Are you planning a family day out in Bristol but not sure where to start? Welcome to Bristol, a city that combines historical charm with modern excitement, making it a perfect destination for families seeking adventure and learning. Nestled in the South West of England, Bristol is renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and a wide array of activities that cater to all ages and interests. Whether your family loves exploring the great outdoors, delving into the fascinating world of science and history, or enjoying lively cultural events, Bristol has something special for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the top picks for family-friendly activities in Bristol, ensuring your visit is packed with enjoyable and memorable experiences. From the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge offering breathtaking views to the interactive exhibits at We The Curious that ignite young imaginations, Bristol is a treasure trove of family fun. Plus, with numerous green spaces like the Ashton Court Estate and the enchanting Leigh Woods, nature lovers can bask in the beauty of Bristol’s scenic outdoors.
Bristol’s rich maritime history comes alive at the SS Great Britain, where families can step back in time and experience life on board the world’s first great ocean liner. For those with a penchant for art and history, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery presents a fascinating journey through time with its diverse collections.
And that’s just the beginning! Throughout the year, Bristol hosts an array of family-friendly festivals and events, such as the vibrant Bristol Harbour Festival and the awe-inspiring Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, offering a feast for the senses and a chance to create lasting family memories.
So, if you’re searching for the perfect destination for a family day out, let Bristol surprise and delight you at every turn. Keep reading to uncover the best activities and attractions in Bristol that promise a wonderful time for both the young and the young at heart.
Exploring Bristol’s Rich History and Culture
Bristol’s heritage is both diverse and captivating, making it an ideal destination for families who love to combine fun with a touch of education.
SS Great Britain
Dive into the world of Victorian engineering on Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron-hulled, steam-powered ocean liner. Launched in 1843, this historic ship has been meticulously restored, allowing families to experience life at sea over 150 years ago. Interactive exhibits and the chance to explore the ship from top to bottom make this an unforgettable journey into maritime history.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
This treasure trove of art, nature, and history is a must-visit for families. With over 19 galleries, the museum takes you through time and across cultures. From ancient Egyptian artefacts to modern art and interactive natural history sections, there’s something to spark the imagination of every family member. The museum frequently hosts family-friendly events and workshops, making each visit unique.
These attractions not only offer a glimpse into Bristol’s rich past but also provide engaging and interactive experiences for families, ensuring a day out that is both educational and enjoyable.
Outdoor Adventures in Bristol’s Green Spaces
Bristol’s outdoor spaces offer a perfect escape for families looking to enjoy nature and wildlife.
Ashton Court Estate
This historic estate offers over 850 acres of woodland and grassland, ideal for family walks, picnics, and outdoor games. The deer park is a highlight, where you can spot both Red and Fallow deer roaming freely. For the more adventurous, Ashton Court also features mountain biking trails and a miniature railway that operates on certain dates, adding a touch of excitement for younger visitors.
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Home to over 400 species of exotic and endangered animals, Bristol Zoo is not just a place to see wildlife but also to learn about conservation. The zoo’s immersive experiences, like the ‘Zooropia’ adventure ropes course and interactive animal feeding sessions, make it a hands-on, educational outing for the whole family. The zoo also has play areas and gardens, ensuring a well-rounded visit where kids can learn, play, and explore.
Both locations offer a mix of leisure, adventure, and educational elements, making them ideal for a family day out that’s both entertaining and enriching.
Engaging Activities for Creative Minds
Bristol offers a wealth of experiences that stimulate creativity and curiosity, perfect for families with a keen interest in science and history.
We The Curious
An innovative science and arts centre, We The Curious is a wonderland for inquisitive minds. It features interactive exhibits and experiments that cover everything from space to the human body, encouraging hands-on learning. The centre also boasts the UK’s first 3D planetarium, offering awe-inspiring cosmic journeys. Special workshops and events tailored for different age groups ensure a personalized and immersive educational experience.
Set on the harbourside, M Shed is a museum dedicated to the history of Bristol and its people. Through a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits, it tells the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present day. Interactive displays, historical artefacts, and personal stories bring Bristol’s rich and varied past to life. The museum also offers family-friendly activities, including historical walks and hands-on workshops, making history accessible and engaging for all ages.
Both venues are ideal for families seeking to combine fun with learning, offering interactive and enriching experiences that captivate both children and adults.
Seasonal Events and Festivals
Bristol’s calendar is packed with exciting seasonal events and festivals that are perfect for family outings, offering unique experiences that change with the seasons.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Held annually in August at Ashton Court Estate, this is one of Europe’s largest hot air balloon events. Families can witness the awe-inspiring sight of hot air balloons taking to the skies at dawn and dusk. The fiesta also features a variety of entertainment, including aerial displays, fairground rides, and food stalls. The night glow event, where balloons are lit up in time to music, is a magical experience not to be missed.
Bristol Harbour Festival
This vibrant festival, typically held in July, celebrates Bristol’s maritime heritage. The harbourside comes alive with live music, dance performances, circus acts, and maritime activities. Families can enjoy boat trips, explore visiting ships, and engage with various waterfront attractions. The festival is a great opportunity to experience Bristol’s lively culture and community spirit, with activities suitable for all ages.
Both events offer a blend of visual spectacle, cultural enrichment, and family fun, making them ideal for creating lasting memories.
Fun and Learning Combined
Bristol seamlessly blends entertainment with educational experiences, making it an ideal destination for families seeking both enjoyment and knowledge.
Delve into the depths of the ocean at the Bristol Aquarium. This underwater adventure showcases a diverse range of marine life from local and tropical waters. Children can marvel at colourful fish, curious seahorses, and elegant rays. The aquarium also emphasizes marine conservation, offering educational talks and feeding demonstrations. Interactive touch pools and a giant sunken ship display add to the immersive experience, making learning about ocean life both fun and fascinating for all ages.
Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is not only a symbol of Bristol but also a testament to engineering brilliance. The Visitor Centre offers a detailed insight into the bridge’s history and construction. Families can engage with interactive exhibits, watch a short film, and even participate in hands-on workshops. Walking across the bridge provides breathtaking views of the Avon Gorge and the city, making it a memorable experience that combines education with stunning scenery.
Both the Bristol Aquarium and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre offer unique opportunities for families to explore and learn in an interactive setting, enriching their visit to Bristol with knowledge and fun.
Adventure and Sports Activities
For families seeking an adrenaline rush and active engagement, Bristol offers thrilling adventure and sports activities suited for all ages.
Leap of Faith at Wild Place Project
Located within the Wild Place Project, the ‘Leap of Faith’ adventure offers an exhilarating high ropes course that challenges both children and adults. Featuring zip wires, climbing walls, and a variety of obstacles, it’s a perfect setting for families to bond over shared challenges. The Wild Place Project itself, with its focus on wildlife conservation, also offers walking trails and animal encounters, making it a well-rounded visit for those who love nature and adventure.
Skate at The Tropicana
Situated on the Bristol waterfront, The Tropicana brings ice skating to a picturesque setting. Open seasonally, this ice rink caters to all skill levels, providing a fun and lively atmosphere for families. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skater, gliding across the ice with the backdrop of Bristol Harbour makes for a memorable experience. Additionally, The Tropicana often hosts themed skate nights and family-friendly sessions, making it a vibrant spot for leisure and entertainment.
Both these activities not only offer an exciting day out but also encourage physical fitness and family bonding, adding a dynamic dimension to your Bristol adventure.
Unwind in Bristol’s Picturesque Settings
Bristol offers serene spots ideal for relaxation and gentle exploration, perfect for families looking to unwind amidst natural beauty and scenic views.
Brandon Hill Park
As Bristol’s oldest park, Brandon Hill provides a peaceful retreat right in the city centre. It’s a great spot for a family picnic or a leisurely stroll. Children can enjoy the playground area, while adults appreciate the panoramic views from Cabot Tower, located within the park. The park’s nature reserve offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, making it an ideal location for families seeking a blend of recreation and relaxation in a natural setting.
Bristol Ferry Boats
For a unique perspective of Bristol, a boat tour with Bristol Ferry Boats is a must. These tours offer a relaxing way to see the city from the water, passing by key landmarks like the SS Great Britain and the colourful houses of Clifton. With various routes available, families can choose a short city centre trip or a longer voyage to the leafy suburbs. The ferry boats also provide insightful commentary, adding an educational element to the scenic journey.
Both Brandon Hill Park and the Bristol Ferry Boats offer tranquil experiences in picturesque settings, perfect for families seeking to relax and absorb the beauty of Bristol.
Bristol, with its rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, is an exceptional destination for family outings. From interactive museums and historical ships to lush parks and thrilling adventure sports, the city caters to a wide range of interests and ages. Educational experiences seamlessly merge with fun, ensuring that every family visit is not just enjoyable but also enriching. Seasonal festivals add a unique charm, offering a glimpse into Bristol’s vibrant community spirit. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely day in nature or an exciting urban adventure, Bristol delivers memorable moments for the entire family. So, gather your loved ones and embark on a journey to discover the many treasures Bristol has in store for families looking for fun, learning, and adventure.