l always run out of ideas for places to take my girls on a family day out, are you the same? We like to go out and explore new places together and we are constantly looking for exciting places to visit where the girls can explore as well as learn. We were approached by IWM Duxford through Mumsnet to go and visit their museum and we immediately agreed. I knew it would be fascinating to learn more about the history of not only the aircraft in the museum but also learn about the part they played in days gone by.
AD: We were invited to visit IWM Duxford by Imperial War Museums and Mumsnet. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We were compensated for our time.
Imperial War Museums (IWM) is a family of five museums across the country with three of these being historic sites. As well as IWM Duxford, you can find other IWM museums in London and Manchester too.
You can also head to the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall and the Royal Navy ship HMS Belfast which is moored on the Thames for two more different and unique historical experiences.
ABOUT IWM DUXFORD
IWM Duxford opens every day from 10 am to 6 pm. We visited on the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend which happened to be a super hot day. I was worried this would affect our visit, but it was actually okay as you can find shelter inside the hangars.
The girls were very excited to explore the hangars and go inside the planes, where we could. There was a lot to see and do at the museum which was carefully thought out to entertain families with young kids. I was happy to see interactive activities for the girls to do which kept them entertained.
We spent about half of the day exploring around. They have six enormous hangars and more to explore.
9 THINGS TO DO AT IWM DUXFORD
I have put together a list of things you can do at IWM Duxford so if you are planning to visit it could be handy to make a note before you go:
1. Go inside the Lancaster Bomber in Air Space
We were kindly booked to discover all about the Avro Lancaster Mk.X. We were given a talk by an expert IWM guide in a behind-the-ropes exploration of the Lancaster as well as an exciting chance to take a look inside.
It is located inside the 1st Hangar where they have the British and Commonwealth aircraft display in AirSpace.
The session included a 45-minute talk outside the aircraft followed by a 10-minute personal tour and talk inside the aircraft. The initial talk was very interesting, but reaching the end the girls got a little bit tired. Thankfully, there was a display of items that the RAF used at that time such as old boots, goggles, hat, vest, bullets, etc. The girls really liked that.
Immediately after the talk, we were taken inside The Lancaster and this was very exciting for the girls. They really enjoyed this moment and they were amazed by it. It’s not every day you get to visit something with so much historical importance. It was really something else to be inside The Lancaster, which we should all know was of huge importance for its role in the Dambusters raid.
If you would like to try this talk too you can find information on the Lancaster page of the IWM Duxford website. The price is £10 per adults and £5 per child and needs to be booked in advance.
2. Family Activity
Depending on when you visit IWM Duxford there are different family activities running. You can take on a family mission where you will complete team challenges, paratrooper assignments and learn about Duxford’s role on D-Day.
Head to reception on arrival to find out more about the activities IWM Duxford has to offer including Family Mission: D-Day Edition, Aeroplane Investigators, Flight Academy and We Were There: Meet the Eye Witnesses and Veterans.
We didn’t do these activities due to a lack of time, but it is certainly something we will do on another visit. But we definitely enjoyed exploring AirSpace in Hangar 1.
3. Hop on the Concorde, an aeroplane faster than the speed of sound
Exploring the Concorde was very interesting. We have never been inside one before as Concorde hasn’t flown commercially since 2003, so we were all very excited. It was bigger than I thought it would be inside. I didn’t know it was designed to fly twice as fast as the speed of sound, I was shocked to hear that! Can you imagine what it would have been like flying on something that goes so fast?
You can find Concorde in AirSpace, Hangar 1 and it is open daily from 10:30 am until 3 pm, hosted by a member of the Duxford Aviation Society.
4. Visit Historic Duxford
Inside Hangar 3
Outside Hangar 3, you can visit Historic Duxford. It is a small building with interactive displays and the chance to dress up in costume.
This building was so much fun for the girls. Sienna got into character and dressed up like a pilot. She tried on a real flying jacket and became an RAF pilot officer. She looked so cute. I took a photo of her wearing it in front of the Watch Office.
My girls also enjoyed completing a puzzle where you had to put together a pilot’s brain with flying knowledge. They also got up close with some of the personal items of the people who lived and worked at Duxford. They were able to listen to the Duxford people’s own words, via original film and audio.
5. Explore American Air Museum
Entry to the American Air Museum is included in general admission to IWM Duxford and you can find it in Hangar 7 which contains their biggest aircraft.
The American Air Museum shows you how Americans were involved in the war and the impact it had on both the soldiers and people affected by the war.
The girls were impressed with the big planes that were on display. As soon as you get in you can see them as they are all hanging from the roof of the building. You can walk around and see them from high up or walk down the ramp to see them from below. It was very cool.
You can also find a small café inside this hangar where you can have some refreshments which were so handy for us as it was very hot, so we were very thirsty.
6. Get a Selfie with a Spitfire
You can find their Spitfire display located in Hangar 4 as part of the Battle of Britain exhibition.
Unfortunately, when we went to Hangar 4, the Spitfire was not on display because it was actually flying. We were sad to have missed this. But guess what happened… when we were outside walking around the airfield, we managed to see them parked so we took some photos there. There were actually two out so we were lucky to see them that close.
7. Hitch a Ride on an Electric Bus
The IWM is over a mile long so it is a lot of walking during your visit. So why not catch a ride on the bus to get around. There aren’t any bus stops, you can hop on and off as it passes you. This is such a great idea, especially if you have kids with you as they get tired walking around a lot!
8. Watch Aircraft take to the Skies on the Historic Airfield
There are lots of aircraft outside within their historic Airfield so you are able to see them taking to the skies throughout the day. It is very cool and noisy, of course.
The girls liked watching them and to be able to be that close to them.
9. Have fun in their playground & grab lunch at their cafe
If you fancy a little bit of a rest while your kids have some fun, then the playground is a good option. You can either bring a picnic and take a seat at the tables by the playground or the cafe nearby offers food and drink if you want to grab something on site.
I was worried that perhaps my girls could get a little bit bored during this visit but I was surprised to see so many activities tailored for kids and they were able to take part in the interactive areas as well as being able to dress up. This is always fun for kids.
They really loved being that close to some of the most famous aircraft in the world, they thought it was “awesome” to be able to go underneath them as well as inside them. For us, it was really important that they were able to learn more about how aircraft fly, how they’re made and discover the impact they’ve made on our world.
It is a fun family day out and even more exciting if you love planes. If you book your tickets in advance you will get a 10% discount. So, for a family of 2 adults up to 6 children will cost you £45 online. I thought that was really great value, considering all the activities you are able to do. Or you could consider an annual membership too.
Have you been to IWM Duxford? Do your kids love planes too?
*Disclosure: We were invited to visit IWM Duxford by Imperial War Museums and Mumsnet. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. We were compensated for our time.
Thanks for stopping by,
Love you all ❤️