manchester skyline colourful sketch

22 of the Best Things to do with Kids in Greater Manchester in 2024

Keeping three sons occupied means regular days out. And here are some of the absolute best days out in Greater Manchester I’ve ever had with ours. All tried and tested. And there’s nothing on here I haven’t been and done with the boys myself!

The weekends and school holidays with three young sons means days out and fun things to do. We live in Greater Manchester so most of what we do is in this area right now. In this round up, I’ve pulled together 27 of the best things to do with kids in Greater Manchester in 24. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. I’m only including things I’ve done myself. So by no means am I saying these are the only fun things to do with kids in Manchester, but I’m only including activities or places I’ve tried myself
  2. If I’ve tried something and I didn’t thing it was any good, it doesn’t make the list
  3. These are various price points from totally free upwards. I’ll pull the latest pricing info together so it’s correct as of 6th March 2024, but prices change. Always check the venue website before turning up for the most recent price info
  4. Some of these are technically outside of the boundary of “Greater Manchester” but if any technically fall outside, then they’re close to the boundary

Let’s dive in.

Best Things to Do with Kids in Greater Manchester

Here’s the map and the list for people who just want ideas fast.

And here’s the list of things to do in and around Manchester:

  1. Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park
  2. Deck747 Flight Sim, Barton Aerodrome
  3. Immersive Gamebox
  4. Arcade Club Bury
  5. Dovestone
  6. Alexandra Park, Oldham
  7. Lyme – National Trust
  8. Smithills Open Farm
  9. Cockfields Farm
  10. Lancaster Farm Park
  11. National Football Museum
  12. Manchester United Women
  13. Inflatanation, Manchester
  14. Flip Out, Rochdale
  15. Play Factore
  16. Science and Industry Museum
  17. Jodrell Bank
  18. Manchester Museum
  19. National Football Museum
  20. Museum of Transport
  21. East Lancs Railway
  22. Legoland Discovery Centre

You can find out a bit more about each and how we found it there further on in this post!

Runway Visitor Park, Manchester Airport

PlaceRunway visitor park
Age Range From toddlers up
Price

Free entry if you take public transport, cycle or walk.

£5 for 2 hours to park a car.

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
How I Rated it  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
AddressRunway Visitor Park, Sunbank Ln, Altrincham WA15 8XQ

avro aircraft runway visitor park manchester

This is always an absolute firm favourite trip for all my three sons and has been for some time. There’s a playground on site and you get an amazing view of the planes landing and taking off. One of the aircraft on site is open for Runway visitor park visitors to take a look inside free of charge too.

While the Concorde tour itself is chargeable, you can actually walk around the outside of the Concorde in the hangar next to the cafe completely free of charge.

However, be aware that in the summer months there’s fairground rides that operate (chargeable). There’s also a cafe (they do kids’ picnic boxes for a reasonable price). You can also book tours of various aircraft on site there if you so choose. So while it can be done as a great budget trip, you could equally end up spending on food, drink and rides.

Deck 747 Flight Sim, Barton Aerodrome

PlaceDeck747 Flight Sim
Age Range 8+
Price From £74.95 to experience the sim
How my Son Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Address Deck 747, Barton Aerodrome. M30 7SA

Deck 747 Flight Sim Review - cockpit

I wrote a whole post on our experience at Deck 747. But in short, my eldest son (who is recently 9 and is completely and utterly aviation mad) received a flight sim experience for Christmas so we went here for it. We then ended up booking his birthday party there too where he and a group of friends got the flight sim and the run of the hangar to themselves. Both were amazing!

In short, Deck747 is the country’s first flight simulator built into the cockpit of a real 747 (formerly a BA aircraft that was retired). It’s not cheap – but honestly I thought it was incredible value.

You can pay to go into the hangar and just look around too for a few pounds. And actually, visiting Barton Aerodrome itself, the control tower and just watching aircraft land and take off is free! So that’s an option too.

Read more about our experience at Deck747 here

Immersive Gamebox, Manchester

PlaceImmersive Gamebox, Manchester
Age Range 5+
PriceFrom £10 for kids and from £15 for adults
How the Kids Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
AddressArndale Centre, Manchester

immersive gamebox manchester review

For the young gamers in your life, Immersive Gamebox is brilliant. It’s one of a whole host of attractions and entertainment activities in the city’s Arndale Centre these days.

The premise is that you wear a visor on your head which detects your movement and you’re in a “gamebox.” The gamebox is essentially a room where the walls are interactive and you play the game by moving and through use of the touch screen.

It was so much fun, really easy to get to and there were loads of food and drink choices in the Arndale to refuel afterwards. This is one of the best things to do with kids in Manchester right now!

For more photos and thoughts you can check out our full Immersive Gamebox review.

Arcade Club, Bury

PlaceArcade Club, Bury
Age Range 6+ (in my opinion though I do not believe there’s a minimum entry age)
Price £9 for kids and £17 for adults
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
Address Ela Mill, Cork Street, Bury. BL9 7BW

You can read our full Arcade Club Bury review here. But in short, this is Europe’s largest freeplay arcade. You pay to get in and then all of the games (and there’s over a thousand of them) are free. 

The food and drink is also incredibly low cost. I took my middle and eldest sons and 3 of us ate and had a drink for under £15 in total.

The kids thought it was amazing and gave it 5/5. For me, it was a 4. It loses points just because it’s so busy that you can’t always park and can’t get on the popular games. But check out our full review. And if you’ve got avid gamers in your household, this is a great day out for sure.

Dovestone Reservoir

PlaceDovestone Reservoir
Age Range Any
Price Free to visit.
Parking is £1 for up to 2 hours or £4 for all day
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How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️
Address Bank Lane, Greenfield. OL3 7NN

throwing stones in the reservoir

This really can be a freebie. You do not need to park at the main car park (which often gets busy). You can park in the village of Greenfield and walk up. But equally if you get a space parking is reasonable.

Dovestone Reservoir is is utterly spectacular. The main reservoir route is pushchair friendly right the way round but Dovestone has plenty of more adventurous hiking options for older children and adults. It has been an absolute favourite spot of our children since they were babies and a personal favourite hiking spot of my own too. SO many adventures to be had here for little ones.

Alexandra Park, Oldham

PlaceAlexandra Park, Oldham
Age RangeAll ages 
Price Free (parking free too)
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressKings Road, Oldham. OL8 2BH

Alexandra Park Oldham 

This is our nearest big park, around a 10 minute drive from our house. Oldham gets a bit of a bad rep sometimes, but there are places to go with kids in Oldham that are lovely and well maintained (plus the hills are lovely here, really!). 

Alexandra Park is a really well looked after park. There’s a wonderful cafe there and apart from being well priced and lovely it is also a place where adults with special needs can get work experience.

The playground is lovely, there’s tennis courts (free) and plenty of bike, scooter and walking friendly paths.

It’s a good place to explore and a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon with kids. Our children regard this as their favourite local park by miles.

 

Lyme (National Trust)

 
PlaceLyme National Trust
Age Range All ages
Price

Free entry and parking with National Trust membership.

From £3 for children and £6 for adult non members.

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Address

Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR

Lyme Park House National Trust

It’s pretty hard to beat a National Trust day out for families I think. This is one of my favourites and you can read our full Lyme Park review to get all the details. 

There’s loads of things to do with the kids here. The Crow Wood play area is massive and loads of fun, the landscaped gardens and gorgeous and my older sons enjoyed touring the house too. There are also plenty of food and drink options or picnic benches if you prefer to bring your own!

Smithills Open Farm

PlaceSmithills Open Farm
Age RangeToddlers and up 
Price Kids aged 2 to 16 – £10
Adults – £12 

Under 2s go free.
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
How I Rated it  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Address Smithills Dean Rd, Bolton BL1 7NS

smithills open farm

We first went here before our eldest (now 9) was even 2! And he loved it. I’ve since returned with the boys twice and it’s always a great day out.

Nice cafe on site too! Loads of animals and good parking provision. This, in my view, is one of the best farm parks in the North West.  

Go check out our full review of Smithills Farm Park.

Lancaster Farm Park, Oldham

Place Lancaster Farm Park
Age Range Toddlers and up
Price £7.50 for both adults and children. Under 1s go free
How the Kids Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressMiddleton Road West, Oldham, OL1 2TG

Lancaster Farm Park Donkeys

This is incredibly local to us and we’ve been a few times. It’s a lovely farm park and used to be considerably cheaper than nearby Cockfields Farm. We gave this a 4/5 on our Lancaster Farm Park review. And the main reason is there’s less to do than at the other farm parks we go to, less opportunity (or none, even) to get indoors and play indoors if the weather turns etc.

Nonetheless, it’s a lovely farm with lots of outdoor play equipment and outdoor things to do for the kids.

Cockfields Farm

PlaceCockfields Farm Park
Age Range Toddlers and up
PriceFrom £6.95 for both adults and children. Children under 1 are £2 during the week.
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Address Lees Rd, Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 8AR

A lot has changed since we first visited Cockfields Farm park in terms of what is there. But one thing that hasn’t changed much is the pricing. We wrote our first Cockfields Farm review in 2017. Fast forward to 2024 and the children’s entry price starts at the same level (adults are up by £1).

At the time, I’d rated it 4 and the kids a solid 5. What took it down a notch for me is that, at the time, it was much more expensive than other farm parks in the area. Not so much the case these days.

Loads of animals, regular special events, a decent cafe and loads of play equipment keeps us going back.

National Football Museum

 

Place National Football Museum
Age Range 5+ in my opinion
Price Free for City of Manchester residents.

For non residents:

£7 for children
£13 for adults

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressUrbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG

If your kids are real football enthusiasts, I think the National Football Museum is one of the best days out in the North West.

My two play and the eldest is a season ticket holder for the Manchester United women, but within a couple of hours they’d had enough. Some of the more historical stuff didn’t capture their attention but grabbed mine! I loved it! 

Manchester United Women

Place Manchester United Women
Age Range 6+ in my view
Price Tickets are typically £5 for adults and £10 for kids 
How my Son Rates It ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rate it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
AddressMost home games played at Leigh Sports Village. A couple of games a season usually played at Old Trafford.

manchester united women - nikita parris

Me and my eldest son have season tickets to the Manchester United women. The atmosphere is, in my view, much more family friendly than you get in the men’s game. Leigh Sports Village is a great little stadium with parking right outside. And the players always make the time to meet the fans after the game. Above is my eldest with one of his favourite players, Nikita Parris.

Inflatanation Manchester (and also Huddersfield)

 

Place Inflatanation, Trafford Park
Age Range 3 and over in my opinion, though children under 4 need parental supervision
Price £6.99 for an hour for under 4s. £11.99 for an hour for those aged 4 and over
How the Kids Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressTrafford Park, Textilose Road, Manchester M17 1WA

inflatanation_with_kids (1)

So we’ve been to the Inflatanation in Manchester and the kids loved it. But actually, from where we are and taking traffic into account, we’ve found ourselves more recently heading to the one in Huddersfield because it’s quicker for us to get to.

This is a really fun way to burn some energy though. And adults get just as much out of it as the kids. Slides, ball pools, ball shooters and all sorts of other fun stuff keeps them occupied.

The initial charge is for an hour. You can add a second hour for a slightly discounted price. But I think I would like to see 90 minute sessions. An hour feels too short but two always feels too long! And that’s the main reason for the mark down to 4 stars for me! Well worth a trip though. 

Flip Out Rochdale

Place Flip Out, Rochdale
Age Range 3+ in my view (with under 5s needing a paying adult on the trampolines with them)
Price

 £6 for an hour for children 4 and under.

£11 per hour for everyone over 5

£6 for adults supervising a 4 and under

Lots of special offers all the time though so check it before booking and book online in advance

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressRoyle Pennine Trading Estate, Unit D2, Lynroyle Way, Rochdale OL11 3EX

FLIP_OUT_ROCHDALE 2

So you may notice that my rating here is considerably lower than the kids’ rating. Let me tell you why.

  1. The trampoline park is really fantastic. Like properly amazing (though we don’t bother with the inflatables but anymore, which is separate, because it’s nowhere near as good as others). The trampolines are fantastic though
  2. The toilets are, frankly, gross. Toilet seats missing, dirty and really unpleasant. And that isn’t a one off. It’s been the case each time we visit and were it not for the fact that the kids love the trampolines so so much, we wouldn’t go
  3. The cafe is often understaffed and food has taken nearly an hour before
  4. Cleanliness in the cafe sometimes concerns me too

So in all, the kids love it and don’t care about anything but the trampolines. For me though, lots could be improved.

Our kids love it so much they both chose to have their birthday parties there in 2023 though.

 

Play Factore

Place Play Factore
Age Range Toddlers and up
Price

 Under 6 months free
6 to 11 months – £2.95
1 to 4 years – £9.95
5 to 16 years – £12.95 off peak and from £15.95 at peak times
Adults – £4.95

Zip Wire is an add on at £4.75 per turn.
Virtual Reality is an add on at £5.50 per turn

Sessions are up to 4 hours off peak and 2.5 hours at peak times. 

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
AddressTrafford Quays Leisure Village, 7 Trafford Way, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M41 7JA

play factore manchester (2)

As far as soft play centres go, this one is pretty pricey. 

BUT, Play Factore incredible. There’s so much more here than just a play frame. The gaming led trampolines, arcade, VR, zip wire and the tots area are amazing. The huge slides are fantastic too. And the cafe is really great. This is a bit of a trip for us but always worth it. I think is one of the best things to do with primary school age children in Manchester.

Science and Industry Museum

Place Science and Industry Museum in Manchester
Age Range 4+ in my opinion
Price Free entry with some paid extras
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Address Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4JP

Is this the best free day out with kids in Manchester? I think so!

There’s no admission fee for the museum itself, though a donation is encouraged. There is usually a paid exhibition as an optional extra. But this is a brilliant day out. The steam engines always captivate my sons and personally I find the old textile mill section really interesting. But there’s absolutely loads to see and do here. You can easily spend a full day at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Cafes on site too!

Jodrell Bank

 

Place Jodrell Bank
Age Range 4+
Price £10 for children
£14 for adults
Under 4s free
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
How I Rated it  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
AddressBomish Ln, Cheshire, Macclesfield SK11 9DW

jodrell bank with kids (2)

I’ll be honest. My kids probably would have rated this a 5 if it were just the Lovell Telescope in a field! And me too!

But there’s lovely grounds to wander, a couple of indoor exhibitions, a film showing and even a playground. Plenty to do with kids indoors and outdoors and the telescope is just incredible.

Technically Cheshire but this is within really easy reach of Manchester.

Manchester Museum

Place Manchester Museum
Age Range 5+ in my view
Price Free entry
How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
AddressUniversity of, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL

Manchester museum with kids

I love the Manchester Museum, personally. The material around natural history is wonderful and the cafe is fantastic too. Plus, it’s free. There’s not much in the way of interactive exhibition here so very young children might lose interest quickly. My eldest 2 gave it a 4/5. It was a definite 5 for me.

Museum of Transport, Bury

 

Place Museum of Transport, Bury
Age Range 4+ in my view
PriceAdult – £5
Child 3 to 17 – £3
Under 3s free
Family ticket for 2 adults and 3 children is £13
How the Kids Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressBolton St Station, Castlecroft Goods Warehouse, Bury BL9 0EY

Bury transport museum toddler

This is a really cheap day out with kids close to Manchester and is one you can fit in as part of a trip on the East Lancs Railway (more on that below). I have sons who are obsessed with all things transport, so for them this was an absolute hit.

The photo above is one of my favourite ever photos of my now 9 year old when he was just a tot “driving” one of the buses!

 

East Lancs Railway

 

Place East Lancs Railway
Age Range 4+ in my opinion
Price

Booked online (which is cheaper than paying on arrival) the prices for the full line are:

£17 for adults
£10.50 for children aged 3 to 17
Free for under 3s

You can get a large family ticket which will cover 2 adults and 3 children for £47 and local residents with permits get discounts

How the Kids Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
AddressBolton St Station, Castlecroft Goods Warehouse, Bury BL9 0EY

But you can board at a number of stations

I took my eldest two sons on the East Lancs Railway and made a stop off at the Transport Museum while we were there’ It’s a good combo. The steam engines are incredibly well preserved and the stations are beautifully looked after too.

If you have any children who are mad about trains this is a superb thing do with with and again in really easy reach of Manchester itself.

Legoland Discovery Centre

 

PlaceLegoland Discovery Centre, Manchester
Age Range 3+ in my view
Price

 Children from £12.50
Adults from £15.50

Typically lots of extras though

How the Kids Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How I Rated it⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
AddressTrafford Palazzo in TraffordCity next to The Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8AS

legoland discovery centre manchester review

My eldest two love it here. I’m a bit less keen if I am being completely honest. But in terms of things to do with kids in Manchester, their love for it means I can’t omit it. 

We reviewed the Legoland Discovery Centre in full after our first visit. We’ve since been back but my feedback would really be the same – very, very enjoyable for the kids but often far, far too busy and the little tour/talk bit at the beginning is just a bit much for the littler ones.

The Best Things to do with Kids in Manchester?

This list is not exhaustive. It’s only based on places we have been and that the kids have enjoyed! Anywhere the kids didn’t enjoy or where we haven’t been is excluded. But in terms of our best days out in Manchester:

  • Best free day out with kids in Manchester would be the Museum of Science and Industry
  • Best cheap thing to do with the kids would be Lyme 
  • Best special treat for the kids would be Deck 747

If there’s any glaring omissions here or things I definitely have to take my sons to go check out, let me know!

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