Juggling buggies with backpacks, dealing with toddler trials and teenage tantrums and balancing high energy demands with low boredom thresholds can make family days out problematic, to say the least.
Bath, however, turns days out with kids in tow into a breeze.
Gone are the days when museums were stuffy, art galleries staid and theatres a dusty curtain experience – the best family-friendly activities in Bath offer fun for all, all year round.
1. The Egg
The Egg – Theatre Royal Bath’s award-winning theatre for children, young people and cross-generational family groups – offers a lively programme of age-appropriate traditional and contemporary shows and performances all year round, and additional activities over half terms and holidays.
The dramatic action takes place in a fully-accessible 120-seat egg-shaped auditorium built within the surviving shell of a former Victorian church hall (latterly a cinema) while the funky, family-friendly café at the heart of the spacious reception area (The Yolk, of course!) specialises in glorious gelato, perfect pastries and very grown-up cocktails.
Meanwhile, a dedicated play area and plenty of space for buggies and prams make The Egg an all-weather entertainment zone that sparks the imagination for all.
Address: St John’s Place (part of Theatre Royal Bath), Bath BA1 1ET
2. The Roman Baths
Ancient history comes to interactive life at The Roman Baths, with two age-specific activity trails (one for preschoolers and one for primary-aged children), a dedicated children’s audioguide narrated by children’s laureate Michael Rosen and chatty, captivating characters from Roman life including Roman soldiers, slaves, stonemasons, travelling salesmen and even a priest on hand to inform, enlighten and offer an unique ‘trip back in time’ experience.
All the family-friendly activities are included in the Roman Baths admission price, and the supremely elegant, historic Pump Room restaurant within the Roman Baths ‘complex’ (which has enjoyed pole position on Bath’s Best Afternoon Tea charts since Georgian times) offers a dedicated children’s Afternoon Tea menu.
Address: Abbey Church Yard, Bath BA1 1LZ
3. Royal Victoria Park
A duck pond, a bandstand and several cafe and refreshment kiosk options; crazy golf, tennis courts and a massive adventure playground complete with skatepark: the family fun never stops within the 57-acre expanse of lush greenery that is Royal Victoria Park, just a short stroll away from the city centre.
The park was opened in 1830 by the 11-year-old Princess Victoria seven years before her ascension to the throne, and the park’s Botanical Gardens (a peaceful, sweetly-scented little chill-out zone in the north-west region of the park) was opened seven years later.
Hot air balloon tours regularly take off from the meadows to the north of the park offering an exciting spectacle even if you’re not hopping into a balloon basket, and the park hosts regular annual events such as Bath on the Beach; Bath on Ice and travelling attractions such as fun fairs, circuses and festivals including Pub in the Park.
It’s also one of the best free things to do in Bath too, helping you save those very important pennies!
Address: Marlborough Lane, Bath BA1 2NQ
4. The American Museum and Gardens
For more than 50 years, the American Museum and Gardens – set in a grand 18th century mansion around 2 miles/3.2 km east of the centre of Bath – has attracted visitors from across the world.
They visit experience the impeccable reconstructions of the rooms of 19th century American family homes, a vast collection of American Folk and decorative arts, crafts and textiles… and the stunning, truly captivating gardens.
Within those gardens, the magical Children’s Garden offers a dedicated space for children to engage with the natural world and American culture, while plenty of picnic pitstops and amazing views across the surrounding countryside come as standard.
Within the museum itself, child-friendly special exhibitions (currently Brick America: An Adventure in LEGO® Bricks, until December 31 2023) further captivate young minds, while Kids’ Menus in the American Garden Deli (complete with alfresco terrace) offer superb sustenance USA style.
Address: Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD
5. TOOTbus: open-top bus tours of Bath
Hop on, hop off and chill out on an open-top TOOTbus that offers a leisurely, little-person friendly (no long walks!) tour of Bath, stopping-off/picking up at multiple historic landmarks along the way (the Royal Crescent; the Assembly Rooms; Queen Square; etc).
Meanwhile, a second route (the Bath Skyline tour) effortlessly transports passengers up the steep hills that surround the city, allowing visitors to explore Claverton Down, Rainbow Woods Farm and Prior Park and offering wonderful picture-perfect photo ops and splendid views from every aspect.
City tours embark on their circuit every 15 minutes (Skyline every half hour), each full loop takes 50 minutes/45 minutes respectively and multi-lingual audio guides describe the rich history behind each route. The Monster Ticket on the city route, meanwhile, includes admission to Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein on Queen’s Square.
6. Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein
In 1816, English writer Mary Shelley (then aged just 19) put the finishing touches to her gloriously gothic tale of Frankenstein – widely credited as being the world’s first science fiction novel – while living in Bath.
Some two centuries later, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein opened in an atmospheric historic property in the the city centre.
This award winning, immersive, 4-storey multi-sensory visitor attraction charts Shelley’s unconventional life and the lasting legacy of her infamous creation, showcasing a collection of unique vintage artefacts, meticulously recreating the sounds, smells and atmosphere of the Frankenstein times and featuring an 8ft animatronic of the monster himself at the heart of the action, authentically reproduced for the very first time exactly as Mary Shelley described.
The spine-chilling action is supplemented by optional activities including the Frankenstein-themed Escape Room, a Horror Walkthrough and the Body in a Suitcase game. While the experience as a whole is a thrilling, family-friendly experience, parents and guardians should exercise judgment on suitability for those of a nervous disposition.
Address: 37 Gay Street, Bath BA1 2NT
7. The Holburne Museum
The impressively grand Holburne Museum at the top of Great Pulteney Street (one of the finest Georgian thoroughfares in Bath) is home to one of the most fascinating museum and art collections in the West Country.
From Renaissance treasures, Gainsborough masterpieces and 18th century eclectica to a fascinating schedule of exhibitions of both ancient and modern art, it’s all going on, in gracious, Georgian-glamorous surroundings – but little people are most definitely not overlooked.
Children’s Activity Drawers are conveniently placed throughout the extension galleries, Activity Trails represent enlightening voyages of discovery for the whole family and Space to Make – a free, accessible creative area on the museum’s ground floor – offers multiple inspiration for budding creatives.
Meanwhile, the museum’s Garden Café opens onto the historic Sydney Gardens adjacent to a former 18th century ‘Pleasure Garden’ surrounded by glorious greenery. Fun fact: are you familiar with Bridgerton’s Lady Danbury’s exquisite home? Well, that was actually The Holburne!
Address: Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
8. Bath City Farm
Based on 37-acres of ancient farmland less than 2 miles/3km west of the city centre, Bath City Farm (https://www.bathcityfarm.org.uk/) is a pastoral urban oasis that offers families of all ages an escape from the city centre thrum.
This thriving working farm is home to myriad sociable farm animals including Shetland ponies, pygmy goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, cows and chickens, there’s an imaginative Children’s Playground and an Amphitheatre on site, and Nature Hunts and Trails guide visitors on a gentle ramble across fields, meadows and woodlands, taking in stunning views across Bath along the way.
The Farm Cafe serves splendid breakfasts, brunches and lunches, and the Farm Shop champions local produce and local producers, including including plenty of picnic options to be enjoyed at one of the farm’s picnic tables.
Address: Kelston View, Whiteway, Bath BA2 1NW
9. Bath Abbey
World-renowned as the site where King Edgar, the first king of a united England, was crowned in 973AD, Bath Abbey continues to move with the times and has recently opened up in new ways, securing its full glory for present and future generations of visitors. In March 2023, Bath Abbey’s Discovery Centre opened to the public.
This unique heritage centre transformed the building’s newly-excavated ancient vaults into a fascinating space that brings the Abbey’s history to vivid life for all ages, with interactive, immersive exhibits, videos, animated timelines and replica period costumes making learning fun.
Within the historic Abbey itself, regular Tower Tours – led by a guide who leads visitors up the 212 steps to the top of the 45-metre tall tower, pausing in the awe-inspiring bell-ringing chamber on the way up – result in spectacularly thrilling views of the city at the summit.
Address: Bath Abbey, Bath BA1 1LT
10. The Beazer Maze
When in Bath, a visit to the historic shop- and cafe-lined Pulteney Bridge, designed and built by British neoclassical architect Robert Adam in 1774 and overlooking the dramatic rapids that flow over the horseshoe-shaped Pulteney Weir, is a must.
Venture down the winding little stone staircase on the eastern side of the bridge, however, and you’ll come across a far more peaceful way to experience of one of Bath’s most iconic sites while keeping the kids occupied at the same time.
Based on a design inspired by Bath’s history, the Beazer Maze was created by Randoll Coate, one of England’s most prolific labyrinth designers (a “labyrinthologist”, no less), in 1984.
The circular paving stone design weaves around a mosaic centre and has proved to be a huge hit with families with younger children in particular: nobody can get lost (there are no walls), there are no strict rules to follow and plenty of riverside bench seating overlooking the Weir turns the whole experience into one of the loveliest, gentlest family-friendly activities (let alone top picnic spots) in Bath. Is this the perfect city centre ‘take a breather’ location?
We think so!
Address: Spring Gardens Road, Bath BA2 6PW
Melissa relocated from Liverpool to Bath in 1999 and has since made the city her official first home. She has 30+ years of published freelance writing commissions on her CV and is a regular contributor to several local and national publications, typically specialising in restaurant and theatre reviews, food-related features and interviews with interesting people.