Looking for things to do in the Lake District with a toddler? Well, read on for my ideas and suggestions on toddler friendly things to do in the Lake District. We spent a week there with our 2 boys aged 5 and 2 and absolutely loved it. It’s the perfect place to go on holiday with a family and there is so much to do – whatever the weather.
Things To Do In The Lake District With A Toddler
1. Meet the Animals at South Lakes Safari Zoo
Hand feed giraffes and kangaroos, see tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars, and enter the condor and vulture enclosure at the South Lakes Safari Zoo. The best thing about this safari zoo is that the animals roam free in massive enclosures so you can get really close to them (apart from the Big Cats!). There is also an adventure playground for toddlers, and plenty of animal talks throughout the day. Best of all, the South Lakes Safari Zoo is really good value as children go free! Find out more here
2. Have a Day Out at Muncaster Castle & Hawk & Owl Centre
Cross the Hardknott and Wrynose Pass over the mountains to the Western Lake District for a day out at Muncaster Castle. Toddlers will have loads of fun running around in the wide open space in the beautiful gardens, playing in the adventure playground and getting lost in the maze. Don’t miss the Bird of Prey displays including the World of Owls and Sky Hunters (don’t forget to duck when the hawks swoop over your head!). Muncaster Castle is buggy friendly and parking is included in the price of your entry ticket.
3. Go Crazy Exploring Wray Castle
Perfect for a rainy day, Wray Castle is a real revelation. Set on the banks of Lake Windermere, the National Trust inherited Wray Castle without any furniture or fittings, so they have turned it into a toddler’s paradise by having a different activity in each room. These include table tennis, giant games, dressing up, arts and crafts and the Peter Rabbit Adventure. Peter Rabbit fans can play in Mr McGregor’s garden, have a snooze in Peter Rabbit’s bed and see where he lives. Outside, there is a great woodland playground, and toddlers can feed the ducks and paddle in Lake Windermere. There is only a small car park at Wray Castle so consider taking the ferry from Ambleside or the Brockholes Visitor centre to get there.
4. Play on the Lakeside at Fell Foot Park
This National Trust lakeside park is a fantastic day out in the Lake District. Take a picnic, a ball and a frisbee and spend the day paddling in the lake, feeding the ducks and playing in the playground. There are boats available to hire and the views of Lake Windermere and the mountains are spectacular.
5. Go on a Boat Cruise & Visit a Waterfall.
Toddlers aren’t known for their ability to sit still for a long time, so a 25 minute cruise on the Ullswater Steamer from Glenridding to Aria Force is a great way to combine a boat trip with visiting a waterfall. Aria Force waterfall is aprox 20 minute walk through woodland from the Aria Force pier, and you can hear the roar of the water as you start to get closer. The waterfall is an amazing sight when you reach it – water tumbling 65 feet over a ledge into a pool below in a lush, green woodland area. Head back down to the National Trust tea room and treat yourself to a coffee and a cake before heading getting the Ullswater Steamer back to Glenridding. Read about our day on the Ullswater Steamer here
6. Find Out What Lives in the Lake at the Lakes Aquarium
Find out about the marine life which lives beneath the water at the Lakes Aquarium near Newby Bridge. As well as learning about life in the lakes, see sea turtles, otters, rays and a fascinating colony of leaf cutter ants. The underwater tunnel is a real highlight for toddlers as they can walk through the tunnel and see fish and ducks swimming above their heads. Combine a trip to the Lakes Aquarium with a ride on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway (Lakeside station is just outside the Aquarium) or the Windermere steamer. Find out what other animals you can see at the Lakes Aquarium here
7. Meet Peter Rabbit & Friends
Peter Rabbit fans will love seeing their hero and his friends at the World of Peter Rabbit in Windermere. Walk through Mr MacGregor’s garden and meet Jemima Puddleduck, Mr Todd, Jeremy Fisher and other characters from Beatrix Potter’s books in this beautifully designed exhibition. Older children will enjoying taking part in the Peter Rabbit Activity Trail. Keep an eye out for the Peter Rabbit Tea Parties which take place throughout the year! Find out more about the Peter Rabbit Experience here.
8. Go on a Train Ride
No holiday is complete without a trip on a train, and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (affectionately known as “La’al Ratty) is one of the best for young children. Start off in the coastal town of Ravenglass and take the 15” narrow gauge railway on a 7 mile journey into the Cumbrian countryside. Have a snack at the café and watch the steam trains before heading back. Sign up to the “La’al Ratty Kids Club for railway news, acitivites and games – a must for train lovers!
9. Get Busy at Brockhole – the Lake District Visitor Centre
There is so much for toddlers to do at the Lake District Visitor Centre. They can take their pick from playing in the outdoor adventure playground (with a separate under 7’s area), paddling in the lake or exploring the gardens. Boats are available to hire, as well as bikes with a good selection of tag alongs and child bikes. Rain doesn’t need to stop play as there is loads to do inside the visitor centre including an indoor soft play and learning section for under 5’s and a creativity space. Regular events take place the Visitor Centre so it’s worth checking what is going on before you visit. – find out more
10. Have Fun in the Forest
The Lake District is home to the Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests. Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest rising 790m above sea level, and there so much to do here for toddlers. Toddlers will love the Gruffalo Spotter’s Trail and amazing Wild Play adventure playground with slides, climbing frames, water play, cargo nets and swings. There are biking and walking trails and a café to refuel at afterwards. Entry to the forests is free but there are parking charges.
11. Hit the Soft Play!
Ok, so I know this isn’t one of the most adventurous options for something to do on holiday in the Lake District, but sometimes toddlers need to let off a bit of steam and if it’s rainy outside a soft play can do the job. The Fun Factory in Bowness is a soft play spread over 3 levels with tunnels, bridges and a ball pool. Plus they serve good coffee and cake and have spectacular views over Lake Windermere.
12. The Rheged Centre
The Rheged Centre is one of the largest visitor attractions in Cumbria. Named after the Ancient Kingdom of Dark Ages, Rheged is an all-weather activity centre with a 3D cinema, indoor and outdoor play area, pottery painting, art gallery, shops and cafes. There is also a huge range of creative children’s activities throughout the year such as bushcraft skills, clay making, Swallows and Amazons and Spy Academy. Check out https://www.rheged.com/play/childrens-activities/ for the full list of activities.
13. The Lakeland Maze Farm Park
Open weekends from Easter to September, and every day during school holidays, the Lakeland Maze Farm Park has animals, trampolines, go karts, tractor rides and of course a maize for you to enjoy! There is also an indoor soft play area, sandpit and pets barn and a mini straw bale maze. A great day out in the summer months.
Have you got any more ideas about things to do in the Lake District with toddlers? Let me know in the comments below.