Things to Do in Manchester With Kids

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Written by our web team

8 min read | 29 April 2024 

Ready for a family adventure in Manchester? Whether you’re a local or coming from further afield, there are plenty of things to do in Manchester with kids of all ages.

In this guide, we’ll explore why Manchester is fantastic for families. We’ll share paid and free activities your little ones will love and highlight the standout attractions that will make your family day out in Manchester unforgettable.

We’ll also give you some tips on travelling to Manchester by train to ensure your trip is as cost-effective and stress-free as possible.

Why take the family to Manchester?

Manchester’s allure for families extends far beyond its industrial roots. Over recent years, it has evolved into a dynamic city that combines history, innovation, and great entertainment.

Manchester’s attractions for families are incredibly varied, suiting children with all interests. They’re also constantly evolving, meaning there’s always something new to discover.

Delving into Manchester's offerings reveals a city rich in family-oriented activities. These include interactive science exhibits at the Science and Industry Museum to the enchanting performances at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

This range of activities illustrates the city’s diverse range of experiences that are both educational and entertaining. It makes Manchester an ideal destination for families looking for a blend of culture, history, and fun.

A young boy posing above a foam bit at an obstacle course.

Fun things to do with kids in Manchester

Let’s dive into the array of kids’ activities in Manchester. From immersive experiences to ninja obstacle courses, each activity in Manchester offers a unique blend of fun and learning, ensuring that every family visit is filled with unforgettable experiences.

Total Ninja

If you’re looking for something suited for particularly energetic little ones, look no further than Total Ninja. This expansive 40,000 sq ft park is the UK’s first ninja obstacle course.

Open to children aged four and above, the course features eleven runs. Each presents different challenges, such as the Rotating Logs, Spider Wall, and Giant Airbag. 

About Total Ninja

  • Address: Tenax Road, Trafford Park, Manchester, M17 1JT
  • Opening times: Total Ninja is open every day of the week, except for Tuesday, and visits must be pre-booked online. It closes at 8 pm every day and opens at 12 pm Mondays and Fridays, 3 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Nearest train stations: Trafford Park (a Five-minute drive away) and Eccles (an eight-minute drive away)
Go karts racing around a track 

Chaos Karts

Geared towards children aged 11 and above, Chaos Karts is the place to go if you want to entertain hard-to-impress teenagers.

This unique experience combines real-life karting with cutting-edge augmented reality. The go-kart is real, as are the other players. But the tracks and power-ups are all virtual.

The immersive activity even lets you race in far-flung locations, from the sandy beaches of Daytona to the outer realms of space.

As a bonus, collision-reduction technology and other high-tech features allow you to race without stuffy helmets and overalls.

About Chaos Karts

  • Address: Chaos Karts, Lower Byrom Street, Manchester, M3 4FP
  • Opening times: Chaos Karts is open seven days a week: Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Fridays from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturdays from 9 am - 11 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 8 pm
  • Nearest train station: Deansgate (an eight-minute walk away)

Free things to do in Manchester

If you’re on a budget, Manchester can still provide your family with plenty of fun things to do. From meeting adorable farmyard animals to hands-on learning experiences, there’s something for every family.

Here are some of the best free things to do in Manchester with kids.

The Donkey Sanctuary

For a delightful outdoor experience, visit The Donkey Sanctuary in Abbey Hey. For over 50 years, this charity has been working to transform the lives of donkeys around the world.

In their Manchester animal centre, kids can interact with the adorable donkeys up close. The sanctuary offers a glimpse into the lives of these charming animals, their living conditions, and the dynamics of their herds.

While entry is free for this wholesome family activity, donations are encouraged to support the sanctuary’s ongoing efforts.

About The Donkey Sanctuary

  • Address: The Donkey Sanctuary, Green Fold, Abbey Hey, Manchester, M18 8RJ
  • Opening times: The sanctuary is open every Saturday and on the first Sunday of the month from 10 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 3 pm. Tickets are free but must be pre-booked online.
  • Nearest train station: Gorton (a 19-minute walk away)

The Science and Industry Museum

For those looking for things to do with kids in Manchester city centre, make your way to the Science and Industry Museum.

Focusing on the city’s legacy of innovation in science, technology, and industry, this is one of the most family-friendly museums in Manchester. It has interactive exhibitions, lively shows, and daily demonstrations for kids to enjoy.

There are also lots of activities to keep toddlers entertained. And with regular special events and temporary exhibits, there’s always something new to discover.

About The Science and Industry Museum

  • Address: Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4FP
  • Opening times: The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm but is closed from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is free but must be pre-booked online.
  • Nearest train station: Deansgate (a 9-minute walk away)
A family having fun walking through a city 

Family attractions in Manchester

If you’re looking for family-friendly attractions in Manchester that will make a lasting impact, you have many to choose from.

These attractions, unique to Manchester, offer educational and entertaining experiences that are sure to leave a lasting impression on the whole family.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

One of the most fun things to do with kids in Manchester is a visit to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, conveniently located in the Trafford Palazzo, which is adjacent to the Trafford Centre.

Tailored to children between three and 10, highlights include a LEGO recreation of Manchester and a 4D Cinema showcasing the latest LEGO mini movies. There’s even a LEGO VR experience.

Kids will also have the chance to learn tips and tricks from the onsite master builders. If you have younger children, check out their toddler-tailored play sessions during the week.

About LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

  • Address: Trafford Square, The Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8AS
  • Opening times: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is usually open seven days a week, but opening times are subject to change, so it’s best to check specific dates on their calendar
  • Nearest train station: Arriving at Manchester Piccadilly, you can take a Metrolink to the Trafford Centre or take the X50/250 buses from Piccadilly Gardens just a few minutes walk away

SEA LIFE Manchester

Also in the Trafford Centre, you’ll find the fascinating SEA LIFE Manchester. Here, you and your kids can delve into the incredible world of marine life.

Explore the different zones like Turtle Beach, Coral Reefs, and the Ocean Tunnel. Along the way, children can marvel at creatures like sharks, jellyfish, giant turtles, and more.

The aquarium also holds special events throughout the year. This includes an after-hours experience where you can see real-life mermaids in the tanks.

They also host quiet sessions on Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and selected Sundays from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. These aim to create a more comfortable visit for those with autism and other sensory requirements.

About SEA LIFE Manchester

  • Address: Trafford Palazzo, The Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8AS
  • Opening times: SEA LIFE Manchester is usually open seven days a week, but opening times are subject to change
  • Nearest train station: Arriving at Manchester Piccadilly, you can take a Metrolink to the Trafford Centre or take the X50/250 buses from Piccadilly Gardens just a few minutes walk away

National Football Museum

In a city celebrated for its football legacy, the National Football Museum is a must-visit for young fans.

As well as offering an epic journey through the sport’s history, the museum houses an impressive selection of football memorabilia. This includes iconic items like the ball from the 1966 World Cup Final and Maradona’s Hand of God shirt.

For a more hands-on experience, kids can also try their skills at activities such as commentating and penalty shootouts.

About the National Football Museum

  • Address: Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG
  • Opening times: The National Football Museum is open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, with last admissions at 4 pm, and is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day
  • Nearest train stations: Manchester Victoria (a one-minute walk away) and Manchester Piccadilly (a 20-minute walk away)

A passenger train passing through the countryside of Greater Manchester.

Take the family to Manchester by train

Conveniently located in the heart of England, getting to Manchester by train is easy. This makes it a cost-efficient option for a family day trip or even a weekend break.

Avanti provides hassle-free and speedy connections from major UK locations, including:

For the best deals, consider booking tickets in advance and travelling Off-Peak. Getting a Family & Friends Railcard will also give you access to further discounts.

Don’t forget that children under five travel free with a fare-paying adult. Older children, aged five to 15, get a 50% discount on Standard Ticket fares when you book a Child’s Ticket.

Start planning your family day out in Manchester today.

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