Planning a trip to the Lake District and thinking about what to do there? Keep scrolling for my list of things to do in the Lake District for families!
This list of things to do in the Lake District for families contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
As the setting for many children’s books and a popular staycation destination for local Brits, it’s no wonder there are many things to do in the Lake District for families!
The Lake District National Park and UNESCO site encompasses almost 1,000 square miles of rugged English countryside. It boasts 16 lakes, hundreds of rolling hills, and many quaint villages and market towns.
It’s the perfect place to visit on an outdoorsy, action-packed, adventurous road trip with your kids.
Just don’t forget to bring waterproofs and pray that you don’t need them!
Luckily, there are tons of amazing things to do in the Lake District if the weather is dry or not.
Whether you are indoors and outdoors, traveling with toddlers or teenagers, this list includes all the fun, must-do activities you should include in your itinerary.
25 Amazing Things To Do in the Lake District for Families
Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm
Not only can you visit an attraction based on Beatrix Potter characters, but you can also visit the writer’s home! It’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Cumbria.
She left Hill Top Farm to the National Trust in her will and they’ve done such a great job of preserving the farm exactly how she left it.
Beatrix Potter’s piano, doll houses, and most of her furniture are still there. Check out this half-day Beatrix Potter tour.
Lake Windermere Boat Cruises
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Windermere is to explore the largest lake in the Lake District on a guided boat cruise.
Sit back and enjoy sailing around the small islands and seeing the incredible lakeside mansions. Cruises depart from the pier at Bowness-on-Windermere several times a day during the peak summer season.
The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness
Beatrix Potter was an author and illustrator of children’s books during the Victorian era. Perhaps you’ve heard of her most famous work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit?
The World of Beatrix Potter is one of the best Lake District attractions for families with young kids. Learn more about her works through treasure hunts, short films, fun displays, and a magical garden.
Go Ape Grizedale Forest
Some of the best Lake District family activities are adrenaline-fueled. So, try ziplining and treetop ropes courses at Go Ape Grizedale Forest.
Kids aged four to eight can tackle the mini-challenges closer to the ground but older kids can walk and swing in the rooftops like Tarzan.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
Although not used for regular public transport, there are some historic railways in the Lakes that have been preserved for fun family days out in the Lake District.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway has a three-mile track running along the picturesque River Leven.
Steam train rides operate approximately once an hour from April to October.
One of 50+ Stroller-Friendly Walks
Wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy family walks in the Lake District with toddlers in a stroller rather than having to carry them everywhere? You can!
The Lake District National Park’s tourism board’s ‘Miles Without Stiles’ initiative lists 50+ walks that are wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
In particular, the circular walks around Tarn Hows and Grasmere Riverside are flat, short, and boast stunning lake views.
Theater by the Lake in Keswick
It’s surprising, but there are lots of cute little theaters dotted around the lakes that book fun and entertaining kid-friendly shows.
Theater by the Lake in one of the larger Lake District towns of Keswick is a beautiful, state-of-the-art yet cozy brick building. Its name is accurate; the theater sits only a few feet away from the banks of the beautiful Derwent Water.
They always have an extensive family-friendly program in the summer so these shows are one of the top things to do in the Lake District for kids on a rainy day.
Dove Cottage in Grasmere
Beatrix Potter wasn’t the only famous writer who lived in the Lake District. William Wordsworth, a prominent romantic poet, spent 50 years of his life in Cumbria.
One of the top Lake District family attractions is his former residence in Grasmere, Dove Cottage.
Ambleside Climbing Wall
If the wet weather won’t let you take part in fun and adventurous activities outside, you can still do them inside at the Ambleside Climbing Wall.
There are climbing walls suitable for children of all ages which is why it’s one of the top things to do in the Lake District for families on a rainy day. You can rent equipment there and they have friendly, qualified instructors.
Lowther Castle and Gardens
There are so many cool castles in Cumbria, but one of the best to visit in the Lake District with kids is Lowther Castle.
This 19th-century castle is technically a ruin, but its exterior structure is still intact! Formal gardens and an adventure playground called The Lost Castle are two other great reasons to visit.
Watersports on the Lakes
Watersports are essential Lake District outdoor activities. There are kayak and canoe rental facilities at Windermere, Coniston Water, Derwent Water, and Ullswater.
Puzzling Place in Keswick
Visiting an attraction with illusions, puzzles, and tricks of the mind is always a fun way to kill an hour or so.
Puzzling Place is one of the top things to do in Keswick for families with kids of all ages.
Lakes Aquarium at Newby Bridge
Visiting the Lakes Aquarium is one of the most popular days out in Cumbria for locals and tourists alike.
For starters, it’s in a convenient location on the banks of Windermere. This aquarium has both fresh and saltwater sea life with a tunnel that allows the fish to swim above your head.
It’s super stroller-friendly, too!
Eat Gingerbread in Grasmere
Invented in 1854 by a local baker, Grasmere gingerbread is a unique blend of cake and cookie that you and your kids will love taste-testing.
It’s crumbly yet chewy and you’ll only be able to find it in stores across the Lakes.
Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick
Hiking is one of the best free things to do in the Lake District, but many of the top walks aren’t possible with young kids.
One walk that is possible with younger kids is the 1.4-mile walk from Keswick to Castlerigg Stone Circle, a top attraction in the Lake District. It’s around 5,000 years old and looks gorgeous at sunrise or sunset.
Upfront Arts Venue in Penrith
Part cafe, gift shop, gallery, live music space, and puppet theater, Upfront Arts Venue is such a fun place to visit in the Lakes with your kids.
They have one of only four designated puppet theaters in the UK and always have daily, kid-friendly shows in the summer.
Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick
Hear me out! Derwent Pencil Museum might be one of the more unusual things to do in the Lake District, but its exhibits genuinely are fascinating and fun. They even have the world’s longest pencil!
Believe it or not, the history of the pencil can be traced all the way back to the Lake District in the 1500s which is the reason behind this museum.
Pencils make for very small and inexpensive souvenirs, too, so you don’t have to worry about your children raiding the gift shop.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
While the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway has a 3-mile, full-size steam train journey, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a 7-mile, small-scale steam train journey.
Traveling through lush forests and along the coastline, it’s a perfect activity in the Lake District for toddlers and younger kids.
Old Laundry Theater in Bowness
Yes, there is another awesome theater in the lakes that programs family-friendly shows. The Old Laundry Theater is in Bowness-on-Windermere which you’re likely to be passing through on your trip to the English Lakes.
It’s located just behind The World of Beatrix Potter, so they often have shows based on those characters as well as fairytales and other popular English children’s books.
Honister Slate Mine in Keswick
If you’re traveling with teenagers who want a real Lake District adventure and tame treetop ropes courses aren’t going to cut it, head to the Honister Slate Mine.
Not only are there tours that enable you to explore this working mine, but you can also try walking across the longest highwire bridge in Europe with a 1,000 ft drop. If you dare!
Climb Catbells or Loughrigg Fell
Are you a pretty outdoorsy family and think your kids could handle climbing up one of the smaller peaks? One of the best things to do in the Lake District for families is to climb up Catbells or Loughrigg Fell.
At 1,481 ft (451 m) and 1,100 ft (335m) respectively, these hills offer gentle climbs and sweeping panoramic views once you reach the top.
Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Site
Do you think your kids will be able to stay up past dark? If so, you should head to the Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Site on a clear night.
This is a Dark Sky Reserve where light pollution levels are low. The site runs guided stargazing tours, but you can head there independently too.
Ullswater Steamer Cruises
Lake cruises are one of the best things to do in Lake District for families with kids of all ages, but steamboat cruises are just that extra bit special.
Ullswater and Coniston both have ‘steamers’ with propellers or paddlewheels so you can travel around the lakes in style.
Eat Sticky Toffee Pudding
The Lake District isn’t known for its cuisine, but sticky toffee pudding is a super popular British dessert that was invented right here in the Lake District during the 1970s.
Well, its origins are heavily disputed, but there’s no denying that it first became popular in the Lakes. You’ll find it on menus in traditional pubs all over the English Lake District.
It’s a moist sponge cake covered in toffee sauce and usually served with custard or ice cream. Delicious!
Things To Do in the Lake District for Families FAQs
What are the best hotels in the Lake District for families?
Some of the best hotels in the Lake District for families include the Cuckoo Brow Inn in Far Sawrey, the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale, and Another Place The Lake in Ullswater.
What are some things to do in the Lake District for couples?
Many of the things to do in the Lake District for couples are the same as the things you can do as a family.
The Lake District is a great place for couples to hike, enjoy a lake cruise, watersports, and visit the houses of literary greats. You just need to sprinkle a couple of traditional English pubs into your itinerary, too!
What are some Lake District fun facts for kids?
There is technically only one lake in the Lake District, Bassenthwaite Lake. The others are waters, meres, and tarns! Although, those are just other names for ‘lake’.
There are six times as many sheep as people in the Lake District!
And finally, Scafell Pike in the Lakes is England’s highest peak reaching 3210 ft (978 m) above sea level.
What are the best family-friendly activities in the Lake District?
The Lake District offers many family-friendly activities, such as hiking on beginner-friendly trails, boating on Windermere Lake, wildlife spotting at the Lake District Wildlife Park, exploring the World of Beatrix Potter attraction, and picnicking in Tarn Hows.
Are there educational attractions for kids in the Lake District?
Yes, there are several educational attractions including the Lakes Aquarium, the World of Beatrix Potter, and the Rheged Centre, which often hosts interactive educational workshops for children.
Are the hiking trails in the Lake District suitable for young children?
Yes, there are a variety of hiking trails suitable for all ages and abilities. Trails like those around Buttermere Lake or the walk to Aira Force waterfall are popular and accessible options for families.
Can we rent equipment for water activities in the Lake District?
Absolutely! There are several places that offer rental equipment for water activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding, on the many lakes in the area.
Is the Lake District dog-friendly?
Yes, the Lake District is known to be very dog-friendly. Many of the trails, accommodations, and even some restaurants and pubs welcome dogs.
Are there indoor activities for rainy days in the Lake District?
Certainly! The Lakes Aquarium, The Pencil Museum, Rheged Centre, and the World of Beatrix Potter are great options for indoor family activities on rainy days.
Are there campsites suitable for families in the Lake District?
Yes, the Lake District is home to many family-friendly campsites, with facilities like bathrooms, cafes, and playgrounds. Some also offer organized activities for children.
Things To Do in the Lake District for Families Wrap Up
The Lake District is an incredibly welcoming place for families and young kids.
Whatever the weather has decided to do that day (or that hour!), there are plenty of things to do in the Lake District for families all over the national park.
You’ll be able to unplug from everyday stresses, try something new, and have fun on your family vacation with these attractions and activities!