18 fabulous family days out in and around the Forest of Dean

With magical woodlands and fascinating attractions, the Forest of Dean is brimming with amazing places that are a must-visit for families.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Dean Heritage Centre
Spend some quality time with the kids in the Forest of Dean, with plenty of fantastic family days out around the area.
In partnership with Dean Heritage Centre  |  deanheritagecentre.com
Dean Heritage Centre

Dean Heritage Centre is a popular attraction in the heart of the Forest of Dean, providing a window into the region’s past through its interactive museum and outdoor exhibits. Activities include stepping inside the replica Victorian schoolroom and spotting Gruffalo sculptures, with a rainy-day guarantee that offers a free return visit if the weather is bad.

From treetop adventures to animal encounters, the Forest of Dean has something for the smallest explorers, little daredevils and adventurous grown-ups.

Handpicking 18 of the most fantastic places to visit in the Forest of Dean and the surrounding area, SoGlos has included something for every member of the family to enjoy in this hot list.

Dean Heritage Centre

With acres of beautiful grounds to explore and an impressive selection of interactive exhibits, Dean Heritage Centre is bursting with things to see and do. Head back in time in the Victorian schoolroom or explore the replica free mine to see what the Forest of Dean's traditional coal mines would have been like. For younger visitors, there’s a lovely opportunity to explore the magical woodland on the Gruffalo trail, too.

Puzzlewood

A setting for scores of films including a major Star Wars production, explore the enchanted woodland and twisting tree trunks at Puzzlewood in Coleford. Visitors can look out for tiny beasts while they walk through the whimsical woods and kids can try out the racing track and outdoor playground.

Beechenhurst

The perfect place to start the famous Sculpture Trail, Beechenhurst has a great café for a much-need pit stop, as well as an impressive play area for the kids. The fun and interactive Superworm trail is sure to keep little visitors entertained, too. 

Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo

Visitors can head inside the tropical biome at Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo in Symonds Yat for the fascinating chance to be immersed in the world of these beautiful creatures. Expect to see a variety of butterflies fluttering around and maybe even catch a glimpse of a chrysalis transforming into a butterfly right in front of your eyes.

Clearwell Caves

Explore some of the UK’s oldest underground mine workings at the fascinating Clearwell Caves. The natural caverns are a spectacular must-see, steeped in history, with visitors able to immerse themselves in a hidden world that was once home to prehistoric life, as well as being mines!

Dean Forest Railway

Running through rolling countryside and beautiful woodland, Dean Forest Railway begins in Lydney and includes five stations along the way, finishing up at the Severn Estuary. Hop on the steam train for a locomotive adventure and make the journey even more memorable with a delicious cream tea when you’re on board.

Briery Hill Llamas

Die-hard llama lovers can spend some quality time with the gentle camelids at Briery Hill Llamas, offering llama experiences and trekking from its farm in Newent. Enjoy one-on-one interactions with the fluffy creatures, even having a go at grooming, before setting off on a picturesque walk with your new friend by your side.

Forest Adventure

With activities spanning rock climbing, caving, archery, canoeing and kayaking, Forest Adventure provides all kinds of outdoor experiences in and around the Forest of Dean. Thrill-seeking families can abseil down rock faces, navigate the River Wye's turbulent rapids and head underground to discover the world beneath the forest floor.

Go Ape

Big and little daredevils can test their nerve and take on the heights of the Treetop Challenge at Go Ape at Mallards Pike. Set amongst a canopy of trees at Mallards Pike Lake, the activity centre also offers a novel Segway experience, which is great for taking in the views and enjoying some family fun; while there's high ropes courses better suited to the smallest of adventurers at Go Ape at Beechenhurst.

Palace Cinema

Cinderford just so happens to be home to one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas that's still operating in Britain, with the jolly Palace Cinema showing all the latest blockbusters and kid-friendly movies. Tickets prices are very reasonable and children can get their cinema snack fix from the freshly-popped popcorn and confectionary on offer.

Symonds Yat Rock

For a free day out, head up to the top of Symonds Yat Rock to soak up the panoramic views of the valley and River Wye below. What’s more, there’s the chance to spot the peregrine falcons who nest nearby, and you can also grab a bite to eat at the café hut, too.

Harts Barn Cookery School

A highlight for budding chefs, Harts Barn Cookery School in Longhope hosts hands-on cookery and baking classes, where visitors of all ages can attempt to become culinary geniuses. There's dedicated activities just for children, too, teaching little ones how to make basic meals and even how to create their own chocolate.

Littledean Jail

Definitely not for the fainthearted or nervous kids, Littledean Jail promises to intrigue the darkest of minds. True crime junkies will be in their element exploring the gruesome and fascinating exhibits, covering the Nazis and Holocaust years, the infamous Kray Twins, ‘freaks of nature’ and even a murder victim’s skeleton!

Perrygrove Railway Adventure

Catch the train at Perrygrove and jump off at its various stations, where you'll find exciting play areas and plenty of woodland walks. Climb into the canopy and explore the bouncy bridge and treehouses at Treetop Adventure, crawl through the secret passages that link each house in the Twilight Village, and wriggle through the warrens at the Foxy Hollow play area.

Forest of Dean Cycle Centre

Get the kids to practice their pedalling along the popular Family Cycle Trail, a surfaced, nine-mile circular route which passes some great picnic spots. It's accessible from the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre, where visitors can hire bikes from Pedalabikeaway or even push themselves on the demanding downhill trails and pump track.

Dick Whittington Park

A giant indoor play barn near Longhope, Dick Whittington Park is bursting with fun activities for younger children — and is ideal for rainy days out, too. Little visitors can zoom down drop slides and clamber over the soft play equipment as their parents relax in the café, while there's also a sensory garden and nature trails to discover in the grounds.

Hopewell Colliery

There's a special opportunity to immerse yourself in the Forest of Dean's heritage at Hopewell Colliery, a working mine that offers guided underground tours to teach people all about the freemining history of the area. In the safe hands of an expert freeminer, head below ground on a 45-minute tour to explore a network of tunnels which were originally dug out in the 1820s.

Forest of Dean Adventure Golf

Say ‘ahoy captain’ at Forest of Dean Adventure Golf's Pirate Island, with 12 themed holes offering fun for all ages in Newnham. Fully accessible and packed with plenty of shipwreck obstacles to putt around, the attraction is suitable for everyone. Ahargh!

More on Dean Heritage Centre

More from Family