Our Favourite Family Day Trips from Bristol, England
Before I can start to share adventures from far flung places, I thought it might be useful to share some ideas for family day trips from our current home town, Bristol.
These ideas have been fully road tested with our two daughters, who are normally content playing in the garden or going swimming, but who will occasionally pacify their mum and dad by joining us on a day out.
The sixth largest city in England and only a short hop from Bath and Stonehenge (UNESCO world heritage sites).
Home to Banksy (graffiti artist); Aardman animations (Wallace and Gromit); and one-quarter of the world’s natural history programmes.
Departure point for John Cabot, who was the first European since the Vikings to sail to North America, and spiritual home of Concorde.
A good place to start if you are visiting Bristol, the Harbourside is a nice area to stroll around and grab some food, but there are plenty of potential diversions:
- SS Great Britain: Passenger ship from the 1840’s, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Returned home to Bristol in the 1970’s and now fully restored. A tour of the ship gives a real insight to long distance travel in the 19th century and kids love pretending they are travelling first class and sleeping in the bunk beds.
- MShed: Family orientated museum, with lots of interactive displays about the area of Bristol. My kids particularly enjoy hopping on and off the real double-decker bus, but maybe this is just a family quirk.
- @Bristol: Interactive science museum, which offers a good mixture of fun and educational content. Also contains a planetarium, which runs shows throughout the day.
- Bristol Aquarium: Indoor fish tanks, as the name suggests, but on a larger scale than you would get at home. This is a relatively expensive option in my opinion, but if you love sea life close-up, then this is probably a better option than diving in the Bristol Channel.
One of the oldest and definitely the most affluent of bristol suburbs. Clifton is a short, very steep walk from the harbourside up Park Street:
- Bristol Museum: An eclectic mixture of rooms, ranging from dinosaurs to local geology, but all the more interesting because you’re never quite sure what’s coming next.
- Bristol Zoo: An all time family favourite, with Gorillas, Lions and ice-cream. The world’s oldest provincial zoo, but with a few modern additions.
- Clifton Village: Great place to stop for a coffee or cider, depending on the time of day and your tolerance for alcohol.
- The Downs: 400 acres of public space on the edge of Bristol. Great for kite flying and frisbee throwing, but also excellent views across the Avon Gorge to Bristol’s most famous landmark.
- The Suspension Bridge: Visible from space (nearly), Bristol’s signature landmark and another Brunel special. Opened in 1864 and still a working toll bridge to this day, but you can walk across and stop to admire the views.
- Bath: The city of Bath is within easy reach of Bristol by bus or train, and makes an excellent day trip. Bath is a very popular tourist destination, but if you are based in Bristol you can arrive earlier than day-trippers from London, or spend an evening in the town once things have calmed down.
- Cheddar Gorge: The home of, yes, Cheddar cheese. But also some pretty cool caves, which you can explore at your leisure and impress everybody with your knowledge of stalactites and stalagmites. Round off the day with a traditional cream tea (scones, cream, jam, tea, delicious).
- Devon Coast: If you’re in the area for a few weeks and assuming there are some glimmers of sunshine, then you can be on the beach in a couple of hours. On the north coast, head for the Wollacombe area. If heading to the south coast, take the train to enjoy the ride down the Exe estuary and around Dawlish Warren.
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