Welcoming days outDiscover the winners of the VisitEngland 2020-21 Visitor Attraction Accolades
Every year, VisitEngland highlights the attractions that deliver the best visitor experiences with its Attraction Accolades.
The Welcome Accolade is awarded to attractions that consistently greet their guests in a warm and friendly way. From historic houses and unique museums to wonderfully diverse nature reserves, discover the 2020-21 winners.
1620s House & Garden at Donington le Heath, Leicestershire
Take a walk back in time with a visit to this characterful, fully furnished house that’s one of the oldest in Leicestershire. Discover its fascinating history and enjoy a stroll around the surrounding period gardens. The house also boasts a varied events programme, with craft workshops, guided tours and more.
Adventure Island, Essex
A fun day out is guaranteed at this free-admission theme park. With over 40 rides and attractions to explore, there’s something to thrill visitors of all ages – whether it’s a wander round the Sealife Adventure, an afternoon of indoor play at Adventure Inside, or the simple pleasure of the Helter Skelter.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre, Lincolnshire
This unique partnership between the Royal Air Force and Lincolnshire County Council provides public access to the home of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Book onto a guided tour, led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer guides, to see the hangar and historic aircraft at close quarters.
Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex
Beth Chatto’s award-winning work at the Gardens began in 1960, when she transformed an overgrown wasteland into a series of stunning landscaped gardens. Admire the Mediterranean-style alpine planting of the Scree Garden, soak up the tranquillity of the Water Garden, and more, before enjoying a refreshment in the tearoom.
Ford Green Hall, Staffordshire
Built in 1624, Ford Green Hall is a fine example of a timber-framed farmhouse. The house was home to the Ford family for over nearly 200 years – the award-winning museum, The Hall, offers visitors a unique insight into 17th century life for modern-day visitors.
High Lodge, Thetford Forest Centre, Suffolk
Set in the heart of Thetford Forest, High Lodge is a recreational site that offers the chance to experience nature at its finest. The more you explore, the more you’ll find – play, run, climb and cycle your way around, try your hand at archery and tackle the high ropes course.
Lincoln Castle, Lincolnshire
Home to an original 1215 Magna Carta, Lincoln Castle has stood as a symbol of power for centuries. Discover its history exactly where it happened by scaling the Medieval Wall Walk, following in the footsteps of prisoners in the Victorian Prison, and enjoying a tour led by a specialist guide.
Museum of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
Located in the site of the former Valley Colliery, the Museum of Cannock Chase has been telling the story of the local area for over 30 years. Browse the informative galleries – including the Coal Mining Gallery complete with crawl-through tunnel – before enjoying a hot drink and a slice of cake in the Coffee Shop.
National Coal Mining Museum for England, West Yorkshire
Dig deep into the history of coal mining with a visit to the Caphouse Colliery. Scratch beneath the surface to discover the stories, culture and values behind the country’s rich mining history, and journey 140m underground for a guided pit tour led by a charismatic ex-miner guide.
Raby Castle, County Durham
While originally built as a Viking settlement of King Cnut, the castle as it stands today is one of England’s medieval finest, dating back to the 14th century. There’s no better way to have its history brought to life than by booking onto a guided tour, which are offered twice daily.
RSPB Dee Estuary – Burton Mere Wetlands, Cheshire
This unique landscape straddles the border between England and Wales and is bursting with wildlife. Visit in spring to see the striking bluebell woodlands, and keep an eye out for one of England’s rarest birds of prey – the hen harrier – which regularly hunts over the wet grassland.
RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve, Suffolk
Situated on the beautiful Suffolk coast, the Minsmere reserve offers a fantastic setting for families to discover nature together. Enjoy an idyllic walk or venture to the coastal lagoons to see a wonderful variety of birds – if you’re lucky, you might spot an otter around the reedbed pools.
Sealife Adventure, Essex
Sealife Adventure is the UK’s first Zooquarium, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the wonders of Planet Earth both above and below the waves. With amazing interactive talks and feeds available, the friendly and knowledgeable team are perfectly placed to further enhance your knowledge of the creatures you encounter.
Seaton Tramway, Devon
Nature lovers and fans of vintage transport will delight in a day spent riding electric trams through the beautiful Axe Valley. The narrow gauge heritage trams operate between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton, offering unrivalled views of two picturesque nature reserves.
SS Great Britain, Bristol
Now one of Bristol’s top visitor attractions, experience the sights, sounds and smells of life aboard the world’s first great ocean liner with a visit to Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Tour the ship and the historic dockyard, and travel through four time zones at the fascinating Dockyard Museum.
The Gardens at Wynyard Hall, County Durham
The iconic gardens and arboretum at Wynyard Hall have helped cement its status as one of the North East’s leading visitor attractions. With its 3,000 roses, the Rose Garden is a particular highlight, along with the Kitchen Garden, the produce from which forms the backbone of the Glass House restaurant’s delicious menu.
Wildfowl and Wetland Trust – Welney, Cambridgeshire
There’s a beautiful wetland reserve and eco-friendly visitor centre to be explored at the Welney Wetland Centre. With wide-open spaces full of nature’s sights and sounds, there’s lots to see and do – spy the hares on Lady Fen and be entertained by the flurry of activity around the bird feeders.