether to be impressed, or terrified. Film fans may also like to take in a slice of the action at the Swords of Middle Earth exhibition, which includes four heroic swords inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy (runs until 28 July).
• Armouries Drive, 0113 220 1999, royalarmouries.org. Open daily 10am-5pm, admission free
10. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
A bit like an art gallery you can shout in (though maybe don’t do it too much), the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a magnificent open-air gallery surrounded by lush countryside. Founded in 1977, and the first of its kind in the UK, the 500-acre park features artworks by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Eduardo Paolozzi. Check the weather before you go – you might need wellies.
• West Bretton, 01924 832631, ysp.co.uk. Open daily 10am-6pm, admission free, car parking from £2.50