The best kids’ days out in the Lake District

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations – home to the largest lakes in England, it offers up not only some incredible scenery but also some fantastic family days out. Wherever you decide to base yourself in the Lake District or the surrounding Cumbria area, there’s a wealth of things to do and places to see with something to suit all ages.

As the National Park’s weather can be temperamental even at the height of summer, we’ve included both sunny day and rainy day attractions so that you can keep the kids entertained whatever the weather.

Outdoor attractions

The sun is shining, the skies are clear – make the most of the warmer days with our pick of the top outdoor tourist attractions and places to go across the Lake District.

Grizedale Forest, near Hawkshead

Tucked away between the south lakes of Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water is Grizedale Forest, a great place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor adventures. Its selection of waymarked walking trails cater to all abilities, and children will love spotting at least 40 sculptures scattered throughout the forest – try to find them all! For older children seeking something a little more thrilling, there is a series of mountain bike trails to take on, including the challenging North Face trail, while at the Go Ape attraction they can make like monkeys and run wild in the treetops.

  • Suitable for: all ages – must be at least 1m tall for Go Ape
  • Prices: entry to the forest is free, Go Ape starts from £18
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm in summer, 10am-4pm in winter

Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre, Windermere

Brockhole Jetty

Brockhole is the Lake District’s official visitor centre and is found on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest body of water in the National Park. As well as being a great place to start any holiday in the Lake District, it offers a wealth of outdoor activities that you and your children will love. Follow the trails that criss-cross 30 acres of meadows, woodland and shoreline and explore the beautiful surroundings, while the adventure playground and Treetop Trek are both great ways to let off some steam. There’s scramble nets, swings, slides, tunnels, zip wires and bridges to run around on, while indoors there is also a soft play area.

  • Suitable for: all ages – Treetop Trek suitable for over 5s only
  • Prices: free – some special activities available at an extra charge
  • Opening times: 10am-6pm

Lake District Wildlife Park, Bassenthwaite

A mongoose at the Wildlife Park

The only wildlife park in North Cumbria, the Lake District Wildlife Park is found in Bassenthwaite just a few miles from the town of Keswick. Meet over 100 different animal species that live here, from lemurs and meerkats to Brian, Europe’s oldest Lar gibbon, and Beauty the boa constrictor. Shows also take place regularly across the park throughout the day, including the dazzling birds of prey display. If the little ones need to burn off some energy, there’s both an indoor and an outdoor play area for them to frolic in.

  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Prices: Adults £9.50, concessions £8.50, children £7.50, under-3s free, family tickets £32
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm March-October, 10am-4pm November-February

Ullswater Steamers, Glenridding

One of the best ways to see the area’s spectacular lakes is to take to the water on a boat trip. Ullswater Steamers offer a great way to see the quiet lake of Ullswater on board one of their charming boats, crossing the lake between Glenridding and Pooley Bridge. Especially great for families are their special on-board events, which include the popular pirate cruise and the festive Santa cruise, which are sure to entertain all ages.

  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Prices: adults from £5.20, children from £2.60
  • Opening times: these vary – check the timetables on the website for more details

Lakeland Maze and Farm Park, near Kendal

Meet adorable alpacas

Home to one of the UK’s top maize mazes, the Lakeland Maze and Farm Park is located south of Kendal, and is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and meet some friendly animals. Among the animals you and the kids can say hello to are cows, sheep, horses, goats, donkeys and alpacas, with animal feed also available to buy. There are also go-karts to race the family on, trampolines to bounce on and a tractor ride to enjoy, while indoors there is soft play and a pets barn where you can meet some of the farm’s smaller furry friends.

  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Prices: for 1st April-14th July – adults £6.95, children £5.95, under-2s free, family tickets £24. For 15th July-1st October – adults £7.95, children £6.95, under-2s free, family tickets £28.
  • Opening times: 1st April-14th July – 10am-5pm Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays only, with farm park open only. 15th July-3rd Sept – 10am-6pm Monday-Sunday. 4th Sept-1st Oct – 10am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays only.

Indoor attractions

The skies may be grey and the rain may be pouring, but don’t let that stop you enjoying a great holiday in the Lake District! Below are some of the area’s best indoor attractions, perfect for rainy days, so you’ll never be stuck wondering what to do.

World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere

The World of Beatrix Potter, based in the popular lakeside resort of Bowness-on-Windermere, brings the author’s classic children’s characters to life with a vibrant family attraction. All 23 of her enchanting stories feature in the interesting exhibitions, and include some much-loved favourites such as Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. A free activity sheet gets the kids learning even more about all of their favourite stories, while a stop at the themed café is a must.

  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Prices: adults £7.50, seniors £6.50, children £3.95, under-2s free, family tickets from £21
  • Opening times: 10am-5.30pm – last admission 1 hour before closing

Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside

The Lakes Aquarium, found on the southern edge of Lake Windermere, showcases the diversity of marine life that lives in the Lake District and the nearby Morecambe Bay. The exhibits show pike, eels, perch and much more, while there are also mammals on display who call the water their home. Kids will also love seeing the water from a fish-eye view in the underwater tunnel. Watch the playful otters frolic around their woodland home and cheeky marmosets scurry through the trees. In the rockpools, you can get hands-on with uncovering crabs, prawns, baby flatfish and anemones, while the Morecambe Bay displays host sharks and rays.

  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Prices: adults £6.95, children £4.95, under-3s free, concessions, £5.95, family tickets from £15.95
  • Opening times: 10am-6pm – last admission 1 hour before closing

Wray Castle, near Ambleside

Take a step back in time at this fairy tale castle located near Ambleside, cared for by the National Trust. Explore the many turrets and towers, search for hidden treasure and even play dress-up in some period costumes – the historical fun on offer is endless. You can even have a go at building your own castle, while toddlers in particular will love the Peter Rabbit Adventure rooms, which feature Peter’s burrow and Mr McGregor’s garden. Nearby is a fantastic outdoor play area complete with family trails, a rope swing and a den building area.

  • Suitable for: children under 12
  • Prices: adults £9, children £4.50, family tickets £22.50
  • Opening times: these vary – see website for full details. Last admission 1 hour before closing

The Fun Factory Bowness, Bowness-on-Windermere

Ball pit fun

Located in the heart of Bowness, this multi-level indoor play area offers colourful and safe soft play for your little ones, while parents can relax in the lounge and enjoy the views out over the neighbouring Lake Windermere. There are play areas suitable for various age groups up to the age of 12, with the fun including ball pits, a giant slide, squashy stairs, tunnels and bridges. With three levels of play equipment for the kids to discover, the Fun Factory is the perfect rainy-day refuge for those with energy to burn!

  • Suitable for: children under 12 (subject to height restrictions)
  • Prices: these vary – call in advance to find out
  • Opening times: 10am-5.30pm

Lakeland Motor Museum, near Newby Bridge

Housing a collection built up over 50 years, the Lakeland Motor Museum is an excellent tribute to road transport through the years. Grown-ups and children alike are sure to love the nostalgia and variety of the exhibitions, which showcase cars, motorcycles and pedal cars from the past 100 years, as well as special collections such as the Isle of Man TT and the Campbell Bluebird. The popular children’s quiz is a great way to get the kids involved – they’ll be running off to solve the 23 clues found around the museum before you know it.

  • Suitable for: all ages, though older children will enjoy the quiz more
  • Prices: adults £8.50, children £5, under-5s free, family tickets £24
  • Opening times: 9.30am-5pm

Map of attractions

If you’re planning on a holiday in the Lake District with the kids, the map below will show you where to find all of the wonderful attractions listed above. You’ll also find several of our fantastic family-friendly Lake District holiday cottages nearby, meaning you’ll be just a stone’s throw from a whole heap of fun!

Looking for more inspiration?

If you still need a reason to visit the unrivalled Lake District, take a look at our in-depth Lake District guide, packed with even more things to see and do as well as the top places to eat, towns to visit and walks to be had.

Posted by Hannah on 1st September 2017