The best things to do with kids in Manchester – one of the country’s most fun cities
Manchester is a great city for kids. The city centre is compact, manageable and packed with things to do. The suburbs are just a short ride away, and if you take the tram the journey can be a treat in itself. Many thanks to Han-Son from Daddilife.com for contributing this fabulous post.
How do we know all this? Well – full disclosure – I lived in Manchester until my eldest child was three, and still live just a short train ride away. It’s still our family’s go-to city when we have a free day. My son is now 11 (and my daughter 8) so here are some of the city’s top days out based on years of accumulated experience. We hope you enjoy them too.
Museum of Science and Industry
MOSI – as it’s affectionately known – is a gem. It has a fantastic interactive gallery just for children that will have them learning stuff without realising they’re learning stuff (oh yes, the sweet spot of parenting). And it has so much more besides. The Power Hall, with its whirring cogs, spinning wheels and giant locomotives, is simply awe inspiring, and a fascinating step back into Manchester’s past. The Revolution Manchester Gallery features Baby, the world’s first stored-program computer, and – coming soon – Tim Peake’s Soyuz space capsule. There’s loads more, including a temporary exhibition on robots which runs till April. Check out other Manchester museums worth a visit.
Manchester boasts one of the largest and oldest Chinese communities in the UK, and the city’s central Chinatown is its hub. Go in mid February for the Chinese New Year celebrations. Or go any time to eat in one of countless excellent restaurants, explore oriental supermarkets or see the commanding arch. Manchester Art Gallery has loads to do for children and is right next door to Chinatown.
As I’m sure you’ll know, Manchester is perhaps the UK’s premier football city. If you have footy-mad kids, both United and City offer stadium tours. Manchester is also home to the National Football Museum, a whole building (Urbis) dedicated to the beautiful game.
Parks and recreation
If you fancy getting away from the madding crowd for a while Manchester boasts excellent parks a short ride from the city centre. or you could take a self guided walk around the city. Heaton Park is the largest park in the north west and boasts a huge amount to do and see, from row boats and a garden centre to animals and historic trams. Heaton Park also runs a calendar of special events. On the other side of the city, Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury is a delightful oasis in the middle of Manchester’s bustling southern suburbs. Just make sure you pack plenty of snacks and the kids water bottles.
People’s History Museum
Probably not one for small children – PHM has a traditional feel with a lot to read – but if you have older children that love history or are studying it at GCSE or A level, it’s definitely worth a visit. The People’s History Museum is the museum of democracy, a celebration of the things ordinary people did to bring about the freedoms we have today. It’s a hotbed of ideas, and a stirring memorial to those who fought (and suffered) for change in the past – and in many cases continue to do so today.
Things to do in Manchester with Kids
Chorlton is Manchester’s funkiest suburb, a few miles southwest of the city centre. It’s a riot of shops, bars and cafes, and there’s plenty to do for kids. Highlights include Head Over Heels, an excellent soft play centre, and Chorlton Water Park, a beautiful stretch of water, woods and pasture that is perfect for a family walk or hide and seek. Head to deli/bakery Barbikan for delicious edible treats.
Oxford Road, running south west from the city centre, is Manchester’s university corridor and home to the Manchester Aquatic Centre, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Gallery. All are worth a brisk stroll through the student hordes. The Museum’s collection runs “from Darwin to Turin” and features dinosaur bones, Egyption mummies and rocks from space. The Whitworth has recently been expanded and improved, showcasing an art collection of international importance and housing a rolling programme of free family activities.
Many thanks again to Han-Son for this post, and DaddiLife’s guide on Tuff Trays is a particularly great read too!