October Half Term activities with South Western Railway

Best October half term activities for kids

In this article, you'll learn the following:

Spending time together as a family is what half term is all about, so whether your kids are only just learning how to walk or are close to flying the nest, make sure to get everyone involved in the half term fun.

If you’re planning on travelling with your kids this half term, then why not make the most of public transport? Travelling by rail is a reliable and easy way to get from A to B, and you don’t have to worry about inconveniences like traffic jams or finding a parking spot.

The October half term always falls around Halloween, so if you’re looking for some spooky activities to get up to with the family, then check out our guide to the top spooky UK attractions. For activities a little less haunted, read on to find out more about what you can do this half term as a family.

Things to do with kids under 6

Kew Gardens

Children exploring Kew Bridge


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond

Kids between the ages of 0-6 approach everything with wonder and excitement, so there’s no better place for a half term adventure than Kew Gardens. You and your little ones can embark on a wild journey through the beautiful autumn landscape, exploring the plants and wildlife around you. Once you’re done exploring the gardens, you can find plenty of half term events to keep the kids entertained.

Price range: Children under four go free, and you can enjoy 2FOR1 entry on your visit or discounted entry with SWR Rewards.

How to get there: No matter who’s travelling, it’s easy to get the train to Kew Gardens. The nearest stations are Kew Bridge, at a 9-minute walk away, and Richmond at a 15-minute walk away.

Bournemouth Beach and Pier

Seal on Bournemouth Beach


Pier Approach, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 2BU

If you’re looking for free half term activities, then a trip to the beach is always a great shout. Voted best in the area for families, Alum Chine Beach is a great place to visit with children. There’s plenty to do, from leisurely strolls across the shore to a paddle in the sea for those who are feeling brave! Finish off with a trip to the pirate themed playground and tropical gardens located beside the beach.

Just a short stroll down the shorefront will take you to Bournemouth Pier, where you can find a host of activities for little ones to enjoy. As well as an amusement arcade and small kids’ fairground rides, the pier is also home to a charming, Victorian-style Helter Skelter that your little ones will love. No day at the seaside would be complete without an ice cream—so don’t forget to grab one before you leave!

Price range: The beach, gardens, pier and playground are all free. Fairground rides are an additional cost.

How to get there: Catch the train to Bournemouth before walking for 15 minutes towards the coast.

SEA LIFE Centre, London

Family at SEALIFE London


Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB

Dive underwater and take a trip to SEA LIFE this half term. Check out all the weird and wonderful creatures that call the aquarium home, as you venture into a world we rarely get to glimpse at – and don’t forget to keep a look out for sharks! With lots to see and do, this exciting deep-sea adventure is perfect for little ones, and makes for a great rainy day activity. What’s more, you can enjoy a 10% discount off London’s SEA LIFE, as well as the Big Bus Tour and a free river cruise with SWR Rewards. Simply follow the link to redeem your tickets online. If it’s just the aquarium that you’re after, then make the most of 2FOR1 SEA LIFE tickets when you travel by train.

Price range: ££

How to get there: SEA LIFE is a gentle nine-minute stroll from London Waterloo.

Things to do with kids aged 7-11

Shrek’s Adventure, London

Shrek Adventures


Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB

It’s hard to find a more loveable character than Shrek. That’s why the whole family can expect a day filled with laughter and delight at Shrek’s Adventure in London. This brilliantly bonkers walkthrough tour includes a mirror maze, 4D bus experience and more, and promises to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Book your tickets online with SWR Rewards to receive 10% off Shrek’s Adventure, an open-top bus tour and a fascinating river cruise. Or you can make the most of 2FOR1 tickets to Shrek’s Adventure when travelling by train.

Price range: ££

How to get there: Shrek’s Adventure is just an eight-minute stroll from London Waterloo.

Southbank Centre, London

Magnificent Monsters at the Southbank Centre


Belvedere Road, London SE1

If you’re searching for activities on London’s Southbank this half term, then round up your family and head to Southbank Centre on Belvedere Road. The centre runs yearly Halloween events for kids, each filled with creative workshops and wacky performances that will have your little monsters hooked.

While you’re there, be sure to stop off at Southbank Centre Food Market. Running Fridays, weekends and bank holidays, you’ll find a huge selection of foods with enough variety to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Price range: £-££

How to get there: You can catch a train to South Bank (London) via London Waterloo, and from there, it’s just a five-minute walk to your destination.

The Isle of Wight

Blackgang Chine


Situated just off the south coast of England, the Isle of Wight is easily accessible by public transport and has lots to offer for families of all ages. Little thrill seekers should head to the UK’s oldest theme park, Blackgang Chine, for an action-packed day filled with fun rides and delicious food. Once you’re all theme-parked out, take a trip to Monkey Haven to get up close and personal with a variety of animals, from monkeys and gibbons to lemurs and owls. To get back to nature, an autumn walk around the Isle of Wight won’t break the bank.

Price range: ££-£££

How to get there: The Isle of Wight can be accessed by catching a ferry from one of the four ferry ports, at either Southampton (Southampton Central), Portsmouth (Portsmouth Harbour), Lymington (Lymington Pier) or Southsea (Portsmouth & Southsea). You can save money by combining your ferry and train tickets when travelling with South Western Railway, so don’t forget to book in advance.


LEGOLAND Brick or Treat


Winkfield Rd, Windsor SL4 4AY

Allow the kids to burn off some steam and enjoy rides for all ages at one of the UK’s best loved attractions! A perfect October half term idea for kids big and small, there’s lots of fun to be had at LEGOLAND® Windsor with 2FOR1 entry. If you’re planning on spending another day in Windsor, there’s plenty to do in the area. Pay a visit to the grand and majestic Windsor Castle, before heading back to The Macdonald Windsor Hotel, where you can enjoy 20% off your stay with SWR Rewards.

Price range: ££-£££

How to get there: To get to LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort by train, you can travel into two main train stations: Windsor & Eton Riverside and Windsor & Eton Central. Both of these are around a 20 to 30-minute bus ride from the theme park.

Things to do with teenagers

Thorpe Park

Stealth ride at Thorpe Park
Stealth roller coaster


Staines Rd, Chertsey KT16 8PN

If you’re in search of a fun theme park for older kids, visit Thorpe Park. With plenty of rides, attractions and live events, there’s plenty for thrill seekers to get up to this half term. Running throughout the whole of October, Thorpe Park’s yearly Fright Nights are legendary. Offering everything from creepy shows to scare mazes, it’s not for the faint hearted! Those travelling by train can enjoy 2FOR1 entry tickets to Thorpe Park.

Price rating: ££-£££

How to get there: To get to Thorpe Park by train, you can travel to Staines direct from London Waterloo, Windsor & Eton Riverside, Reading and Weybridge. From there, catch the the 950 Express Bus to Thorpe Park, which runs every 15-20 minutes.

Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle


Corfe Castle, Wareham BH20 5EZ

For a fun and educational activity this half term, head to Corfe Castle. After surviving the English Civil War, the castle’s ruins remain a symbol of Dorset’s history. There’s plenty to see and do at this thousand-year-old fortress, from exploring the castle using a fascinating audio guide to indulging in a tasty bite to eat at the tea rooms. Corfe Castle always holds a selection of events during October half term, perfect for when you’ve finished roaming the ruins. There are many books set in the south west, and bookworms might be interested to know that Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five novels is based on Corfe Castle.

Price range: £

How to get there: It’s easy to get to Corfe Castle by train. Catch a service to Wareham station before hopping on the Purbeck Breezer 40 bus, which takes just 15 minutes to arrive at the castle.

The National History Museum, London

Hintz Hall at the Natural History Museum


Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD

Brush up your history at The Natural History Museum, where you can discover a range of fascinating free exhibits and tours taking place over half term. By far the most impressive of the exhibits in the museum are the huge dinosaur skeletons that hang from the ceiling—but that’s not all the museum has to offer! Exhibitions here are always being updated, so there’s plenty to keep you coming back year after year.

Price range: Free (donation suggested)

How to get there: Catch the train to Vauxhall before hopping on a three-minute tube, via the Victoria line to Victoria Station. Switch to the westbound District line, get off at South Kensington and then walk for five minutes.

These ideas should help you to plan what to do in October half term, no matter what age the kids are. For a stress-free journey, book your train tickets in advance, choosing from our flexible range of ticket types. Discover cheap train tickets by going off-peak, and those with a Railcard could save even more. If you travel regularly with the kids then you might want to consider a Family and Friends Railcard, which allows you to save 1/3 off adult fares and 60% off child fares.

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