When we think of child friendly attractions, we often think of theme parks or places which are explicitly aimed at children. However, there are plenty of attractions across the UK which are equally as interesting for adults and children alike, and where you can still easily take your pushchairs and prams. We’ve created this guide to help you find attractions which are different from what you would typically describe as a ‘child friendly’ place to visit. Hopefully it gives you some ideas for where to take the kids!
An 18th century garden might not sound like the ideal place to take the kids, but Stourhead is more than just a garden. In fact, it’s generally considered to be one of the most remarkable green spaces in the whole of the UK. Described as a ‘living work of art’ when it first opened in 1740, the garden has long been considered a fantastic place to visit for families. The garden itself surrounds a lake, and is home to wide open spaces, an incredible array of plantlife and even a pub and restaurant.
Baby-changing and feeding facilities are on-site, and pushchairs are welcome to be used within the garden. There are a few free quizzes and trails which are ideal for children who like to be adventurous, and there are also activity packs which can be handed out to kids. The restaurant on site also has a great menu for kids. Dogs are welcome in the garden at select times during the day.
Hidcote is another English garden in the Cotswolds, and is described as an ‘Arts & Crafts’ garden. This mainly relates to the intricate design and layout of the garden, whereby the creator of the garden intended the layout to feel like a series of ‘rooms’. Hidcote is full of secret gardens, a variety of plantlife and wildlife (such as green woodpeckers and hummingbird moths) and hidden treasures. If you wander long enough through the gardens then you’ll eventually reach the ‘Wilderness’, a secluded area of Hidcote which is ideal for picnics.
Baby-changing facilities are available, and there are also hip-carrying infant seats available to loan. The garden has several children’s trails which can be great fun to follow, and there are also quizzes scattered throughout. Although access is limited for pushchairs and prams, it isn’t completely impossible and the seats which you can loan solve this issue. Or you could get a pushchair which can handle rougher terrains, like a Silver Cross pram.
Most famously known as being the holiday home of the much-loved author Agatha Christie, Greenway stills feels like a step back in time into the 1950s. The house at Greenway is full of collectibles and archaeology, however it is the surrounding gardens which will likely appeal to visitors the most. Recognised as a ‘garden of excellence’, the garden is well known for being full of bluebells during the summer period. Wildlife is also abundant in the gardens and surrounding woodlands, with the elusive and endangered Cirl Bunting bird often spotted around the area. The Boathouse, which is s a small building situated near the River Dart, is also a good area to see wildlife from, including kingfishers and seals.
Baby-changing facilities are available on site, and baby carriers can be rented from the main building. There are games which can be played on the premises such as clock golf and croquet, and there are various trails which can be followed throughout the gardens. There are some steep slopes throughout the grounds however navigating a buggy is fairly easy, and the house itself is easily accessible.
Avebury is home to the largest megalithic stone circle in the world, and despite being a relatively small and quiet village, it is a huge tourist attraction in southwest England. The stone circle is believed to be over 4,000 years old, and is now a World Heritage Site. If the stone circle isn’t enough to entice you to visit Avebury, perhaps Avebury manor will – it’s a 16th century manor house with authentic interiors. And unlike most of these manor houses, you’re allowed to touch everything in the house. This includes lying on the bed!
Because of the size of the stone circle, it makes for a great place to walk around. Rangers can offer a guided walk, or self guided walk guides can be downloaded if you want to go it alone. Avebury is a great place to take kids because there are so many activities available – at the manor house and gallery on site, there are activity areas where kids can dress up in Bronze Age style clothing. There are plenty of trails to follow throughout the site. Pushchairs are permitted and are fairly easy to get around, plus there are baby changing facilities on site and a cafe with a great range of kids meals. We’d recommend something from the iCandy range.
Anglesey Abbey & Gardens
Once a run down and desolate place, Anglesey Abbey and Gardens is now one of the most beautiful locations in Cambridge thanks to the work of Lord Fairhaven during the early 20th century. The gardens are especially impressive, offering an array of colours and a variety of plants throughout the year. Daffodils, roses and dahlias can be found within the flower beds of the gardens. 46 hectares of green space can be explored at Anglesey, and bikes are welcome for under 5s.
This is a great place for families – the usual facilities are available, including a baby changing area and baby carrying equipment which can be hired from the main building. Equally useful is the pushchair park, where prams can be stored. Family adventure packs can also be rented, which are full of quizzes and trails.
A remarkable country house located in an even more impressive estate, Lanhydrock has the look and feel of a castle. Although it is clearly an expensive building, there is no feeling of pretentiousness in the air, and families are more than welcome to visit, explore and have fun at the estate. The building is obviously impressive, but like a lot of these grand country houses, it is the gardens which are the real draw. The gardens at Lanhydrock are well known for being colourful all year round and growing a variety of different flowers, including camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.
There is a restaurant on site which serves a great variety of seasonal foods. If you fancy bringing your own foods, then there are also designated picnic areas at Lanhydrock. Baby-changing facilities and feeding facilities are available, and slings/seats can be loaned from the main building if needed. There is a children’s playground within the gardens which is really well made.
Chartwell is perhaps best known for being the home of Prime Minister of Winston Churchill, both during his childhood and then, following a brief move away from the area, the place he lived until he died. The house is still in a similar condition as it was when Churchill lived there – pictures, books and mementos are laid throughout the house and tell the story of the family who lived there. They all help to build the picture of what type of person Churchill was; not just a politician, but also a painter, writer and family man.
Like many of these great English country houses, it is the gardens which tend to be the main attraction. They are remarkably well kept, and reflect the passion that Churchill had for the outdoors. The gardens include the lakes which Churchill built himself, and the Marycot, which is a playhouse which was designed for his daughter Mary. Baby changing facilities are available on site, and although pushchairs are not permitted in the main house, there are slings and seats which can be loaned from the visitor centre. The garden also has a ‘natural play area’ in the woodland area, which is full of attractions and is great for kids of all ages.
Ham House & Garden
Perched on the bank of the River Thames, Ham House is a stunning building in the perfect location. Upon creation, the house was quickly regarded as one of the grandest Stuart houses in England. The house is internationally recognised for it’s collection of paintings and furniture, most of which dates from the 17th century. One of the more popular items on display in the house include a rare Chinese teapot said to have been used by the Duchess of Lauderdale. The house is also considered to be one of the most haunted in Britain, with some visitors reporting that they can smell whiffs of Virginia tobacco in certain areas of the house (a favourite of the Duke of Lauderdale).
Ghosts and tobacco might not sound too child friendly, but there’s plenty of other reasons why Ham House is a great place to take kids. Firstly, it is is full of original furniture and many parts of the house have remained virtually untouched since it was built and then taken over by the NT. This includes a small bathroom in the downstairs area of the house, which is home to a small wooden bath and which gives a glimpse into the bathing habits of 17th century royalty. There is a family trail which provides a nice way to explore the house, and there are also trails throughout the surrounding gardens. Baby changing facilities are available, and are located by the shop, and there are also high chairs in the cafe. Baby slings/seats can be hired from the main building.
Cragside house was owned by Lord Armstrong, a Victorian inventor and someone who was widely regarded as being a genius, and whose house is one of the most impressive in the whole of England. The house was famous for being the first in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, and the house is still full of many of the strange and ingenious inventions which Lord Armstrong built – most of which are still working. If the interior doesn’t impress you, then the gardens surely will. Home to one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, and also to an impressive bridge known as the Iron Bridge, the garden is as much a reflection of the brains that Lord Armstrong possessed as his inventions in the house.
There is an adventure play area in the gardens, as well as a network of tunnels and paths known as Nelly’s Labyrinth. Baby changing and feeding facilities are available on site, and baby slings can be loaned from the main building if needed. The house and gardens are also home to a variety of events throughout the year, so check the calendar if you plan on heading there.
Once the home of the unconventional Trevelyn family, Wallington is a Northumberland treasure which is full of paintings and artifacts that explore the history of the county. Every room in the house is full of quirky collections of furniture and other curiosities. The Trevelyns loved to be outside and connected to nature, and this is reflected in the layout of the house and the surrounding gardens – the house is surrounded by an eclectic mix of lawns, lakes, woodland and farmland.
And the nature here isn’t all untamed – hidden within the woodland is a secret garden, full of activities and really pleasant to walk around. There is an Edwardian conservatory and a really stunning array of flowers to explore. Dogs are welcome at Wallington but encouraged to be left on a short lead, and baby changing facilities are also available. Baby slings and seats are available to borrow, and the cafe has a great menu for kids.
Located a short distance from Bristol, Tyntesfield is quite unique as a country house as it wasn’t built to display any sort of wealth or status – it was built purely to be a comfortable family home. When the house was originally built, it was deliberately kept hidden and out of sight. However the house quickly established a reputation for being an impressive building both inside and out, and it became hard to keep it a secret for much longer. The design of the house is very much Gothic in style, which is reflected in the exterior of the building and the carvings within the rooms.
The other aspect of this house which garnered so much attention was the standard of the gardens. Colourful flowers and woodland surround the house, as well as champion trees. The gardens are also home to empty lakes which are eerily beautiful. There is a farm-themed outdoor play area which is excellent for adventurous kids, and there are the usual children’s trails and things like that. Baby changing facilities are available in the house, and baby slings can be rented from the visitor centre.
Bowood House is a Grade I listed Georgian building based in Wiltshire, with the interiors of the house being designed by famed Scottish architect Robert Adam, and the gardens being designed by the equally famous ‘Capability’ Brown, perhaps the most famous English gardener to have ever lived. Bowood is regarded as being one of Capability’s finest gardens, stretching out over 2,000 acres, and featuring an impressive range of trees and shrubs, all of which have been conveniently labeled. The house is famous for a few reasons, one of which is for being the place where Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen.
Bowood is also home to the Rhododendron Walks, which are open late April to mid-June, giving visitors the opportunity to walk alongside the impressive variety of flowers on show. If you’ve brought little ones with you, then the Adventure Playground is an absolute must visit. Featuring a life size replica of a pirate ship and a host of other attractions like the famous Space Dive, it’s awesome fun. There is a cafe on site with a nice selection for children, as well as a picnic area.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is well known for 2 main reasons – for being very large with lots of things to see and do, and for being completely free to visit! It holds the prestigious ‘designated museum’ status due to the rarity of the collections it houses. Both the museum and gallery have items from across the world, however the nice thing about them is that they’re also full of local information and history, as well as art from local artists.
There are plenty of family friendly areas within the museum to explore, including an area for under 7s. There are also trails which can be followed throughout the building. There are baby changing and feeding facilities, as well as a buggy park. Lifts are also available if needed to be used.
As the biggest park in the NorthWest, Heaton Park might not be what you would describe as a ‘hidden gem’. However, the park is so large and there is so much to discover, that we’d suggest checking the park out as often as you can. Covering more than 600 acres, it’s impressively jam packed with things to do for young and old. Some of the attractions include an 18 hole golf course (as well as a smaller pitch and putt course), a boating lake, a driving range, an animal farm and an observatory.
Heaton Park is also home to a lot of historic information and importance. The park was awarded a green flag in 2014, which recognises it as a safe, welcoming and clean space to visit. There are facilities at the park such as toilets and a cafe, and the park is open from 8am to dusk, so you could easily spend a whole day there!