It’s Easter and in the UK we have a holiday weekend. Naturally the weather is grey, but that rarely stops British people getting out and about to do something with their time.
There’s a surprising amount to do on a day trip, depending on how far you would like to travel and these days having a handy mobile app to make suggestions or work out fun ways to engage with the place you are visiting are par for the course. That and sitting in a traffic jam on the motorway. But if you’re not the designated driver, this gives you a chance to look at some apps for days out.
Find something to do
F**k it, we'll do it live!
Our biggest ever edition of TNW Conference is fast approaching! Join 10,000 tech leaders this May in Amsterdam.
Making a decision on a fun place to go or an activity can mean dithering about and wasting time. Luckily there’s a resource in your pocket that should make things easier. Here’s a few for the holiday weekend to get you out and about:
This might sound like a good excuse to sit in a darkened room and eat popcorn, but it is in fact a listing for film locations around the UK.
There are so many recognisable locations where famous films have been shot and for the movie lover, Brit Film is a really neat way to visit them and maybe reenact a few scenes for fun.
A quick look over the options close to me and it seems that the film ‘Withnail and I’ was shot on my doorstep. Once I have chosen that film as an option from a list, I can find the location on a map.
What is really sweet about this app is that it seems to know the habits of people who would like to visit these places. In each location there is a prominent ‘camera’ button to click on. This naturally opens to the camera on your device and you’re all set to quote and pose as you wish in the place where it happened on film.
There’s a gallery option too, but sadly there were no pictures of other people as daft as us who were prepared to upload their own pictures on each site so far. The app is developed by Visit Britain.
The Museums app finds museums and exhibitions that are on near you. It’s a social app so you can make a recommendation and share that with your friends. It also has a nice sense of timeliness as not only can you find a museum near you, you can see what is on there at the moment.
There’s a fair range of options and it’s really easy to use. All contact information, websites and opening hours are listed and it is doubtless much more fun to have a few arty and historically minded friends on board to tell you if they saw something specific of interest at a show or event.
Visit Scotland, Days Out
This app has been developed by Scotland’s national tourism organisation. It has an ‘inspire me option’ where you can choose variables about what you might like to do and where you are and it will show you what’s available. It’s a simple way of narrowing things down and making a decision on where to go.
The ‘shake for inspiration’ option is a neat way of showing random results. Once a location has been chosen, click to open up the offering for further details. Map, contact details, a route via Google Maps on how to get there and a link to the website of a place are all listed.
The service is light and easy to use, but beware, not all sites that it links to are optimised for mobile, so some squinting may be involved. VisitScotland Days out is a fair starting point for planning a quick trip out to a fun location.
Prehistoric sites UK
This was one of the more intriguing apps we took a look at. The layout and design is quirky and may not appeal to everyone, but the maps and information available are great.
As the name suggests, Prehistoric Sites UK shows the location, names, satellite image and map of prehistoric locations around the UK. From Stonehenge to Old Keig, there’s a lot to discover.
My only complaint was that the information for each location need to be optimised for mobile. There was a fair amount of pinching and squinting involved to read the details. But the site maps and glossary were really useful. With a little reading it could make us all sound like experts on some of the strange stone sites around the UK.
Trees of Britain
If you’ve ever wondered what a particular tree is and, like most of us, never really bothered to learn, then this one is for you.
Trees of Britain initially opens to a list of well, trees. Each option in turn shows details on bark description, seed type, leaf shape, latin name and where you are likely to find one.
It’s really well filled out with a photo section that shows great close up detail as well as wider shots to help identify the shape and regular sizes of trees.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea immediately, but the amount of information available is astonishing and really clearly laid out. When lazing in the park, it’s a nice way to spend a little time getting to know the environment.
There’s a Birds of Britain version too, so those learning to be twitchers can work out who their feathered friends are.
The National Trust
It wouldn’t be a proper bank holiday without considering the National Trust. Britain’s best-known organisation for historic houses and gardens has a nice clean app for finding locations and learning a bit more about them.
The app has a nice ‘what’s on’ feature where you can find activities 10, 20, 30 or 40 miles from your current location and see what is happening on the day.
Each location listed in the app also has some very nice photographs as well as details about accessibility, prices, how to get there via Google maps and facilities.
As a well thought out and easy to use app, this is a great example of putting the right information into a users hands and making it look great.
iGeology is an app created for the British Geological Association, so you can guess what it might be about.
It provides a geological map of the UK that you can zoom into and pick a location to find out what’d under your feet.
The base layer of the map shows OS OpenData, bedrock and superficial geology. Once you have chosen a location to look at, a ‘further details’ option provides all sorts of information from the age range of the earth at that place to historical descriptions of the area and other references.
If you’re really into your rocks, the app also has an events listing with global happenings related to geology.
This might not sound immediately as though it’s an app for action, but once you are in a location, it means that you can explore your surroundings and identify details you might otherwise never realise. It’s a large resource and one that works just as well to consider what’s under the concrete in a city as it does to look at a rock face in a rural area.
A big disclaimer on this site rightly points out that it is not the responsibility of the app if you go and eat something deadly. There is a risk attached to looking for mushrooms for your dinner, but it’s also good exercise and a fun way to go foraging, providing you take care.
Roger’s Mushrooms is an app to help identify the good, the bad and the curious fungus while out in rural areas. It’s based on the work of Roger Phillips who wrote many books on the topic and it makes sense to have an interactive guide on a mobile device.
The listings provide photos, areas where you are likely to find the specimens and whether or not they are dangerous. Best to try this one with company to double check and don’t put things in your mouth if you don’t know what they are.
A day out for people can also mean a day out for our four legged friends. Don’t forget that there are opportunities to take your hairy companions with you on a day trip.
Dog Friendly UK is a simple list of pubs, parks and other locations where dogs are welcome. There’s naturally a lot of outdoors activity for a run around and each location has contact details and web addresses to check out for more information.
This is a useful app, but it could be much more fun if there was an element for user generated content. Pet lovers like to share their experiences and a chance to add photos on location would really get this app going for user engagement.
The UK isn’t generally known for its sunny climes and tropical environment, this is why we talk about the weather so much. But if you work at a computer all day, it’s a good idea to get out sometimes and it doesn’t have to be a long vacation in the Bahamas (though that would be nice).
The traditional UK day trip has been opened up with great apps that point to places that could be right on your doorstep. So now there is less of an excuse to finish one more line of code or send one more email, when you could be out exploring, getting some exercise and learning a few new things.
Are you exploring this weekend? What apps will you use to help you along the way? Add your useful ideas in the comments.