River and Rowing Museum
Mill Meadows Henley-on-Thames RG9 1BF
Henley is the spiritual home of messing about in boats, so it's only right it should have a museum devoted to those pleasures. Housed in a striking modern building five minute's walk along the river from town, the museum has galleries devoted to the sport of rowing, the history of the Thames, Henley itself – plus the classic children's story Wind in the Willows. The latter is an audio tour through a beautifully modelled retelling of Kenneth Grahame's tale, with Ratty, Mole and Badger enacting 3D scenes from their adventures to a whimsical soundtrack – an enjoyable ten minutes for kids. The rowing galleries upstairs are also classily done: boats are suspended from the ceiling, video footage shows classic Olympic and Oxbridge encounters, and you can try co-ordinating our own awesome foursome in an interactive exhibit. Next door's Thames gallery makes a compelling case for the river's central role in England's history, while a final gallery explains Henley's role in it all. It's surprisingly stirring stuff, and there's a bright, scenic café, good gift shop and lots of kids' activities and visiting exhibitions to round out the experience.