Although we live around an hour and a half away from Bristol it’s one of our favourite cities but it’s not a city that we have fully explored since we have had the girls. So when we had the chance to spend a weekend in Bristol staying at the beautiful Bristol Hotel we couldn’t wait to see what the city had to offer families.
With so many things to do and places to see, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start and how to fit it all in!
Brunel’s SS Great Britain
At the Harbourside area of Bristol you’ll find Brunel’s SS Great Britain which is Bristol’s number one attraction rated by Trip Advisor, and is a great place to start your weekend of exploration.
Located in the Great Western Dockyard you get the first glimpse of the ship where its stern meets you. We walked around the side of the impressive ship and our girls thought they were on a pirate’s adventure.
We experienced the sights and sounds of life on board in the Victorian era on the world first luxury cruise liner. We had a wonderful time exploring Brunel’s SS Great Britain and one which I would recommend as a must visit attraction. It was a fun, educational, family friendly venue and a great day out. (you can read our review here)
Harbourside and Millennium Square
A 10 minute stroll (or a short ferry ride along the river) from SS Great Britain takes you around the trendy Harbourside area of the city, passing the M-Shed a family museum for all ages until you reach Millennium square. We loved walking along the quayside and looking at the beautiful pastel coloured rows of houses on the hillside mixed in with the ultra modern buildings and dock cranes from the docks industrial past.
Millennium Square is packed with great family-friendly restaurants, café’s and two brilliant attractions for families At-Bristol and the Bristol Aquarium. We love aquariums and when we planned a our visit to Bristol, of course the Bristol Aquarium was on our bucket list.
The Bristol Aquarium is much bigger than what you see on the outside and features more than 40 naturally-themed displays of aquatic life from jellyfish and rays to piranhas and sharks. The Bristol aquarium is the only aquarium in the UK to feature a giant botanical house, known as the Urban Jungle.
Highlights include a walk-in seahorse display, an underwater walk-through tunnel through the reef and a footbridge over the open-top giant coral seas display, which are home to tropical sharks and unicorn fish.
Although it’s not on the same scale as some of the larger aquariums around the UK it still offered a fun educational trip and I would recommend as a great all-weather family attraction to visit whilst in Bristol. (Read our review of Bristol Aquarium)
We The Curious ( was At-Bristol)
After lunch at family friendly Las Iguanas we headed to We the Curious. With more than 300 hands-on exhibits and live science shows it is one of the most impressive interactive science centre’s we have visited in the UK. We made our way to the UK’s only 3D digital planetarium which was amazing, and the girls learnt so much about the planets and our solar system.
One of their favourite areas of We the Curious was Animate It which was developed in collaboration with Oscar-winning Bristol based Aardman animations who are responsible for making Wallace and Grommit. Here my eldest daughter loved having the chance to become an animator creating her own short production.
The girls were very excited to try out many new activities and it definitely inspired them and encouraged them to learn albeit they did not know that at the time. We had a fantastic time at the We the Curious Science Centre which is an amazing science museum packed full of fun and interactive experiments that are perfect for children. (you can read our review here)
Outside in Millennium Square is an iconic giant silver ball which we learnt was the planetarium we had just visited at At-Bristol.
Harbourside to the city centre
Bristol is a wonderful place for shopping and we made our way from the Harbourside into the city centre. Even though we got slightly lost we had a such a lovely walk past the beautiful cathedral on College Green, toward Bristol University and Museum . After a quick look at the map we finally reached the main shopping area of Bristol seeing a piece of artwork from Banksy? and Shaun the Sheep on our journey.
Excellent shopping at Cabot Circus
The girls and I loved a bit of retail therapy at Cabot Circus featuring big name department stores such as Harvey Nichols and some of the girl’s favourites stores Zara, Smiggle and Foyles bookstore.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
The next day after a delicious breakfast at The Bristol the wet weather didn’t put us off. We set off on our drive from the city centre to Bristol Zoo and stopped at the iconic Bristol landmark the Clifton Suspension Bridge 75 metres above Avon Gorge. We have driven below this bridge many times on our way to Bristol Airport but seeing the bridge from this vantage point was incredible.
Bristol Zoo is the 5th oldest zoo in the world and although the weather wasn’t great it didn’t affect our enjoyment during our visit, with nine under cover animal houses, it’s an excellent all weather family attraction. Set in 12 acres of beautiful award-winning gardens there are over 400 species of animals from across the globe.
We especially liked the gorillas, monkeys, penguins and seals and going in the underwater viewing tunnel.
We highly recommend a trip to Bristol Zoo and is a great day out for families. It’s a fantastic zoo and we had a fun day with lots of animals to see. (You can read our review of Bristol Zoo here)
Clifton Village is one of our favourite areas of Bristol, with beautiful Georgian buildings and lots of great independent shops and restaurants it’s one of Bristol’s most beautiful places to visit.
The Bristol Hotel – A great place to stay
A perfect place to stay for families looking for a bit of luxury in a great location in Bristol is The Bristol Hotel (you can read our review here).
Why we would recommend a visit to Bristol
Bristol is such a great city for a family break, with lots of incredible child-friendly attractions, great museums, and some fantastic shopping, we can’t wait to return.
Thanks to the Bristol Hotel and Visit Bristol