10 of the best days out in the North West

With exotic wildlife, beautiful coastal areas, and interactive museums there’s lots to do in the North West

northwest

1. Chester Zoo, Chester

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Chester Zoo is home to over 500 species of animals, including rare, exotic and endangered wildlife. Not only is it full of lots of animals, but the Zoo also has lots of play areas which are spread around the site to give children the chance to burn off some energy, as well as 6 different restaurants, lots of food kiosks, picnic areas and a monorail.

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On TripAdvisor, Casketkid says, “The christmas lights show is spectacular and unique, something you truly can’t get anywhere else. On a normal visit, the butterfly room and bat cave are the highlights. I enjoyed it when I was 5 and I enjoy it now I’m 18 and still go every couple of years.”

See our madeformums review on Chester Zoo here.

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. Silecroft Beach, Cumbria

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On the edge of the Lake District National Park, Silecroft beach is both sand and shingle. And it is huge! The beach has a carpark and a cafe nearby but – as (on high tide) the beach is shingle, it’s not buggy-friendly. There are beautiful stones to be found, though!

It is well-loved on TripAdvisor – reviewer JasonhK6668OA says, “We love this beach, it is quite rocky but that is great for looking for unusual stones as they are multi coloured. After a storm it is a great place for beach combing, have sometimes found starfish washed up.

I am disappointed that on a clear day the horizon is desecrated by one of the biggest offshore wind farms in Europe but most days they are just vague outlines.

The recent pop up cafe is great and offers a wide range of snack from hot to cold which is very welcome on a windy day.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: All year round

Price: Free with free parking

3. Formby Point Red Squirrel Reserve, Merseyside

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This beautiful sandy coastline is set between the sea and Formby town. It has miles of scenic walks through the woods and dunes. The changing tides and current erosion of the coastline means that often prehistoric mud layers are revealed. Look closely for prehistoric human and animal footprints! Children will have a great time trying to glimpse a rare, endangered red squirrel in the pine woods.

TripAdvisor reviewer, 738sazm, says, “Easy to find and lots of parking. The reserve has a pathway that if you follow straight on leads directly to the beach, which is nice and clean. The reserve is well signposted and the staff always offer a map or guide. It’s great just to let your little ones run through the woods and walkways knowing they are getting fresh air and exercise while staying safe. Much better than an enclosed foam play centre. If your relatively quiet you’ll see the squirrels and rabbits in the woods. Lots of birds too.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: All year round

Price: Free, car parking £6.50

4. National Football Museum, Manchester

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Inspire your kids to get sporty with a trip to the National Football Museum. It’s a world-class home for the greatest collection of football memorabilia ever assembled. If you have younger kids, it has an early years area for children 0-5 with soft play, dressing up, sensory play, buzzles and arts and crafts. Older children can play interactive skills challenge games.

TripAdvisor reviewer LKiz82 says, “We took a trip up to Manchester for our son’s 8th birthday. Didn’t disappoint at all. I’m pleased we visited on a Sunday, which meant it was a little quieter and the queues for the interactive games were either small or non-existent. The entry ticket lasts for a year, which if you live within a good distance, would make it something to return to, to while away a few hours. The only additional charge was the penalties area, which proved addictive! We thought it was a good balance between historical and current football as well as insight vs interaction. The commentary challenge was brilliant and our 8-year-old absolutely loved it.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Daily 10:00 – 17:00

Price: Free for City of Manchester residents, or £5 child, £10 adult

5. Norton Priory Museum and Gardens, Cheshire

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Norton Priory Museum and Gardens is a great day out for all the family, with great kids activities, a cafe, picnic area and gift shop. It is an award winning museum with beautiful Walled Gardens, fascinating excavated medieval ruins and woodland sculpture trail. Throughout the year live events are on, such as wildlife workshops, theatre perfomances, and bat walks. Kids can find their way around with the free quizzes and trails or even be a mini gardener, with a free-to-borrow gardener’s toolkit. For green fingered little ones there is also a Tots garden with plants to touch, see, smell and hear.

TripAdvisor reviewer, Valiant28, says, “Having 2 young children, we visit here every school holiday as the museum have themed events including crafts and storywalks all through the holidays. I can’t praise these events enough, you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into the themes and stories each week, with lots of related crafts. It’s in our calendar every holiday before we start arranging anything else to do. There are also regular (sometimes bookable) events such as wildlife clubs, bat walks and adult crafts, which are varied and reasonably priced. We also frequently visit the gardens, which is a perfect, tranquil couple of hours. Always lots to do, whether it’s trails, storywalks and crafts, woodland walks, the grounds of the priory to explore. It never gets boring. Also, I’ve not had one for a while, but they used to do one of the best cream teas this side of Devon!”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Daily 10am-5pm

Price: Child £5.50, Adult £7.95

6. Lake District Wildlife Park, Cumbria

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The Lake District Wildlife Park lies in the north of the Lake District, and is a fabulous day out for all the family. From Anaconda to Zebra, it has over 100 species of animals including many that are endangered such as gibbons and vultures. There’s lots to see with daily keeper-led presentations and demonstrations including free flying Birds of Prey and, if you are brave enough, Reptile Encounters. You can buy experiences, such as alpaca or hawk walks, or ‘meet the meercat’. It has plenty of picnic areas, a cafe, and an outdoor playground, too. There is also an indoor playground with a soft play and ball pit for when it rains!

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: March to October, 10am-5pm. November to February, 10am-4pm

Price: Child £7.95, Adult £9.95

7. Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool

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Sandcastle Waterpark has 18 slides and attractions. Among the slides are Master Blaster – the longest indoor Roller Coaster waterslide in the world – Sidewinder, Aztec Falls, Montazooma, Thunderfalls family slides. For our younger explorers there is the Caribbean Storm Treehouse which is an interactive adventure play area with a giant tipping coconut that cascades water plus a range of water cannons, mini slides and jets.

TripAdvisor reviewer Saw2009 says, “Spent 2.5 hours here with a 6-year-old and we could’ve stayed longer. We didn’t pay the extra for the big 5 rides as my 6-year-old was only big enough to go on one. However, what was included in the family ticket was perfect. Wave pool, 3 slides, river rapids, splash tower and some water guns.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4 stars

Opening times: Seasonal. During the summer, weekdays 9:30am – 6pm and weekends 9:30am-8pm. During the low-season, the park opens later and closes earlier

Price: Child £13.25, Adult £16.75

8. Beatrix Potter’s House, Cumbria

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Join the magical world of Mrs Tiggwinkle and Peter Rabbit by visiting the home of Beatrix Potter. Hill Top is full of her favourite things, this house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a ‘tale’. There is also a children’s garden trail.

PollyStockton, TripAdvisor reviewer, says, “We visited [with our youngest grandchild who is] 5 [and has] been learning about Beatrix Potter. Although it was raining, it didn’t put us off. We had fun following the hedgehog trail and loved exploring all the rooms. The little one especially was in her element and her favourite bit was the dolls house and Beatrix’s bed.”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Spring/summer 10am-4.30pm

Price: Child £6.50, Adult £13.00

9. World Museum, Liverpool

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Discover treasures from around the world, explore outer space and meet live creatures at the fantastic World Museum with attractions including The Bug House, The Clore Natural History Centre and The Living Laboratory. Open daily, this fantastic museum is free to enter and offers a range of exhibitions, interactive displays and events to entertain and educate all the family.

Reviewer, MummyL24, on TripAdvisor, says, “The world museum is a personal and family favourite place to visit. There is plenty to see and do and the staff are always highly informative and approachable. Both my boys love the museum especially how they can be really hands on with many of the displays. It truly is a gem of Liverpool!”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

Opening times: Daily 10am-5pm every day except on 24, 25, 26 and 31 December and 1 January

Price: Free

10. Delamere Forest

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Delamere Forest is Cheshire’s largest area of woodland – with over 950 hectares of forest. Young children may enjoy its Gruffalo trail. It also has two-way marked cycle routes, and an all-ability trail with musical instruments for children make the forest accessible and fun, and a  Go-Ape.

TripAdvisor reviewers love it – Bitesizedfoodie says, “Excellent adventure playground for adventurous 7 year olds and toddler 2’s. Eldest had great fun climbing and adventuring off the beaten path – close enough so we could see her and youngest just loved the freedom to run run run!”

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars

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

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Price: Free entry, pay for parking

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