When it comes to things to do in the Lake District for families, there’s an amazing choice. Exploring new places, discovering the great outdoors, splashing about in the water, learning exciting new things…
Whether your children are just toddlers learning all about the joys of life, or teenagers who are seeking excitement, you’ll find enough to do to make your family holiday truly memorable.
Once you’ve found your Lake District holiday cottage, get planning some quality family time together.
Lake District cottages
Steam train rides
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
Whatever your age, there’s something incredibly exciting about the toot of a steam train and the blast of thick white smoke that trails behind the engine. In the Lake District, two steam trains stand out in particular: The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, a miniature train running from the coast to the mountains, and the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, which travels along the shores of Lake Windermere.
Both offer family tickets and can be combined with a number of other local attractions with joint tickets that offer generous discounts.
Lake District steam trains
Forests and woodlands are magical places where you can hide behind trees, discover creepy crawlies, and even happen upon gigantic sculptures!
Grizedale Forest near Windermere and Whinlatter Forest near Keswick are two wonderful family attractions. They both offer lots of walking and cycling trails (bike hire is available), mountain bike courses, Go Ape high ropes activities, and cafés. Grizedale also has a wonderful sculpture trail, while Whinlatter has a fun Gruffalo trail.
Entry into both forests is free (though car parking is paid).
Image credit: Lake District Wildlife Park
For animal lovers, the Lake District is a dream come true. You can spot red squirrels hopping through the trees, or rare ospreys and other birds of prey gliding high in the sky. There are plenty of animal attractions too: enjoy the countryside with a gentle alpaca walk, discover an underwater world at Lakes Aquarium, or see the giant cart horses at Old Hall Farm.
For a wilder day, visit the Lake District Wildlife Park for zebras, monkeys and reptiles, or observe big cats, giraffes and kangaroos at South Lakes Safari Zoo. Both have opportunities to meet the animals for a day, and the Lake District Wildlife Park also has a lovely little petting zoo where you can stroke donkeys and goats.
Lake District animals
Museums are a wonderful playground for children, with engaging educational opportunities galore. Take a trip through motoring history at the Lakeland Motor Museum, play the musical stones at Keswick Museum & Art Gallery, or get up close and personal with gigantic mining machinery at Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum. The varied selection of Lake District museums is phenomenal and adults and children alike will have a whale of a time.
Top museums in the Lake District
Image credit: Newlands Adventure Centre
There are no Lake District activities for a family better than an outdoor adventure! Ghyll scrambling is one of the most popular outdoor adventures in the national park, and there are lots of activity providers offering the sport. There are also loads of other pursuits such as kayaking for a gentler pace, or the hair-raising Via Ferrata at Honister Slate Mine.
Outdoor adventures in the Lake District
The Puzzling Place
Tucked away down a side street in Keswick town centre is The Puzzling Place, a quirky attraction where nothing is ever as it seems! With mind-bending optical illusions, you can lose all sense of up and down, shrink to a tiny size, and defy the laws of gravity. This is a very fun activity that will have everyone gaping in wonder and amazement!
Unusual Lake District attractions
Family walks are never better than in the stunning scenery of the Lake District. Combine them with a boat trip, pack a picnic, or splash in the water as you go. There’ll be plenty to hold everybody’s interest. Try out some easy mountain walks like Latrigg and Catbells, or one of the flat pram-friendly routes such as Tarn Hows.
Family-friendly mountain walks
Walby Farm Park
If you’re visiting the Lake District with kids, Walby Farm Park is a paradise! Drive around in mini tractors and land rovers; groom ponies to make them look their best, slip down a giant slide at Cumbria’s largest indoor play area, and meet many cute furry critters at special meet and greets. The fun is never ending!
Castles and historic houses
Although kids can’t often run riot in stately homes where priceless items are on display, the Lake District offers an alternative. Wray Castle is everything a child could hope for from a castle: tall turrets, crenellated towers, and giant rooms. The inside is almost completely empty, so little ones can enjoy running around to their heart’s content. There are also dress-up rooms and a castle building room. Lake District children’s activities don’t come better than this!
Other excellent historic attractions for families include Allan Bank in Grasmere, which has a lovely art room, woodlands to explore, and a perfect picnic area. Or head to Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass, which has family-friendly events throughout the year, an owl sanctuary, and lots of grounds to explore. If you've still not had your fill, Mirehouse near Keswick and Lowther Castle have amazing children’s play areas.
Lake District castles
Brockhole Visitor Centre
Brockhole is the perfect place to spend a full family-friendly day without having to travel anywhere else. Right on the edge of Windermere lake, it covers 30 acres, with a beautiful Arts and Crafts house in the heart of the grounds. Here you’ll find gardens, Treetop Trek and Nets, an adventure playground, a museum, a café, caving, kayak tours, bike hire, archery… the list goes on!
The World of Beatrix Potter
Of all the wonderful Lake District attractions for families, The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere holds a truly special place in our hearts. As one of the county’s most famous former residents, Beatrix Potter is beloved by both children and the adults who grew up on her books. Watch her magical stories and animal characters come to life with fantastic animatronics, explore Peter Rabbit’s Garden while avoiding Mr McGregor, and get refreshments at the character-themed café. It’s a nostalgic trip back to mum and dad’s childhood, as well as an amazing experience for the kids.
Stay in a family-friendly cottage in the Lake District
We have some stunning properties in the Lake District that cater well for families with children of all ages. Take a look at our full collection of family-friendly cottages to find somewhere that suits all your needs.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.