Fun things to do in Bristol with kids (for free, or nearly free)

One of my most requested posts (as in I get emailed about this on a weekly basis) is recommendations on things to do in Bristol, mainly with kids (although I'm planning on doing a more grown up focussed one too) so after about three years of replying to people individually I'm getting round to popping them all in an easy post. I actually might do a few ones as I feel like they would be more handy broken down into sections. 

Tom actually helped me put this together and it was really nice to work together with him on something like this on the blog. He has 'guest posted' a couple of times in the past when we've done round ups on the cities we've visited. Seems crazy we are only just getting round to writing about our own!

So before I get distracted looking back through pictures of my kids at all these places I'll get on with the info!

Bristol seems to get more than it’s fair share of rain, but when the sun is up my top three things to do are - 

Visit one of Bristols many parks. Victoria Park and St Andrews Park both have great playgrounds, but if you are around the Park Street or Clifton areas then it’s well worth a visit to Brandon Hill Park. There is a playground at the bottom of the hill and Cabot Tower at the top. For those with a head for heights there are great views across Bristol from the top of the tower and fun to be had counting the many winding steps.  Our kids love running around the pathways in the gardens around the tower and it’s a great spot for a picnic or an ice-cream (a van can normally found there).

Paddling in the fountains of Millennium Square. ‘We the Curious’ and the Planetarium are a great way to spend a day, but when the sun is out kids will be just as happy splashing in the pools to the next to the great sphere of the planetarium. Las Iguanas on the corner of the square also has a great kids menu (and cocktails :)) when they finally tire of splashing.

Another activity to tire out the kids is a walk around the floating harbour. There’s lots of things to see, from rowing boats to the SS Great Britain, and also plenty of cafes on the way round when little legs get tired. There’s also a little steam train near the SS Great Britain that runs on weekends.

On the rainy days

Bristol has some very child friendly museums. The Museum at the top of Park Street has a permanent dinosaur exhibit and the top floor has a large collection of old taxidermy animals.  There is also a small soft play area for younger kids. The M Shed on the harbourside is also a hit with kids, especially the bus and interactive displays. Both museums also have great cafes.

For regularly changing art exhibitions the Arnolfini and Spike Island are both great. And each has a cafe for the coffee/cake fix as required. The Arnolfini also has bookshop with a wide selection of children’s books.

Just off College Green (a stones throw from the bottom of Brandon Hill) , another great place for an ice-cream :)) is the central library. The children’s area is well stocked with books, puzzles and even a duplo trainset. There is also a nice little cafe right next to the kids area.

Thats it for now! I'm hoping to pop up a few more Bristol guides over the next few months as it's the posts I get asked for the most and has been on my to-do list to do for so long. 

If you're Bristol based I'd love to know where your favourite haunts are or if you're not I hope you find this useful and it makes you want to visit! 

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