For those that are lucky enough to live there, it will come as no surprise that the Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. Little wonder really, as it is home to the largest lakes in England and some of the most incredible scenery in the whole of the country. There is a wealth of culture to inspire, places that are a must-see and plenty of fantastic kids' days out with something, somewhere, to suit all ages.
Come rain or shine
The National Park is notorious for temperamental weather, even at the height of summer, so we’ve included both sunny day enticements and rainy day attractions. Come rain or shine, the Lake District is a place where you can keep the kids happy and entertained.
On a mornings when the sun is shining and the skies are clear, make the most of the hazy days with our pick of the top places to go in the Lake District.
In between the south lakes of Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water is Grizedale Forest. It is a great place that is waymarked with walking trails cater to all abilities and budding artists will love trying to spot the 40-plus sculptures that besprinkle the forest Some are in surprising places! For older thrill-seeking children, there is a series of mountain bike trails, including the challenging North Face trail and the Go Ape attraction means they can channel their inner monkey and swing wild amongst the treetops.
- Suitable for: All ages – kids 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
North Cumbria's only wildlife park is in Bassenthwaite, just a meerkat's jump from the town of Keswick. You can meet over 100 different animals from cute stripy lemurs, Brian, the oldest Lar gibbon in Europe and Beauty the boa constrictor snake. Demonstrations and talks take place throughout the day, including a sensational display with their birds of prey. If the small humans need to burn off some energy, there is an indoor and an outdoor play area for them to go native in.
- Suitable for: all ages
- Prices: Adults £9.95, concessions £8.95, children £7.95, under-3s free
- Opening times: 10am-5pm March-October, 10am-4pm November-February
Brockhole is found on the shores of Lake Windermere and is the Lake District’s official visitor centre. Windermere is the largest body of water in the National Park and a brilliant place to start. There is plenty to do outside, such as following the criss-cross of trails over 30 acres of meadows, woodland and shoreline. The Treetop Trek and adventure playground are fabulous for energy exertion and will ensure a good night's sleep after all that fresh air. There’s scramble nets, swings, slides, tunnels, zip wires and bridges to explore, whilst indoors there is also a great soft play area.
- Suitable for: All ages – Treetop Trek is suitable for over 5's only
- Prices: Free – some special activities may incur an extra charge
- Opening times: 10am-6pm
Prepare to be amazed by one of the UK’s top maize mazes! This fantastic place is south of Kendal and you can enjoy the magnificent outdoors as well as meet some very friendly animals. Cows, sheep, horses, goats, donkeys and alpacas all nibble and mingle as you can hand-feed them with the fodder that is available to buy. Race the family in a go-kart race for a bit of healthy competition, star jump on the trampolines and enjoy a bumpy tractor ride. If it does rain, inside there is soft play area and a barn where you can meet and stroke some of the farm’s smaller furry friends.
- Suitable for: all ages
- Prices: for 16th April-30th June – adults £6.95, children £5.95, under-2s free, family tickets £24. For 1st July-1st October – adults £8.95, children £6.95, under-2s free, family tickets £32.
- Opening times: 16th April- 30th June – 10am-5pm Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays only, with farm park open only. 15th July- 2nd Sept – 10am-6pm Monday-Sunday. 3rd Sept-30th Sept – 10am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays only. Closed from 1st October until Easter 2019.
SPECIAL MOONLIT MAIZES: 22nd and 29th September from 6pm - 10pm. Find your way in the dark!
It would be scandalous to visit the area and not take to the water on a boat trip. It is one of the best ways to see the Lakes. Catch an Ullswater Steamer that crosses the Ullswater Lake between Glenridding and Pooley Bridge. This is especially wonderful for families as they have special on-board events, which include the popular pirate cruise and the festive Santa cruise.
- Suitable for: all ages
- Prices: adults from £6.20, children from £3.75
- Opening times: these vary – check the timetables on the website for more details
The rain may pour and the skies turn dark, but don’t let that stop you enjoying the Lake District! Below are some of the area’s top indoor attractions that make a rainy day a perfect time for family time.
The well-loved children's author, Beatrix Potter is synonymous with this area and The World of Beatrix Potter is based in the popular lakeside resort of Bowness-on-Windermere. Classic characters such as Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle are brought to life within this lovely family attraction. All of her enchanting and charming stories feature in the exhibitions. The free activity sheet for the kids and a stop at the themed café is a must.
- Suitable for: all ages
- Prices: adults £7.95, seniors £6.95, children £3.95, under-3s free, family tickets from £22 (Two adults, two children)
- Opening times: 10am-5.30pm – last admission 1 hour before closing
There is a theatre show during the summer months that is suitable for children aged 3 upwards. Check their website for availability and prices.
Housing a collection that has been lovingly built up over the last 50 years, the Lakeland Motor Museum is a fantastic tribute to road transport through the years. Grown-ups can wallow in nostalgia, while children are sure to love the variety of the exhibitions. Cars, motorcycles and pedal cars from the past 100 years feature, 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 for the kids to get involved and they’ll be off solving the 23 clues around the museum before you know it. It's free parking and well-behaved dogs are also allowed everywhere except the cafe.
- Suitable for: all ages, though older children will enjoy the quiz more
- Prices: adults £8.75, children £5.25, under-5's free, family tickets upto 3 kids and 2 adults) £25
- Opening times: 9.30am-5.30pm
You can save money by booking online.
In the heart of Bowness is a multi-level indoor play area with colourful and safe soft play for your little ones. Depending on the age of your children, parents can sit and relax in the lounge and enjoy the views out towards Lake Windermere. There are play areas suitable for various age groups up to the age of 12 including a giant slide, ball pits, wonderful squashy stairs, burrowing tunnels and bridges. The Fun Factory is the perfect rainy-day refuge for those with energy to burn with three levels of play equipment for the kids to discover and run themselves ragged!
- Suitable for: children under 12 (subject to height restrictions)
- Prices: these vary – call in advance to find out
- Opening times: 10am-5.30pm
Step back in time at this fairytale castle near Ambleside. Explore the towering turrets, search for secret, hidden treasure and dress-up in some period costumes – the historical fun is endless. You can even have a go at building your own castle. Toddlers will love the Peter Rabbit Adventure rooms which feature Mr McGregor’s garden and Peter’s burrow. Not far away is a fantastic outdoor play area with family trails, a den building area and a rope swing.
- Suitable for: children under 12
- Prices: adults (Gift Aid £10.80) £9.60, children (Gift Aid £5.40) £4.80, family tickets (Gift Aid £27) £24
- Opening times: these vary – see website for full details. Last admission 1 hour before closing
Lake District holidays
Suitably worn out from their escapades, the kids, and you will be looking forward to a home-from-home where you can recuperate, ready for the next day. We have a fine collection of Lake District holiday cottages, with plenty to choose from.
Fabulous days out are of course part of your holiday and a treat for all, but pockets aren't endless, so get inspired by a few things to do in and around the Lake District that are completely free.