I have recently become aware that there is a HUGE amount of free things to do in Bristol with kids. Having taken part in The Gromit Unleashed 2 trail (as well as the original trail and the Shaun in the City trail), I feel I’ve been awakened to so many potential family days out. I’ve discovered beautiful views and parts of Bristol that I didn’t even know existed before. It has really inspired me to want to spend more time exploring the city at a slower pace. With that in mind, I decided to start by researching free things to do in Bristol with kids. I’m starting this list off with events which are happening soon, in September 2018. After that, the rest of this post will explore other activities, which are open all year round.
Free things to do in Bristol with kids in September 2018
Gromit Unleashed 2
The Gromit Unleashed 2 sculpture trail finishes on 2nd September 2018. So if you’ve got a few sculptures left to find or haven’t seen any of them at all, make sure you don’t miss out. Gromit Unleashed 2 follows on from the original Gromit Unleashed sculpture trail in 2013 and the Shaun in the City sculpture trail in 2015. The trail features 67 sculptures of Aardman’s iconic Wallace, Gromit and Feathers McGraw characters and was designed to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital through The Grand Appeal. All 67 sculptures will also be displayed in an exhibition at Bristol Aerospace from 15th-30th September, although unlike the trail, the exhibition is not free (and tickets are selling out fast).
Forest Discovery Day
Clifton College are holding a free forest discovery day on Saturday 8th September from 9am-11am. This would be perfect for parents and toddlers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. There will be activities including mud kitchen play, toasting marshmallows and den building. All activities are run by fully qualified play leaders and early years teachers from Clifton College. There will be refreshments, parking and toilets and the event can be found at Clifton College, Watson’s Field, Abbots Leigh, Bristol BS8 3QD. Tickets are free and you can find more details and book tickets on Clifton College’s website.
Free things to do in Bristol with kids all year round
Bristol Art Gallery and Museum
The building that houses Bristol Art Gallery and Museum is an impressive one (and so is the Wills Memorial building next door). The museum house vast collections of local history, nature and art and you can see everything from paintings to dinosaurs. Entry is free and there is a café, shop, baby changing and feeding facilities as well as toilets on site. The whole museum is super friendly for those with all kinds of disabilities and only one tiny section is not fully accessible. You can find the museum at Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL
The M Shed is situated along Bristol Harbourside and is a large museum showcasing the history of Bristol and Bristol life as it is today. There’s lots to see and interest families of all ages and there’s a cafe on site too. Entry is free, but you will need to pay for parking in any of the local car parks. M Shed can be found at Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RN.
Blaise Castle House Museum and Park
We visited Blaise Castle House and Museum quite by accident but it’s brilliant for children. As well as a Castle and Museum to explore, there’s a huge playground. The castle is full of local history, pictures and artefacts that tell the story of the house. There’s also an orangery, amphitheatre, dairy and vast gardens to explore. Near the playground, there is a café and ice cream shop, as well as public toilets. Everything here is free to enter and it’s also the perfect picnic spot in good weather. Blaise Castle House Museum is located on Henbury Road, Bristol, BS10 7QS.
Hartcliffe Community Farm
Another bonus find during our sculpture trail, this lovely little volunteer run farm, sits on the edge of a housing estate (Lampton Avenue, Bristol BS13 0QH). We only had time to visit the pigs, ducks, chickens and birds during our visit, but there are lots of other animals and a children’s playground too. If you time it right, you might be able to buy some local farm produce by putting money in the honesty box. Hartcliffe Community Farm‘s café has limited opening hours but was open during our visit, and with very reasonable prices. The farm is free to enter but relies on donations to thrive.
Windmill Hill City Farm
Pigs, sheep, goats, poultry and pets are some of the animals you will find at this charity run farm in Bristol. It’s free to enter but relies on kind donations. Posters are up around the farm to provide facts and interesting information about each animal. There’s a children’s play area, gift shop, café, gardens and activity trails too. They have lots of information on the Windmill Hill City Farm website and you can find them at Philip Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4EA.
Right on Bristol’s harbour side, is Arnolfini at 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA. This art gallery, bookshop and cafe is free to enter and a great way to immerse yourself in contemporary art culture. It is however, currently undergoing renovations.
Spike Island is a contemporary art exhibition which is free to enter and welcoming to all. They have activities and facilities for all ages, are fully accessible and baby friendly too, with highchairs and baby changing facilities. You will find Spike Island and Spike Cafe at 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol BS1 6UX
As well as being a beautiful building, Bristol Cathedral is very welcoming to families. From art and craft mornings to Sunday school, there are even kids worship services and a “children’s university”. The onsite cafe is advertised as “breastfeeding friendly” and offers highchairs, toilets and babychanging facilities. Parts of the cathedral are fully accessible and other parts are not. The grounds outside are also a lovely place to sit in the sunshine and get some fresh air at College Green, Bristol BS1 5TJ.
Ashton Court Estate
Ashton Court Estate is a mansion house, courtyard, cafe and hundreds of acres of land overlooking Bristol. It’s the ideal place to go mountain biking, join in with ParkRun, go for long walks or just explore the grounds.
Shopping at Cabot Circus
Cabot Circus is Bristol City Centre’s enormous indoor shopping centre. It’s fully accessible and has excellent facilities, including family toilets, shops and lots of family friendly restaurants. Every time I have visited, there have been things on, from live music, to kids entertainment, to free samples from coffee shops. Cabot Circus leads onto Bristol city centres main outdoor shops too.
Clifton Suspension Bridge and Observatory
Clifton suspension bridge is probably the most iconic structure in Bristol. This bridge was designed by the infamous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and wasn’t completed until 1864, a few years after his death. It boasts breathtaking views over the River Avon. There is a toll for crossing by car, but it’s free to walk across the bridge on foot. Sitting just above the bridge, is Clifton Observatory, on an even higher peak of the cliff. Here you can enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of Bristol. The Observatory however, is up a very steep hill and not accessible. There are free tours available and a visitor centre too. Clifton Suspension Bridge can be found at Bridge Road, Bristol BS8 3PA.
The Harbourside Market
The harbourside market is the perfect place in Bristol to immerse yourself in art, music and an abundance of street food. You’ll find stalls selling everything from books to clothing to jewellery in this vibrant community. The market is at 1 Canon’s Road, Bristol BS5 5TX.
The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is a huge indoor shopping precinct. I’ve put this near the bottom of the list though, as although it’s free to park and enter, it’s very easy to spend a lot here on shopping. There’s also a crèche if you fancy some child free shopping, but it’s quite costly.
Picnics are always a fab free thing do with kids. Bristol is also absolutely full of stunning picnic spots too. Some of my personal choices would be Blaise Castle, College Green, Clifton by the Observatory, Queens Square, The Harbourside, Chew Valley Lakes and The Downs. You could even combine a picnic with some of the other free things to do in Bristol with kids and make a day of it. Or perhaps even book a hotel stay and enjoy a few days exploring the city?
I hope this post has helped you find some great free things to do in bristol with kids and that you may even feel inspired enough to share this post?!
If you know of any more free things to do in Bristol with kids, which aren’t listed here, please let me know, so I can add them.