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Five great things to do with kids a short hop from Manchester

Race like Lewis Hamilton, spot red squirrels and take on an inflatable assault course
By Time Out in association with Cadbury |
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Get in your car for an hour or so and you and your kids can see a totally different side to Lancashire, one where monkeys roam free and the sandy beaches are paradise on a sunny day.

We at Time Out aren't the only ones saving the day for parents this summer. Freddo, the adventure-loving cartoon frog, is all about seeking out fun and helping out his friends. You can experience Freddo's first ever comic and audiobook adventure – ‘The Missing Hop’ – by searching 'Missing Hop' on the iTunes store. Perfect for those long car journeys...

CBBC tour at Media City UK

Roughly 90 minutes of guided interactive tours on the sets of CBBC faves like ‘Blue Peter’, ‘Newsround’ and ‘Horrible Histories’, a four-mile trip from the city centre. Kids over six will be able to try their hand at life goals like presenting the news or doing a weather forecast. Ringing ahead the day before is advised for this one, on 0370 901 1227.
Media City UK, M50 2EQ. www.bbc.co.uk

Three Sisters Race Circuit

Get through the safety briefing, er, safely, and you can embark on a day of outdoor karting on the 1.5km circuit. There’s the Bill Sisley Junior Kart School, which has two major claims to fame: 1) Bill discovered Lewis Hamilton when the four-time world champ was eight. 2) Ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert learned the ropes here. And there’s Arrive ‘n’ Drive, if you want to just turn up, crack on and keep it casual.
Three Sisters Road, WN4 8DD. www.threesisterscircuit.co.uk

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Formby Beach

The place to explain to your children why it’s a terrible shame that the numbers of red squirrels in the UK have fallen in recent years due to the introduction of North American grey squirrels to their habitats, then try to spot some in the pine forests that surround this beach. When they start yawning you can revert to building sandcastles, sledding down sand dunes and throwing buckets of water over Dad.
Albert Road, L37 2EJ. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby

Monkey Forest

Drive one hour south of Manchester and you will find 140 Barbary macaque monkeys happily doing their thing amongst 60 acres of Staffordshire woodland. The monkeys are wild animals, so no touching or feeding is allowed, but if you pay extra for the Breakfast With Monkeys experience you can turn up before doors open and help a guide feed the little beasts. Plus: two adventure playgrounds.
Trentham, ST4 8AY. www.monkey-forest.com

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Cheshire Aquapark

The highlight, of course, is the giant inflatable assault course, but without a doubt there’s fun to be had with the inflatable climbing walls, the whopping great trampolines and the balancing beams as well. There’s a catch though: kids must be over eight, and under-17s must have an adult with them at all times. Also at Manley Mere there's an Adventure Trail through woodland and alongside a stream, and some one-on-one paddle board tuition.
Manley Mere, WA6 0PE. www.cheshireaquapark.co.uk

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