THE Beacon Museum is a shining example of all that is great about a day out on your doorstep.

The joy of the visit starts before you even enter its doors.

You can spend some time just taking in the delightful location which is right by the marina in the picturesque port of Whitehaven.

When you’ve had your fill of the harbourside views you can step through the doors of The Beacon and start to enjoy everything it has to offer across its four floors.

Firstly, take in the exhibition which tells the fascinating history of one of Cumbria’s most colourful characters.

Hugh Lowther was known as The Yellow Earl because of his fondness for the colour.

In 1882, as the fifth Earl of Lonsdale, he owned much of Whitehaven and is said to have lived an extravagant lifestyle.

He was a sportsman, an adventurer who claimed to have reached The North Pole and the exhibition covers all aspects of his extraordinary life.

There are igloo making workshops to reflect on his time in Alaska and kids can take part in computer boxing bouts – to mark his role in creating the modern sport of boxing.

Next, move on to the Pirates of The Beacon Museum exhibition for some immersive, interactive family fun.

You can explore the ‘Parrot Jungle’, take a selfie whilst ‘hanging the jib,’ dress up as a pirate, steer the ship and raise the Jolly Roger flag.

The Beacon is an award-winning venue and in November scooped Visit England’s “Best Told Story” Award for making visits engaging and interactive.

One fresh exhibit which has gone live this month (May) is a prime example of that.

In the virtual reality Mine Experience you don a hard hat and a VR headset and you are instantly transported down into the depths of the sort of coal mine so important to Whitehaven’s rich history.

And once you have experienced the dark depths of the coal mining world you might want to head up to the top floor and enjoy stunning panoramic views over the town and harbour in the Viewing Gallery.

You can use powerful telescopes and enjoy digital interactive displays which tell you more about the port’s incredible history.

For example, did you know that Whitehaven was the target when, for the first and only time in history, American forces attacked England!

It happened in 1778 during the American War of Independence and the raid was led by Commander John Paul Jones.

He knew Whitehaven well as it was there, aged 13, he began his maritime career signing up for a seven-year seaman’s apprenticeship.

His incredible story is one of those told in the many digital displays at the museum.

The Beacon Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4.30pm and from 11am to 4pm on Sundays.

It also opens on Mondays during school holidays.