Formerly the At-Bristol Science Centre, the aims here, they say, are to 'make science accessible to all' and 'create a culture of curiosity', and they’re ace at both. Your toddlers can keep busy with the bricks and wheelbarrows in the building-site-themed play, slightly older kids can enjoy being creative with running water and various arty apparatus, while older kids can play with bubbles or lose themselves in front of the animation screens.
One Millennium Square, Anchor Road, BS1 5DB. www.wethecurious.org
Originally built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in Bristol in the mid-1800s (when it was, for nine years, the longest passenger ship on the planet), the SS Great Britain has now been transformed into an unashamedly child-friendly museum that features Victorian cabin boy fancy dress, on-deck punch bag boxing and some horrendously realistic animal smells. For an extra cost, you can even climb the rigging.
Great Western Dockyard, BS1 6TY. www.ssgreatbritain.org
A locally run charity formed in 1976, where kids can feed goats, meet rabbits and gawp at pigs before hitting up the play area to work up an appetite for a tasty lunch made from farm produce in the café. Then, take the Stick Man activity trail (based on the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book) around the farm to explore the magical goings-on of nature and plants.
Philip Street, BS3 4EA. www.windmillhillcityfarm.org.uk
Ten minutes outside of Bristol city centre you’ll find 850 acres of woodland and grassland for kids to romp around in to their heart’s content. There’s a mansion at the heart of it, which is currently being turned into ‘an inclusive multi-use arts venue’ by the charity Artspace Lifespace. And if you go in August you might just catch the Bristol international balloon fiesta, Europe’s biggest hot air balloon festival.
Long Ashton, BS41 9JN.
As well as all the classics (seals, zebras, wolves, etc) this zoo also does daily talks on lemurs, fruit bats, otters, meerkats and more. Or, for a special treat (that you pay extra for), why not let the kids feed an Adriatic lion, hang out with a western lowland gorilla or make best friends with a penguin, red panda or giant tortoise. A variety of cafés are dotted about so it’s nice and easy to feed your little animals, too.
College Road, BS8 3HA. www.bristolzoo.org.uk