With its ancient spa history, handsome Georgian architecture and eclectic modern culture, the World Heritage City of Bath is a fascinating city to explore with children. And it’s just down the road from Bristol – get there by train in 13 minutes, cycle a traffic-free route or take a short drive. This is brilliant for locals looking for ways to entertain the kids on their doorstep and for visitors to the West Country, combining two epic cities and tourist destinations in one trip is surely a rare and excellent opportunity!
From Roman ruins and natural hot springs, to landscaped gardens, Regency tea rooms, museums and vibrant festivals, here’s my guide to the best things to do in Bath with kids.
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The Roman Baths
Be transported back to 70AD, at one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world. The Roman Baths offer an incredible, immersive experience of the city’s history and how Roman folk lived 2000 years ago.
Although you can’t swim in the Roman Baths with kids, over 1 million litres of 46°C spring water still fill the ancient bathing site everyday. You can sample the famous thermal water – but be warned – it’s quite ‘eggy’ thanks to its rich mineral content!
As well as a children’s audioguide (narrated by Michael Rosen and available in English, French and German), there are activity trails for preschool and primary-age kids to do on the way round, plus physical, and virtual, costumed (and sometimes partly un-costumed – my kids were thrilled to see a digital bare botty) characters to look out for.
You can also download a free Roman Baths Kids app ahead of your visit to uncover fascinating facts about life at the Roman Baths, play games and take a quiz.
Bring a carrier as pushchairs are not permitted.
Dominating the city skyline, the magnificent Bath Abbey has been a site of Christian worship for over 1200 years. The first King of all England, King Edgar the Peaceful, was crowned here in 973 AD, and the ceremony set the precedent for all future coronations of English kings and queens.
Inside is mesmerising (and I find the cathedral hush has the rare effect of quieting my children), there are carved angels, an impressive fan vaulted ceiling and stained glass to spot, plus candles to light in memory of loved ones.
Kids over five years old can embark on a Tower Tour (charges apply) with their grown-ups, although, be aware there are 212 steps to climb to the top via a spiral staircase. Private tours are also available.
The Egg Theatre
Housed in the Theatre Royal Bath, this egg-shaped, intimate theatre is the only designated children’s theatre outside London. Presenting live performances for tiny babies, preschoolers, young people and their families, the Egg Theatre has shows on weekdays and weekends, plus extra ones during school holidays. The theatre is also home to the family-friendly Egg cafe.
The Little Theatre
Two-screen, arthouse cinema The Little Theatre in Bath runs popular Kids’ Club screenings on Saturday morning from 10.30am. Available exclusively for children and their grown-ups, tickets start from £3.30 each, unaccompanied adults are not admitted.
No 1 Royal Crescent
While the Bridgerton references will be lost on your little ones, you can get all starry-eyed as you make your way along one of Bath’s most iconic streets – seen recently in the hit Netflix series. Unfailingly photogenic, the sweeping crescent is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture anywhere in the world and has been virtually unchanged since its construction in the 1700s.
Take a gander inside one of these picture-perfect townhouses and show youngsters what Regency life would have looked like. No.1 Royal Crescent is an immersive museum that showcases the lifestyle of 18th century high society, and that of the people who worked for them. Kids can pick up a free learning backpack, and use the equipment inside to look, listen, measure and even smell their way around the house!
There are also 18th century style costumes to try on, Georgian toys to play with and additional drop in activities or family workshops during school holidays.
Perched above a photogenic horseshoe-shaped weir, the beautiful, arched Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world to have built-in shops on both sides and one of Bath’s most iconic sights. Kids will love watching the boats and paddle boarders navigate the waters.
Once you’ve taken a few snaps, potter over the bridge to Great Pulteney Street, one of the widest, grandest avenues in the city, flanked on both sides by gorgeous Georgian buildings.
The Beazer Garden Maze
Alongside the river, a couple of minutes from Pulteney Bridge, is a small paving stone maze swirling around a mosaic centre, created by one of England’s most prolific labyrinth designers, Randall Coate.
It’s a fun place to go with young kids if you’re in the area, visiting the bridge, picnicking in the park, or after a little down time away from the bustle of the city centre.
The Holburne Museum
The handsome Holburne Museum sits at the end of Great Pulteney Street and houses an extensive art collection with everything from Renaissance paintings to Gainsborough masterpieces.
The Sackler Discovery Centre runs free activities for children, inspired by the exhibitions. There are also activity drawers to explore throughout the extension galleries, activity bags (including ones for under fives) and a free museum trail to complete.
Look out for special school holiday deals (family entry is often free during these times)
The museum’s cafe is also an architectural attraction in its own right, with layers of glass and moulded ceramic that look out onto Sydney Gardens and contrast beautifully with the Georgian building’s striking facade.
Victoria Art Gallery
Victoria Art Gallery houses collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts treasures, including a display of British oil paintings from the 17th century, with works by Thomas Gainsborough. Families will find art trolleys stocked with a selection of art materials to try, including colouring sheets, word searches and Pilu’s portrait trail.
A range of free activities and events take place in the school holidays for 3-11 year olds – check their events page for the latest information. A great option if you are in need of rainy day fun things to do in Bath England!
The Fashion Museum
*The Fashion Museum has temporarily closed in preparation for its move to a new home in the centre of Bath, you can currently browse their collections online*
You’ve seen the beautiful houses they lived in, but how did Bath’s most fashionable residents dress? You can find out at The Fashion Museum which holds over 100,000 items of clothing from the past 400 years. Discover everything from historic Regency gowns to contemporary fashion from leading designers.
Jane Austen Centre
World-famous British author Jane Austen lived in Bath from 1801-06, and featured the city in many of her novels. For a glimpse of her world, The Jane Austen Centre lets visitors come face-to-face with a lifelike waxwork of Jane Austen herself (created by forensic artists), try using a quill pen and ink, or have your photo taken while dressed in Regency garb.
If you’re famished afterwards, sit down to high tea, served by staff in full 18th century regalia.
Victoria Falls Adventure Golf
Anyone for mini golf? Located near Royal Crescent and Royal Victoria Park is 18-hole Victoria Falls Adventure Golf. It’s beautifully maintained with waterfalls, flower borders, trees, a lake and roped walkways – so oodles of fun to be had!
In winter (Nov-Jan) the course is bedecked in twinkly festive fairy lights and keen putters can play nighttime Glow Golf.
Royal Victoria Park
If you’re looking for a cheap day out in Bath, head to Royal Victoria Park. Opened officially in 1830 by an eleven year old Queen Victoria, this beautiful expanse of green parkland spans a whopping 57 acres. There’s tons of things for kids to do, including a ginormous adventure playground and skateboard area, ducks to feed, plus pretty botanic gardens and the Great Dell Aerial Walkway.
Pack a picnic in summer and plonk yourselves down on the green in front of Royal Crescent. You can also grab a bite to eat at the Pavilion Cafe or coffee, ice cream and cake from the kiosk near the tropical glasshouse. If you’re lucky you might just spot a hot air balloon taking off!
Toot Bus open top bus tour
Toot Bus Bath offers an open-top double decker Discovery sightseeing City Tour, with stops located at the major Bath tourist attractions. 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 Bath that well, and you’ll always learn something new if you do!
There’s also a Skyline Tour which explores the other side of the river Avon and the amazing views of the city from its outskirts, taking you past Prior Park Landscape Gardens, The University of Bath and the American Museum.
Or, opt for The Monster Ticket, which includes entry to one of Bath’s newest attractions, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein
Why a house of Frankenstein in Bath you might be wondering? Well, in 1816, Mary Shelley wrote the first science fiction novel Frankenstein while living in Bath. This museum/immersive multi-sensory visitor attraction lets you step into Shelley’s unconventional life and lasting legacy of her infamous creation, through unusual artefacts, darkened environments, ominous soundtracks, body parts, bespoke smells and special effects.
Two rooms of this Grade II* listed house are dedicated to Frankenstein in popular culture and a giant animatronic creature is sure to startle the wits out of most visitors!
It’s likely to be quite scary for younger children (mine would be traumatised for life I think!), but I’ve included it here for older ones.
The Clueniversity of Magic is an immersive city adventure that is part outdoor escape room, part treasure hunt. Using a phone app, solve the treasure hunt-style clues to gain points, interact with agents on the ground and discover Bath at the same time.
The game is suitable for all ages (although under 10s might need your help with some of the puzzles) and takes around 2 hours to complete. Book online from £11 / player.
Bath Spy Mission Treasure Trail
I don’t know about you, but if I tell my kids they’re going on a walk, they often whinge and moan and are extremely reluctant. Give them any kind of trail to do, and they’re in their element! This self-guided secret spy mission is a fun way to explore Bath with children, get them walking and engaged in discovering the landmark and history of the city.
If you’re familiar with Bristol’s Swoon Gelato on College Green, then hooray for a sister venue in Bath! I’ve never tasted gelato this good – it’s mouth-wateringly delicious and there are all sorts of classic flavours as well as inventive seasonal specials to try. Get your chops round Mince Pie or Panettone Gelato at Christmas, dark chocolate sorbetto in summer…SWOON
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading
Mr B’s Emporium is a beautiful bookshop on John Street in the centre of Bath that is a fun, bright space for kids to discover the joy of reading. The Guardian named Mr B’s one of the ten best bookshops in the world back in 2015 and it’s easy to see why.
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House
Hungry for more history? Or hungry full stop? Seek out one of the oldest houses in Bath (dating from 1482) to try their world-famous local delicacy – the Sally Lunn Bun. The secret recipe is believed to have been created by a French refugee who arrived in Bath in 1680.
As well as a restaurant, there’s also a small museum downstairs, showing how the site has been used to serve peckish patrons since Roman times.
American Museum and Gardens
Delve into the history of the USA at the American Museum and Gardens – from Native Americans, to the first settlers, cowboys, gold miners and pioneers, this Georgian manor is brimming with incredible artefacts telling stories of Americana up to the 20th century.
Outside, the beautiful grounds feature a replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon, a large childrens’ play area, arboretum and spectacular views over the Limpley Stoke Valley. Before you leave, tuck into some classic American treats in The Orangery Cafe, including Snickerdoodles, cowboy cookies and brownies.
Check out their Enchanted Garden of Light at Christmas.
Herschel Museum of Astronomy
Ever wondered who found Uranus (*snigger*)? Well, it was William Herschel, from the garden of his home in Bath, back in 1781. The Herschel Museum of Astronomy is set in the very place where he discovered the planet using a homemade telescope, and for any young space fanatics, this will be right up their street.
An audio-visual guide for kids features William’s sister Caroline Herschel, who takes listeners around her home, discovering the globes, planetaria, instruments and telescopes of the former residents.
Beckford’s Tower and Museum
*Closed until further notice while they undertake works, otherwise it’s normally open weekends and bank holidays*
36.5m high neo-classical Beckford’s Tower was commissioned in 1826 by William Beckford, a wealthy eccentric, whose large fortune was amassed from his family’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
Built as a place of tranquility away from society, the tower houses many pieces of Beckford’s furniture, paintings, prints and books, as well as other interesting objects relating to his life as a creative in Georgian England.
For breath-taking panoramic views back towards Bath, climb the 154-step spiral staircase to the beautiful Belvedere or take a walk through Lansdown Cemetery next door.
Bath City Farm
Situated on a beautiful 37-acre site, Bath City Farm is similar to Bristol’s city farms – heavily community-minded with a lovely farm cafe selling wholesome produce, a playground for kids and a great budget place to see farm animals in the city. Here you can see sheep, pigs, pygmy goats, chickens, Shetland ponies and sometimes cows.
Kids can take on the nature hunt (£1), otherwise there are 37 acres of nature, including fields, woodland, ponds and stunning views across Bath to explore freely.
Entrance is free however donations are very welcome.
Bristol to Bath Cycle Path
Travel between the two neighbouring West Country cities on the The Bristol to Bath Railway Path, a 13-mile off-road historic route which is open to walkers and cyclists. There’s wildlife to spot on the way and intriguing places just off the path, such as Bitton Railway station.
If the round-trip is too much for little (or big!) legs, you can always hop on the 13-minute train back between Bath to Bristol Temple Meads with your bike.
For some of the most breathtaking cityscapes in the South West, take a stroll along the Bath Skyline Walk. The best place to find parking is on one of the residential roads near Cleveland Walk, then make your way between the houses to National Trust Bathwick Fields (signposted).
The whole circular route is six miles long and leads you through meadows, woodlands, and secluded valleys, past ancient Roman settlements and an Iron Age fort (find detailed walking instructions on the National Trust website).
If little ones won’t walk that far, try the two-mile, buggy-friendly family discovery trail in the Rainbow Woods around Claverton Down. Here you can search for magical doors and mess around in the woodland play area. There’s also a three-mile circular trail from the city centre out to Bath Skyline.
Or you can hop-on-hop-off the City Sightseeing Skyline tour bus to see some of the skyline from your seat or hop off part-way round (check where it stops with the driver.
Prior Park Landscape Garden, Bath
Prior Park was built in the 18th century by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen – an integral figure in the development of the British postal system. From his humble start in life, Allen rose to be one of the wealthiest men in Britain and with his riches he bought this estate, with spectacular views of Bath and a magical landscape garden created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and poet Alexander Pope.
As with many National Trust places, there’s acres of space for kids to run free. Winding paths and hidden features wait to be discovered, with a stunning Palladian Bridge – one of only four of its kind in the world – stealing the show. During school holidays there are often themed trails around the park.
Prior Park connects to the Bath Skyline walk (although younger kids might not manage both).
Bath’s sham castle was built by Ralph Allen (the aforementioned postmaster or Prior Park), in order to improve the view from his townhouse (because who doesn’t need a gigantic mansion, estate and second home, if the view’s a bit iffy?)
As well as firing young imaginations, there are also lovely views from here – for best access, follow the Bath Skyline walking trail.
Bath events to do with kids
Bath Carnival 2023 (8 July)
Celebrate carnival culture with this vibrant street procession of fabulous costumes, dance and live music. Starting at The Bath Recreation Ground, the carnival will make its way through the city, ending in Sydney Gardens with live bands, DJs, food and drink stalls, drumming and dance workshops, a super pirates kids’ zone and lots more! The theme is Mother Earth – Natural Habitats.
Bath Children’s Literature Festival 2023
- When? 29 September-8 October
Europe’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival is a nine-day event with talks and activities for kids, aimed at inspiring imaginations.
Young book lovers are given a chance to meet the creators of their literary heroes – past authors have included Harry Hill, Cressida Cowell, Dougie Poynter, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Bath on Ice
Winter sees a huge ice rink (1000 square metres) arrive in Bath’s Royal Victoria Park, complete with lights and music.
Enchanted Garden of Light at American Museum and Gardens
American Museum and Garden’s Enchanted Garden of Light is a magical illuminated trail of flickering flames, dancing patterns, rainbow-lit trees and glowing installations, illuminating a replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon.
Keep toasty underneath the stars with hot spiced apple, mulled wine and hot chocolate, cocktails, homemade mince pies, roasted chestnuts, hotdogs and gourmet burgers, and revel in the twinkly magic.
Good to know
If you live in or around Bath, check out the Discovery Card scheme. This allows local residents free entry to the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths and gives a range of discounts at a variety of other museums and attractions in Bath & North East Somerset and beyond.
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