I've driven past Stonehenge so many times and admired the majestic stone circle at dawn and dusk but I've never actually properly visited the site until last week when thanks to our English Heritage family membership, purchased with Tesco Clubcard vouchers, I finally got to tick this ambition off my bucket list.
We were on our way to North Devon for a little break at YHA Beer when I spotted the signs for the ancient mysterious landmark. We decided it was definitely worth making a detour and I quickly used my phone to make a booking. Currently you have to book, even with English Heritage m membership which means admission is free.
Luckily despite it being half term there were spaces and a short while later we pulled into the visitor centre car park which is a short drive away from the actual site.
To be honest, I thought we'd skip quickly round the visitor centre as my main interest was the stone circle - I just wanted to get a closer look at it. But it turns out that the exhibitions are both informative and interesting and within minutes of arriving I had learned lots of interesting facts and theories about the famous stone circle and the landmarks that pre-dated it.
I didn't realise that there is evidence which leads experts to believe the area was a significant spiritual site for generations before the iconic standing stones were placed.
There are finds from archaeological investigations and a lovely recreation of ancient Neolithic homes which really help build a picture of what life was like back then. You can even have a go at dragging a Sarson stone similar to those in the circle.
I especially enjoyed the special exhibition of personal holiday photographs going back decades with some fascinating anecdotes accompanying them.
After exploring the visitor centre we hopped on a free shuttle bus to the main attraction. You can walk and lots of people were, but we opted for the quicker option.
The bus drops you off at the start of a circular walk around the stones with plenty of opportunity for photographs. You can't actually go into the stone circle with general admission but there is a Stonehenge Stone Circle Experience you can book for VIP access.
Back at the visitor centre there's a nice gift shop with everything Stonehenge related from T-shirts and model kits to sheep hats and waxed jackets. There's also a cafe and picnic area.
I am so glad we diverted for our visit and I am very glad I invested Clubcard vouchers in English Heritage membership - our family membership allows up to 6 children to come along with us on visits to a host of historic buildings and sites across the country.
We originally bought membership to visit Battle, the site of the Battle of Hastings in the summer (my youngest autistic son was especially interested in this piece of history so we built a holiday round a visit), and with this trip to Stonehenge it's proved a cost effective investment.
If you have driven past Stonehenge but never visited, take my recommendation and take time to turn off the main road and explore this fantastic attraction.
Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post.