Things to Do in Bristol: 10 Family Activities for This Summer
The historic city of Bristol and its surrounding area have plenty of activities to offer families of all stripes, whether you’re just visiting or you live locally. From natural wonders to scientific marvels and beyond, we Bristolians have got it all.
Here’s our list of the 10 essential things to do in and around Bristol this summer:
Mendip Hills AONB
“Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it?!
Mendip Hills is just over 17 miles to the south of Bristol, easily accessible by car.
As well as the limestone hills and incredible views, you can delve into the darkness of the Wookey Hole Caves for an Indiana Jones-style experience!
Clifton Suspension Bridge
It might not quite be the Golden Gate, but the Clifton Suspension Bridge is undoubtedly an iconic piece of British engineering – certainly one of our most recognisable and most beautiful bridges. And it’s 155 years old!
Depending on where you’re coming from, you might be driving over it anyway, but as with most bridges, the purest way to experience it is by walking across it and taking in the vista of the Avon Gorge and River Avon below.
Need to catch some rays this summer? Bristol Aquarium can sort you out.
Okay, not those sorts of rays, but this is British summertime, remember?
We’ve got a huge variety of sea creatures from all over the world, ranging from rays and sharks to electric eels, piranhas, yellow-bellied turtles and Finding Nemo-esque tropical fish! Many of these are housed in our Urban Jungle Botanical Garden – the only botanical garden in any UK aquarium – as well as our extensive Underwater Tunnel and other exhibits.
Come and explore!
Wild Place Project
Once you’ve had your fill of ocean-based wildlife, head back to dry land at the Wild Place Project, just over 10 miles’ drive north of the city.
Here at this wildlife conservation site, you’ll find the UK’s biggest brown bear exhibit, as well as cheetahs, lynx, wolves and wolverine… And there are some tamer creatures too, such as giraffes, zebras and elands. It essentially brings the plains of Africa to the southwest of England!
The kids will also enjoy the on-site Fun Fort, which is undercover (and therefore ideal whatever the weather!) and guaranteed to give them their fill of exercise – which makes for a nice easy evening for you…
Brunel’s SS Great Britain
Launched in 1843, the SS Great Britain is regarded as a ship that changed history. In 1845, it (or rather, she) became the first iron steamship to cross the Atlantic, setting a new precedent.
She was designed by the legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (whose original bridge design influenced the design of the Clifton Suspension Bridge), for the purposes of transatlantic service between Bristol and New York.
Nowadays, she is permanently docked and functions as a museum, bringing in tens of thousands of visitors each year. This is an absolutely essential Bristol attraction for anyone of any age – a true piece of world history!
Cheddar Gorge & Caves
This is part of the Mendip Hills AONB that we talked about earlier, but it deserves its own entry due to its status as an attraction in its own right – always at or near the top of “UK’s best natural wonders” lists.
You can drive right through it via the B3135 road, some 450 feet below the top of the rocks. Be sure to check out the caves and their stalagmites and stalactites – which, supposedly, were J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings!
If you head nine miles north of the city to Aerospace Bristol, you can spend a fascinating few hours schooling up on aviation history and taking a good look at various iconic aircraft, including the last concorde ever to fly!
With everything from rudimentary early plans that you wouldn’t want to chance nowadays, to supersonic fighter jets that you can hear from miles away, this is education and entertainment for all the family.
Plane and simple…
Ashton Court Estate
A hugely popular attraction for families, the 850-acre Ashton Court Estate is the perfect place for a stroll or bike ride in the sunshine – or in the summer drizzle, for that matter!
As well as the 16-century manor house that looks like something right out of Downton Abbey, you’ve got a rose garden, woodland and grasslands to explore, including two deer parks that are sure to be a big hit with the kids.
Once you’re done soaking up the scenery, head to one of the on-site cafes for a spot of lunch or a nice refreshing drink.
Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park
Outdoor and indoor play areas, wildlife enclosures spread across 90 acres, animal handling sessions…
Yep, all in one place.
Avon Valley is a must-visit if your little ones are energetic or curious (or both!), as this will give them the day out they’ll remember forever.
Escape Rooms (Various)
Nothing brings the family together like a tense race against time!
Bristol has several escape-room venues to choose from, including the nationwide and highly-rated Escape Hunt franchise, Riddlr, Puzzlair-4D and more. Take a look on TripAdvisor to see which one best suits your family: some are more child-orientated, whereas others are better for teenagers.