1/10 The World of Beatrix Potter
All 23 Beatrix Potter tales are brought to life in this charming grotto experience where children can meet their favourite characters, including Mrs Tiggy-winkle, Jemima Puddle-duck, and of course Peter Rabbit. There is an interactive learning room with jigsaws and touch-screen guides, and some tiny scenes set into the rocks at eye-level for little people. Mr McGregor’s garden is there to explore and the Tea Room serves home-cooked food.
Cost: £18.50 for a family of four.
More information: hop-skip-jump.com
2/10 South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Wander with wallabies, kangaroos and lemurs – this is a free-range animal park, though fortunately the tigers and rhinos are behind bars. Children can hand-feed giraffes, penguins, lemurs, kangaroos, emus, ducks and reindeers. There is a miniature train ride, a gift shop and restaurant with children’s meals available, which is cosy on a cold day, too, with a log burner.
Cost: £13.50 for adults and £8 for children.
More information: wildanimalpark.co.uk
3/10 Fell Foot Park
The park’s fabulous adventure playground has everything from sit-on wooden ducks, a wide slide and sailing boat, to a mock shop/house on stilts. Walk through the grounds to feed the ducks or take a rowing boat out on the lake. Pack a picnic in the summer and eat it at the wooden tables decorated with nature trail maps, or The Boathouse café has indoor seating and a lakeside terrace.
Cost: Entry to the park is free, boat hire for four people is £18.50 an hour.
More information: nationaltrust.org.uk/fell-foot-park/
4/10 The Pencil Museum
Less about pencils and more about getting children to create their own art, here kids can get messy drawing cartoons, illustrations and model making, there’s an activity trail and the chance to take home personalised pencils. Sketchers café has a children’s menu deal and locally-sourced food for grown ups in a riverside location with views of Catbells.
Cost: £4.25 for adults, £3.25 for children or £11.75 for a family of four (under fives are free).
More information: pencilmuseum.co.uk
5/10 Lakeside Aquarium
Children can explore worlds of watery fun. Take a walk under the water and watch the ducks diving and swimming above your head. See colourful fish, otters, lizards and even tiny marmoset monkeys. There are baby-changing facilities, a children’s menu and food-warming facilities available at Lakeside café. Add to the enjoyment by arriving on steam train or boat.
Cost: If you buy online you save 30% and an adult ticket is £6.25, a child is £3.95
More information: lakesaquarium.co.uk
6/10 Safari Lodge, South Africa
Explore the turrets and towers in this Mock-Gothic castle on the shore of Lake Windermere. It’s toddler friendly – the rooms are empty of grand possessions and full of kids having fun in the dressing up and story-telling spaces. There are games and toys in most rooms, activity tables with crayons and crafting materials, as well as a small café serving snacks and with baby changing facilities.
Cost: £6.30 adults and £3.15 for children.
More information: nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle/
7/10 Lakeland Farm Park
Meet farm animals in the pets’ barn, and have a go at being a farmer on the tractor and trailer rides. There’s also a large outdoor play area, and indoor soft play area, with toddler toys, and from July to September there is a Maize Maze, with a mini version for young visitors. Stop for lunch in the indoor picnic area. It’s open weekends from Easter and weekdays from 1 July.
Cost: £24 for a family of four or £6.95 for adults, £5.95 for children and seniors.
More information: lakelandmaze.co.uk
8/10 Sizergh Castle
Explore the castle using discovery sheets (suitable for 3 year olds, with help), wander round the gardens, looking out for the scarecrow, beehives and rare breed hens, not to mention the ducks waddling in the lake. There are old-fashioned garden games and a small adventure playground. The café has children’s play packs and baby-changing facilities. It’s also worth visiting the nearby Low Sizergh Farm Barn to watch the cows being milked every afternoon.
Cost: £9.45 for adults and £4.73 for children
More information: nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh/
9/10 Brockhole Visitor Centre
There is lots of space for letting off steam on this 30-acre site, on the shores of Lake Windermere. Footpaths have easy pushchair access and there’s a large outdoor adventure playground suitable for all ages, as well as an indoor soft play area where the little ones can play with building bricks, and a small climbing wall for older toddlers. A café and terrace serving snacks overlooks the lake.
Cost: Entry is free but you have to pay to park.
More information: brockhole.co.uk
Just on the border of the national park, this village is for the discerning tourist. There’s plenty to fill half a day – including a fantastic playground and short riverside walks. Wilf’s Café (pictured), on Mill Yard, has a self-use microwave for warming baby food, as well as books, crayons, toys and a kids’-sized play picnic table, high chairs and a children’s menu. Its latest venture is a new café – with the same child-friendly facilities – in Grasmere. There’s also an artisan bakery nearby.