Are you searching for fun family activities in Manchester? Need ideas for a great day out with the kids?
Manchester is packed with a variety of family-friendly activities, both indoors and outdoors, catering to all ages. From taking a tour of Old Trafford to experiencing the thrill of indoor skydiving, there's no shortage of adventures. Keep the little ones entertained with a visit to Legoland or enjoy a peaceful nature walk.
This post offers a list of 16 family attractions in Manchester.
1. Science and Industry Museum
This museum is an excellent choice for things to do in Manchester with kids.
It's free, which is part of the reason it's on our list, as we love being frugal. They have all these interactive things – like old machines and science displays with which the kids can play. It's not too crowded, so they can take their time and get into it.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, so they're good if you have questions. It's especially great for kids around 3 or 4 years old, and you can spend about 4 hours here and not run out of things to do.
2. Legoland Discovery Centre
Legoland Discovery Center is a fantastic option for families looking for indoor things to do in Manchester. It's the ultimate Lego playground, perfect for kids aged 3-10. Imagine over 2 million LEGO bricks in one place, creating a world of fun and creativity.
Highlights include the Kingdom Quest Ride, where kids zap Lego trolls to save a princess, and Lego Miniland, showcasing Manchester landmarks in Lego form, complete with interactive elements. The Lego 4D Cinema adds an extra dimension to movie-watching with effects like wind and rain.
Kids can also enjoy the Ninjago City Adventure Playground, testing their ninja skills, and Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, where they help Merlin cast magic spells by pedaling. There's even a unique VR experience, although it's an extra charge.
The center has a cafe and restrooms and is accessible for wheelchairs and prams. Booking tickets online in advance can save money, and kids under three visit for free.
3. Heaton Park
Heaton Park is great if you are after family things to do in Manchester. It's not just a regular park; it's a historic spot with lots to offer. You'll find a miniature railway, a skatepark, and a children's play area, all in a beautifully maintained space with plenty of green areas to relax.
There's more than just playgrounds and picnic spots. The park has a café, a boating lake, and a golf course. It's a full day of fun for all ages.
Visit the Animal Centre to see various animals, from farmyard favorites to exotic alpacas. The Tram Museum, bowling greens, and horse riding opportunities add to various activities. You can also enjoy rowing boats, tram rides, and even try beekeeping.
Heaton Park hosts various events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts and plays. Don't miss the beautifully restored Heaton Hall, a lovely 18th-century building.
The park’s events calendar is packed, offering something new on each visit. The Farm and Animal Centre is another highlight; it is free to enter (which we like) and is open all year except Christmas Day.
4. Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum is a great spot for things to do in Manchester for families.
It's free and full of interactive displays and activities that make learning fun. From ancient artifacts to modern history, it's got something to grab everyone's interest.
One highlight is the Golden Mummies of Egypt exhibit, a fantastic way for kids to learn about history. The museum also offers interactive quizzes and engaging facts, keeping the kids entertained while they learn.
With a reasonably priced gift shop, you can take home a memory of your visit.
5. Sea Life Manchester
Sealife Manchester should be on your list of things to do for families in Manchester.
Highlights include turtles and the opportunity to touch starfish and shrimp, adding an interactive element to the experience that kids will love.
The jellyfish color-changing wall is a hit, especially with younger kids, and the reasonable ice cream prices are a pleasant surprise.
With a soft play area included, it's ideal for taking a break during your visit.
Visitors of all ages, from newborns to older children, find something to enjoy, whether engaging displays or educational opportunities. Regular visitors, like those with MAP passes, enjoy the size of the aquarium, making it suitable for quick, enjoyable visits.
6. Chill Factore
Chill Factore, located near the Trafford Centre, is one of the most fun things to do in Manchester for families.
It's home to the UK's longest real snow slope, so it's one not to be missed if you are in the area. Whether you're into sledding, sliding, skiing, or snowboarding, there's something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
They offer both lessons and private tuition, making it perfect for beginners or those looking to improve their skills. If all that exercise isn’t your thing, why not relax in The Lodge Bar & Kitchen? It overlooks the slopes, so you can relax with a coffee and watch the rest of your family on the slopes.
7. Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery is one of the best things to do in Manchester with teenagers.
It's more suited to teenagers than young kids, as the gallery houses a wide range of art that spans six centuries, including historical and contemporary works.
Teenagers are likelier to appreciate the artwork, from famous 19th-century British paintings and Pre-Raphaelite works to modern and contemporary art.
The gallery also showcases decorative arts, featuring items from ancient civilizations to modern designer-makers. Its ceramics, silver, glass, furniture, and costume collections are fascinating.
The best part? It's free to visit. This makes it a fantastic option for families with teens looking for a day of culture in Manchester.
8. National Football Museum
The National Football Museum should be at the top of your list for things to do in Manchester with a 12 year old or teenagers, especially if they're into football (sorry, Soccer). It's the world's largest football museum, packed with cool stuff that a 12-year-old would find fascinating.
Kids can learn how football became popular, check out the game's origins, and hear about FA Cup fairytales. They'll love seeing famous items like the 1966 World Cup Final ball, Geoff Hurst's shirt, and the Jules Rimet Trophy.
What's fun is the interactive challenges – they can try penalty-taking, shot-stopping, and even match commentary, which is perfect for active kids.
9. Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden
Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is another of the peaceful things to do in Manchester, especially for kids who love nature. It might not be for every child, but those who enjoy the outdoors will appreciate it.
Located near Didsbury train station, the garden is both beautiful and easily accessible. The park is enormous, offering plenty of space to explore.
The park is well-maintained, largely thanks to the dedicated volunteers. There are plenty of seating areas to relax and admire the plants, making it ideal for a peaceful afternoon walk.
10. People’s History Museum
The People’s History Museum is one of the unique things to do in Manchester for kids. It offers a good mix of reading and interactive exhibits, making it enjoyable for children.
The onsite café serves delicious small bites and cakes; there's even a picnic area if you've brought your own food, which is unique as most places won’t let you bring your own food. Even better, its free entry (with a suggested donation) is a great bonus for families on a budget.
The museum focuses on social history in the UK, providing an informative experience different from typical history lessons about kings and queens. Plenty of seats and a large play area make it the perfect visit for families with kids in Manchester.
11. Play Factore
Play Factore is one of the best things to do with kids in Manchester, especially if you're looking for a place where the whole family can have fun together. It's good because it allows parents to join in with their kids on age-appropriate equipment, making it fun for everyone.
Located next to The Trafford Centre in the BEYOND building, it's the perfect place to go after walking around the shops all day.
Play Factore boasts the UK's largest indoor play frame and slide, an indoor laser tag arena, a zip-wire ride, and interactive ValoJump trampolines.
Besides the play areas, they have a fantastic Italian coffee shop and pizzeria. The menu includes fresh, healthy food with locally sourced ingredients and gets excellent reviews.
12. Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is one of the better things to do with teenagers in Manchester, particularly suited for older kids who can appreciate the depth and significance of the exhibits. This museum takes you through a history timeline from the First World War to the present.
With over 2,000 objects, each telling its own story, the museum is both moving and educational. Highlights include a First World War field gun and steelwork from the World Trade Center in New York.
Interactive elements like a five-minute film projected on the walls of the main exhibition area enhance the experience. The museum also features a well-stocked café and a gift shop.
Entrance to the museum is also free, which, as frugal travelers, we are sure you will appreciate.
13. Parthian Climbing
Parthian Climbing can be found in an old church and is one of the things to do with teenagers in Manchester, especially for families looking for a fun and active experience. It's a climbing center known for its upbeat atmosphere and supportive community, where everyone looks out for each other.
The knowledgeable instructors make it a safe place for beginners to learn.
Families find the introductory lessons enjoyable, with friendly staff and a welcoming environment.
There's a small shop on site and an area where you can sit, watch, and have a snack or drink, which is excellent for parents who prefer to watch.
14. The Crystal Maze
The Crystal Maze Experience is one of the fantastic things to do with teenagers in Manchester. However, the parents might remember more about the TV show as it was broadcast in the 1990s.
It's all about teamwork, making it an excellent activity for families with older kids or groups of friends. The experience involves running around, solving puzzles, and facing various challenges. This blog's author has been twice, and it’s a lot harder than it looks but comes highly recommended.
15. Inflata Nation Manchester
Inflata Nation Manchester is a brilliant thing to do with kids in Manchester.
It's the UK's first inflatable theme park, offering a unique and fun-filled day out that's not too heavy on the wallet. It's especially great for families with kids around ten years old, as they really love it.
Here, you will find climbing walls, assault courses, inflatable dueling, and even a bouncy basketball game.
Parents can relax with lovely food options, including fresh pizza and great drinks. The staff are noted for being polite and helpful, adding to the overall positive experience.
16. Manchester United Stadium Tour
This experience captivates both young and old, especially die-hard Manchester United fans.
During the tour, visitors see the dressing room with players' shirts, walk through the players' tunnel, and explore stadium areas usually closed to the public.
The museum is also great, showcasing interesting memorabilia that United fans will love. It's an enjoyable experience, with helpful staff and knowledgeable guides.
The tour is mostly wheelchair accessible, with alternative routes offered for the less accessible areas. Visitors can see various aspects of the stadium, including the pitch side, TV camera operations, and even the seats of famous figures like Sir Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton.
Thank you for reading our blog post on things to do in Manchester with kids.
We could have added many more things to the list, as Manchester is big. Have we missed one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.