Raising Kids in Bristol

Raising kids

Proximity to green space and access to the countryside and coast is Bristol’s trump card for families. The Downs is a beautiful green space overlooking the Avon Gorge. Head over the iconic Suspension Bridge and you are in North Somerset with Ashton Court Estate and Leigh Woods offering fabulous walking and den building opportunities as well as mountain biking trails of varying levels for the young and young at heart.

A 20-minute drive takes you to the coast at Clevedon with its Victorian pier; 40 minutes to Weston-Super-Mare and, further a eld, take your kids bodyboarding for the day in north Devon. Driving over the Severn Bridge, you can be in the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains in just over an hour. The Forest of Dean which has some great child- friendly cycle trails is a similar distance.

Bristol has all the usual classes and clubs for children but without the huge waiting lists. It also has some unique family attractions. A hands-on science museum, an aquarium and a zoo with a high ropes course giving fantastic overhead views of all the animals. The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has regular exhibitions aimed at the very young and is free. The famous SS Great Britain down in the harbour is a great outing for all the family. There is a lively theatre scene. The Bristol Old Vic has some excellent performances aimed at younger audiences and The Bristol Hippodrome an ever-changing array of musicals, dance and opera. The independent Watershed cinema has weekly daytime “cinebabies” shows of the latest releases.

At Cribbs Causeway on the outskirts of Bristol there is popular Air Hop trampolining and a Young Driver attraction for 10–17 year olds. Thirty minutes from Bristol in Churchill is a dry slope ski and sledging centre.

You name it, Bristol probably has a festival for it. The internationally-renowned Balloon Fiesta sees hot air balloons of every shape and colour take to the skies over Bristol in August and the world renowned St Paul’s Carnival takes place annually, also in August. Less well known festivals include Slapstick (comedy), Urban Paint, Grillstock (a BBQ festival), Circus City and Festival of Puppetry.