Glasgow music tour
The stories are fascinating: how the first time Paolo Nutini played at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, his parents were so worried about ticket sales that they bought half of them themselves; the reason Jack Bruce had to leave Glasgow for London (where he founded Cream); and the places where Oasis or Belle and Sebastian played their early gigs. You’ll get all these and more on the Glasgow Music City Tour (adult £15, under-16s and students £10), plus recommendations for where to see up-and-coming performers (check out Nice N Sleazy).
• Stay at 15Glasgow (suite sleeping four £210 a night B&B during half term), within walking distance of both the city centre and the bars and restaurants of the West End, plus Kelvingrove park and art gallery.
The new Mersey beat
Trace the story of British music from the Beatles to Adele and X Factor at the British Music Experience (adult £16, child £11), opened in Liverpool this spring. It is rammed with pop memorabilia, including instruments played by artists from Noel Gallagher to the Sex Pistols and outfits worn by Freddie Mercury and Adam Ant. Visitors can play too, from drum kits to keyboards.
• Stay at the budget Z Hotel (double £50 in half-term) in a converted office tower; rooms all have TVs and free wifi.
Family adventure in Pembrokeshire
Parents and teens get a chance to bond on a wild water adventure holiday on the north Pembrokeshire coast. Preseli Venture has availability on a five-day, half-term break (Sunday 22 to Friday 27 October). There’s sea kayaking, coasteering and surfing, plus accommodation in a five-star ecolodge with games, music, pool, table football and a bar. It’s a good place for those who don’t want to drive: they pick up guests from the railway station, and there’s minibus transport to the activities. A five-day stay costs £649 adults and £529 under-16s, with shorter breaks available. For this half-term, one child goes half-price with a family of three or more.
Mountain biking in the Lakes
Mountain biking trails in Grizedale Forest range from six to 14 miles, or 30 miles for the more experienced. Hired bikes come with detailed maps, and there’s an excellent visitor centre and a sculpture trail through the forest. Bike hire costs from £20 a half day, £25 full day, and there are electric bikes to make it all a lot easier.
• Stay at nearby Bank Ground Farm on the banks of Coniston Water, where there are boats, kayaks and canoes for hire. Family rooms sleep 3/4 and are available over half-term from £150 a night B&B; cottages also available.
The Mad Scientist is poised to launch a rocket into space to irradiate the world’s atmosphere: you and your family have 60 minutes to infiltrate his laboratory and stop him, at Escape Game Brighton. Escape games are a great way to bond with teenagers: everyone has to work as a team and use logic, intuition, tech knowledge and old-fashioned nous to figure out how to foil the baddie’s plan.
• Stay at Strawberry Fields (room for four from £91.20, minimum two nights), where the decor references Beatles songs and the sea is a stone’s throw away.
Retro gaming, London
Those fed up with not understanding kids’ tech games could try Power Up at the Science Museum (20-31 October), with 180 consoles from four decades of gaming. Parents can relive childhood experiences with Pong, Pac-Man, Minecraft and Mario, and introduce their own children to them (and, with luck, still win). Ninety-minute sessions are £10 for adults, £8 for children or students; families get £2 a ticket off.
• Stay 10 minutes’ walk away at easyHotel South Kensington (doubles from £66 over half-term, room-only).
The Tate reopens, Cornwall
Tate St Ives reopens on 14 October after a four-year rebuild. Be among the first to see the huge new gallery, which will be showing the work of sculptor Rebecca Warren. Drawing connections with the geography and artistic legacy of the town, her works explore feminism as well as the histories and mythologies of west Cornwall.
• Stay at Happy Days Cottage (£575 for three nights, sleeps six) in the centre of St Ives, which has three bedrooms, TV, wifi and – for a bit of parental luxury – a rolltop bath in the main bedroom.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Enjoy art in the great outdoors at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, just outside Wakefield, where current highlights include a seven-metre-high cast-iron face overlooking the lake, part of a series by artist Jaume Plensa depicting young girls from around the world, their eyes closed in dreamy contemplation. There’s a contrasting figure by Angel of the North artist Antony Gormley, reflecting his interest in isolation; and for something entirely different (or if it’s wet), check out filmmaker Alfredo Jaar’s Garden of Good and Evil in the underground gallery.
• Stay 10 minutes away at the Three Acres Inn (room for four from £150 B&B).
Foraging in Gloucestershire
Autumn half-term is high season for mushrooms, the forager’s delight. Tudor Farmhouse Hotel, close to the rivers Severn and Wye, leads a four-hour woodland mushroom hunt. Back at the farm the finds are included in a three-course lunch. There are organised foraging walks on 21 and 28 October (£50pp with meal); private walks for up to four cost £125. Other teen-friendly activities in the nearby Forest of Dean include cycling and Go Ape.
• Stay at Tudor Farmhouse (doubles from £180 B&B)
Dartmouth food festival
Chefs’ demos; pizza, sushi and fudge lessons; and crab-cracking workshops … they’re just for starters at Dartmouth food festival. Visitors can also learn how to make the perfect pie, and hear secrets of the butcher’s trade. With its quirky shops, galleries and waterfront, the Devon town is also a fun place for independent teens to wander around.
• Stay in town at 9 Foss Street (£452 for seven nights, call for shorter breaks, 01548 843773), a two-bed cottage within easy walking distance of everything.