Welcome to my summer 2021 guide to family-friendly attractions and fun days out in Bristol and surrounding areas. I’ve packed this article with handy information including which venues are open, special events that are running this summer and links to the venues so you can easily book your tickets.
While many venues are now open, each has its own Covid precautions in place. Advance booking is either required or advisable and not all facilities are fully open so please check with the venue before you travel.
To make it easier for you to find details of your perfect day out, I’ve divided the guide into the following sections.
Enjoy the guide!
WHAT’S ON FOR KIDS IN AND AROUND BRISTOL: SCHOOL HOLIDAYS SUMMER 2021
FAMILY FRIENDLY HISTORY & SCIENCE ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND BRISTOL
In this section, you’ll find lots of attractions in and around Bristol which, as well as being fun and educational, are also undercover so they’re perfect things to do this summer when it’s raining!
Also, check out “Fab FREE Things to do in Bristol & North Somerset“
free indoor attractions and outdoor destination inspiration in and around Bristol!
Aerospace Bristol tells the story of Bristol’s world-class aerospace industry and gives you and your family the chance to step aboard a British icon, Concorde Alpha Foxtrot. Designed, built and tested in Bristol, she was the final Concorde to be built and the last to fly.
Learn about the earliest days of powered flight, through to today’s cutting-edge aerospace technology.
Additional activities this summer include under-5s storytelling, an adventure trail, live science shows and spotlight talks. (First-come-first-served, subject to availability & capacity).
Check out their website for more information and booking details.
Aerospace is open 7 days a week throughout August.
Tickets include free return visits for a whole year!
BLAISE CASTLE HOUSE MUSEUM
Visit the museum at Blaise and discover how people lived through time, what they wore, the toys they played with and how they managed their household chores.
Click the link below for Blaise Castle House Museum opening hours and special events.
Museum open for summer 2021
BRISTOL MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
Exhibitions this summer include the Bristol Photo Festival and a display of tiny, finely carved Japanese sculptures called “Netsuke”, which are on display for the first time.
Click the link for Bristol Museum‘s opening hours, special events and to book your timed entry slot.
Bristol Museum is still limiting visitor numbers so they recommend booking in advance to guarantee entry. They’re asking visitors to continue social distancing and wearing face coverings.
Bristol Cathedral is now open to visitors again.
This summer you can visit the ‘Museum of the Moon’ at Bristol Cathedral until 30th August 2021.
CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE AND VISITOR CENTRE
Curious minds can learn about Brunel and his famous bridge at Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre.
The exhibition and shop are both open with free weekend tours and outdoor family events for the school summer holidays.
Keep an eye out for the explainers in orange high-vis jackets who will be more than happy to answer questions and tell you about the history of Brunel’s famous bridge.
If you don’t have a problem with heights, you can just amble over the bridge and admire the spectacular views across Avon Gorge and the city of Bristol. There’s a toll for motorists but crossing the bridge is FREE for cyclists and pedestrians.
Click through for more information on tours and opening times at Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre.
(The vaults tours, which offer the unique opportunity to climb down under the bridge’s tower, are currently not running due to Covid.)
M-SHED – HARBOURSIDE, BRISTOL
From prehistoric times to the present day, M Shed tells the story of the city and its unique place in the world.
Admire the cars, trains, buses and planes which are part of Bristol’s transport history.
Learn about how Bristolians endured WWII.
Meet Bristol’s own dinosaur!
Edward Colston’s statue forms part of a new display at M Shed to start a city-wide conversation about its future. Will you voice your opinion?
M-Shed asks visitors to continue social distancing and wearing face coverings to keep everyone safe.
THE NEW ROOM MUSEUM: JOHN WESLEY’S CHAPEL
The New Room in Broadmead is the oldest Methodist chapel in the world, however, the museum is a fairly new addition to Bristol, having only opened in July 2017.
We visited as a family for the first time during summer 2019 and we were very impressed by the amount there is to see and learn here as well as the quality of the displays (designed by Bristol-based company Cod Steaks), many of which are interactive.
A knowledgeable volunteer tour guide took us around the twelve rooms which offer a real flavour of early Methodism. We learnt about the inequalities of life in Georgian Bristol and how Methodism spread throughout Britain, America and the rest of the world.
As a Bristolian born and bred, I had a decent knowledge of both John Wesley, who brought Methodism to the masses and his brother Charles, who wrote some of the best-known hymns of the period.
However, I was surprised to learn that John Wesley fought against social injustice, took a stand against slavery and actively promoted equal rights for women. He was also knowledgeable and wrote about healthy lifestyles, much of which is still considered to be good advice today.
There is a modest entrance fee to go into The New Room Museum. For a family of five, it’s currently £15 but tickets are valid for a year. There’s an additional charge if you’d like to book a tour guide. We’d highly recommend this museum, particularly for older children and adults.
Follow the link for more information, opening hours and special events at The New Room Museum, Bristol.
Tickets are valid for one year and include a free audio guide.
Advance bookings are encouraged.
SS GREAT BRITAIN
Visit the SS Great Britain and see Brunel’s famous ship plus the historic dockyard, the ‘Being Brunel Museum’, ‘Dockyard Museum’ and the new ‘Iron Island’ exhibition, all included in the ticket price.
IRON ISLAND EXHIBITION (AT SS GREAT BRITAIN) – NEW FOR SUMMER 2021
For the first time in 50 years, the sights, sounds and movement of a living sea surround the ship’s hull, transforming the dry dock into a huge digital projection theatre, filled with the energy of the world’s underwater oceans.
BEING BRUNEL MUSEUM (AT SS GREAT BRITAIN)
The Being Brunel Museum celebrates the life and legacy of Britain’s great engineer. Here you can discover never-seen-before personal possessions and experience Brunel’s life through his own eyes in an immersive audiovisual experience.
BOOK SS GREAT BRITAIN TICKETS ONLINE.
Timed entry slots are bookable to safely manage the number of visitors on site. Pay once and your ticket is valid all year.
The new ‘Iron Island’ exhibition is included in the admission price and is available to book until 19th September 2021.
WE THE CURIOUS
As a family, we always enjoy visiting ‘We The Curious’ (or ‘At Bristol’ as it was known for many years). It’s a fun and fascinating educational attraction packed with interactive science exhibits. During our visits over the years, it’s managed to keep our three sons’ attention from tots to teens).
We grown-ups enjoy it too and always end up wishing we had allowed more time to explore everything. There must be other similar attractions around but I still haven’t come across anything which rivals ‘We The Curious’.
WE THE CURIOUS PLANETARIUM SHOW
Venture into the giant silver ball for a planetarium show with excellent 3D effects.
(The planetarium ticket is in addition to the general admission charge.)
This summer you can visit the ‘Project What If’ exhibition which has been inspired by questions from visitors and the community.
Booking is essential at the time of writing.Follow the link for We The Curious opening hours, special events or to book tickets.
ZOOS AND ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND BRISTOL
In addition to the talks and feeding demonstrations that take place every day, Bristol Aquarium invites you to learn more about their inquisitive rays during the summer holidays, with talks, feeds and hands-on workshops. Summer Rays runs until 1st September and Bristol Aquarium is open every day throughout the summer holidays from 10 am-6 pm with the last entry at 5 pm.
If they’re at capacity, they’ll operate on a one-in-one-out basis. They have a one-way system around the entire aquarium.
Book tickets online in advance but no need to pre-book time slots as tickets are valid all day.
Refer to their website to book tickets, for current prices, opening hours and up to date COVID proceures.
BRISTOL ZOO GARDENS
This summer keep an eye out for daily animal talks and feeds.
Please book tickets online in advance to guarantee entry.
Check the zoo website for up to date COVID information.
WILD PLACE PROJECT
Bristol’s Wild Place Project is a wildlife attraction with an emphasis on protecting habitats both locally and around the world.
Their Bear Wood exhibit is the only one of its type in the country. Thousands of years ago, European brown bears lived in Britain. The Wild Place Project has brought them back as part of a rewilding project.
Please book your timed Wild Place entry tickets online, in advance.
Check their website for a timetable of daily animal talks and feeds this summer as well as up to date COVID information.
LEAP OF FAITH AT WILD PLACE PROJECT
The Leap of Faith climbing experience is just inside the entrance to the Wild Place and is available both to visitors and to the public.
Our ten and fifteen-year-olds spent a fun and quite frankly exhausting looking hour scaling up the range of high wooden structures at the outdoor climbing experience and then jumping off the namesake 25 feet high “Leap of Faith”. My muscle tear injury offered me the perfect excuse for not joining them for the climbing part but I couldn’t resist having a go on Bristol’s only 25-ft giant swing!
The whole experience was a lot of fun and our fab helper, Jen, teased us mercilessly and seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids!
Leap of Faith entry tickets are bookable online and are NOT included with Wild Place Project admission.
Check their website for current prices, opening hours and up to date course rules.
NOAHS ARK ZOO FARM
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm houses over 100 species of animals in over 100 acres of beautiful North Somerset countryside. It’s easily accessible from both Bristol and Portishead. Here are ten good reasons to visit Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm plus handy info & tips on making the most of your outing (written pre-pandemic).
The indoor play areas are now open again, a giant Top Trumps trail will be available until the end of December 2021 or you could have a go at the longest and wildest hedge maze in the UK!
Booking online in advance is advised.
Refer to their website for the latest info and to book.
OLD DOWN COUNTRY PARK IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Old Down Country Park is a farm attraction set within 66 acre grounds in rural Gloucestershire. We visited on a warm summer’s weekend when you might expect a place like this to be at its busiest, yet because the park covers such a big area, it still seemed quiet.
There’s masses of safe space for kids to run around and enjoy the fresh air in the large adventure playground. Meanwhile their grown-ups can relax on picnic blankets or the wooden benches and picnic tables dotted around.
The assault course kept our ten year old happy while younger children enjoyed playing in and ‘driving’ the big red London bus nearby. There are also trampolines and a jumping pillow in a separate area.
You can get right up close and friendly with various animals in pens including goats, alpacas, donkeys, ducks, geese and chickens.
If you fancy a walk, there’s a meadow lined with beautiful wildflowers leading down to a lake. Otherwise, just laze on one of the deckchairs on the lawn and admire the thriving walled garden.
We found Old Down Country Farm a relaxing, attractive place to visit. We think it would be particularly appealing to families with younger children.
Old Down Country Park is now fully open and welcoming guests with a range of Covid measures in place.
Refer to their website for the latest info and to book.
SLIMBRIDGE WETLANDS CENTRE
If you fancy heading a little farther afield, what about a visit to the Arctic Adventure attraction at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge?
See the Bewick swans and Greenland geese which travel over 4000 miles to visit during winter and while you’re there, you could have a go at birdwatching or analysing some bird poo!
Booking online in advance is advised.
Click the link for more information and to book tickets
BEACHES AND FAMILY-FRIENDLY LIDOS NEAR BRISTOL
PORTISHEAD, CLEVEDON AND WESTON-SUPER-MARE BEACHES
Why not visit a North Somerset beach? We don’t swim at Portishead seafront but there’s plenty of fun to be had without getting into the water. Click the following link to read our popular article about our visit to one of the beaches in Portishead.
The beach in the photo is just below The Royal Inn in Portishead, so there’s food, drink and loos on hand at that one too!
Stay safe near open water. Click the link for general Coastguard Safety information.
PORTISHEAD OPEN AIR POOL & COMMUNITY CAFE
Overlooking the Bristol channel, in normal times, this is an amazing place to get away from it all, have a dip, watch ships go by, enjoy the views and while away a few hours.
Saved by the community for the community, Portishead Lido has a heated 33-metre open-air main pool, heated toddler pool, tuck shop and community cafe next door.
Due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, the number of swimmers at each session will be limited and pre-booking is essential.
Covid restrictions mean that the pool is operating differently from usual so visits are bookable within timeslots. If you have a particular requirement, please check directly with the lido regarding current procedures and what facilities will be available during your visit.
Each session is one hour long, the first 45 minutes of which will be for swimming.
Refer to their website for the latest info and to book your family or lane timed slot.
A FUN WAY TO EXPLORE BRISTOL!
Hop aboard a Bristol Ferry and explore Bristol harbour and beyond from a different perspective. Doesn’t travelling by boat make you feel like you’re on holiday? And a ferry cruise is the perfect way to cool down on a summer’s day.
Bristol Ferry states that they have put a series of enhanced hygiene measures and social distancing in place. Please click through to their website for further information on this plus the Bristol Ferry map, timetables, pricing and to book.
While you’re near the harbour, have you tried out any of the Places to eat and drink at Bristol’s Wapping Wharf?. If not, check out our guide for some interesting restaurants on Bristol harbourside.
Phew! So there we have it. I hope you finding lots of things to do in Bristol this summer holiday 2021 guide helpful.
Please do share it and have a great summer!
PIN THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL THIS SUMMER FOR LATER!
DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED NO PAYMENT FROM THE ATTRACTIONS INCLUDED FOR THIS ARTICLE, HOWEVER WE HAVE BEEN HOSTED BY SOME OF THE VENUES PREVIOUISLY FOR REVIEW PURPOSES.
ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.
*THIS WEBSITE CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS WHICH CAN PROVIDE A SMALL COMMISSION ON BOOKINGS AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE USER AND HELP FUND THIS WEBSITE. MANY THANKS IF YOU PURCHASE OR BOOK ANYTHING USING THESE LINKS. AFFILIATE LINKS WILL BE MARKED WITH AN ASTERISK (*)
CLOSED FOR NOW
The following are either still closed at the time of writing or there’s insufficient information to share with you about them at the moment.
Subject to closures
Abbots Pool is a hidden gem near Abbots Leigh, North Somerset on the outskirts of Bristol. The woodland with a large pond centrepiece dating back to medieval times offers a free outing with free parking. Children enjoy natural pursuits here, from racing pooh sticks in the stream to playing hide and seek with a woodland backdrop. Check out our Abbots Pool video for more info.
THE GEORGIAN HOUSE MUSEUM, BRISTOL
Discover what a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home might have looked like around 1790. Eleven rooms spread over four floors reveal what life was like above and below stairs, from the kitchen in the basement where servants prepared meals to the elegant formal rooms above. Click the link below for Georgian House opening hours and special events.
Georgian House Museum, Bristol.
THE RED LODGE MUSEUM, BRISTOL
What secrets lie behind the bright red door? Step inside the TARDIS and experience more than 400 years of history in the museum where you feel you have left the modern world behind. From ‘royal party house’ of the 16th Century to Victorian reform school for girls, see how the lodge has changed over time. Follow the link below for Red Lodge Museum opening hours and special events.
Red Lodge Museum, Bristol