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Entertain the kids outdoors within easy reach of Manchester

Feeding the ducks at Martin Mere

This week’s sunshine has seen us all heading outdoors to enjoy a myriad of garden activities. Tall Boy has been digging in the soil, watering the garden (and himself), playing with his water table, blowing bubbles, kicking his football, and generally loving the fresh air.

Now he’s almost two (I can’t quite believe I’m saying that already) he’s able to get so much out of trips and adventures that I find myself constantly seeking out new inspiration.

There are lots of local parks and play areas, but for a day trip I’m looking to throw something a bit different in to the mix.

So, here’s a selection of places to take kids, of all ages, where they can be entertained outdoors, within easy reach of Manchester.

 

National Trust

Deer close up at Dunham Massey

The National Trust has come a long way since I was a child. Memories of traipsing round boring, stuffy houses seem almost unbelievable when you visit a National Trust property with kids these days. The 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 programme is packed full of ideas to encourage children to enjoy open spaces, nature, and notice the world around them. When you visit a National Trust property today you can expect boxes full of outdoor toys to borrow, adventure playgrounds beyond your wildest dreams, log playgrounds, den making facilities and much much more.

In Manchester we are close to several National Trust properties including,

Lyme Park: For paddling in streams, adventure playgrounds, and hills to roll down.

Dunham Massey: For year round deer spotting, a log playground, and outdoor games to borrow.

Quarry Bank Mill: For a children’s play area and family trails.

There are a host of seasonal events aimed at children and family friendly restaurants and cafes open all year round.

Admission: Charges apply, under 5’s go free.

 

Wheelock Hall Farm Shop – Sandbach

I’ve not visited yet but it is high up on my to-do list, mainly thanks to Instagram and recommendations from friends.

The outdoor play areas boasts an assault course, swings and go karts, with smaller swings and ride on tractors for little ones.

One of the main attractions for us is the farm animals, including pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks, which children can meet and even feed.

Admission: £5.50 per child, adults free.

 

Walton Hall and Gardens – Warrington

This is another Instagram recommendation, which I can’t wait to try. The playground is by all accounts suitable for big and small children alike, there’s crazy golf, a farm, woodland walks, a Thomas train, and much more.

Admission: Free, with certain paid for activities

 

Red House Farm – Dunham Massey

Located close to Dunham Massey, Red House farm is packed with activities for little ones. With outdoor play equipment, sand pits, a barrel train, ice cream, and seasonal actives including the Maize Maze in summer, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy for a day out.

Admission: Free, with certain paid for activities

 

The Ice Cream Farm – Cheshire

Water play at the Ice Cream Farm

Crawling through a tunnel at the Ice Cream Farm

Tractor fun at the Ice Cream FarmThis place is an ice cream lover’s idea of heaven, and if you’re an ice cream loving parent, well…

With over 40 flavours of ice cream to choose from, that’s not even the main reason to visit. There is so much to keep the kids happy. From an outdoor playground, farm animals, to sand and water play like you’ve never seen before, to indoor soft play, crazy golf, mining for treasure and much much more.

Admission: Unbelievably, it’s free to enter with certain pay and play activities costing between £1 and £3.75.

 

Martin Mere – Lancashire

 

Painting at Martin Mere

Part of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, this is a place set up for a duck and goose obsessed child like Tall Boy. There are wetlands birds aplenty and the opportunity to buy a bag of seed so you can feed them as you wander round the child safe lakes. There’s also Otter and Stork feeding talks, pond dipping, an adventure playground and a craft studio. The centre hosts seasonal events such as Downy Duckling Week and a Giant Duck Hunt for Easter.

Admission: Charges apply, under 4s go free. You can save money if you book online.

 

Barton Airport – Eccles

Watching planes take off at Barton Airport

Watch aircraft take off and land and enjoy the children’s play area. For kids interested in planes, this is a great place to visit, feeling more friendly and welcoming than the visitor centre at Manchester Airport. And, there’s a cafe to keep everyone fully fuelled.

Admission: Free to enter

 

And, if it’s a picnic you fancy, take a look at my list of 6 great places to enjoy a family picnic in and around Manchester for inspiration.

I’m always on the lookout for local gems, so if you know of any places I’ve missed please let me know in the comments.

Enjoy the summer x

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Becci Johnson

Hi, I’m an almost 6 ft, thirty-something living in Manchester. Writer, blogger & first time mum.

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