Aptly nicknamed the ‘second capital’ of the UK, Manchester is home to a whole host of attractions, iconic buildings and one-of-a-kind experiences. The city’s claim to fame might be its two football teams – Manchester United and Manchester City –but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find all sorts of family-friendly activities to do among Manchester’s historic streets.
Whether you’re looking for action, adventure, education or a bit of everything, check out our handy guide to visiting Manchester with the family.
The top 10 things to do in Manchester with kids
From behind-the-scenes tours of the city’s sporting glory to aquatic adventures and treasure hunts, there’s no shortage of kids’ activities in Manchester to keep the little ones entertained.
Not sure where to start? Here are our top picks for days out with the kids in Manchester.
If you want to ensure that they have a seat of their own, you can book a ticket for them at the standard child fare in the usual way, by going online, using the app, booking in person or calling us. All children aged 5-15 can benefit from discounted tickets.
Don’t miss the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, where independent makers and artists sell their wares from their working studios. You'll find endless delights under one roof, from jewellery to illustration, and you'll be able to catch a glimpse of the artists at work as you browse their products.
1. National Football Museum
For football fans big and small, the National Football Museum can’t be missed. The world’s biggest football museum, it offers an in-depth look into the history and culture of the UK’s most-loved sport.
Stroll through the exhibitions here and you’ll discover a collection of over 140,000 fascinating objects and artefacts, including Geoff Hurst’s red England shirt and ball from the 1966 World Cup Final, and Diego Maradona’s legendary Hand of God jersey
2. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
Billed as the ‘ultimate indoor LEGO playground’, a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is hours of guaranteed fun for families. Kids will love exploring the LEGO Ninjago City Adventure -an impressive three-story play area -and diving into the giant box of LEGO filled with over two million bricks.
There’s also the Great LEGO VR Race experience, where you and the kids can buckle up in a virtual race against LEGO competitors, and enjoy an immersive 4D cinema experience with rain, wind and even snow.
3. SEA LIFE Manchester Aquarium
Stop by SEA LIFE Manchester and get up close and personal with thousands of majestic aquatic creatures including sharks, jellyfish and, of course, Ernie and Cammy –the aquarium’s famous resident green sea turtles.
You and the kids can take an educational journey from the coast to the depths of the oceans through themed zones. Explore the sea bed in the ocean tunnel and learn about conservation and preservation of the ocean and its inhabitants.
4. Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum is one of the UK’s most significant university museums and offers free entry seven days a week. There are three floors of displays and exhibitions to explore, including historic objects from all over the globe.
Dinosaur lovers will be in awe of Stan the T-Rex, a 65-million-year-old specimen of the world’s most fearsome prehistoric predator. Visitors also have the chance to hold some of the history museum’s storied artefacts and participate in interactive shows and workshops.
5. Treetop Manchester
Tucked away amongst the woodlands of Heaton Park, Treetop Manchester offers an unforgettable outdoor adventure for families. The Treetop Nets tour is specifically designed to accommodate kids under 16, and includes giant trampolines, walkways, slides and tunnels, all suspended up to 12 metres off the ground.
Unlike traditional treetop rope courses, the Treetop Nets course is surrounded by four-metre netted walls, making it safe for kids to explore withoutharnesses.
6. Old Trafford Stadium Tour
For die-hard Manchester United fans, a tour of Old Trafford offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most iconic football stadium. Nicknamed ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ by sporting icon Bobby Charlton, Old Trafford has been Manchester United’s home ground since 1910.
On the tour itself, you and the kids will have a chance to sit in the dugout, walk through the players’ tunnel, find your favourite player’s seat in the dressing room and learn about the history of England’s most decorated football club.
7. The Wizard’s Spellbook Treasure Hunt
This self-guided, themed walking trail is a fantastic opportunity to explore Manchester on foot while enjoying a fantastical tale along the way.
Ideal for kids aged six and above, the Wizard’s Spellbook Treasure Hunt is a 1.5-mile loop trail that takes you through the Spinningfields area in Manchester’s city centre. Allow two hours to complete the trail at a leisurely pace, locate the wizard’s magical spellbook and break the terrible curse cast on Greater Manchester.
8. Science and Industry Museum
If you’re curious to learn more about the history of Manchester and the innovations born there, a visit to The Science and Industry Museum is a must.
Manchester was the world’s first industrial city, revolutionising the way we live and work. Head to the Science and Industry Museum to explore 250 years of Manchurian innovations and ideas, including railway and automobile development, textiles, modern computing and more.
9. Manchester Art Gallery
Whether you have an hour or the whole day to spare, Manchester Art Gallery is a great place to give the kids a dose of culture, and entry is free. Browse the gallery’s extensive collection of fine art and costumes, spanning as far back as 1600 up to the present day.
Explorer tool belts and story bags are available for kids, with spot cards, binoculars, magnifying glasses and activities to make their visit even more fun.
10. Chill Factore
Located just four miles from Manchester’s city centre, Chill Factore is the UK’s largest indoor skislope and promises hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Lessons are available for all experience levels, and for more advanced thrill-seekers, the Terrain Challenges offer the chance to take on rails, kickers, boxes, pipes and more.
Travelling to Manchester
Heading to Manchester with the family for the school holidays or a weekend away? One of the best ways to get there from any part of the UK is via train.
Direct trains depart from London Euston several times a day and will get you to Manchester Piccadilly comfortably in just over two hours. From Liverpool Lime Street, you’ll arrive in Manchester in an hour, and the journey from Birmingham New Street takes around 90 minutes.
No matter where you’re visiting from, make sure your journey is a smooth one and save on train fares by booking tickets ahead of time.
Your family trip to Manchester awaits
We hope these ideas will help you plan the perfect family days out in Manchester, no matter how long you’re visiting for. Don’t forget to book your train journey in advance and save money with a family ticket.