In Discover

The summer holidays are a conflicted period for parents and carers: a restorative break for kids and a great opportunity for their extra-curricular growth, the annual break in the school year equally risks being expensive and exhausting for those looking after children. Above all, these weeks off can be a lot of work to plan – which is where we can help out. We may not be able to babysit, but this roundup includes venues that are free to visit, adventurous activities, cryptic challenges and outdoor distractions for screen-obsessed kids.

RHS Garden Bridgewater

Let’s start with a new addition to Manchester’s cultural landscape (quite literally): RHS Garden Bridgewater (ticket booking required) first opens on 18 May 2021 on the former site of Worsley New Hall in Salford. This incredible visitor attraction includes a wild adventure space for children across several zoned woodland glades, featuring a hide-and-seek trail through the rhododendrons and a low ropes course among the sycamores. Elsewhere, there’s a welcome building, diverse gardens, two cafes and a garden centre stocked with plants, gifts and homewares.

Another fantastic outdoor attraction is Chester Zoo, award-winning for its conservation work and home to over 21,000 exotic and endangered animals across 125 acres. Here you’ll find adventure play areas, tours and hands-on experiences, as well as an organisation that puts education at the heart of its efforts. Available closer to home is Didsbury Bicycle Hire, an opportunity for older kids to get out and about on some extremely cool retro bicycles, with recommended outings including a picnic in Didsbury’s Marie Louise Gardens or a route through woodland trails in Chorlton. Or to explore north of Manchester, take a ride on the East Lancashire Railway which steams between Bury and Ramsbottom.

Breakout Manchester

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also suggest some adventures suitable for bad weather: despite what its name might suggest, Treetop Adventure Golf is perfect in this regard. Here, there are two 18-hole mini golf courses set in an indoor rainforest at The Printworks with food and drink available from The Market at the end. Breakout Manchester is one alternative for older kids: there are clues to find, codes to crack and puzzles to solve in differently-themed live escape rooms at two locations in the city centre. Equally, should the weather turn out to be too good, there’s Chill Factore, a £31m real snow centre at a cool, guaranteed minus four degrees.

National Football Museum

Last but not least are Manchester’s incredible museums. The National Football Museum reopens on 27 May with a new exhibition, English Hall of Fame, as well as all floors and the museum shop accessible to visitors again. Manchester Jewish Museum has undergone a multi-million pound transformation with a new gallery, shop and café complimenting the restoration of the historic 1874 synagogue. A fascinating visit in its own right, and an important part of the city’s heritage, the museum will be launching with an MIF co-commissioned installation. The Science and Industry Museum has also undergone significant changes, with a multi-million pound restoration project still underway; open from 19 May will be the museum’s new Special Exhibitions Gallery, as well as Top Secret: From Cyphers to Cyber Security, which delves into the incredible world of communications intelligence. With reports from GCHQ staff, this is set to be a sure-fire hit with any young espionage enthusiasts.

By Polly Checkland Harding, Freelance arts copywriter and journalist


RHS Garden Bridgewater
Formal Garden
RHS Garden Bridgewater entrance, cafe and shop

Reviving the gardens of the historic 156 acre Worsley New Hall estate to create RHS Garden Bridgewater represents one of the largest gardening projects in Europe at this time.

Chester Zoo
Group Travel
Rhino Experience

With over 500 different animal species in our 125 acres, you’re sure to have great day out full of adventure.

Didsbury Bicycle Hire
Cycle Hire
Couple with bikes

Didsbury Bicycle Hire is a community-based bicycle hire company from Manchester with a difference.

East Lancashire Railway
Steam Railway
East Lancashire Railway train travelling over countryside bridge

A twelve mile heritage railway based in Bury, operating steam and diesel train rides through charming villages and picturesque scenery with well-equipped stations boasting cafés, pubs, gift shops and more.

Treetop Adventure Golf
Golf Course
Family enjoying food at Treetop Adventure Golf

Swing by for an epic mini golf adventure with two indoor, 18-hole courses, plus cracking coffee, tropical cocktails and tasty jungle grub.

Breakout Manchester - Church Street
Activity Centre
Breakout team

Breakout is a live escape room game - with 60 minutes on the clock, teams of two to five players need to search high and low for clues and codes, solve problems, and most importantly work as a team if they want to win.

Chill Factore
Sports and Leisure Centres
Chill Factore

Looking for the perfect place to have fun with the family? Manchester’s real snow centre Chill Factore is the ideal destination for any family adventure.

National Football Museum
People in an exhibition in the National Football Museum

Whether you’re a die hard football fan, planning a visit with your family or on a weekend break to the great city of Manchester, enjoy a visit to the world's biggest and best football museum.

Manchester Jewish Museum
Manchester Jewish Museum

Manchester Jewish Museum is common ground; a hospitable place that makes connections by showing and sharing universal experiences through the stories of one culture.

Science and Industry Museum
The Science and Industry Museum building

Home to the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, and the world’s first railway warehouse. Encounter amazing objects and find out about ideas that were born in Manchester and changed the world forever.



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