Bath’s unique geology and architecture has been attracting tourists for centuries. The Romans were particular fans of its natural thermal spring that continues to make the city the perfect destination for a spa break. The sad news for families is that the divine roof top Thermae Bath Spa is adults only. But have no fear, while a spa day isn’t on the cards, there are still plenty of things to see and do in Bath with kids.
I’ve been visiting Bath since I was a child and have recently returned with my own family so have plenty of tasty titbits for you. There’s history, culture, afternoon teas aplenty and lots of outdoor fun.
Here are the best days out, activities and family-friendly attractions to include in your family’s visit to Bath.
No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the Roman Baths. This UNESCO site is the best preserved ancient Roman bath complex in Northern Europe and sits on top of the UK’s only thermal spring. Excavations have uncovered a trove of treasures, from Roman engineering to statues of emperors and more than 14,000 coins offered to the spring’s Goddess Sulis Minerva over the centuries.
If this doesn’t sound like the type of place your kids would enjoy, think again. There’s plenty to keep them entertained from touchable exhibits to a children’s audio guide. Visit during the school holidays to interact with the costumed characters who will happily chat to you about life in Roman Bath.
For an extra special experience, book the Pump Room restaurant for afternoon tea.
The American Museum
There’s a treat for fans of American culture in the grounds of the University of Bath. The American Museum is home to the largest collection of American cultural artefacts outside the United States. It also has beautifully manicured gardens and a play area that is perfect for letting kids run about in between immersing yourselves in four hundred years of history.
The museum itself is set within a stately home where children are loaned a rucksack containing their own museum guide, activities and a soft toy puppet to accompany them during their visit.
As well as exhibits that are preserved safely behind glass there are dressing up boxes and rooms recreated as American homes dating from the 1600s.
Visit in the spring to see the gardens in full bloom or in the autumn to see it bathed in red, orange and yellow.
Parks in Bath
Bath is a city with its fair share of green lungs where you can escape when the kids need a break from the cultural and historic delights.
Parade Gardens is in the heart of Bath and sits alongside the River Avon with views of the famous Pulteney Bridge. In the summer there are concerts in the bandstand and deck chairs on the lawn. It’s the perfect spot to chill out.
For somewhere with a few more kids’ activities, Royal Victoria Park is a great option. There’s an impressive playground, adventure golf, a skate park and duck pond.
Bath City Farm
If your kids love animals then a trip to the city farm is a must. It’s free to visit and its residents include pigs, ducks, cows, sheep, ponies and goats. There are also nature and history trails, and a play fort.
Visit during the school holidays and you can listen to storytellers and music performances in the outdoor amphitheatre, which sits in a hole made by a WWII bomb blast.
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks with thirty Grade 1 Listed terraced houses arranged in a perfect half-moon. It is a striking sight to see. But venture round the back and the lack of uniformity is a telltale sign that each terrace was in fact built by a different architect.
If you want to find out more about what it was like to live here in Georgian times, visit the museum at No.1 Royal Crescent. As well as recreating the interiors of a late 18th Century home, its exhibitions explore the city’s links to the British slave trade, which paid for the lifestyle of Bath’s Georgian elite.
If your kids love a challenge ask them to count how many columns adorn the front of the Crescent and see if they can spot the one yellow front door. This primrose coloured entrance caused quite a stir in the 1970s as all doors had been white since the Crescent was built 250 years ago. The uproar was such that there was a public enquiry. But the yellow door got to stay.
Get on the water
Join a boat trip at Pulteney weir and go wildlife spotting on the River Avon where you can see swans, herons, kingfishers and even otters.
If you prefer exploring the river under your own steam, hire a punt from Bath Boating Station close to the city centre. You can even have a go at paddle boarding along the Avon.
Walk the Bath Skyline
Take a bus to the Bath Skyline for the perfect city view and a six-mile circular walk through the countryside and woodlands surrounding Bath. If your kids have plenty of energy to burn, the Skyline is a mile and a half uphill walk from the city centre.
Hop on a bus tour
This was one of my first ever tourist experiences in Bath and a top way to get a fact-filled insight into the city before digging a bit deeper. You can pick up a City Sightseeing tour for a ride around the landmarks of the city centre or the countryside views of the Bath Skyline.
Your tickets are valid for 24 hours and you can hop on and off as often as you like - perfect if your kids are getting fidgety!
Try Sally Lunn’s Bath Bunns
Italy has gelato. France has crème brûlée. And Bath has Sally Lunn’s Bunns! These unique tea cakes were first baked in Bath in the Georgian era.
If your kids enjoy a sweet treat you can buy a Bunn to take away from Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House or sit in for breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon tea. The restaurant is in one of the oldest houses in Bath so, as you can imagine, it’s quite small. Foodie families should book ahead to secure a table.
The Jane Austen Centre
Do you have a book worm in your family? A visit to the Jane Austen Centre is a must to find out about her work and what it was like to live in Georgian Bath. There are period costumes to admire and try on, as well as actor guides to bring the experience alive.
Complete your visit with Mr Darcy’s Afternoon Tea or Mrs Bennet’s cake of the day in the Regency Tea Room. There’s also Miss Dashwood’s Afternoon Tea for smaller tummies.
Bath is a brilliant destination for an English city break and a great base for exploring more of the South West. Extend your stay and see historic Bristol, Longleat Safari Park, Cheddar Gorge and Stonehenge. All are within easy day-tripping distance and make excellent additions to visiting Bath with kids.