10 Coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

10 Coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

This post is about what I believe to be the 10 coolest things to in Bristol with kids. I shout from the (cyber) rooftops about Bristol for a living (see the Visit Bristol website) – it’s a great gig as I think this city is rather wonderful. On any given day, whatever fancy may behold you, whatever new craze your kiddo may be into, you can find it in Bristol. Historic landmarks, wall-to-wall trampolines, open top buses, world famous ships, Banksy’s street art, family theatre, family-friendly festivals…you name it, Bristol’s got it. The city is popping up on ‘must visit’ lists all over the place, so if you’re after fun family activities, here are my 10 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

1. Watch the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

One of the most famous events on the city’s event calendar, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August is a spectacular four days of free family fun. Watch hundreds of balloons launch at dawn and dusk from the grounds of Ashton Court Estate and soar over the city. Special night glows take place on Thursday and Saturday evening, when the balloons are illuminated in time to music. There’s also tons of family entertainment, live music, food stalls and jaw-dropping aerial displays. Easily one of the funnest things for kids to do in Bristol.11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

2. Fire your curiosity at We The Curious, Bristol

Previously known as the At-Bristol Science Centre, We The Curious has re-branded with a rock hard focus on electrifying human curiosity. Inside you’ll find two floors of interactive, mind-blowing, hands-on fun for kids. Watch your skeleton dance, blow giant bubbles, journey to the stars in the UK’s only 3D Planetarium, step into a tornado, try your hand as an Aardman animator, snap your shadow, build a giant lego wall, the list goes on! You can easily spend the whole day here and they’ll give you wrist bands so if you fancy popping out for lunch and coming back, it’s no problem (there’s also an onsite cafe).  Look out for ‘Toddler Takeover’ days when entry is discounted or book a babysitter and leave the kids at home for their brilliant ‘adults only’ after-hours events.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

3. Experience life as a Victorian sailor aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain

One of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s greatest creations, this magnificent ship sits on Bristol Harbourside, ‘floating’ on a glass sea. The ship is alive with sights, sounds and smells of life on the ocean in Victorian times – from the animals onboard to first class passengers. See how you would have fared as a Victorian sailor and climb the rigging with Go Aloft! Your bravery will be rewarded with epic Harbour views. Being Brunel has just opened alongside the ship. It tells the story of the great engineer in a similarly exciting and immersive way. Events and fun activities take place all year round with lots going on during school holidays.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

4. Marvel at Bristol’s eye-popping Clifton Suspension Bridge

You can’t visit Bristol without seeing its most iconic attraction, the breath-taking, Brunel-designed Clifton Suspension Bridge. Spanning the Avon Gorge and looking back towards Clifton, the rolling Mendip hills and leafy Ashton Court Estate, it’s one of the city’s most picturesque spots from whatever angle you view it. Snap a selfie, pop into the Visitor Centre for a bit of history and have a go on the nearby natural rock slide – polished smooth by years of sliding botties – before strolling into Clifton Village for something to eat.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

5. Fun things to do in Bristol with kids: meet the animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens

I could rave about Bristol Zoo all day, it’s one of my favourite places in the city. With a toddler and a pre-schooler, the zoo has everything a mama could want, whether it’s pouring with rain, blazing sunshine, or if you just need to get out of the house to inject an ounce of sanity into your day…it’s hard to beat.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

With beautiful blooming pathways (the flower beds are a riot of colour whatever the season) and a big grassy picnicking space, it’s an easy place to herd wild toddlers. The splash park alone is worth the ticket price in summer. Shallow water ways, bridges, pools, basking crocodiles (wooden) – it’s every toddlers’ dream. There’s also a play area, sandpit, ride-on vehicles and ZooRopia, which gives older kids a chance to challenge themselves up high. And of course there’s the animals. Watch seals and penguins frolicking from underwater tunnels, get up close to lemurs, hear lions roaring, find Dory and Nemo in the aquarium, brave bug world, watch gorillas roam overhead, butterflies flutter past your face and investigate a rat-infested house in the twilight zone, plus loads more!

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

6. Ride the miniature trains at Ashton Court Estate, Bristol

A short hop over Clifton Suspension Bridge is the humongous estate of Ashton Court. Brilliant for cycling, horse riding, kite flying, scooting, mountain biking, dog walking, running, hot air ballooning and generally being at one with nature, it’s hard to believe you’re so close to a city (although there are lovely views over it from here). On certain weekends between March to October (plus a Santa special in December), you’ll also find a wonderfully fun mini railway run by Bristol Model Engineers – a firm favourite with families. Take a picnic and make a day of it!

Miniature Railway: 11 fun things for kids to do in Bristol11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

7. Feed squirrels on Brandon Hill and climb Cabot Tower

Brandon Hill surrounds one of Bristol’s most famous landmarks, Cabot Tower. It’s a beautiful, hilly park with a lovely playground and stupendous views gazing down over Bristol’s Floating Harbour and out to the countryside beyond. And a lot of squirrels. I know this because I was once paid to go ‘squirrel fishing’ by a well-known Bristol TV production company. It involved placing a nut on the end of a hand-made ‘fishing rod’ to try and coax the little creatures over. We needn’t have made things so complicated, they’re so tame here that they’ll come and eat right out of your hand – to the squeals of delighted children. If you’re feeling energetic afterwards, climb the steep winding steps to the top of Cabot Tower for some phenomenal views.

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

8. Fun things to do in Bristol with kids: go on an open top bus

For the purposes of entertaining pre-schoolers, you could jump on any First Bus and just cruise up and down Gloucester Road for a bit, my girls would definitely consider that a fun day out. However, if you’d like to make it infinitely more interesting, then find one of Bristol Insight’s open top buses to take a ride on. Stops are located at most of Bristol’s main attractions (and some offer discounted entry with a bus ticket) and you can hop on and off as you please while listening to fascinating facts about the city. It’s a great introduction if you don’t know Bristol that well and highly educational if you do!

11 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids

Bristol Insight Open top bus, 11 fun things for kids to do in Bristol

Bristol Insight Open Top Bus, 11 fun things for kids to do in Bristol

9. Jump at Airhop Bristol

Let little legs ping, boing, leap and launch themselves in every direction at the world’s largest indoor trampoline park, Airhop. There are special ‘Mini Airhopper Takeover’ sessions for under 5s which run on weekdays out of school holidays (10am-12pm) and at weekends (from 9am-10am). Kids have access to a dodgeball court, foam pit, wall to wall trampoline court and sensory toys. It’s the most amount of fun kids can have in midair.

Airhop Trampolines, 11 fun things for kids to do in Bristol

10. See a fun children’s theatre show in Bristol

Bristol is brilliant for kid’s theatre and there are always lots of family shows to be found at the city’s many cultural venues. You’ll find awe-inspiring West End and Broadway productions like Matilda the Musical (May-June 2019) at Bristol Hippodrome. Bristol Old Vic regularly puts on kids shows, while Dragonbird Theatre always sell-out their interactive play adventures around the city – so book early! Historic music venue, Colston Hall presents concerts from all genres of music, a family favourite is their Hoo-Ha festival  in August. They’re also well-known for their live orchestral accompaniments to classics such as Gruffalo and Room on a Broom. Keep an eye out for Kid Carpet’s performances and check out the What’s On pages for Tobacco Factory Theatres and Redgrave Theatre who put on lots of fun family shows. In the summer holidays discover the dark and dirty deeds of Long John Silver on a Treasure Island story walk (Bristol has strong connections with the tale), down on Bristol docks.

So you see, there is so much stuff going on in Bristol for families. Did you have any different ones? I’d love to hear what you thought of my 10 coolest things to do in Bristol with kids – leave your ideas in the comments below!

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29 Comments

  1. May 15, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    I discovered the balloon festival last year and just a few days ago the SS Great Britain and it seems to me Bristol needs to be added to my England bucket list! Looks like an amazing city! #CityTripping

    • May 16, 2018 / 8:05 am

      It definitely does! I may be a bit biased as a resident, but it really is a fantastic city! Thanks for reading.

  2. May 16, 2018 / 12:12 am

    I would love to see all the balloons! That looks so fun!

    • May 16, 2018 / 8:03 am

      They really are a sight to behold – very memorable. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. May 16, 2018 / 8:00 am

    Lots of great information! I don’t have kids, but the hot air balloons and Brandon Hill look like a lot of fun! Bristol is definitely on my to-visit list. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #citytripping

    • May 16, 2018 / 8:02 am

      Yes the hot air balloons and Brandon Hill are spectacular! Yay come and visit!

  4. May 16, 2018 / 8:10 am

    Would love to visit the Balloon Fiesta one day! We visited the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Museum but have yet to see them floating in the sky
    #citytripping

    • May 16, 2018 / 8:38 am

      Yes you must – it’s spectacular! Thanks for reading.

  5. May 16, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    We had such a fun weekend discovering the city not long ago- we could easily have spent most of it in We The curious too. It was rediscovery in my case as I once lived in Bristol – seems so much cooler now, am tempted to to back to find Gromit. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • May 16, 2018 / 7:48 pm

      Ahh yes, I think I read your post on that! I was a uni here and have watched it changed into a very cool city. Yes come back for Gromit – the preview sculptures were released today and look ace!

  6. May 22, 2018 / 7:37 am

    I really need to visit Bristol again, there’s so much to see and do! What an amazing place for families! #MondayEscapes

  7. May 22, 2018 / 8:02 pm

    We’ve still got so much to see and do in Bristol. I think we could go back months after month! I’d love to see the balloon festival and We The Curious sounds brilliant. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  8. May 23, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    We’ve still got loads to see and in Bristol. Really enjoyed reading this and have picked up lots of places to add to the list. Would love to see the balloon festival #MondayEscapes

    • May 23, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      Yes there really is SO much to do in the city. Thanks so much for your comments!

  9. May 30, 2018 / 10:22 pm

    These are all such fun activities! I think any adults would love them too especially the balloon festival! I would love to see that – I’m totally a kid at heart, though. Thanks for sharing!

  10. May 30, 2018 / 11:13 pm

    Wonderful photos here! I just pinned this to inspire my family travel wanderlust. 🙂

  11. May 31, 2018 / 9:54 am

    I’ve spent so much time in the UK as my family hails from there, but I’ve never been to Bristol! We have a place like We The Curious here in Australia called Questacon. It’s such a fun day!

  12. Jewels
    May 31, 2018 / 10:14 am

    That hot air balloon festival looks awesome! I’ve always wanted to go on one. Great list of things to do in Bristol.

  13. Mateja
    May 31, 2018 / 11:07 am

    Although I don’t have kids yet, I would myself LOVE to visit these places when in Bristol! Seems like so much fun. Love all your photos 🙂

  14. May 31, 2018 / 12:57 pm

    Lots of great info. Maybe next year we can head to Bristol for London and enjoy some of the fun activities you listed here.i think my girls will love the Aloi s!2

  15. May 31, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    I never knew that Bristol was known for its balloon festival. My husband would definitely enjoy being on an old wooden ship. The suspension bridge would definitely be a must see. I am sure the trampoline park would be a huge hit!

  16. May 31, 2018 / 6:29 pm

    How lucky are those kids that get to go up in a hot air balloon so young!!! I took my first and only ride when I was 19, and it was incredible over the rural region of Queretaro in Mexico. So much to do with the kiddies in Bristol. Cheers! great list!!

  17. May 31, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    So many fun things to do in Bristol! Had no idea 🙂 I would totally take that double-decker bus tour.

  18. Kanika Gupta
    June 1, 2018 / 6:28 am

    I have been to bristol and enjoyed every second of it!! Reading through your post gave me so many ideas about things to do with my nephew! Thank you so much for sharing, it was very adorable.

    • June 1, 2018 / 11:47 am

      Thank you so much! Thrilled you enjoyed it and found it useful, Bristol is such a great city.

  19. June 1, 2018 / 7:01 pm

    Aww, this all looks so much!! I absolutely love hot air balloons, so some of this pictures had me in awe. x

  20. August 19, 2018 / 7:05 pm

    That suspension bridge looked incredible! I’d love to get to Bristol. One day — hopefully in 2019! 🙂

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