Bristol is known for its alternative and bohemian flair, with cool cafes, restaurants and bars, but it’s also an incredibly family-friendly city full to the brim with activities, museums, history and things to do. Allie Litherland investigates.
The Harbourside area of Bristol in particular is booming and bringing in families from across the UK and beyond. The recently established Wapping Wharf quarter is chock full of food, culture and entertainment to suit families with kids of all ages and a great place to locate yourself for your city break to Bristol. Brimming with independent businesses housed in quirky shipping containers, you’ll find everyting from bakers and cheesemongers to florists and yoga studios, plus a whole host of café and restaurants. The Harbourside is a truly vibrant and unique part of Bristol with something to offer everyone, jam packed with activities for kids, dog friendly restaurants and drop in holistic spaces all within walking distance!
Bristol Old Vic
Europe’s oldest continuously-working theatre has opened up a new chapter in its recent refurbishment. Highlighting its interesting history and traditions while embracing the modern, the theatre is a great stop off for families looking for some art and culture in their lives, whether that’s watching one of the inspiring and though-provoking theatre productions onstage, a backstage tour , or taking part in a workshop or exhibition.
While you’re here, head to the delightful 1766 Bar & Kitchen for a bite to eat. With a vast seasonal menu of brunch, lunch and dinner options showcasing ingredients from some of the finest producers in the South West and a selection of cocktails, craft ales and locally roasted coffee, it’s a great spot for refuelling and relaxing with the family.
Planetarium at We The Curious
Conveniently located near Bristol’s Harbourside, We The Curious is a must visit if you have kids who love all things science, animation and space. The museum caters for toddlers to teens and hosts a wide array of interactive exhibits to get involved in (and do some secret learning top!). A highlight for us was the UK’s first 3D digital planetarium where you can learn about the universe in a wonderful, visual experience. Ideal for budding astronauts.
The aquarium is always popular with families, especially those with younger children. Whether you need a break from the summer sun, or to duck inside to avoid the English rain, you can look forward to daily talks and feeds, as well as a host of different themed events and activities throughout the year.
They are dedicated to conservation through their breeding programmes and environmental policy, so wander through tunnels and around the tropical indoor garden to explore the wonders of the deep including sharks, puffer fish, rays and more.
We highly recommended booking in a treatment at Loop Massage at Wapping Wharf. Allow others to entertain themselves whilst you sink into some you time. A tranquil space in the middle of a city, located in a shipping container that’s been renovated into a blissed-out bunker. The rest of the family can pop to the cheesemonger next door to sample some local (delicious) cheeses, grab some fish and chips a few doors down, or pop into M Shed across the road (it’s free!) to explore the history of Bristol city and its people.
Having kids doesn’t have to mean giving up the joy of craft beer and yummy pub grub – Wild Beer is a fantastic, family-friendly spot if you want somewhere relaxed and high-quality food at an affordable price. This bright space welcomes both kids and is dog friendly, with a host of superb beers on tap and tasty brunches you can sit back, relax and watch the bustling city pass by with your brood.
Spoil yourself to an indulgent treat or loaf of homemade bread from Assembly Bakery. With its feel-good ingredients – including vegan and gluten free options – there is no guilt attached! You can taste the tender loving care that has been poured into every bite.
This Caribbean restaurant at Wapping Wharf has a relaxed yet lively atmosphere, with an excellent mouth-watering menu of classic Caribbean dishes with cocktails and deserts to ensure that your appetite will be satisfied.
Beech House, Clifton, Bristol
Beech House is located a 20 minute walk downhill to the Harbourside. You’re away from the hustle and bustle (and noise) and city life, but before you know it you’re in the buzzing city centre. Beech House a great alternative for families looking for their own private space that gives the option to eat in or out when visiting the city. With modern furnishings and all of the contemporary amenities to make a home-from-home, it is a beautiful stay that offers all you need for a weekend city break in Bristol.
Price: A night in a Mews House at Beech House starts at £150