18 Oct Things to Do with a Toddler in Manchester

Manchester is a great city break destination. You will have heard of its nightlife, its music scene and its shopping and attractions, but what do you do if you are travelling with a toddler? Fear not. Although your little one cannot sample Manchester’s nightlife yet, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out as a parent. Here are our top things to do with a toddler in Manchester.

Shopping with a Toddler

1. Trafford Centre

While shopping is a difficult task with little ones, the Trafford Centre makes it a hell lot easier, so you won’t be in a pickle when the terrible twos kick-in or a nappy needs changing.

Take full advantage of the crèche facility and spoil your other half to a meal for two, while your little sunshine is entertained by professionals. Win-win.

The Trafford Centre is also an indoor shopping mall, which means that on a rainy day, you can take the little one for a walk up and down its long corridors and burn that energy. Someone is going to sleep well during your city break and it isn’t going to be just you!

Tip: look for times of the year or times of the day when the Centre isn’t at its busiest. It will make it easier to book the facilities and wander around. A good example is weekdays during term-time and mornings at the weekends.
• Admission: free entry, but charges apply for play area and crèche facilities. Pushchairs require a refundable deposit.
• Family Facilities: free parking, parent & baby rooms, baby changing facilities, crèche, play area, pram hire
• Opening hours: Mon to Fri 10am – 10pm, Sat 10am – 9pm, Sun 12pm – 6pm (attractions and dining halls have different opening times)
• More info: Trafford Centre Family Facilities

2. Disney and Lego Stores

If your little tot is quite happy seeing colourful things and pointing at them, why not take them to the Lego or Disney stores at the Arndale Shopping Centre?

Image credit: Disney Stores

Right in the centre of Manchester, inside another indoor shopping mall, the Disney Store brings several Disney movies to life. Think it’s just the children that will be entertained? Think again. One of the movies you can pick up some memorabilia for here is Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You might just find the adults throwing a tantrum to get a treat too!

Photos used with permission. ©2017 The LEGO Group.

While Lego might not be instantly recognisable to your little one, the fact they can have a go a playing with the famous bricks could be very interesting. And while they do that, you can marvel at all the amazing things Lego-loving clever people can put together by wandering around the store and peeking through the displays.

• Admission: free
• Family Facilities: baby changing facilities, not in store but in the shopping centre
• Opening hours: Mon to Fri 9am – 8pm, Sat 9am – 7pm, Sun 11am – 5pm
• More information: Disney Store and Lego Store

Eating out with a Toddler

Image credit: Corn Exchange, Manchester

3. Corn Exchange Manchester

Most Manchester restaurants are children-friendly, but if you want to relax in an open environment where the little bundle of energy can’t go toddling off too far, then the Corn Exchange Manchester is the spot.

An indoor Edwardian food hall right in the centre of Manchester, the Exchange is home to several restaurants focusing on different types of cuisine. Most eateries here have vowed to be child-friendly, providing children menus, highchairs, activity sheets and baby changing facilities. Some even had their child menu tested by young food critics – check their Kid’s Guide to see the reviews.

• Tip: several restaurants offer family deals, check their page below
• Admission: free
• Family Facilities: baby changing facilities, highchairs, activity sheets, children’s menus
• Opening hours: Sun to Thurs 10.30am – 10.30pm; Fri to Sat 10.30am – 11.30pm
• More information: Corn Exchange Manchester restaurant list

4. Monolos Restaurant and Playhouse

Letting your tot burn off some steam in a play centre doesn’t need to involve crappy cups of tea and uncomfortable chairs. Monolos Restaurant and Playhouse hits the perfect balance of fun for the kids and comfort for the adults.

Inspired by American diners, the restaurant’s menu will not disappoint even the most sceptical of dads and with a dedicated toddler zone, you don’t need to worry your little one will get bumped by bigger kids. This is one play zone you will be more than happy to visit.

• Tip: children under 2 can play for free if their guardian is dining at Monolos
• Family Facilities: baby changing facilities, children’s menu, highchairs, play area, dedicated toddler zone
• Admission: charges apply for older children or children just attending a play session
• Opening hours: daily 11am – 11pm
More information: Monolos Playhouse

Toddler-friendly attractions in Manchester

5. Sea Life Manchester

Time to find Nemo. You can never go wrong with a giant aquarium, especially when part of it is interactive and you can even touch some of the animals! Boasting colourful and dynamic displays, Sea Life Manchester will keep both parents and children entertained.

• Tip: time your visit well and you can take part in keeper talks and watch some of the animals being fed.
• Family Facilities: baby changing facilities, pram friendly, café
• Admission: charges apply for entry
• Opening hours: Mon to Sun 10am – 6pm (last entry 5pm)
• More information: Sea Life Manchester

6. Manchester Museum

Toddler-friendly Manchester attractions

Displaying works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history, the Manchester Museum offers a whole array of exhibits and activities for little people, including storytelling and sensory play. There is plenty here for adults and little ones to explore.

• Tip: check their calendar of events for family-friendly activities
• Family Facilities: family lockers (so you don’t have to carry all your bags with you), changing facilities on all floors, children’s menu in their café, dedicated baby and toddler events
• Admission: free
• Opening hours: daily 10am – 5pm
• More information: Visiting the Manchester Museum as a Family

7. Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

From a sensory space for babies to hands-on experiments for older children, the MSI truly offers something for all ages. As well as all the fun exhibits, families also benefit from other facilities such as lockers, baby changing rooms and pram parking.

Come and explore 250 of technology, innovation and science. This is one museum we know adults will enjoy just as much as children.

• Tip: check their calendar of events for toddler focused activities
• Family Faculties: family lockers (to store bags), pram parking, dedicated toddler zone and sessions, children’s menu in café
• Admission: free
• Opening hours: daily 10am – 5pm
• More information: Visiting the Museum as a Family

8. Museum of Transport

Image credit: Neil Turner [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If any members of your clan are particularly partial to buses and trucks… You could not visit a better place than the Museum of Transport. Explore how Manchester’s public transport changed over time from horse powered to motor buses. If you time your visit well, you might even get to ride one of the old buses!

• Tip: Check their event calendar to see when you can take a ride in one of their heritage buses
• Family Facilities: baby changing facilities, tea room, pram friendly’
• Admission: adult £4, under 16s free
• Opening hours: Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10am – 4.30pm (different opening hours during summer holidays and bank holidays)
• More Information: Visiting the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester

9. National Football Museum

Image credit: Peter Corcoran for Mather on behalf of National Football Museum

A football lover’s visit to Manchester would not be complete without a trip to the National Football Museum. But if you think it’s only fun if you like football, think again.

With a lot of interactive displays and a whole discovery zone dedicated to children under 5, there is plenty to do here with a toddler, even if you don’t have a clue what ‘offside’ means. The museum is also located at Cathedral Gardens – a green open square where popular for catching up with friends, especially during the summer months.

• Family Facilities: pram friendly, café, baby changing, dedicated under 5s zone
• Admission: free
• Opening hours: daily 10am – 5pm
• More information: Visiting the National Football Museum as a family

10. Manchester Central Library

If you fancy a quiet moment to regain some energy or to wind down from a busy day of sightseeing, Manchester Central Library is perfect.

With a children’s library decorated like a secret garden, you just have to pick a book and a quiet corner to do a little reading. And if you are not quite ready to settle down yet, try to spot the animals popping out from under the leaves on the digital wall.

• Tip: the library also runs regular events for tots and preschoolers, check their regular event calendar here for more info
• Family Facilities: children’s library, baby changing, pram friendly, toddler dedicated events, café
• Admission: free
• Opening hours: Mon to Thu 9am – 8pm, Fri to Sat 9am – 5pm, closed on Sundays
• More information: Manchester Central Library’s Children’s Library

Activities for Toddlers in Manchester

11. Oxygen Freejumping

Burn that energy trampolining. Yes, you read that right. Oxygen Freejumping offers toddler exclusive sessions for little ones, where they can jump to their little heart’s content, have a play in the foam pit and even and gentle jump into the airbag.

• Tip: Make sure you and your little one are wearing comfortable, flexible clothes, preferably trousers.
• Family Facilities: toddler dedicated sessions, baby changing facilities
• Admission: charges apply
• Opening hours: check with the centre for toddler exclusive sessions
• More information: Oxygen Freejumping Little Os – toddler sessions

12. Chill Factore

Image credit: Chill Factore Manchester

Who said you have to wait for winter to play in the snow? At Chill Factore it’s a snowy winter all year round and the little ones can have a lot of fun in their toddler dedicated Mini Moose Land. Dig, hide, ride and have a lot of fun in the snow. Even big people will become little kids here. Great fun for the whole family.

• Tip: wrap up warm – bring gloves (compulsory), hats the whole shebang. The Chill Factore is a real snow centre with temperature to match. If you are not wrapped up, your fun will be cut short as soon as the freezing cold sets in.
• Family Facilities: free parking, baby changing facilities, cafes
• Admission: must book in advance, charges apply and going off peak is cheaper
• Opening hours: daily 9.30am – 9.30pm
• More information: Chill Factore Snow Park

13. Outdoor Play Areas & Parks

As well as all the attractions and activities, Manchester also has green spaces you can enjoy with little ones, so why not go for a walk, spot wild life and have a lot of fun in the outdoor playgrounds? Heaton Park and Wythenshawe Park also have open farms you can visit.

Park listing by facilities and attractions
Quick guide to Manchester family-friendly parks

family serviced apartments in Manchester

And after an exciting day exploring Manchester, you can return to your serviced apartment and put your tired little monkey to bed in their own room. So you can enjoy a well-deserved glass of wine without having to whisper or hide in the toilet. Who said travelling with a toddler needs to be hard work?

Paula de Santana

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