Exploring Manchester, England with Kids
Kid-friendly attractions in Manchester By Holly Rosen Fink
Manchester, England skyline (Flickr: Stacey MacNaught)
Two hundred years ago, Manchester, England was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. In recent years, the city has been renovated and is experiencing a renaissance of its own. It has a varied cultural scene – with many theaters, galleries, nightclubs and sporting events. It’s the home of Morrissey, as well as the Gallagher brothers from Oasis. It’s also the home of Boddington Ale.
Additionally, Manchester also has a lot to offer families traveling with kids. Here’s our must see list for your next visit to Manchester, England with the kids:
Imperial War Museum North
Imperial War Museum North (Courtesy Imperial War Museum)
One of the best things about England is that nearly all of its museums are free, and that includes the Imperial War Museum North, located in the Quays. Designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict, the museum reveals how war and conflict have shaped people’s lives from 1900 to now. It sounds like a heavy experience, but it’s one that children of ages will enjoy. If your kids want to learn about grenades, mortars, tanks, guns, warplanes, they’ll whiz through the compelling exhibitions. The museum features three galleries with a 360-degree light and sound show that takes place every hour, on the hour. It’s a complete sensory experience that will hold your children’s attention for a good length of time. There’s also a Viewing Platform with tremendous views of Manchester.
The Wheel of Manchester
The Wheel of Manchester (Flickr: Matthew Hartley)
The Wheel of Manchester is the city's version of the London Eye, located in the center of town. It’s a 60m ride in the sky that offers sweeping views of the city. It lasts 13 minutes and costs £9 per adult and £6.50 per child. As always, you should book your tickets online before your visit.
If you’re a fan of the famous football club, you must take a trip to Old Trafford. It has been the team’s home since 1910, with the exception of WWII when the stadium was bombed. The stadium holds 76,962 spectators and is quite a spectacle with statues and posters of the players around the grounds. There is a museum and tours, which you can book online. There’s also a life-sized poster of the current team you can have your photo taken in front of.
Abbotsfield Park Miniature Railway
Abbotsfield Park Miniature Railway (Courtesy Urmston & District Model Engineering Society)
Abbotsfield Park is a recreation ground the size of a couple of football pitches with a small children’s play area. The difference is that it has a wonderful Thomas the Train ride that you can ride around the park for 20 pence a ride. Your kids will ride it around and around and around all day if you let them. There’s a lovely garden shop on the premises and a café.
Antz in Your Pantz Soft Play Center
With the kind of weather you might expect to have in Manchester, this indoor playground attracts a lot of kids. The cost is about £5 per 90-minute session and kids love the slides, ball pits and climbing areas. They also have lovely food and snacks.
Pubs with indoors play spaces
You can go for a full pub meal, and while you’re eating and drinking, your kids can play safely in the soft-play area for about GBP 2 an hour. They have these pubs in Disley, Knutsford, Rochdale, Sale, Cheadle Hume, Denton, Wigan and more. You can get the whole list here.
St. Anne’s Seaside Resort
If you’re looking for a day trip, St. Anne’s-on-the-Sea is a traditional Victorian Edwardian seaside resort about an hour outside Manchester with a sandy beach, donkeys, a small pier, ice cream stalls and small rides and a game area for children. There are quaint teashops and a lovely boardwalk. You can have lunch or high tea in one of the restaurants lining the boardwalk in the small town first and then head either head to the beach or to the beachside fun.
Located across the street from Old Trafford, Manchester’s Chill Factore brings the Alpine ski village experience to the city. Kids can go down the slope on tubes or play with snow. Families can ski, go tubing or sledding or take a ski or snowboard lesson. Kids can use the facility all year.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Manchester (Courtesy LEGOLAND Discovery Center)
Kids of all ages love LEGOS. That’s why the recent addition of LEGOLAND Discovery Center to Manchester is so exciting for Manchester’s residents. It provides opportunities for kids to construct Lego buildings and vehicles, ride on laser chariots, visit Lego Mini-land and experience the amazing 4D Lego cinema. Cost is GBP 16.50 per child; kids two and under are free.
This is another free activity in town. The Lowry is a cultural center on the city’s waterfront with big staircases, sloping floors and glass walls for the kids to explore. It’s a fantastic building that offers theater, dance and art programming. The kids can join a Family Tour on the last Sunday of every month or engage in an art project for GBP 3.75. They have three theaters with shows for children, including puppet shows, as well as weekend art and drama workshops and special holiday workshops.