The Lake District is the perfect place for creating happy family memories. As well as stunning scenery, walking and messing about on the water, there are plenty of activities and days out to entertain the children whatever the weather, with our family-friendly cottages just a short distance away. Here are just a few of the best places to go with the family in the Lake District and Cumbria.
Image: Andrew Bowden
Brockhole is the National Park's official visitor centre located between Ambleside and Windermere, with a great playground for the children and lots of events on during the school holidays. Among the family activities you can enjoy are archery, mini golf, pony rides and orienteering, and there are also indoor activities to get stuck into on a rainy day. There are also walks around the gardens and along the shores of Lake Windermere, and a cafe serving refreshments. Entrance is free but parking in the carpark is quite expensive, so why not get there by bus or boat from Ambleside?
Whinlatter Mountain Forest
The Whinlatter Forest near Keswick offers some great outdoor activities the whole family will enjoy. Follow the Wild Play Trail to discover 9 different areas, packed with water features, giant swings, climbing walls and even special play areas for toddlers. Fans of the popular books can follow the Gruffalo Orienteering course to find the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Child, and for active families there are two excellent mountain biking trails as well as a Go Ape course.
Windermere Lake Cruises
A lovely way to experience the area is on a Windermere cruise, where boats link the popular towns of Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside. This is a great way to see the mountains from the lake, as well as to get about, and you can select short hops or longer routes along the length of the lake.
Beatrix Potter attractions
The World of Beatrix Potter
For lovers of the classic children's author Beatrix Potter, why not explore the many tourist attractions in the area dedicated to her work and even the places where she lived? The largest attraction is the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere, while the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead also displays many of her drawings and paintings. Hill Top, her former home in Near Sawrey, is also well worth visiting, full of her special treasures and recognisable as the home of some of her best-loved characters and tales.
Lakeland Maze Farm Park
Home to an award-winning maize maze, the fun-packed Lakeland Maze Farm Park near Kendal is great for giving the kids a taste of life on the farm. Meet the usual farm favourites as well as a few more surprising residents such as ferrets, llamas and alpacas! There’s plenty to keep the children busy for the whole day including animal feeding, soft play and go-karts alongside the maize maze.
For a more energetic day out why not explore Grizedale Forest? Amongst its lush woodland scenery the forest offers plenty of things to do including walks, sculpture trails, a great playground, bike hire and cycle routes. Go Ape is a popular family attraction also hosted in the forest, where older children and adults can take on an assault course in the treetops.
The Lakes Aquarium is based in Lakeside, where you can meet animals from around the world who call lakes their home. These include diving ducks, otters, marmoset monkeys and even sharks. Why not combine your visit with a steam train journey linking Lakeside and Haverthwaite, taking 18 minutes?
One of our favourite spots in the Lake District is the National Trust’s Wray Castle. Built in 1840 in the Gothic style, visitors are free to explore the castle's many rooms as well as its towers and turrets, showcasing what life was like her in the Victorian era. It’s a place for all the family to enjoy, so don’t worry about running around and making as much noise as you like! Join a guided tour, have a go at building your own castle or even try dressing up as kings and queens.
The Puzzling Place
Perfect for rainy days is The Puzzling Place in the heart of Keswick. Have a go at working out the tricky brainteasers in the Puzzle Area before stepping into the World of Illusion. Here your mind will play tricks on you, with mind-blowing optical illusions found in the Anti-Gravity Room, the Ames Room and the Eyelusions Exhibition.
Fell Foot Park
Image: David Merrett
On a sunny day, take a picnic along to Fell Foot Park, a stunning lakeshore family-orientated country park. It's just the place to enjoy Windermere's stunning views, with boat hire, picnic areas, refreshments, snacks and an exciting adventure playground for all ages.
Family fun map
Find all of the fantastic days out we've mentioned on the map below.
For even more great ideas on how to enjoy the Lake District with the family, take a look at our guide to the Lake District's ultimate activities.
If you've already been convinced to embark on some adventures with the kids in the Lake District, take a look at our child-friendly cottages to start planning your dream break.