With lots of holidays on the horizon, you might be wondering how you can spend all that free time with your brood. Whether you have toddlers, school-aged kids or teenagers, there are plenty of fun things to do in Bristol for families. Choose between getting active, fascinating educational days out or even seeing some fluffy, furry farm animals right in the city centre.
With so many options, the hardest part will be picking your favourite! This is why we’ve created a game that you can print out and play with your children to help them decide what to do on your Bristol adventure.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta comprises four days of non-stop free fun. Tickets are completely free, so all you’ll have to pay for is the shuttle bus service that leaves from Temple Meads station regularly throughout the weekend. For four days, the skies over Ashton Manor will be filled with balloons, but there’s plenty more to discover. With hundreds of trade stalls and fairground attractions on-site, there’s enough to keep the whole family occupied for the duration of your stay.
Alongside the obligatory hot air balloons, which are definitely not to be missed with their stunning views across the Bristol cityscape, families should be sure to check out the family area run by Cirque Bijou. With buckets of performances, installations, workshops and activities, there’s something here for the whole family, from babies to tweens, and teens to the young at heart. There’s also live music from local artists and musicians on the Fiesta Band Stand, lending a real festival atmosphere to proceedings.
The festival takes place every August, so check the website and make sure you mark your calendars.
Top Tip: Make sure you don’t miss the Nightglows and Firework Finales. Balloons light up the night sky accompanied by a specially designed soundtrack. At the end of the night, fireworks wrap up the evening.
Believe it or not, Bristol is home to the world’s largest trampoline park, housing over 135 interconnected trampolines in their free-zone alone. The trampolines stretch across the floor as well as up the walls, meaning that your kids can get rid of their excess energy by literally bouncing off the walls. There are plenty of different options available: dodgeball courts, slam dunk lanes, foam pits, battle beams, slack lines and a Total Wipeout zone, so your kids are sure to be entertained.
Bouncing is a great alternative way of getting some exercise as a family; Airhop reckons you can burn up to 1000 calories an hour while bouncing. Their research, backed by NASA, shows that you can burn as many calories in 10 minutes bouncing as in half an hour of jogging. Of course, there’s also the fun of spending time at Airhop and it’s a great activity for the whole family to enjoy together.
Children can bounce from the age of five but just be aware that if you have a particularly young-looking child, then you might need some proof of age.
Top Tip: If you’re not as keen to bounce as your kids are, then there’s a café on the mezzanine level, which has excellent coffee, free WiFi, and a great view of all the action. You can kick back and relax while the kids bounce.
At-Bristol is an amazing science exhibition centre spread over two floors. With activities, events, exhibitions and workshops designed for children of all ages, At-Bristol makes the perfect day out for the whole family.
The planetarium is ultra-high definition and the only one of its kind in the UK. There are a couple of different programs on offer:
- One aimed at 6-11 year olds
- The other at under sixes
Space Explorers - a 2D program aimed at younger children - teaches your little ones the skills they need to be a space explorer. Meanwhile, older children will be captivated by the awe-inspiring program specially designed for school-aged children. The immersive experience makes full use of the technology available in this world-class planetarium.
One of the newest additions to At-Bristol is the Tinkering Space area, where children young and old are invited to invent the must-haves of tomorrow. This summer there will be real-life robots to meet to inspire your next invention.
Top Tip: The excitement doesn’t have to finish when you get home! By registering your barcode, you can access all the videos, photos and stats from your visit, and keep exploring long after you’ve returned home.
SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain, sometimes known as the “ship which changed the world”, is a wonderful place for a family day out. The ship, which was initially designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843 as the world’s first ocean liner, has been turned into an engaging and fascinating museum. During your stay, you’re able to explore exhibits on-board as well as in the dockyard museum, so there’s plenty to see and do!
While at the museum, young people are encouraged to use all their senses to imagine what life would have been like at sea during the SS Great Britain’s heyday. Whilst wandering around on the ship, you’ll see it exactly as it would have been as she was preparing to set sail for the first time. Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore the upper-class cabins and the galley as part of your trip.
Your ticket is valid for a year from purchase, so you can return as many times as you like. We’re sure you’re going to have a great time at this fascinating museum, so you should definitely hang on to your ticket.
Top Tip: During the school holidays, there are lots of family activities hosted at the SS Great Britain - everything from storytelling to climbing in the rigging, as well as conservation efforts.
If you have kids who are fascinated by the ocean, then there’s no better place to take them than the Bristol Aquarium. With over 40 displays featuring everyone’s favourite marine life, from sharks to seahorses and puffer fish to piranhas, there’s hours of exploration to be had for the whole family.
Budding marine biologists of all ages are sure to be fascinated by the many talks and exhibitions held daily at the aquarium. Discover more about the habitat-themed displays, such as those around the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs. Here the whole family can find out more about the conservation work being done to save these key habitats for future generations. You can also experience feeding time for some of the amazing sea creatures who call the aquarium their home.
There are different talks, feeds and events happening every day, so if your family has a particular favourite, it’s worth checking on the website to ensure everyone is kept happy.
Top Tip: Don’t miss the urban jungle! It’s the only display of its kind at any aquarium in the UK and a real treat for the senses. Exploring the enormous biodome is like discovering a rainforest, right in the centre of Bristol!
Windmill Hill City Farm
Windmill Hill City Farm is an amazing local community project in Bristol and well worth a day out for those not in the area. The farm and gardens are open every day in the summer months between 9 am and 5 pm, and there’s plenty to see and do to keep everyone’s attention occupied for the whole day.
Needless to say, the stars of the show are the farm animals who live at Windmill Hill. Meet the goats, pigs, sheep, poultry and pets, and learn more about the specific breeds that are kept here as well as learn how to care for them. There are plenty of opportunities to feed the animals as well as play with them, while being carefully supervised by the experts who work at the farm. There are also loads of organised activities to enjoy.
Exploring the gardens is a great way to experience this urban oasis, right in the centre of Bristol. The gardens produce food with zero food miles, which is cooked and served at the onsite café, where fresh seasonal, family-friendly food is served in a fun atmosphere. The whole family can take part in helping the gardens to grow by doing some weeding, watering and more.
Top Tip: After visiting the animals, kids of all ages can expend their excess energy at the onsite adventure playground. There’s a variety of low-level structures and nets to explore, and plenty of space to run around. Check the website to see when there are organised activities available in this area too – sometimes slacklines and other ropes courses are built between the structures for older children to enjoy.
Download our unique origami game, print it out and assemble it with your kids. Together you can design your perfect day out with the kids in Bristol.
CrossCountry can take you on a trip to Bristol with all the family for less with our Advance tickets. You can buy CrossCountry Advance tickets up to 15 minutes before departure, and they all come with a seat reservation, making it more affordable to get to some of the UK’s most popular destinations.
Check out our Advance tickets and get up to 70%* off your next train journey only with CrossCountry.
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