Are you looking for the best transport museums in the UK? We’ve got you covered!
Transport — whether that’s cars, buses, trains or planes — is one of the most loved obsessions for toddlers and young kids. If you want to feed your child’s passion and inspire them further, taking them to a transport museum is a great idea for a day out.
We’ve picked out the top transport and motor museums in the country — some are huge and well-known, while others have a smaller, local flavour.
Whichever you decide on, your toddler is sure to have a great time while enjoying a valuable learning experience too.
- Best Transport Museums in the UK
- London Transport Museum
- IWM Duxford
- Oxford Bus Museum
- Haynes International Motor Museum
- Coventry Transport Museum
- Crich Tramway Village
- East Anglia Transport Museum
- Lakeland Motor Museum
- North East Land, Sea and Air Museums (NELSAM)
- National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
- Transport Museum Wythall
- River and Rowing Museum
- Streetlife Museum of Transport
- Cotswold Motor Museum
- Solent Sky Museum
- National Railway Museum
Best Transport Museums in the UK
London Transport Museum
London Transport Museum is one of our absolute favourite places to go with transport-mad toddlers.
Not only is it incredibly well set-up for young kids, but under-17s go free and an adult ticket comes with an annual pass so you can go as many times as you desire within a year! It’s located slap-bang in the middle of London, in Covent Garden.
The collection itself is home to 200 years of history of London transport, as well as a look at what the future may look like. Be prepared to explore buses, taxis, tube cars, trains, steam locomotives, trams, horse buses and much, much more.
IWM Duxford is the UK’s largest aviation museum and a branch of the Imperial War Museum in Cambridgeshire. It’s actually based in the airfield where the RAF Spitfire first flew!
This is a great museum to take kids who love planes, hangars and everything about them — but there’s also lots more military history to discover here besides. Older kids and adults will enjoy the stories of the individual servicemen and women who have fought in wars from the First World War all the way through to today.
Some of the permanent displays include collections dedicated to the Battle of Britain, the American Air Museum, Air and Sea, and Land Warfare – great for tank enthusiasts!
The museum is open from July to September.
Oxford Bus Museum
The Oxford Bus Museum is an absolute must-visit if you’re in Oxford with a bus-mad toddler.
As you can tell from the name, this is a museum dedicated to bus and coach travel in and around Oxfordshire over the past 130 years. Some of their exhibits include horse-drawn trams, bus stops, posters, staff uniforms, as well as buses and coaches through the years.
On the same site is the Morris Motors Museum and a historic cycle collection, so there’s truly so much to see if you’re interested in all types of transport.
Haynes International Motor Museum
Haynes International Motor Museum is located in Yeovil, Somerset, and is home to a huge collection of cars and bikes — including incredible classic cars and vintages, all the way through to some of the most impressive super cars of today.
Haynes is really well set-up for younger visitors too, with a huge adventure climbing frame, mini road system with plenty of ride-ons to enjoy, themed play areas, towers and a Construction Zone with super diggers. Toddlers will love having a go on the Little Tikes car strollers, which they can drive around the museum.
There is a large café on site so you can easily rest and refuel while you’re here.
Coventry Transport Museum
Coventry Transport Museum is home to the largest publicly-owned collection of British vehicles in the whole world. It’s located right in the city centre.
Petrol heads will be thrilled to see the world’s two fastest cars — the Thrust SSC and Thrust 2 — while everyone will find something to interest them in the collection of 300 cycles, 120 motorbikes, and 250 cars on display.
Coventry have lots of great things for younger children and families to explore, including Mini Museum Engineers play sessions, STEM skills workshops for all ages, a play trail, and lots of interactive exhibits throughout.
Crich Tramway Village
Much more of a specialist museum than many of the locations on this list, Crich is dedicated to the history of the tramway, and is located in Derbyshire.
It’s home to over 60 individual trams, built between 1873 and 1982, and is staged in a recreated period village that young historians will absolutely love — make sure to check out the old sweetshop and tearooms!
As well as riding the trams, kids will love the Discovery Depot Indoor Play Area, complete with soft play, and the outdoor play area, woodland walk and sculpture trail.
East Anglia Transport Museum
The East Anglia Transport Museum is an open-air heritage museum located in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
It’s an incredibly interactive and hands-on day out, and you’ll be able to ride on their collection of buses, trolleybuses, narrow-gauge railway, trams and more while you’re here.
Kids under 5 can enter for free and adult tickets with Gift Aid are converted to season tickets that allow for free return visits over the next 12 months. Make sure you check their website for opening dates and times as they’re not open every day.
Lakeland Motor Museum
The Lakeland Motor Museum in the Lake District is one of the most popular transport museums in all North England, thanks to its huge collection of 30,000 exhibits.
Their collection tracks the history of transport with cars, cycles, motorbikes and more, as well as a focus on local history with some recreated period shops on display as well. There are lots of classic vehicles on display and kids will love the 1930s garage, street scenes, World War 1 exhibit, and 1950s café.
Slightly older kids will enjoy solving the children’s quiz around the museum which you can get from the arrivals reception. Children under 5 can enter for free.
North East Land, Sea and Air Museums (NELSAM)
NELSAM is located in former RAF Usworth/Sunderland Airport and is home to a number of smaller museums including the former Aircraft Museum, a collection of military vehicles, and the North East Electric Traction Trust.
Aviation buffs will love the Cold War Avro Vulcan B2 Bomber which has made its home here, but there’s plenty more to see both inside and outdoors here. Some of the permanent displays include the 607 squadron display, the navy collection, Military Romney, World War II street scene and much more.
There is a very small charge for entry for children under 5 years old.
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
The National Motor Museum is found in Beaulieu in the heart of the New Forest, and is a great day out for all the family.
There are over 280 vehicles to explore in the motor museum itself, from Formula 1 cars to beautiful heritage classics. There’s also a collection of cars from TV and film, as well as a display dedicated to the World of Top Gear!
Young kids will love the brilliant adventure play area, as well as exploring the house, grounds and abbey of Beaulieu. The monorail is also sure to be a huge hit and you can enjoy unlimited rides of this high level skytrain during your visit.
Transport Museum Wythall
The Transport Museum Wythall can be found just outside of Birmingham in north Worcestershire.
It’s home to over 90 local buses and the largest collection of battery operated vehicles, such as milk floats and bread vans. There’s also a miniature railway on site that operates on special event days and on select days during school holidays.
Children will love the Kids Kabin area next door to the café which is full of play and learning opportunities. There’s also two Little Tikes activity gyms to exhaust the toddlers, and lots of interactive exhibitions.
River and Rowing Museum
The River and Rowing Museum in Henley is the perfect place to take boat-mad kids and toddlers thanks to its glorious riverside location.
There are 6 permanent galleries here, including one dedicated to rowing and one that displays a huge hoard of Iron Age gold coins that were found locally in Henley. Younger kids will love the Wind in the Willows gallery that’s complete with friends Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger!
The museum is very accessible for buggies and wheelchairs, and also has a café and shop on site. Admission is free for children under 4 years old.
Streetlife Museum of Transport
The Streetlife Museum of Transport is located in Hull and is home to over 200 years of transport history. Admission is free for all.
There is plenty to see here and transport fans will have a whale of a time — check out the Railway Gallery with its 1930s goods shed, the 1900 Motor Show which stores a number of rare vintage cars dating back to 1897, the Carriage Gallery where you can ride on the Hull York Mail Coach, and a large collection of early bicycles including an 1818 hobby horse.History buffs will love the amazing recreated street scene from the 30s and 40s.
Streetlife can be found in the Museums Quarter in Hull’s Old Town.
Cotswold Motor Museum
The Cotswold Motor Museum is found in the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water and is one of its most popular attractions – a wonderful transport museum for kids.
They own a unique collection of rare vehicles and classic memorabilia that will delight transport and history fans of any age. As well as the usual cars and buses, you’ll find caravans, TV’s original Brum, a blacksmith’s workshop, 19th Century bikes, a recreated country garage, and other nostalgic surprises.
Alongside its transport collection, Cotswold Motor Museum is also home to an impressive toy and game collection. Admission prices are very reasonable with kids under 8 able to enter for free.
Solent Sky Museum
Solent Sky is another aviation museum, this time located in Southampton, and is famous for being the home of the Spitfire.
This museum documents the area’s local aviation history and is home to over 20 different aircraft to explore and discover, including the Supermarine Spitfire, Short Sandringham flying boat Beachcomber and Folland Gnat. You can also sit in the pilot’s seat of a Harrier cockpit and see inside a First World War biplane replica.
Solent Sky is also home to the Hampshire Police and Fire Heritage Trust.
National Railway Museum
Calling all railway enthusiasts! The National Railway Museum in York is home to a huge collection of iconic locomotives that kids and adults alike will love.
Some of the attractions and exhibits on offer here include a miniature railway ride, the Flying Banana train, the original Rocket train, a Mallard experience simulator, road train ride, station hall, Trans-Siberian railway exhibition, indoor and outdoor play areas, and a huge great hall full of impressive engines.
The National Railway Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday. There’s a café and a luxury afternoon tea experience on board a railway carriage available on site too.
What is the best transport museum in the UK? Let us know your favourites!
Looking for alternatives? Make sure to check out our activities section for more ideas.