10 of the best days out in Cheshire and Chester

Explore a nuclear bunker, try an outdoors adventure trail, get up close to 7000 animals at Chester Zoo or even try a shark dive - there's a myriad of things for your curious tots to experience in Cheshire and Chester.

cheshire days out

1. Chester Zoo

cheshire zoo

Chester Zoo is set in 125 acres of award-winning gardens and home to over 500 species – including some of the most endangered species on the planet. There’s a brand new Madagascan zone where, for the first time, you’ll be able to walk through the forest habitats, among rare lemurs, and get up-close to the animals.

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From autumn 2019, you will be able to see endangered Asiatic lions. Their area has been created by the zoo’s conservationists and has been inspired by the dry forest and Savannah habitats of the Gir National Park in India, the only place where Asiatic lions still range freely.

As well as the animals, there are three different play areas aimed at different age groups, a mini-golf course, and you can get face painters to transform your child into their favourite animal, too.

Our Made for Mums reviewer, Fiona Kyle, says, “I think 5-10 years is the perfect age bracket for children visiting the zoo, although my 5-year-old did get tired after a few hours, so definitely take a pushchair for younger kids.”

The zoo comes highly recommended by TripAdvisor, too. Chris M says, “I would recommend you pre-book online over 7 days before you go, as you will get a reduction, rather than paying on the day – and means it is quicker to get in. It is also worthwhile paying for the monorail, £4.00 each for an all day pass… Be prepared to allocate a whole day, as there is a lot to see and a lot of walking. There is also a huge free car park.”

MadeforMums rating: 4.7 stars

Opening times: Open daily from 10am, except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Price: Tickets cost from Child £15.45, Adult £20. Car parking is free and on site. Facilities for disabled visitors, including self-drive electric scooters and wheelchairs

2. Cheshire Ice Cream Farm

cheshire ice cream farm

The activities at Cheshire Ice Cream Farm make for a fun and low-price day out: admission is free, you just pay for the activities you want to do.

For indoor fun, there is Crazy Daisy’s Play Barn – children get a wristband and can return to play as many times as they like during your visit, plus there’s a free soft play area for toddlers.

The Farm has lots of free outdoor fun to enjoy, too. Animal corner has some small animals for the children to get up close to, then there’s a wide range of outdoor play areas for all ages – Strawberry Falls Crazy golf is £1 per player, and there’s a purpose-built electric quad track for the more adventurous youngster.

Don’t forget the ice cream!

On TripAdvisor, Marie_Curie 57 says, “I went with a big family group, with children ranging in age from 2 to 13. There was something for all of them but probably the 4 to 11 year olds were catered for best. There were fairly usual activities including go-karts, soft play and a novel gem mining activity. By far the best for the younger children was Honeycomb Canyon, which is an indoor water and sand area. The 2-year-old would have stayed there all day and the older children loved it too. Make sure you take a change of clothes for them as they will get wet. Picnics on site are not allowed as it’s free to enter, so either picnic off-site or eat in the cafe. Prices were fairly standard and the food was acceptable, if largely lacking in imagination.”

The park is free to enter, but individual activities cost money. You can buy each one as you go, or buy a Play Pass, which will give you savings on them all.

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: Open every day 09:30 – 17:30

Price: Free entry, but each activity has a separate cost

3. Delamere Forest

delamere

Delamere Forest is Cheshire’s largest area of woodland – with over 950 hectares of forest. There is a wide range of facilities and things to do in the forest including: a cafe, a Gruffalo trail, marked paths, two-way marked cycle routes, and an all-ability trail with musical instruments for children make the forest accessible and fun. You can make a day of it and enjoy one of the three picnic areas.

If you fancy testing yourself on the high ropes, there is a Go-Ape at Delamere. It also has a forest school for 2 to 5-year-olds – and there are always lots of fun activities lead by the forest rangers during half-term holidays. And there is live music in the summer-time. You can even book a birthday party at the forest. All trail maps are available at the information centre.

TripAdvisor reviewers love it – Manswa says, “We spent our time walking and enjoying a Segway ride through the forest which was an exhilarating experience. Despite the bad weather during the time we were there, with wet weather clothing, we were able to enjoy the excellent, well maintained tracks throughout the forest. Good selection of reasonably food at the Delamere Forest Cafe. Pay and display car park is a little expensive at £4 for 3 hours.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Summer opening times: 8:00am to 8:00pm. Winter opening times: 8:00am to 5:00pm

Price: Free entry, pay for parking

4. Blakemere Village

Blakemere Village

Blakemere Village is a family-friendly attraction centred around an Edwardian Courtyard. It has independent shops – like a traditional toy store, homeware, a garden centre and gift shops – and activities like archery and segway.

It also has an outdoor play area and an indoor playbarn for children aged 1 to 10, and lots of restaurants. Its craft workshop is a place to learn about pottery and painting. You can book craft-themed parties for kids in its workshop and you can also drop-in and do a candle-dipping, badge-making, pottery or a block printing class.

TripAdvisor reviewers love it there, too. Fundindelve says, “My favourite shop is Creature Features – a model shop with film-based collectibles and kits. I love the place!”

The Village also has two popular annual events – a summer Gin & FizzFest in June, and the magical Christmas Woodland experience during December

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: Daily 10am-5pm

Price: Free to enter with free parking

5. Manley Mere

manley mere

There so much to do at Manley Mere! From a walk around the lake, to a wide range of water sports, or an energetic attempt at the adventure trail.  Water sports hire equipment and lessons are available, or you can have a swim session in the lake.

The adventure trail is fantastic – challenges and obstacles include a giant hamster wheel and a dunking chair. Prepare to get wet and muddy! Facilities include the Chameleon Bar and Restaurant, an undercover picnic area, a children’s play area, and toilets.

It is very well-loved on TripAdvisor, with almost 300 people rating it an average of 4.5 stars. Ali M says, “I came at half term with my son and [his] two friends. They had a brilliant time on the adventure trail… Very muddy and wet but great fun and you can hose off at the end and get changed. The cafe there is really lovely. Freshly cooked food and friendly staff. We especially enjoyed the table top gas fire heater which warmed us up on a cold day.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Spring/summer only. Open Every Day 10-6pm.

Price: Free to enter, but the car park is £2.

6. Grosvenor Park & Miniature Railway

Grosvenor Park & Miniature Railway

Grosvenor Park is walking distance from the centre of Chester, overlooking the River Dee. It is a Green Flag Award winning public park with a cafe, open air theatre, miniature railway and an activity zone. The railway has steam and diesel hauled trains, which run on a ¼ mile circuit around the lake in Grosvenor park. There is also a drive-your-own ‘Trevor The Tram’ for children up to the age of 10 to drive up the short track.

Guy W on TripAdvisor says, “Large open grass areas are great when your toddler is learning to ‘toddle’, great for ball games with the kids or riding a little bike with stabilisers. Lots of great old trees with canopies to provide shade to sit in for a picnic. Plus there are loads of grey squirrels happy to take nuts from your hand.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Summer season: From 1 May, 7am until 8pm. Winter season: From 1 November, 8am until 6pm.

Price: The park is free, the railway is from £1 for a child, and from £1.50 for an adult.

7. Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker

Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker

For over 50 years this huge underground bunker remained secret. Set in the picturesque Cheshire countryside, this 35,000 sq ft underground bunker played a central role in the defense of Britain. It was one of 21 fixed radar stations in the country and one of only 12 fully equipped with search lights and fighter aircraft controls.

In it, you can see how the men and women lived and worked in the bunker. Hours of interest to be had for all the family, a real history lesson!

TripAdvisor reviewer A3DFU says, “I visited my my 9-year-old grandson who was very excited about the prospect of there being a bunker where people would hide and live for months in case of a nuclear strike. While my grandson obviously didn’t understand the full impact and history behind such a possible emergency, he was nonetheless so interested that he told his dad all about it and wants to return in the near future.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: During the summer, the bunker is open 7 days a week from 10am-5pm. During the winter it is open Wednesday to Sunday 10am-4pm

Price: Child £7, adult £10

8. Tatton Park

tatton park

Tatton Park features lots of different attractions for all the family to enjoy. The Old Hall was the estate manor house until the late 17th Century, and boasts a library collection said to be one of the National Trust’s finest.

Children may enjoy a trip to the rare-breed farm, home to cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and donkeys, all set in 1,000 acres of parkland. There is also an outdoor play area filled with lots of things to climb and swing on.

Throughout the year, Tatton is host to lots of events, for example: lambing week at the farm and Tatton Flower Show. It does cost £7 per car to park at Tatton so make sure you plan for a full day to make the most of it.

TripAdvisor reviewer Chocmak says, “It’s quite a small farm area but there was a larger area for den building, adventure park and maize maze but we didn’t do that as by the time we had seen the farm we had been at Tatton for 5 hours and we were starting to flag a bit. There is a little land train that you can jump on to get between the farm and the main car park but it is only a walk of a few mins so not far. The train would take less than a minute and at £2 per adult and £1 per child it could work out costly if you are a big family.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: Parkland open daily from 10am-7pm, attractions opening times vary depending on season

Price: Child £4, adult £7 (note: National Trust members don’t get free entry, but do get a discount for attractions such as the farm)

9. Blue Planet Aquarium

Blue Planet Aquarium

Exhibits include Coral Cave, a giant rockwork cave home to thousands of brightly coloured tropical reef fish, rays and puffer fish. Shark fans, aged 8 and over, can dive with them!

The Rocky Shoreline allows kids to get up close to creatures in three separate rock pools. It’s not all just water creatures: ‘Venom’ is home to over 50 giant spiders in ‘Tarantula Tower’, and the kids can let off steam in the Pirate playground.

TripAdvisor reviewer, Peterculter, says, “Quite expensive, but in this plastic contaminated climate, it’s nice to see some fish and animals are safe from this fate. The place is huge so even if busy it still feels like you’ve got space to wander. We watch the first diver talk in the aqua theatre, which was awesome, and I was surprised to find that the sharks and rays all have names.”

TripAdvisor rating: 3 stars

Opening times: 10am until 5pm daily and 6pm at weekends

Price: Child from £12.15 and adult from £17.10

10. Gulliver’s World Theme Park

Gulliver’s World Theme Park

This theme park, which has been around for 35 years, is designed for children aged 2 to 13. It has over 80 rides, attractions and shows. Younger children will love the JCB zone with yellow diggers and cranes. Older kids will love the log fumes and dodgems. There’s a picnic area and parking is free. Lots of events happen there over the year during Easter, Halloween and Christmas, too. You can even have your child’s birthday party there!

TripAdvisor reviewer, gemjohn0808 says, “The little ones had a great choice of rides. however nothing really for thrill-seeking parents. Only problem we found was the signage for how tall you must be to ride isn’t clear, so I would suggest you have an idea how many cms your child is to avoid disappointment – one family stood in Log-fume queue to discover at the top the wee boy was too little to ride. Food is pretty expensive but there is an Asda just before you arrive for juice and picnic supplies… some attractions could be doing with a lick of paint but this doesn’t really affect the fun for my preschooler.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: Vary, depending on the time of year. In the summer it’s open daily from 10:30am-5pm. In the winter, it is closed on weekdays except for half-term break and the lead up to Christmas, when it’s open from 10:30am-4pm.

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Price: Child from £14, adult from £17

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