Things to Do with Kids in the Lake District

Whether your child is 12 or 2 the Lake District will have something to ignite their enthusiasm for adventure. Test balance skills on an adventure play course, burn off energy in a soft play centre, learn about iconic vehicles, or become fully immersed in a magical whimsy-filled land filled with talking rabbits. There is something here to suit every child. Grab those wellies, pack some snacks, and give your little explorers a Lake District experience they won’t forget.

Outdoor Activities for Children in the Lake District

Family Friendly Walks

Family Friendly Fell Walks

Your young child may not be quite ready to conquer Striding Edge, but there are plenty of walking opportunities that are achievable. Our family friendly walks have been tested by a Cumbrian parent and include detailed step-by-step picture guides with all of the information you need for a successful family walk. A number of pushchair friendly routes are included.

 
Public Playgrounds

Public Playgrounds

Parks with play areas are one of the top choices for most parents who looking for a free or very cheap way to entertain children for a short period of time. In the Lake District, with most larger villages and all towns home to at least one park with a play area, you are never too far away from somewhere for your children to play.

 
Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre

Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre

Worth combining with a trip to Lowther Castle and its adventure play area, the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre enables you to get up close to a range of winged predators. There are flight displays, but they do take up to two hours, so young children may struggle to sit for this long. A small tea room is on site.

 
South Lakes Safari Zoo

South Lakes Safari Zoo

With free roaming animals, this is a zoo with a difference. Animals of all sizes can be found here, including big cats, rhinos, and penguins, and there are walk through enclosures where you can feed the animals. There’s an adventure play area, and a large restaurant.

 
Lakeland Maze Farm Park

Lakeland Maze Farm Park

A great day out for children, the Lakeland Maze Farm Park near Kendal has a huge maize maze that is created each year, usually ready in July. A smaller version is available for children, and there are farm animals to feed, a petting barn, indoor and outdoor play areas, and lots more. Bring your own picnic, or eat in the small café.

 
Whinlatter Forest Park

Whinlatter Forest Park

Your children can enjoy a thrilling woodland adventure at Whinlatter Forest Park near Keswick. Young children will love the adventure play trail and Gruffalo orienteering. Teenagers can test their bravery on a high ropes course, whilst bike hire to use on the many trails is available from aged 8 and up. There is a child friendly café and baby changing facilities.

 
Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest

At Grizedale Forest near Lake Windermere you can hire bikes with trailers for babies and toddlers, allowing the whole family to enjoy a forest cycle ride. In addition, the forest has a large adventure play area, and a Go Ape course suitable for children aged 6+, as well as family orienteering courses. There is a child friendly café and baby changing facilities.

 
Lake Cruises

Lake Cruises

No trip to the Lake District is complete without a lake cruise, and younger children in particular will relish the opportunity to travel on a boat. Choose a cruise on Derwent Water, Lake Windermere, Coniston Water, or Ullswater. You’ll find café and toilet facilities at all of them, and some great opportunities to combine a boat trip with another adventure.

 
Brockhole Visitor Centre

Brockhole Visitor Centre

The Lake District National Park Authority’s visitor centre at Brockhole, near Windermere, is packed with family friendly fun. Here you can try orienteering, archery, pony trekking and more. There are indoor and outdoor play areas, a café, and boat and bike hire is available. The grounds are also pushchair friendly throughout.

 
Rookin House Activity Centre

Rookin House Activity Centre

A great place to introduce your child to a host of outdoor activities, Rookin House offers a range of adventures led by qualified practitioners. Archery, quad biking, pony trekking, assault courses, and JCB operation are amongst the activities available for younger visitors, all within the centre’s grounds.

 
Honister Slate Mine

Honister Slate Mine

Not appropriate for younger children, the Honister Slate Mine is a great place to give your older child their first taste of extreme adventure. You can book onto a mine tour and explore underground caverns, or for those aged 10 and above, try the Via Ferrata, or Iron Way – a safe but adrenaline fuelled rock climbing experience.

 
Mirehouse and Gardens

Mirehouse and Gardens

Located between Bassenthwaite lake shore and Dodd Wood, the interior of Mirehouse is unlikely to keep children entertained. However, you can pay to visit the grounds only, and here you will find adventure play areas, woodland walks, and picturesque gardens. There is a café in the Dodd Wood car park.

 
Askham Outdoor Swimming Pool

Askham Outdoor Swimming Pool

If you are a firm believer in the philosophy that exercise is better when you are outside then you will love Askham Outdoor Swimming Pool. This community run, heated pool is open during the summer months, and there is a small separate pool for younger children.

 
Tree Top Nets

Tree Top Nets

If your child loves to jump on a trampoline, then Tree Top Nets at Brockhole, Windermere, will take them one step further with a series of giant trampolines suspended high above the trees. No harness is required as the nets are fully enclosed. It’s safe, bouncy fun for anyone aged over 3 years.

 
Treasure Trails

Treasure Trails Cumbria

Taking a unique approach to a self-guided tour, Treasure Trails enable you and your family to learn more about the area around you whilst uncovering mysteries through a series of clues. Choose a trail that suits your family, download a pack in advance, and get exploring.

 

Rainy Day Activities for Kids in the Lake District

Soft Play Centres

Soft Play Centres

If you are struggling with poor weather and energetic children in need of an outlet then soft play centres can give welcome relief. Filled with play structures, and usually catering for a wide range of ages, these centres can be a great place for your child to run around for a couple of hours. Cumbria has a great selection of soft play centres across the county.

 
Indoor Swimming Pools

Indoor Swimming Pools

Our lakes and sea might not be ideal for swimming in (unless you are feeling very brave) but you can still take the plunge during your Lake District holiday. We have plenty of indoor swimming pools that are open to visitors with no membership required. Many offer child friendly sessions and have a range of other facilities attached to them.

 
The World of Beatrix Potter

The World of Beatrix Potter

Explore the magical world of Peter Rabbit and all of his friends at The World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness-On-Windermere. Featuring 3D scenes from Potter’s beloved children’s stories, this indoor attraction is perfect for younger children and includes a tea room with a child-friendly menu.

 
The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway near Windermere has a collection of locomotives that could rival Thomas the Tank Engine and his Island of Sodor friends, all waiting to take you and your family on a ride through the Lake District countryside. You can even combine your rail ticket with one of a number of child friendly attractions.

 
Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum

Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum

Diggers galore await at the Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, close to Keswick. This quirky attraction features excavators of all sizes situated in a former quarry, along with a narrow-gauge railway line and a replica mine tour. There is no café, but plenty of picnic opportunities.

 
The Pencil Museum

The Pencil Museum

Keswick was once home to the Derwent pencil factory and this unusual museum can provide your family with respite from the Cumbrian weather. Alongside information about the history of the pencil, there is a kids zone where your child can release their creativity, and a coffee shop where you can enjoy a snack.

 
The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry

The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry

Ideally located in the centre of Kendal, this small museum celebrates life in Cumbria, and explores the history of industry in the area. There is a lot for children to see, including a Victorian toy shop and a Postman Pat display. There is a coffee shop in the adjacent building.

 
Lakeland Motor Museum

Lakeland Motor Museum

If your little one loves cars, then they will love the Lakeland Motor Museum. Explore the history of the motor vehicle from its early inception right through to the modern era and beyond with a plethora of vehicles on display. There is a fantastic café, and combined tickets with a steam railway ride or a lake cruise are available.

 
Hill Top

Hill Top

This delightful National Trust property is the former residence of Beatrix Potter, and features her own personal belongings. A children’s activity trail will keep young minds amused. There is no café, but there is a pub nearby. You may have to queue for entry, so pack snacks and something to keep your child amused.

 
The Lakes Aquarium

The Lakes Aquarium

For when you need to escape the rain, the Lakes Aquarium is a great indoor attraction with lots for children to see. As well as a large collection of marine life (including Nemo-like clownfish), there are a few mammals and reptiles. The aquarium is close to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway station, and there are two cafés nearby.

 
The Gincase

The Gincase

A farm with a difference, the Gincase near Silloth enables children to get close to farm animals. There is a petting area, as well as a number of animal paddocks. Inside the large barn, there is a huge soft play and adventure play area. You are welcome to bring a picnic or you can eat in the small tea room.

 
Lake District Wildlife Park

Lake District Wildlife Park

Close to Lake Bassenthwaite, the Lake District Wildlife Park is home to a collection of native and exotic animals, many of which roam large paddocks enabling visitors to get a good view. There are bird of prey displays each day, and the park features indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as a café.

 
Wray Castle

Wray Castle

Not your usual National Trust property, this is a heritage castle with a twist. Instead of rooms filled with historical items that must not be touched, Wray Castle features rooms filled with activities and toys for children. Explore and play freely in this fairy-tale like building that has large grounds with an adventure play area.

 
Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle

Whilst there is plenty to see inside this 13th century castle, it is the grounds that will most appeal to children. Enchanted trails, an indoor maze, and lots of outdoor play areas can be found here, along with a child friendly café. Worth combining with a trip on the Ravenglass railway.

 
Lowther Castle and Gardens

Lowther Castle and Gardens

Formerly an extravagant building, only the shell remains of Lowther Castle. However, the addition of a very large wooden play fort in the castle’s grounds makes this an ideal location for children needing to burn off excess energy. There is a small café, but we do recommend you bring a picnic if visiting with children.

 
Levans Hall

Levans Hall

Levans Hall is a privately-owned family home that is partially open to the public. Inside, children can explore this Elizabethan building whilst dressed in period costumes and complete a quiz. Outside, there are 10-acres of grounds with play areas and a maze. There are picnic areas and a café.

 
Holker Hall

Holker Hall

Holding regular events throughout the year, Holker Hall near Cartmel will certainly appeal to food enthusiasts with its selection of local products. Children are well catered for here with a large adventure playground, child-friendly eateries, and baby feeding and changing facilities.

 
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Known locally as La’al Ratty, this former mining railway operates between the coastal village of Ravenglass and the tiny hamlet of Boot in Eskdale. The steam locomotives take you through picturesque countryside with cafés and children’s play areas at either end. For a family day out, combine it with a trip to Muncaster Castle.

 
The Rheged Centre

The Rheged Centre

Conveniently located just off junction 40 of the M6, the Rheged Centre is home to shops, exhibitions and a cinema. Regular film showings and exhibitions are frequently aimed at a younger audience, and a pottery-painting workshop gives your child to create a unique keepsake. The centre has both an indoor and outdoor play area and child friendly cafés.

 
The Puzzling Place

The Puzzling Place

If you need to escape from the rain for a couple of hours and have children to entertain then the Puzzling Place in Keswick has just what you need. This quirky attraction is filled with optical illusions that will delight and amaze. There is no café and access is via a set of stairs with no lift.

 
Lakeland Climbing Centre

Lakeland Climbing Centre

Get your child active and help them gain a sense of achievement at the Lakeland Climbing Centre in Kendal. This large indoor climbing centre has challenges to suit all ages from 5+, led by trained professionals. You do need to book in advance to use the centre.

 
Boy painting ceramic dinosaur model

Crafty Monkeys

Looking for an indoor activity that lets you unleash your creative side? At Crafty Monkeys in Penrith you can paint pottery, try your hand at making a pot on a clay wheel, decorate with decoupage, or make your own mosaic. Great for both children and adults, and you can keep what you make when you are finished.

 
Kong Adventure

Kong Adventure

At Kong Adventure in the centre of Keswick your child can experience rock climbing in a safe environment. Suitable for both children and adults, Kong Adventure has a range of indoor climbing structures with lessons available. Younger children can play freely in the 'hard play' area, whilst you can relax with a coffee in the café.

 
The Lake District Coast Aquarium

The Lake District Coast Aquarium

A great rainy day attraction, there is plenty in the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport to keep little minds occupied for a couple of hours. A celebration of aquatic life in the Irish Sea, you will find lots of native species here. There is a large café serving a great selection of seafood, whilst outside you will find an impressive adventure playground.

 
Tiny Town Carlisle

Tiny Town Carlisle

Newly opened in November 2016, Tiny Town in Carlisle encourages children to develop their imagination through role play. Set in a former nightclub, the attraction consists of a scaled down town where children can try out various job roles, including construction worker, vet, police officer, chef and more. Pre-booking is essential.

 
The Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

The Lakeland Wildlife Oasis

A great half-day attraction for children can be found in the southern tip of Cumbria, where the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis offers an unusual mix of animal enclosures and museum style exhibitions. Walk through a snow leopard enclosure, or get up close to butterflies and birds. The centre is open daily and there is a cafe with child friendly meals.

 
Upfront Gallery & Puppet Theatre

Upfront Gallery & Puppet Theatre

It’s an unlikely location for a puppet theatre, but within acres of farmland that lie to the north of Penrith you will find a magical, cosy place where puppets are brought to life. There is something for everyone at Upfront, where an intimate theatre is accompanied with a tearoom and gallery. Advance booking is required.

 
Jump Mania

The Jump Mania

When the weather is miserable, and you have children with excess energy to burn off, then the Jump Mania in Workington might have the solution. This popular indoor trampoline park features a network of trampolines, soft ramps, and basketball hoops that will give you and your children a great workout.

 
Wave Centre

The Wave Centre: Clip 'n Climb & Cave at the Wave

New Zealand, the country that gave us bungee jumping, has now gifted the world with clip 'n climb, where climbing is combined with entertainment to give you a unique day out. In Maryport’s Wave Centre, you will find the north of England’s first clip 'n climb centre, alongside Cave at the Wave – a network of purpose built cave structures to explore.

 
West Coast Indoor Karting

West Coast Indoor Karting

Does your child fancy themselves to be the next Lewis Hamilton? Get a taste for speed at West Coast Indoor Karting, the northwest’s largest indoor go-karting track. Featuring uniquely designed karts, including an excellent choice for younger racers, this is a great activity for thrill-seekers young and old.