Family days out

How to do the best days out in Bristol with your kids

Last updated 25th February 2023

Why wouldn’t you be planning a day out in Bristol with your kids? It’s one of England’s liveliest small cities, home-town of Banksy and all-round good fun. As well as being easy to reach, it lets you off the hook on cost because there’s so much to that’s free. And if you want to spin your day into an overnight stay, we’ve found several Bristol hotels your kids will really appreciate.


Catching a break at The Wave, Bristol © Global Shots

Catch a break on your day out in Bristol

No beach in Bristol? Dry your eyes little dudes, The Wave might be inland but it beats the coast for reliable, year-round surf. And nobody needs to worry about the cold, even in winter, because wetsuits and boards are all part of the deal here.

If you’re ready to commit – or give in to your kids – you can book ahead for brilliantly supportive surf lessons. Coaching starts at age six and cost from £50 for 90 minutes. If kids are already confident on the waves, surfing sessions start at £40.

When: Friday to Sunday, 7am to 5.30pm.   Where: Glass Wharf, 20 minutes from the city centre.

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Wake up and be amazed at Wake The Tiger

When is a day out in Bristol not just about Bristol? When it’s to do with the parallel universe created by Wake The Tiger.

Billed as the world’s first Amazement Park, this one is a mind-bender of epic proportions, but also great fun and ticks a learning box. Kids will come out the other side with questions, so be prepared. Look out for Sensory Sensitive Sessions and extended Sunday opening hours during school holidays.

When: Wednesday to Sunday, opening times vary.   Where: Albert Road, Arno’s Vale

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Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill Park, Bristol

Head to Brandon Hill for a top day out in Bristol

There’s no shortage of green space in this city, although for room to run a bit wild and the all time greatest views, you should head for Brandon Hill.

Bristol’s oldest park, it’s full of natural nooks and crannies for exploring and there’s a playground for younger kids. Older ones might be more interested in climbing 32m high Cabot Tower. There’s a bit of a hike to the top, but step out on to the viewing balconies and you can see for miles, so well worth the legwork.

When: Cabot Tower is open from 8am to 6pm year round.   Where: Brandon Hill, Park Street

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Bristol Ferry, Bristol Harbour

Hop a Bristol Ferry Boat for the Harbour tour

There are lots of ways to see Bristol Harbour but none are quite as endearing as a trip on the Bristol Ferry Boat. You can hop on for a quick A to B sail, but the 40 minute tour feels like a real voyage, lets you see the city in all its riverside glory and the ferries are also impossibly cute.

You can’t book ahead, it’s strictly first-come-first-sail, so check the timetable before you make any promises to your salty young tars.

Where: Bristol Harbour

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Mild, Mild West, Banksy, Bristol © Destination Bristol

Track down Banksy on a day out in Bristol

One of the city’s most infamous sons, Banksy is best seen on home turf and there’s something very apt about hunting down the work of the world’s most mysterious muralist.

If you want to do your homework, download the Bristol Banksy Trail app before you go to read as much as is known (mainly very entertaining tall tales). Then just follow the route and get gazing.

When: in your own time, any time   Where: Bristol city centre

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Add a Leap of Faith to a day out in Bristol

If you want to get your day off to a flying start, head to Leap of Faith at Wild Place. Your kids might be high ropes courses experts, but we guarantee they won’t have tried any like this. The trick is in the mix of adventures, which is more than a little bit inspired.

Bristol’s only ‘Giant Swing’ is here and the famous Leap of Faith let’s kids decide how much of a thrill they can take. Awesome is the word used to describe the high ropes course. And if all that isn’t enough for one day, head to the Wild Place, next up on our list.

When: open 7-days, 10am to 4pm.   Where: Wild Place, Bristol

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Explore the new Bristol Zoo at Wild Place Project

Last year’s closure of much loved Bristol Zoo caused a bit of a stir and raised a few questions. Not least of all, where did the animals go? If you want to know the answer, you’ll find it at the Wild Place Project. A new concept dedicated almost entirely to conservation, the next generation Bristol Zoo might be a work in progress but it’s great fun and huge.

In fact the Wild Project is more than 10 times the size of the original Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton. That’s a lot of space for running around. But it’s also plenty of room for things like Benque National Park and Discover Madagascar: heaven for lemur-loving kids. Although the current conservation king has to be Bear Wood. It’s the only project of its kind in the country and the only place to see bears, wolves, lynx and wolverine in a habitat they once shared naturally, before being driven to extinction in the UK.

When: open 7-days, 10am to 4pm, last entry to Bear Wood is 3pm   Where: Wild Place, Bristol

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Bocabar Paintworks, great for lunch with kids

Stop for lunch at Bocabar Paintworks

Have lunch at Bocabar Paintworks. It’s just across the river from Wake The Tiger and a top pick with local families, so you might be surprised by how much it appeals to your grown-up aesthetic.

The space is big, chilled and if you can bag a Chesterfield you’ll be in heaven. Fresh daily menus are the thing, all ingredients are locally sourced and kids don’t have to be on their best behaviour. If you’ve made an early start they also do notoriously good breakfasts.

When: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 10.30pm   Where: Bath Road, Arno’s Vale, Bristol


American style diner, Mollies Motel, Bristol

Spin out your stay at Mollie’s Motel & Diner

Can’t tear yourself away after only a day? Spend the night at Mollie’s Motel. This slice of Americana, just a hop from Bristol city centre, is about as far from tacky roadside joint as it gets. Designed by Soho House, it’s on the decidedly cool side of kitsch.

Book one of the sleek bunk rooms for extra parent points and do dinner at the neighbouring diner – it’s worth a drop-in, even if you aren’t staying at the motel! Smart tech simplifies all the practicalities from check-in to room service to syncing your own Netflix, but Mollie’s team is also on-call 24/7.

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