So, you’ve promised to have the grandkids over but how will you keep them entertained? Why not take them to Derby for a day trip or even a couple of days away? Derby is a fantastic place for families to visit: a great city experience with lots of activities right on your doorstep.
Taking the train is one of the best ways to travel with children. They’re excited by the experience and there’s lots to occupy their minds as they stare out the window. Save money with discounted Advance tickets and choose your seat. Reserve table seats and enjoy breakfast on the train or let the kids do some colouring. We’ve even created our own I-spy game, which you can print out and bring on the train for you to all play together.
From free museums and spacious parks to farm animals and fun activities for any age, we’ve picked out the best things to do with the grandkids in Derby.
1. Discover Derby Museum and Art Gallery
Take your grandkids on a trip through history when you visit the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Start by discovering the mummies in Ancient Egypt before marching through the Soldier’s Story exhibition with its range of weaponry and military objects. Make your way through to the Archaeology Gallery, where you will find fascinating ancient artefacts. The museum’s Coffee House is the perfect place to rest little legs (and your own), have a cup of tea and share some cake!
Where is it? Derby Museum and Art Gallery, The Strand, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1 1BS, England.
How to get there: The museum is a 20-minute walk from Derby Station. Alternatively, you can take the number 6 bus from the station.
2. Get active at Markeaton Park
Experience a little bit of countryside in Derby’s most visited park. Markeaton Park is a family-friendly open space, jam-packed with activities for kids of all ages to enjoy. The park has historic significance, which you can see in its veteran trees, lost roads, and the remains of a WWII army camp. As well as gardens, a play centre, and bird watching, the park boasts sports facilities, a high ropes course, and a free paddling pool during the summer months. You and the kids could quite easily spend an entire day here.
Where is it? Markeaton Ln, Derby DE22 4AA.
How to get there: From Derby Station, jump on the number 6 or 114 from Bus Stop S1.
Price: Free entry to the park but there is a charge for some activities
3. Taste creamy, homemade ice cream at Bluebell Dairy
Farm animals and homemade ice cream…what could please the little ones more? Bluebells is located on a farm just outside of Derby. The award-winning ice cream is homemade with the milk from the farm’s cherished cows, with 25 awesome flavours to choose from. There are feeding and petting sessions with the animals, so you can get up close and personal with the likes of Bill the pot-bellied pig and Fred, Nina and Bella, the cheeky goats. There’s also a play area, Go Kart track, bouncy pillow trampoline and even a toddler tractors course!
If you’ve got time, there’s also a 45-minute farm walk, where you learn about the native wildlife and the farm’s practices while walking past the ancient Rig and Furrow Farmland.
Where is it? Locko Rd, Derby DE21 7AR
How to get there: Take the Spondon Flyer bus service from Derby bus station and disembark at Coniston Avenue. From here, the farm is around 15 minutes walking.
Price: Adult: £6.50, Senior Citizens (60years+): £5.50, Child (2-16 years): £6.50, under 2s: free.
4. Explore Derby Cathedral Quarter
With stunning arts and cultural venues, historical landmarks, and a plethora of restaurants and bars, Derby’s Cathedral Quarter is a great place to take children. Meander through historical streets with arcades and hidden entrances and discover specialist stores and independent retailers. From original events to family-friendly street entertainment, there is always something happening in the Cathedral Quarter. Look out for the Cathedral Quarter Rangers, dressed in their distinctive burgundy uniforms, who welcome and guide you around the area.
Where is it? Cathedral Quarter Derby Iron Gate, Derby.
How to get there: Take the number 6 bus from Derby Station or walk to the Cathedral Quarter in around 20 minutes.
5. Get creepy at Derby Gaol
Once one of five gaols in Derby, the prison on Friargate has been turned into a museum. Many people were hanged in this building in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the museum has contemporary accounts of the executions, replica gallows and preserved cells. It’s a captivating experience and there are some fascinating details to discover, like notches carved onto the inside of the debtor’s jail door to calculate debt. Derby Gaol may be one of the most haunted spots in the UK, and there is an evening ghost walk around the city centre, starting and ending at the gaol.
Where is it? 50-51 Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1DF.
How to get there: You can walk to the museum from the station in around 20 minutes, or alternatively take the number 6 bus from the train station which takes approximately 10 minutes.
Price: Entrance fee is £3 per person. Children under 16 are £1 per child.
6. Paint pots at Paint a Pot
Based in the craft village at the heart of Markeaton Park, ‘Paint a Pot’ in Derby is fun whatever age you are. Most importantly, no artistic talent is required. Visitors can pick the pottery of their choice – from a T-rex to a teapot – and paint away using acrylics and glitter paint. You can then choose whether to take your piece home on the day or leave it to be glazed and fired in the kiln. Why not get the grandkids to paint something for their parents or to remind them of the fun day out they had?
Where is it? Markeaton Ln, Derby DE22 4AA.
How to get there: To get to Markeaton Park from Derby Station, jump on the number 6 or 114 from Bus Stop S1.
Price: Free to get in, plus the price of the pot you paint.
What to pack for a day out with the grandkids?
Taking the grandkids out must be treated like a military operation: always have a plan and always be prepared. We’ve made a list of things that mustn’t be forgotten on your day out together:
• Appropriate clothing for the day’s activities (layers if it might be chilly, swimming gear if you might splash about, etc.)
• Train activities like our I-spy game or colouring books
• Snacks – fruit’s a great choice, or we have an at-seat service so you can enjoy a cuppa and get the children some biscuits
• Wet wipes for the mucky pups
• Water to keep everyone hydrated
• Camera – to document your wonderful family day out together
For more travel tips with children, check out our Train Ride Survival Guide.
Child-friendly restaurants in Derby
• Quirky, eccentric and playful, the Cosy Club offers informal casual dining, drinking and lounging in a family-friendly environment. From a lazy breakfast to evening meals to a light lunch, they’re open all day and are close to the centre of Derby.
• The Greyhound pub in the Cathedral Quarter has a great atmosphere. The historic Grade II listed pub dating back to 1734 offers an unrivalled selection of beverages, plus soft drinks for the kids. There are main meals or lighter lunches to suit everyone.
• If a chain restaurant is more your thing, Ask Italian restaurant does a fantastic kids’ menu for the ‘baminos’. From the Happy Face Pizza to the Brilliant Bolognaise, the inventive food is sure to have their faces smiling and tummies content.
It you want to make the most of your city break, we advise spending the night in Derby, and there’s plenty of choice of where to stay. Whether you choose the luxury of one of the city’s boutique hotels or opt for comfort and value, you’ll be spoilt for choice with Derby’s selection of hotels.
Make sure you take advantage of great savings with CrossCountry Advance train tickets and download our mobile app to buy your tickets.
Written by Seb