Known for its maritime history, Bristol offers numerous sights for families. The city has various hotels, parks, and cultural events. Moreover, it is ranked fourth in England’s list of the most visited places! There are so many things to do with kids in Bristol that you’ll not have to worry about how to spend your time.
Bristol city centre is rich in attractions since the city is an important cultural centre with various museums, galleries and theatres.
Bristol is one of the most unique cities in Europe and the perfect city break in the UK with kids. Here’s a complete guide to planning a city break in Bristol with kids, including the top things to do in Bristol, where to stay in Bristol, and where to eat. We’ll even tell you about the top day trips from Bristol.
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Is Bristol Good for Kids?
Bristol’s attractions for kids are unique. You can enjoy the Bristol Aquarium, which is one of the largest and most beautiful in England, and many other fun places.
Also, you can come to the river Avon for the most magical festival in the UK, the Balloon Fiesta, one of the biggest in Western Europe.
During the festival, teams of enthusiasts gather in the city and raise hundreds of balloons into the sky, creating a vibrant landscape over the city. This activity is among the top things to do in Bristol, and your family will love it!
Best Days Out in Bristol with Kids
The atmosphere in Bristol is relatively calm. It is not hectic like other big cities, it will be convenient to move around with kids, and at the same time, there is a lot to see in the city, and even there are plenty of things to do in Bristol for toddlers. So, Bristol is a great option to consider if you have a free day or two in England!
The best Days Out in Bristol with Kids are summer days, and Bristol city is regarded as one of the warmest in England so that you can plan your trip anytime all year round.
Here you will find answers to questions: what things to see and do in Bristol, which places to visit in Bristol for free, and what are the most popular and exciting places in Bristol. Let’s begin!
#1 The Avon Valley Railway
The Avon Valley Railway is one of the best family attractions in the UK. It has been restored by enthusiasts and is a real treat for train lovers, especially children. It is located at Bitton railway station, halfway between Bristol and Bath.
Locomotives operate four-mile round trips every Sunday. The Steam Center is housed in a restored Midlands railway station.
This child-friendly place often holds themed events, such as Lego days. The train buffet offers a fantastic breakfast directly in an old railway carriage.
#2 Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
You don’t need to search on the map where locates The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
This grandeur building in the city’s heart stands out by its beauty and stunning architecture. The museum’s exposition includes natural history, archaeology, and the history of local industry.
The Art Gallery presents works from various periods by foreign and well-known British artists.
The gallery exhibits a collection of Chinese porcelain known as the “Schiller Collection”, which includes excellent examples of porcelain vases and other items from various periods. There is also a collection of Bristol blue glass.
The kids will especially like The Egyptian Gallery, which presents finds made at different times by archaeologists in Egypt, including mummies and sarcophagi.
There are also Assyrian bas-reliefs, which are more than 3000 years old. Learning the art in this gallery is among the top things to do in Bristol with kids.
#3 Tyntesfield North Somerset National Trust Victorian Gothic house
Tyntesfield Manor is a 40-minute drive from Bristol city centre. If you do not have your transport, you can get to the estate from Bristol by bus X6 from the Walton St Mary stop. From the bus stop to the estate 15 minutes walk.
Tyntesfield Manor consists of a Victorian Gothic home and a lush garden where kids can play while parents admire the beauty.
This Victorian home was the home of the Tynte baronets, who owned land in the area in the 15th century. The house was later sold to William Gibbs and his descendants, who in 2001, with Gibbs’ death, put the house up for auction at a very high price. Tyntesfield Manor belongs to the National Trust and is open to visitors.
#4 Sealife Aquarium
Bristol Aquarium has a wide range of fish, including rays, sharks, and a giant octopus.
Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Bristol for families. The transparent underwater tunnel allows visitors to walk through and admire the sharks swimming above their heads. If you’re lucky, you’ll see seahorses and turtles, stingrays and jellyfish!
All pavilions in the centre are supplemented with interesting explanatory signs, which makes the tour even more interesting.
#5 SS Great Britain
The museum ship SS Great Britain was once an ocean liner that sailed between New York and Bristol. This passenger steamer is one of the most advanced for its time.
This project was created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a talented engineer and author of the famous suspension bridge in Bristol.
At that time, there were steamers with metal hulls and steamers with screw engines – “Great Britain” was the first to possess both. This was the first metal steamers to cross the ocean – in 1845. It took only 14 days. A must-visit place for adults and kids!
#6 M Shed Museum
M Shed is a family-friendly interactive museum with colourful exhibits showing the history of the city.
It is located on two floors in the building of the former port hangar, where the museum demonstrates different cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and buses.
Since Bristol is now the centre of the British aviation industry, a large place in the exposition is devoted to aircraft and helicopters.
The kids will love to see them working examples of a steam port crane made in 1878.
#7 Arnolfini Arts
The international art centre and gallery Arnolfini in Bristol, England, is a perfect place for family days out and one of the best free things to do in Bristol because the entrance to exhibitions is free of charge.
The program includes contemporary art exhibitions, poetry and book readings, artist performances, music and dance events, films, talks, and lectures.
The gallery is next to the harbour and has a nice cafe with a stunning river view.
There is also a specialized art bookstore where you can find something interesting for yourself and your kids.
#8 Ashton Court Estate
Ashton Court Estate is a former house of the Smyth family near Bristol’s centre, situated in a historical park. With 850 acres of woods and grassland, it also has a deer park, cafes and lush gardens, play areas, and golf courses.
The golf fields offer golf courses. People from around Europe come here to see the fantastic deer graze and explore the area of old oak trees with a history of about 400 years.
Additionally, there is an option for mountain biking with lots of space for family picnics and kids’ games.
#9 Bristol Harbour
Bristol Harbor has existed since the 13th century, but it was completely redone at the beginning of the 19th century. Today, the harbour has excellent museums, exhibitions and galleries interesting for tourists of all ages.
Take an excursion along the Avon River, with guides’ comments and stops at interesting places in the city of Bristol. It is one of the most exciting things to do in Bristol with kids. The kids will appreciate it.
#10 Old Down Country Park
Bristol attractions for families include an amazing Old Down Country Park located on the territory of the Old Town. It is one of the best places for a holiday in the UK with kids. The huge park offers a lot of entertainment in nature. There is a small farm where children can learn how to take care of pets, and there are equipped green terraces with picnic tables and benches.
In the warm season, many exciting attractions are always installed in the park, as well as cultural events and special children’s holidays are held in the park.
#11 Hollywood Bowl, Cribbs Causeway
If you are searching for real fun activities in Bristol, then Hollywood Bowl Cribbs Causeway is the right place for your family.
It has modern American-themed ten-pin bowling alleys and a pleasant atmosphere.
The most valuable thing about the Hollywood bowling centre is the emotional state, the opportunity to have a good time and boost positive energy.
It’s one of the best places for family days out in Bristol. With this superfamily entertainment, you can spend a couple of hours on the track and have a meal in a delish American style, especially on a rainy day.
#12 Grimsbury Farm
Grimsbury Farm is located on the eastern fringe of Bristol and is supported by a charity foundation. It’s a lovely place for a day in Bristol where you can have some fresh air and contemplate the cute animals.
The kids can play on their nice playgrounds and see how the little lambs are fed. The pond with the duck pond deserves special attention, and there you’ll feel like you are far from the city and enjoy the pastoral landscape in full bloom.
#13 Airhop Trampoline Park
Air hop Trampoline Park is the world’s biggest park located by the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, a real adventure place. It’s of the best places for kids activities in Bristol. With over tan 140 trampolines spanning across the floor and up the walls, the park will thrill kids of all ages, including the big ones.
For little kids, the Air hop has a small bounce area, which works at specific times. It’s one of the top things to do in Bristol, UK.
Tip: book a few days before the visit and get a discounted price!
#14 West Country Water Park
If you are looking for fun things to do in Bristol for kids, go to the West Country Water Park! It is located north of Bristol, near the Woodlands Golf & Country Club. The aqua park offers inflatable slides which provide fun to visitors of all ages, from little children to big kids.
For the convenience of their customers, the park made a system with online bookings of swimming and paddle boarding. Their friendly and helpful staff will assist you with any questions.
#15 Clifton Observatory and Caves
From Clifton Observatory, you can see an amazing panoramic view of the Avon Gorge over Clifton Suspension Bridge through a special mirror projecting an image onto a screen on the table.
According to local legend, two giants lived on the territory of Bristol, and the cave on the rock of St. Vincent was their home. Well worth climbing down the cave where you can reach the best viewing platform point and see the Clifton suspension bridge. It is one of the most adventurous things to do in Bristol with kids.
Next to the Observatory is the Botanical Garden, which will also be a great place for walking.
#16 Wild Place Project
A walk through this miniature wildlife zoo, Wild Place Project, promises to be incredibly educational for children. Here you can watch zebras and lemurs, see rare predators and even pet some of the zoo’s friendly inhabitants.
The zoo is equipped with playgrounds with swings and other attractions for younger visitors, and there is also an excellent vegetable garden on the territory of the zoo.
Also, in a Wild Place, educational excursions are held for kids to learn about what healthy vegetables and fruits they can grow in the garden.
#17 Cabot Circus
Cabot Circus shopping mall is the most visited and interesting shopping complex, where you can find any product, from fashionable clothes to fresh products and delicacies.
The mall can be a perfect place for a nice day out in Bristol with kids on a rainy day. It is built in a striking shape with a glass roof hosting more than 130 shops, as well as restaurants and food courts. Besides shopping and dining, it can offer the cinema experience with 3D and 4K Digital Projection. It also has mini golf for those who are searching for something to do.
#18 Chew Valley Lake
The Chew Valley Lake is the perfect place to relax outdoors. On its territory, there is a beautiful lake, the main inhabitants of which are ducks. And one of the top free things to do in Bristol is to feed the ducks in this charming place near the historic districts of Bristol.
The park is good for hiking and cycling. Several interesting historical buildings have been preserved on its territory.
The special treat after your walk is delicious ice cream from the ice cream van.
#19 Bristol Hippodrome
If you are wondering what to do with kids in Bristol on a rainy day, check the Bristol Hippodrome. It is an important historical theatre which was designed by Frank Matcham and opened in 1912.
This Late-Victorian theatre which survived World War II, is on the list of English Heritage. It hosts top performances such as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Cats, and more. Here you can spend one of the memorable days out in Bristol for kids, especially if you are in the city during Christmas. The Christmas plays for kids are fantastic!
#20 Windmill Hill City Farm
Windmill Hill City Farm is a perfect place if you have free days out in Bristol. It is located in central Bristol and has an amazing farmyard with play areas for kids, as well as beautiful gardens.
It is a lovely farm to take toddlers to see pigs, cows, goats and other animals. Besides, Windmill Hill has seating indoors and outdoor with high chairs.
The play area is absolutely charming, and all kids love the little digger pit. The Windmill Hill City Farm activities are of the top things to do in Bristol with kids.
Additionally, the farm has a sales point where you can buy products grown in the allotments.
There are many sights to see in Bristol in a day. You can start your day at Bristol Harbour, then visit Arnolfini Arts Centre, where you can have breakfast. After crossing the Prince Street Bridge and visiting M Shed Museum. After, you can see the Bristol Harbour Railway and have lunch in the area; after lunch, you can visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which closes at 18:00 or visit the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, which works until 5 p.m. Also, you can walk around the centre and see the Wills Memorial Building Tower and other landmarks.
Bristol is a thriving seaport, a centre of culture and art, and an interesting tourist route. Also, Bristol is famous for the large balloon festival, which attracts about a half million international and local tourists.
Bristol is just 2 hours from London by train. It is the 8th largest city in England and a trendy and popular destination in the Southwest of England. Although one day is likely not enough to experience all that Bristol has to offer, you can see the most compelling attractions in a day.
Bristol is a good city for a trip with toddlers. It is a child-friendly city with great infrastructure, children’s cafes, and hotel facilities for toddlers. Besides, the city has many parks, zoos, and community farms where families with toddlers can have a fantastic time.
A 4-year-old in Bristol will enjoy visiting the Aquarium, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Grassland Park, Windmill Hill City Farm, Airhop Trampoline Park, Grimsbury Community Farm, and Old Down Country Park as well as Avon Valley Railway.
On a sunny day in Bristol, you can have a boat trip from the Bristol Harbour or visit the Avon Valley Railway. Also, good weather in Bristol is good for visiting Old Down Country Park, the Wild Place Grassland Park, the Windmill Hill City Farm, Ashton Court Estate, the Grimsbury Community Farm, and a Giant Cave in a Clifton Observatory. During sunny weather in the summer, you can also visit the West Country, Water Park.
When it rains in Bristol, it’s good to visit one of the numerous museums, such as Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, SS Great Britain, M Shed Museum, Arnolfini Arts, as well as Tyntesfield North Somerset National Trust Victorian Gothic house. Also, you can visit a fantastic Aquarium and have fun in Hollywood Bowl, Cribbs Causeway and Airhop Trampoline Park. Or you can go shopping at an amazing shopping centre Cabot Circus.
Plan Your Trip to Bristol with Kids
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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.