I’m always on the look out for fun and new places to take the children, and often the only way I hear about them are by word of mouth. Having had 6 years of experience now of trial and error, working out where is worth going to, and where isn’t, I now have quite a good repertoire of places that we all enjoy visiting in and around Oxfordshire (mainly). I thought I’d share them with you here when I visit them, and also when I find new ones too.
On a rainy day last weekend, we had to cancel our plans to got to a National Trust house and find an alternative. The friends we were meeting suggested going to the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke. Not having heard of it before, I was surprised to discover that it had rave reviews on TripAdvisor and from the website it actually looked quite good. We had £40 of Tesco clubcard days out vouchers to use up, so when I realised they accepted those too, it was a done deal.
The museum is about 1 hour drive from Abingdon. It is based inside a large hanger about the size of a football pitch and is fitted out inside with a nostalgic look at what England would have looked like throughout the last century.
Real vintage trams, steam trains, cars and fire engines sit outside replica brick-built shops on real cobbled streets. You can climb in most of the vehicles, and dress up in different costumes from the ages in the dressing up tent.
There is a sweet shop where you can spend your old one penny sweet ration that you buy on entry, to buy 2oz of sweets from a selection of old sweet jars (what children during sugar rationing would have been allowed for a whole week). There is even a real pub in the middle of it all where you can sit and have a drink.
There is an old camera shop, old toy shop, old record shop, old car show room…
There are displays of everything you can imagine, from old hoovers and hair dryers, to what a living room would have looked like in the 30s through to the 70s.
We probably had the most fun in the Old Penny Arcade at the end. You change a £1 into 10 old pennies and use them on the impressive collection of old penny arcade machines.
They have a changing, running theme going on most of the time it seems – the current one is ‘The Vanishing Queen’, where, with the help of a clue book, children must work out who has kidnapped Queen Victoria. Once you have worked it out, anyone 7 and over (for extra cost) can also go and have a go in ‘The Escape Room’ where you need to solve a number of puzzles in a certain time to escape from a locked room…
We all really enjoyed the museum, and spent a good three hours there, including some time having lunch in the café. I’d say it would hold interest for all members if the family, from grandparents, teenagers, to little ones. I’m surprised it has taken us this long to hear about it – hence this blog post is trying to spread the word into Oxfordshire!
Top Tips for the Trip
- Journey time – One hour drive from Abingdon. For the amount of time you can spend there I’d say it is definitely worth the drive.
- Parking – Easy parking right outside the museum.
- Opening Times – It’s open from 11am-4pm on the weekends. We went on a rainy Saturday in September and arrived at midday, I thought it might be packed but I was surprised to find it wasn’t.
- Entrance – We paid £30 for a family (2 adults and up to 3 children), but bought the entry with our Tesco Clubcard Days Out vouchers, so got in for free!
- Eating – There’s a nice café there as you go in, that serves hot food and cold sandwiches, cakes, soup, sausage rolls and lunch boxes for children.
I highly recommend this place for a rainy day out!