What is it?
It’s the largest park in Manchester and the largest municipal park in Europe, full of fun activities for families to try out. The SatNav postcode is M25 2SW for vehicular access. There are regular MetroLink Trams and buses to Heaton Park.
Toddlers & Preschool / 5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+
Free entry, though activities and attractions may have a fee.
What’s on offer
If you’re looking for an inexpensive family day out in the North West, Heaton Park in Manchester might be the place for you. Not only does it have ample space, luscious green areas and 2 children’s playgrounds – there are numerous events, activities, family quests and sports to take part in.
Visit the free entry animal farm, home to farmyard favourites and such local legends as Heather the Cow and Ice Man the Alpaca. Alternatively, stop by the Hidden Gem Garden Centre for an old-fashioned, traditional centre selling homegrown flowers and plants.
Families of 4 can enjoy a 45 min boat ride, which will set you back £8.50, but will give you lovely views of the lake and get the whole family working as a team to steer the boat. There are also orienteering courses (varying from just 1km to a more impress 6.5km) that are suitable for families with older children. Maps can be bought at the park and cost just £1.60. If you’d prefer to cruise around the park, there are tram rides from the Tram Museum every Sunday and a land train just for little ones.
For sporty families or families who just want to try something new – Heaton Park has a Pitch & Putt golf course, cheap angling sessions for adults and juniors and Segway rides on offer – just to name a few! More unusual activities like stargazing and beekeeping sessions are available at selected times and dates.
Throughout the year and particularly in the summer months, you can expect a whole host of festivals, outdoor concerts and exciting events to take place at Heaton Park, including the Summer Fun Fair. There are two cafés, The Farmhouse and The Lakeside, as well as toilet facilities. Parking nearby is free, but during the summer months it’s £1.50 for a full day.
The park has a lot of open space, which is perfect for stretching your legs or having a play. Similarly, there are plenty of picnic areas. You can either use a bench of lay out a picnic blanket. Either way, it would be unusual for you to feel crowded at Heaton Park.
The park itself is well maintained and very beautiful, even though some other areas (the toilets) don’t live up to this standard.
Of all the activities on offer, families tend to love the Pitch and Putt golf course, the (slightly expensive) boat rides and the animal centre. Both children’s playgrounds have sufficient equipment, but we suspect the top one will be everyone’s favourite!
What to watch out for
- The park opens at 8am and the doors are locked by dusk. Please bear this in mind when visiting.
- Different attractions, cafes and areas in the park all have different opening and closing times. Please check the opening times on the website to avoid any disappointment.
- The toilets are pretty grim. Bring baby wipes and hand sanitizer so you can ensure clean bums and hands.
- Some reviewers have noted that the summer fun fair can seem quite tacky. Keep this in mind when visiting.
- There seems to be a battle between dog owners and families with small children on TripAdvisor. Dog owners see no reason why their dogs shouldn’t be allowed to run free off the leash and seem to think parents are irresponsible for letting their children approach them – whereas parents are concerned about large, energetic and sometimes violent dogs approaching and posing a threat their children. Please be aware that dogs are allowed off the leash here, though dog owners should keep them away from the children’s play areas.
- Take a packed lunch along with a picnic blanket and bring a football or tennis equipment to play with to help keep costs low. Maybe avoid the funfair, unless your little ones persuade you otherwise.
What the owners say
“Heaton Park is the biggest park in Manchester and the largest municipal park in Europe. It has a Grade I listed, 18th-century country house called Heaton Hall, 18-hole golf course with driving range, a boating lake, an animal farm, woodlands, ornamental gardens, an observatory, two playgrounds, a Papal Monument and a volunteer-run tram system, restaurant and Lakeside tea room combine to make Heaton one of the most popular family days out in the North West.”
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