Best Family Things to Do in the Lake District: 12 Popular Attractions

by Jen
Best Things to Do for Families in the Lake District
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Considering a trip to the enchanting landscapes of England? Visiting the Lake District should be at the top of your list. Dive into my curated collection of the best family things to do in the Lake District. From breathtaking sights to thrilling activities, I’ve got the lowdown on experiences that promise to be the highlight of your holiday.

Nestled in the heart of England’s picturesque countryside lies the Lake District, a region renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, serene lakes, and rich cultural heritage. As one of the UK’s most cherished national parks, the Lake District beckons families with its promise of adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or someone simply seeking a tranquil escape, this mountainous paradise has something to offer for everyone. It’s easy to see why there are so many things to do for families in the Lake District of England.

From the whimsical world of Beatrix Potter to the historic steam railways that traverse the scenic valleys, the Lake District is a tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored. As you delve into this article, you’ll uncover a curated list of family-friendly activities and attractions that capture the essence of this enchanting region. So, gather your loved ones and embark on a journey through the Lake District’s wonders. Here are the family things to do in the Lake District of England that you should know about.

The top places for families to visit in Lake District right now
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Best Things to Do for Families in the Lake District

Ready to discover the coolest things to do in Lake District for families? There’s something for everyone in this underrated getaway. Discover unique Lake District places to visit for families as I unveil must-sees tailored to your preferences. Whether you’re into city sights or tranquil nature, these are the best attractions in Lake District for families you won’t want to miss.

1. Ride the Historic Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

All aboard for a journey back in time! The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway offers families a unique opportunity to experience the Lake District’s picturesque countryside from the comfort of an authentic steam or diesel train. As the train chugs along the scenic tracks, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of rolling hills, serene lakes, and quaint villages. It’s a mesmerizing experience that captures the essence of the region’s bygone era.

For those wondering about the best things to do for families in the Lake District, this railway journey is a must. The vintage carriages, the rhythmic sound of the train, and the occasional whistle that echoes through the valleys will thrill the kids. Meanwhile, adults can soak in the nostalgia, reminiscing about a time when steam trains were the lifeline of the country.

The journey starts at Haverthwaite Station, a beautifully preserved piece of history, complete with a charming ticket office, a gift shop, and even a quaint tea room. From there, the train makes its way to Lakeside, offering passengers a chance to connect with boats on Lake Windermere. It’s not just a train ride; it’s an adventure that combines history, nature, and a touch of magic.

Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway is a vintage railway journey thrilling kids with train sounds and adults with steam train nostalgia.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway is a vintage railway journey thrilling kids with train sounds and adults with steam train nostalgia.

2. Explore the Magical World of Beatrix Potter

Imagine walking straight into the pages of your favorite childhood storybook. At the World of Beatrix Potter, that’s precisely the experience awaiting families. Nestled in the heart of Bowness-on-Windermere, this magical attraction is a tribute to one of England’s most iconic authors. From Peter Rabbit’s mischievous escapades to the quaint tales of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, every corner is a delightful discovery.

As you meander through the vibrant displays, lifelike figures of beloved characters spring to life, each set against the backdrop of meticulously crafted scenes. It’s a visual treat, with every detail capturing the essence of Beatrix Potter’s enchanting world. And for those pondering the Lake District attractions for families, this place is a gem that shines brightly.

Interactive exhibits add to the charm, allowing kids to dive deeper into the stories. They can engage in playful activities and watch captivating films about the author’s life. On special days, they can even come face-to-face with some of the characters!

After a day of storybook adventures, the on-site tea room beckons with its array of delicious treats. It’s the perfect spot to sit back, sip on a warm brew, and chat about the day’s magical journey. It’s no wonder this is among the best family things to do in the Lake District of the UK!

Beatrix Potter is one of the best things to do for families in the Lake District.
Step into Bowness-on-Windermere’s World of Beatrix Potter, where childhood tales like Peter Rabbit’s and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s come alive.

3. Gawk Over the Architecture of Wray Castle

Perched on the shores of Lake Windermere, Wray Castle stands as a testament to Victorian Gothic architecture. Unlike your typical castle, Wray is a delightful surprise for families. Behind its imposing stone walls lies a world of interactive fun, designed especially for younger visitors.

For those on the hunt for the best things to do for families in the Lake District, Wray Castle ticks all the boxes. Each room offers a new adventure. From dress-up areas where kids can don medieval costumes to intriguing secret tunnels waiting to be explored, there’s never a dull moment. The castle’s history is equally fascinating, with tales of grand parties and notable guests from bygone eras.

Outside, the fun continues. Expansive grounds invite families for picnics, leisurely strolls, or even a game of hide and seek among the ancient trees. And if you’re up for it, the lakeside location offers opportunities for boat rides. This provides a different perspective of the castle’s grandeur.

All in all, Wray Castle is more than just a historical monument. It’s a place where history and play come together, promising a day of fun-filled discoveries.

Wray Castle on Lake Windermere's shores is a family-friendly surprise with Victorian Gothic architecture and interactive fun.
Wray Castle on Lake Windermere’s shores is a family-friendly surprise with Victorian Gothic architecture and interactive fun.

4. Embark on a Treetop Adventure at Go Ape Grizedale

High up among the trees of Grizedale Forest, an adrenaline-pumping adventure awaits families at Go Ape Grizedale. It’s not just any forest adventure; it’s a treetop challenge that promises thrills, laughter, and unforgettable memories. As you navigate through swinging bridges, zip wires, and challenging obstacles, you’ll be surrounded by the lush canopy and the sounds of nature.

The course is designed with safety in mind. This ensures that even the youngest adventurers can join in the fun with confidence. And for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, Grizedale Forest offers a plethora of walking and cycling trails, allowing families to explore the beauty of the Lake District at their own pace.

After a day of treetop challenges and forest exploration, families can relax at the on-site café. Here, they can savor delicious treats and share stories of their adventures. For those wondering where to go in the Lake District for families, Go Ape Grizedale stands out as a top choice, as it combines adventure with the serene beauty of nature.

Get ready for an adrenaline-filled family adventure at Go Ape Grizedale in Grizedale Forest!
Get ready for an adrenaline-filled family adventure at Go Ape Grizedale in Grizedale Forest!

5. Marvel at Optical Illusions in The Puzzling Place

For those on the lookout for fun things to do in the Lake District for families, The Puzzling Place stands out as a delightful combination of education and entertainment. Curiosity is rewarded here, offering a view of the world through a different lens.

This unique location in Keswick promises to challenge your perceptions and tickle your sense of wonder. Here, every corner you turn presents a new optical illusion, each more baffling than the last. From rooms that seem to tilt at impossible angles to holograms that appear almost lifelike, it’s a mesmerizing journey through the quirks of visual science.

The interactive zones will thrill children. Here, they can step into the illusion and become a part of the magic. Mirrors that distort, floors that disorient, and exhibits that playfully defy logic – there’s no end to the surprises in store.

But the fun isn’t confined to the indoors. Venture outside, and you’ll find the “Anti-Gravity” trail, a path filled with its own set of puzzling phenomena. As you explore, you’ll encounter spots that challenge your understanding of gravity and perspective.

At The Puzzling Place in the Lake District, families find educational entertainment that offers a unique perspective on the world.
At The Puzzling Place in the Lake District, families find educational entertainment that offers a unique perspective on the world.

6. Dive into England’s History at Sizergh Castle

For travelers pondering the best places to go in the Lake District for families, Sizergh Castle stands out as a must-visit. This striking medieval castle, nestled amidst lush gardens and expansive woodlands, offers a deep dive into England’s rich history.

With its robust stone walls and intricate woodwork, the castle narrates tales of architectural grandeur from bygone eras. As visitors wander through its grand rooms and hallways, they encounter a collection of antiques, portraits, and tapestries that whisper stories of the past.

The castle’s gardens are a realm of enchantment. From the meticulously curated limestone rock garden to serene lakes and vibrant wildflower meadows, beauty unfolds at every corner. Young explorers can embark on the natural play trail, where fun activities merge learning with play.

Beyond its historical allure, Sizergh Castle is a beacon of conservation. The estate shelters a diverse array of wildlife, and dedicated efforts ensure their preservation. Birdwatchers and nature lovers will find this castle to be one of the best places in the Lake District. Here, they can spy on elusive bird species and fluttering butterfly colonies. Is this one of the best family things to do in the Lake District? You bet!

Sizergh Castle is a medieval gem set amidst gardens and woodlands that delves into England's history.
Sizergh Castle is a medieval gem set amidst gardens and woodlands that delves into England’s history.

7. Roam the Expansive Grounds of Lowther Castle & Gardens

At Lowther Castle & Gardens, families are invited to step into a world of historical elegance and natural beauty. The castle, with its majestic façade and intricate details, paints a picture of regal splendor. While the interiors are a testament to architectural brilliance, it’s the vast gardens that truly steal the show.

Spanning over 130 acres, the gardens are a tapestry of vibrant colors, aromatic scents, and diverse landscapes. From meticulously manicured lawns to wild woodlands, every path leads to a new discovery. The Lost Castle, one of the UK’s largest adventure playgrounds, will particularly thrill children. Nestled amidst the trees, this wooden fortress promises hours of imaginative play.

As you explore further, you’ll come across tranquil ponds, ornate sculptures, and hidden nooks perfect for a family picnic. And if you’re curious about the Lake District places to visit for families, the on-site café at Lowther Castle offers a delightful array of local delicacies. This makes it a perfect family thing to do in the Lake District to relax and refuel after a day of exploration.

Lowther Castle & Gardens is one of the best things to do for families in the Lake District.
Lowther Castle & Gardens welcomes families to a realm of history and beauty.

8. Watch a Play at Theatre by the Lake

Situated on the picturesque shores of Derwentwater in Keswick, Theatre by the Lake offers a cultural experience like no other. With its stunning backdrop of serene waters and towering fells, the theatre provides a setting that’s as captivating as the performances it hosts.

For travelers seeking the best things to do for families in the Lake District, a visit to Theatre by the Lake is a must. Throughout the year, the theatre showcases a diverse range of productions, from classic plays to contemporary dramas and family-friendly shows. Each performance is a testament to the passion and talent of the artists, drawing audiences into tales of love, adventure, and intrigue. The intimate setting ensures that every seat offers a great view. This makes the theatrical experience even more immersive.

After the curtains fall and the applause fades, visitors can step out and soak in the breathtaking beauty of the Lake District. The theatre’s location is ideal for a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore or a visit to the nearby market town of Keswick.

Keswick's Theatre by the Lake, on Derwentwater's shores, offers a unique cultural experience against a stunning natural backdrop.
Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, on Derwentwater’s shores, offers a unique cultural experience against a stunning natural backdrop.

9. Navigate the Fascinating Lakeland Maze Farm Park

For travelers scouting for unique places in the Lake District for families, the Lakeland Maze Farm Park in Kendal stands out as an unmissable destination. This multifaceted attraction offers a delightful blend of entertainment, education, and adventure, ensuring a day packed with excitement for visitors of all ages.

The centerpiece of the park is the maize maze, a sprawling labyrinth that’s redesigned every year. As families weave their way through its intricate pathways, they’re challenged with intriguing puzzles and clues. It’s not just about finding the exit; it’s a journey of teamwork, wit, and a touch of friendly competition.

Beyond the maze, the farm park beckons with a plethora of experiences. Children can interact with a diverse range of farm animals, from playful goats to elegant alpacas, gaining insights into their habits and habitats. Tractor rides offer a leisurely tour of the farm, while dedicated play areas promise hours of fun. Seasonal events, workshops, and interactive sessions further enhance the experience. These make every visit unique.

With so much to explore and discover, Lakeland Maze Farm Park is a testament to the Lake District’s diverse offerings, promising a day of fun-filled memories.

Lakeland Maze Farm Park in Kendal offers entertainment, education, and adventure, promising an exciting day for all ages.
Lakeland Maze Farm Park in Kendal offers entertainment, education, and adventure, promising an exciting day for all ages.

10. Sail Across the Serene Waters of Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere, with its shimmering waters and scenic surroundings, is the crown jewel of the Lake District. As England’s largest natural lake, it offers visitors a plethora of water-based activities, from leisurely cruises to adrenaline-pumping water sports.

Travelers wondering where to visit in the Lake District for families must not miss the boat ride to Lake Windermere. As you glide across the serene waters, you’re treated to panoramic views of rolling hills, quaint villages, and historic landmarks. The gentle breeze, the rhythmic sound of the waves, and the picturesque vistas create a tranquil ambiance, perfect for unwinding and soaking in nature’s beauty.

Several companies offer boat rentals and guided tours, catering to different preferences. Whether you opt for a self-driven motorboat, a guided tour on a steamboat, or even a rowboat adventure, the experience is bound to be memorable. And for those keen on water sports, Lake Windermere offers opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and even windsurfing. It’s a haven for water enthusiasts and a must-visit for anyone exploring the Lake District.

Lake Windermere: As England's largest natural lake, it offers a range of water activities, from leisurely cruises to thrilling water sports.
Lake Windermere: As England’s largest natural lake, it offers a range of water activities, from leisurely cruises to thrilling water sports.

11. Learn About Literature at Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum

In the quaint village of Grasmere lies a piece of literary history: Dove Cottage, the former home of the renowned poet William Wordsworth. This humble abode, with its stone walls and rustic charm, was where Wordsworth penned some of his most iconic poems, drawing inspiration from the breathtaking landscapes surrounding him.

As you step inside, you’re transported back to the early 19th century. Each room has been meticulously preserved, showcasing personal belongings, handwritten manuscripts, and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the poet’s life. The adjacent Wordsworth Museum delves deeper into his legacy, featuring interactive exhibits, rare collections, and insights into the Romantic movement.

The cottage’s garden, a verdant oasis designed by Wordsworth himself, further enhances the experience. As you wander through its winding paths, you’ll encounter a variety of plants, flowers, and serene spots perfect for reflection. It’s a place where nature and poetry intertwine, evoking a sense of wonder and tranquility. With its blend of history, literature, and natural beauty, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum are a must see in the Lake District for families.

The Wordsworth Museum features interactive exhibits, rare collections, and insights into the Romantic movement.
The Wordsworth Museum features interactive exhibits, rare collections, and insights into the Romantic movement.

12. Discover All Things Automotive at Lakeland Motor Museum

The coolest activities in the Lake District for families often combine education with entertainment, and the Lakeland Motor Museum is a prime example. Located on the banks of the River Leven, this museum is a treasure trove for automobile enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Housing over 30,000 exhibits, it offers a comprehensive look into the evolution of road transport, from its humble beginnings to the modern marvels of today.

The museum’s vast collection spans a range of vehicles. This includes classic cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and even horse-drawn carriages. Each exhibit is accompanied by informative displays, providing insights into the vehicle’s history, significance, and technological advancements. Children will be particularly captivated by the interactive zones, where they can engage in hands-on activities and even try their hand at driving simulators.

More than just automobiles, the museum also delves into the local history of the Lake District, showcasing artifacts, photographs, and stories that paint a vivid picture of the region’s past. And after a day of exploration, the on-site café offers a delightful array of refreshments. This makes it the perfect spot to relax and reflect on the day’s discoveries.

The Lakeland Motor Museum is one of the best things to do for families in the Lake District.
The Lakeland Motor Museum, located on the banks of the River Leven, is a treasure trove for automobile enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Best Things to Do for Families in the Lake District

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Lake District for families? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Lake District:

What is the best time of year to visit the Lake District with family?

The Lake District is beautiful year-round. However, for outdoor activities, the summer months (June to August) offer warm weather and longer daylight hours. Spring (March to May) is also a great time to see blooming flowers, while autumn (September to November) showcases stunning fall foliage.

Are the attractions in the Lake District suitable for children of all ages?

Yes, the Lake District offers a range of attractions catering to all age groups. From interactive museums and adventure playgrounds for younger kids to hiking trails and water sports for older children, there’s something for everyone.

Is there much to do in the Lake District?

Yes, the Lake District in England offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors of all interests and ages. It’s an area known for its stunning natural landscapes, including lakes, mountains, and beautiful countryside. Here are some of the many things you can do in the Lake District:

  1. Hiking and Walking: With a network of trails that ranges from gentle lakeside strolls to challenging mountain hikes, there’s something for everyone. Popular routes include hikes up Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, and around Derwentwater, one of the region’s most beautiful lakes.
  2. Water Sports: Kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and paddleboarding are popular on the lakes. Windermere is a hotspot for water activities.
  3. Cycling: Whether you prefer mountain biking or road cycling, the Lake District has plenty of options. Grizedale Forest is known for its excellent mountain biking trails.
  4. Literary Tourism: Visit Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter, or Dove Cottage, where William Wordsworth lived.
  5. Steam Train and Boat Rides: Enjoy a nostalgic trip on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway. Or, take a scenic cruise on Lake Windermere.
  6. Fishing: Many of the lakes and rivers are great for fishing, with opportunities to catch trout, salmon, and more.
  7. Spa Retreats: For those looking to relax, there are several luxury spa hotels and wellness retreats in the area.
  8. Local Food and Drink: Sample traditional Cumbrian fare in local pubs and tea rooms or visit one of the area’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
  9. Gardens and Historic Homes: Visit beautiful gardens like those at Muncaster Castle or Levens Hall. Also, be sure to explore historic homes and estates.
  10. Wildlife and Bird Watching: Look out for red squirrels, ospreys, and other local wildlife.
A serene view of the picturesque Lake District landscape featuring rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and lush greenery.
A serene view of the picturesque Lake District landscape featuring rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and lush greenery.

Is it easy to get around the Lake District with a family?

Absolutely. The Lake District is well-connected by public transport. This includes buses and boats. Many families also opt to rent a car for added convenience. Additionally, there are numerous family-friendly walking and cycling paths throughout the region.

How do you spend a day in Lake District?

Spending a day in the Lake District offers a taste of what this stunning region has to offer. While it’s impossible to see everything in a single day, you can certainly have a fulfilling experience. Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Morning:

8:00 AM – Breakfast: Start the day at a local café with a traditional English breakfast or a lighter fare of pastries and coffee.

9:00 AM – Morning Walk: Head to a nearby lake like Derwentwater or Windermere for a leisurely morning stroll. The shores of these lakes offer beautiful views, and the walk can be as short or long as you like.

Mid-Morning:

10:30 AM – Boat Tour or Water Sport: Take a scenic boat tour on one of the lakes, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a kayak or paddleboard.

Lunch in the Lake District:

12:00 PM – Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a lakeside restaurant or pub, sampling local dishes like Cumberland sausage or Grasmere gingerbread.

Afternoon:

1:30 PM – Visit a Historic Site or Garden: Choose between visiting a literary site like Dove Cottage (once home to William Wordsworth) or a beautiful garden such as the one at Levens Hall.

3:00 PM – Hiking or Exploring a Town: Depending on your interests and energy level, you could either embark on a more challenging hike in the fells or explore a charming Lake District town like Keswick or Ambleside. If hiking, Helm Crag or Cat Bells offer relatively short but rewarding climbs.

Evening spent in the Lake District:

6:00 PM – Dinner: Dine at a local gastropub or restaurant, enjoying fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.

7:30 PM – Sunset Walk or Relaxation: If the weather is nice, take a gentle evening walk to watch the sunset over a lake. Alternatively, you might choose to relax at your accommodation, perhaps enjoying a spa treatment if you’re staying at a hotel that offers them.

9:00 PM – Return to Accommodation: Wind down with a good book, a glass of local ale, or simply enjoy the starlit night.

Are there family-friendly accommodations available in the Lake District?

Yes, the Lake District boasts a wide range of accommodations suitable for families. This includes hotels, B&Bs, self-catering cottages, and campsites. Many establishments cater specifically to families. They offer amenities like play areas, family rooms, and babysitting services.

Are there any safety precautions to consider when exploring the Lake District with kids?

While the Lake District is generally safe, it’s essential to be prepared when embarking on outdoor activities. Ensure you have appropriate footwear and clothing, stay on marked paths, and always check the weather forecast before heading out. For water activities, always ensure children wear life jackets and are supervised.

Final Word for Families Visiting the Lake District

The Lake District, with its mesmerizing landscapes, rich history, and diverse attractions, is a dream destination for families. Whether you’re navigating the intricate pathways of a maize maze, stepping back in time at a historic castle, or simply soaking in the serene beauty of a tranquil lake, every moment spent here promises lasting memories.

Beyond the picturesque vistas and thrilling activities, it’s the sense of togetherness that makes a trip to the Lake District truly special. Families bond, children explore, and parents relax, all against the backdrop of England’s most stunning natural playground.

So, if you’re yearning for a getaway that combines adventure, relaxation, and a touch of magic, the Lake District awaits. Pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and set off on a journey that will be cherished for years to come. After all, in the heart of the Lake District, every day is a new story waiting to be written. These top family things to do in the Lake District await you!

The top things to do for families in the Lake District for all types of travelers
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