Did you know the first food eaten in space was a bacon sandwich? How about the fact that we are all made from stars? These are just some of the awesome things that you can learn at the National Space Centre!
It might be a little bit of a drive, but it’s a nice easy drive and it’s more than do-able in a day. There is tons of on-site parking so you don’t have to worry about driving all that way and not getting a space.
Even from the car park this place is hands-on – literally, there are hand prints on the car park walls! Then there’s the ginormous rocket bubble that greets you as you go to the entrance.
All over the museum there are rockets, satellites and other space objects hanging from the ceiling. They have the UK’s largest planetarium (you get one free show with your tickets, but if you want to see another show on a return visit you need to pay). The whole place is jam-packed with hands-on exhibits and displays. You can drive the Mars Rover, create your own storms, try to perform experiments in space, become a trainee astronaut and so much more.
There are 6 different galleries to explore. A particular favourite was within the Rocket Tower – it’s all about man’s exploration of space. Being right next to two massive rockets was really cool and helped to bring things to life for the kids. Plus they got to have their photo taken on the moon!
There is also a whole section with interactive touch-tables. They’ve got tons of really useful info but, inevitably, some kid always comes along and presses the screen before you’ve finished reading. Grrrr.
The galleries are really spread out, so there’s plenty of space, and there are lots of displays and exhibits everywhere. It does make it fairly hard to keep track of excited kids running from one display, to the next, to the next without losing them. We ended up picking a child each to keep tabs on them.
The planetarium show is really good. It’s narrated by Andy Serkis and it’s all about, well, us! They’ve had the same show for years, I wonder when it’s due for a replacement?
There is a little cafe on-site. Prices are about normal for this kind of place (ie more expensive than they need to be but not Legoland expensive.) One very cool thing is that the picnic and seating area is UNDERNEATH THE ROCKETS! There is a button that you can press to launch the rockets, with countdown and smoke. It’s quite noisy but it only lets you activate the countdown every so often so you’ll probably only hear it about 50 times whilst you’re having lunch.
You can upgrade your ticket for free to an annual pass. Do note though, there are some events when annual pass holders can only get in after a certain time. I think this is fairly new, but during February half term you can only get in after 2. As a day-trip from Aylesbury that would make it fairly pointless, which is a real shame. Make sure you double check the website before you go.
As a quick aside, there is a very quirky museum right next to the Space Centre. It’s all about sanitation. It’s free to visit and generated many giggles from the boys!!!
Eldest child was lucky enough to stay here overnight for Space Camp and, despite having already been 3 times in the recent past, he still loved it and found new things he hadn’t explored previously. You really will be able to get the most out of your return tickets.
We really enjoyed visiting here and we made the trip 3 times during our year. It’s fascinating, for both adults and kids and has the perfect mix of hands-on activities and information to keep everyone interested. They hold lots of events and workshops through the year. You can even get married here if you want to. Make sure you keep an eye out on the website for what’s coming up and any restrictions.
£15 adults, £12 children (5-16), under 5’s free – Tickets are valid for 12 months.
Parking / How to get there
Parking – plenty on-site. £3 all day.
Address – Exploration Dr, Leicester LE4 5NS
On-site and they’re space themed
Cafe on-site, picnics allowed. There’s a nice little bank of grass outside you can have a picnic on if the weather is good. Fun fact – the first food eaten in space was a bacon sandwich according to the sign in the cafe
Rating – 5 / 5. This is interactive, hands-on and everything you want a museum to be.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook