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Visiting Stonehenge with the family
What is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is a circle of rocks from the Neolithic era, a world heritage site and probably the most famous prehistoric (circa 2500 BC) monument in Europe.
For us, it was a fantastic stop off point on the drive from Sussex to Bath.
It gave us all a chance to stretch our legs, the kids could burn off some energy, get some fresh air and we could all have lunch too. Perfect.
The stone circle itself is looked after by English Heritage and the woodland and green spaces around the ancient site is cared for by National Trust. You can gain free access to the site with either English Heritage or National Trust membership.
Where is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is in Wiltshire on the A303, you’ll see it in the distance from the dual carriageway as you drive across Salisbury Plain. Stonehenge is little over an hour from junction 12 on the M25 and approximately 1 hour from Bath. This makes it a brilliant stop point to break up a journey to the West Country.
Near Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE
Getting to the stone circle
The stone circle of Stonehenge is over a mile from the car park and visitors centre. You can walk it or get the bus transfer. We chose to walk there, making the most of the kids pent up energy from the long car journey and get the bus back. The bus runs regularly and even with each bus running at reduced capacity (a covid precaution) we didn’t have to wait long.
There’s no shelter on the walk or at the stone circle. Dress appropriately! There isn’t much in the way of facilities either. Go to the loo before you start the walk and take water with you. There was an ice cream van up there when we went but it might not be a permanent fixture.
Is Stonehenge a good activity for kids?
If I’m being perfectly honest, the stone circle is simply a circle of large rocks. And a lot of kids wouldn’t be all that impressed. You have to get their imaginations going by asking how they think they got there, and why they think Neolithic man built it. Our kids thought it was a cool thing to see on their walk, but they weren’t in awe of it. We also made it fun by playing around taking photos, there are some boards giving you ideas of how you can take pictures looking like you’re sitting on or stepping on the stones. The kids thought this was good fun even if they didn’t manage to get the perfect shot.
Learning about Stonehenge
There is an audio guide for the walk and the stone circle. You don’t need to pay extra for this. You can download it via the AppStore. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of other archeological points of interest around the stone circle. It’s not very child-friendly though and the children were not interested in dawdling so I could read up too much on what the little mounds of grass used to be. It would be better for an adult to listen to it (and use the map function if/when needed) and pass on any tidbits of info your child might be interested in. I wish more places would be like the Roman Baths in Bath and offer a children’s audio guide too. The kids thought that was brilliant!
Stonehenge visitors centre
Once back at the visitors centre we went into the exhibition to learn more about the history of the site. Currently they are limiting numbers in there (again due to Covid) so we had to wait 19 minutes or so until there was space for us to go in.
We didn’t spend long in there, there’s only so much history and learning my kids can take before it starts to feel like an educational trip instead of a fun activity for them. There are low down displays, perfect for kids to see the models of how the stones used to be laid out and the old bones found from a neolithic man. The best bit of the exhibition is the virtual reality room in which you’re surrounded by screens and have a 360° view from inside the stones across different eras and seasons. We watched the whole video through twice, I really liked watching the sun set between the stones.
The kids found the replica stone and prehistoric houses outside really interesting. They tried pushing and pulling the stone to see how heavy it was. They loved the little gadget that told them how many more men they would need to actually move the stone and they thought the houses were cool. Apparently you used to be able to go inside the houses, see how they were furnished and try out a prehistoric bed but that wasn’t an option for us. The front doors were all locked. I don’t know if that’s for good, or a temporary covid measure.
Stonehenge cafe and facilities
The cafe has a basic menu – sandwiches and crisps etc. There are a couple of hot options such as pasties and sausage rolls and some teas, coffees and cakes. The toilet facilities are good, plenty of space and clean!
Stonehenge gift shop
We ended the visit with a walk through the gift shop. Thankfully there isn’t too much plastic tat in there so we didn’t get too much begging for stuff from the kids. I actually really liked all the Mr Men/Stonehenge merchandise!
How long does it take to visit Stonehenge?
We were there almost 3 hours, which surprised me! We walked to the stones and got the bus back. We had a slow lunch, mostly because I had to feed Max and he takes his time. Add in a few trips to the loo, exploring the Neolithic houses and gift shop and suddenly our lunch stop had taken up most of the day. If you took the bus to the stones and back and skipped lunch it would be a much quicker visit. On average, I would say to allow 2 hours in total.
Is Stonehenge buggy friendly?
The walk up to the stone circle is not really doable with a buggy. I highly recommend popping baby in a carrier rather than taking the buggy or expecting little legs to walk over a mile. Even if you take the bus to and from the stones there is still the walk around the circle which is uneven grass.
Is Stonehenge worth the admission price?
If you have older children who are interested in the history then absolutely yes. I’m not sure it’s great value as a stand alone activity for a younger family. If your children didn’t pay attention in the visitors centre you’ll end up feeling like you’ve paid a lot of money for a long walk!
It’s brilliant that you can visit for free with an English Heritage membership (I think it adds huge value to the membership – we have a family membership and highly recommend it) and overseas visitors can gain access with an English Heritage multi site pass.