Hi, I’m Michelle and I live in the Lake District with my husband and three children. I blog about our family life and adventures at Sandy Toes and Scooters, a lot of which is based around our local area. We love living in the Lakes and I consider us very lucky to be near such a lot of family-friendly attractions. Here are a few of our favourites.
My top 5 places to visit in the Lake District.
This place is a must! It’s easy to find on the main road between Windermere and Ambleside with plenty of parking (although it gets super busy in the summer holidays so it’s best to try to get there early). If you are staying locally you could also catch a lake cruise across from Bowness, which is a pretty fabulous way to arrive! There are LOADS of different things to do for all ages, indoors and outdoors. The treetop trek and treetop nets are great for older families, and the playpark and indoor soft play are fab for the little ones. The grounds are huge, with mini golf, bikes to hire, pony rides and all manner of boats to hire (a stand-up paddleboard is next on my list!). There is also an intense-looking ‘Brave the Cave’ challenge (for over 5s) which looks fun for fearless types! Or, you could do what we do often and just visit to walk around, take in the gardens and the views and throw stones in the lake by the jetty. This place can be exactly what you make it.
Wray Castle is so much fun! The castle was built in the mid 19th century but has only been open to the public for the last few years (happily for me, since my eldest son was born) and is now run by the National Trust. The amazing thing is it has none of the original interiors so it has been completely done out to appeal to kids, which makes things super easy for the adults. There is a Peter Rabbit area with loads of different rooms to explore, a couple of dressing up and role playrooms, and a castle building room with enough soft bricks to build a giant castle. It’s also worth checking for any special events, they often run family events in half terms and before Christmas. The car park can get full very early, but you can also get there by bike or boat if you’re staying locally, which makes the day even more fun!
This is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Lake District if the weather is lovely (it does happen!). Another National Trust run place, it’s a huge park by the side of Lake Windermere close to Newby Bridge. There is shallow lake access so it’s ideal for paddling, or launching dinghies or kayaks, and you can set up camp with a picnic right by the lakeside. An adventure playground and wild play area keeps the kids busy and a manned climbing wall is set up in the summer. At one end of the park a café serves lunches and has tables outside, and next to this is a designated bbq area where you can set up with your own food. Kayaks and rowing boats are available to hire although many people bring their own too. Worth mentioning: A Parkrun 5K happens here every Saturday morning so the car park is really busy at that time.
Another great place to visit in the Lake District for outside fun. Lowther castle is close to Penrith and is definitely worth a visit. The castle itself is now a ruin with only the façade and outer walls left, set in amazing grounds. An exhibition explains the history of the castle, but with the family, the main attraction is the extensive gardens (look out for the hidden rope swings and tiny houses dotted about) leading to the Lost Castle. The Lost Castle is one of the largest adventure playgrounds in the UK and is seriously amazing for children. Tiny ones are catered for with a toddler area (complete with toddler seated zip lines) and children of all ages love to explore the rest of the structure. Seriously we were there for HOURS last time! There are plenty of picnic areas and a strategically placed coffee van (amazing) right next to the Lost Castle area.
We love this train journey and have done it in all weathers. We like to board the steam train at Lakeside and enjoy the ride to Haverthwaite, so we can have a picnic and a play on the adventure playground there before we head back. Our plan this summer is to do the same but try the afternoon tea at the café at Haverthwaite. The alternative is to travel from Haverthwaite to Lakeside and combine it with something else – there are several different ticket combinations available on the website with attractions such as Windermere Lake Cruises, the Beatrix Potter museum and the Lakes Aquarium.