Located in the South West, Bristol is a popular destination for families of all ages. Rain, hail or shine, there’s always something on! From interactive museums and exhibitions to exotic animals and legendary pirates, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Bristol.
Dive into a 3D sea
The Bristol Aquarium is in the heart of the city’s historic Harbourside area and is one of the top attractions in Bristol for kids. The new aquarium complex showcases tropical marine and freshwater creatures from around the world, living and growing in over 40 naturally-themed habitats. There are thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks, rays, seahorses, puffer fish, piranhas and even a giant octopus. The aquarium is divided into eight zones which takes visitors on a journey from the British coastline and through warmer waters and the ‘underwater gardens’ of the Mediterranean, to tropical seas with colourful living coral. You can also explore Amazonian tropical rainforest pools, see what lives in mangrove pools and get up close to Nemo, Dory and friends in the underwater walk-through tunnel. There’s also a life-size replica of a sunken ship, a South American fishing village, a wooden bridge crossing over an open-top coral display and the UK’s only giant botanical house in an aquarium, the Urban Jungle. In this bio-dome, you can walk amongst exotic plant life that’s normally only found in the Mediterranean and Amazon regions. Look out for the giant African snails, so big they can grow up to 18cm long!
Find out how the world works
Just next door to the aquarium is At-Bristol, a science centre and 3D planetarium filled with hands-on exhibits, interactive workshops and live experiments. You’ll find several exhibition spaces, suitable for different ages. In the Zone and All About Us details how the human body works, Build It is a special construction site for under 8s, Animate It teaches children animation techniques and Food is a sensory adventure. Our World – No More Waste makes recycling fun, the Flight Zone lets you build your own flying object, the Curiosity Zone tries to trick you with optical illusions and brain games and finally, Move It unlocks the power of water. Science has never been cooler!
Walk the plank with pirates
Bristol is famous for its pirate history so kids will get a kick out of meeting Pirate Pete himself on a fun city walk. You’ll be taken through the city’s 17th and 18th century maritime history with tales of slavery, trading and exploration (with a few pirate stories thrown in). It’s a walking tour kids of all ages can enjoy – see Long John Silver’s treasure chest in the smugglers cave, stop for a drink at Treasure Island’s Spy Glass Inn and uncover Blackbeard’s Lair in the port, all while learning interesting facts and anecdotes about the city. And the best bit is you get to dress up. Ahoy there, swashbucklers!
Discover the ship that changed the world
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ss Great Britain was the world’s first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam powered passenger liner. Built in 1843, it’s now permanently moored on Bristol’s harbour. All the cabins have been restored to their former 19th century glory so you can actually see inside the luxurious first class cabins, the claustrophobic cooks’ galley and down in the pits of the engine room. Those who have a head for heights can even climb up the mainmast to a viewing platform 26m high above ground level. There’s no doubt about it, the ss Great Britain is one of the most impressive things to do in Bristol with kids!