Being a young(ish) family, we like to get out and explore, see new things and have a little fun all with our 19 month old busy body. To save on costs and travel time we often opt for day trips, weekend getaways or staycations exploring different parts of London. Thankfully there are some really fantastic places that we can travel to that are within a two to four hour radius of London. This particular weekend we decided to head to Bristol.
Nestled in South West England, Bristol is a city that is built around a historic and beautiful harbour. It’s bustling, it’s culture rich and ultra trendy with the perfect balance of history. It is indeeed a happy marriage of traditional and modern architecture that is apparent upon first entry into the city.
Weeks before our trip I literally immersed myself in the visitBristol website which gives all of the information needed for a trip to the city. It’s tourist friendly AND what makes it really nice is that you can plan your itinerary online so that you can have a clearly laid out trip. We didn’t do that. It is a little difficult to stick with a schedule in between naps, tantrums and feeding times….and that’s just “P” and I, NuNu has her own agenda that she keeps to!
On the two hour drive from London several thoughts came to mind. How will we get on in a trendy city with a baby? No doubt the hubs and I could hit all of the hot spots if we had a babysitter but will Bristol be enjoyable for a toddler? Thanks to the nice peeople at visitBristol for facilitating portions of our trip we had more than my half prepared list of “must visit” places to guide us through the city.
Novotel City Centre Bristol
First stop, hotel check in. We opted for Novotel Bristol Centre which was one of the family friendly accommodations listed on the visitBristol website. The location was prime, the hotel has available parking and is within walking distance of all of the sites.
We found our Superior Room with queen bed and convertible sofa to be more than enough room for the three of us. Even with a spacious work area, mini bar and tea and coffee console, the room still had space for our little NuNu to comfortably and safely run about. Extra plus was the small refrigerator that we used to store milk and juices. In addition to the perks of the room, in the lobby area there is an Xbox with games for older kids (or adults) to play. It was certainly a hit because it was in constant use with kids watching on as they wait their turn.
Novotel Bristol Centre was not a let down for us parents either. It is equipped with a full fitness suite with a lovely sauna and steam room. We included breakfast with our booking which I will say was top notch. It included all of the staples of hot and cold breakfast items served buffet style. I was even able to special order vegetarian sausages. The staff were extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the surrounding area. We would without a doubt recommend Novotel Bristol Centre.
Address : Victoria St, Bristol BS1 6HY www.novotel.com
On our first day we decided to head out to Bristol Aquarium. The aquarium boasts over 4,000 aquatic creatures and various forms of plant life. Visiting the aquarium makes for a great outing for the entire family. It’s like a maze of one exciting exhibit after another with sharks, octopus, and seahorses to name a few. You can tell when you are getting close to the clownfish display by the tiny voices echoing through the corridor yelling “Nemo!”
Address: Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT www.bristolaquarium.co.uk
You don’t have to be a science buff to thoroughly enjoy this state of the art interactive science centre. With over 300 hands on science exhibits the centre lives up to its motto of making science accessible to everyone. In addition to the many exhibits, there are live science shows as well as a planetarium. Though most of the exhibits were well over NuNu’s level of comprehension, many of the exhibits provided a high level of sensory stimulation. If visiting with kids I suggest dedicating an entire afternoon to partake in all that the centre has to offer.
Address : Anchor Rd, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5DB www.at-bristol.org.uk
City museums are typically small and rarely showcase the history of the people up to present day but this free museum does so in a very notable manner. From the first step into the museum visitors experience the struggles, trials and triumphs of Bristol’s past and present. I originally approached the M Shed with one mission and that was to caste my eyes on artwork by Bristol’s own, the infamous Banksy. That I did. It was a rather small piece but I also discovered that Bristol has a rich history in the labor movement, women’s rights, trade industry as well as the arts. Atop the M Shed is one of the most amazing views of the Harbour via its fully accessible roof top terrace.
Address : Prince’s Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN www.mshed.org
Clifton Suspension Bridge
If you are looking for the most stunning views in the city, Clifton Suspension Bridge is the place. Soon to celebrate 150 years, the bridge is long standing, spanning Avon Gorge and the River Avon. I will admit that out of my fear of bridges I didn’t dare to take any of these photos. I did however enjoy the views from the lookout point which in itself was breathtaking enough. This spectacle takes sightseeing to extremely new heights.
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Since I was a kid I loved a day out at the zoo so I had to take this opportunity to give NuNu her first experience. She absolutely loves animals and having been on several safari excursions in Zimbabwe the child now thinks that a lion is as cuddly as a kitten! The Bristol Zoo is a fantastic 12 acres housing over 400 species. There are also cafes and exhibits which ensures that there isn’t a shortage of animals to see and things to do. Allow yourself 2-3 hours to take it all in especially if you are interested in the many attractions such as ZooRopia (high ropes obstacle course) or Zooniversal Studios (an intractive acting experience).
Address : Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA www.bristolzoo.org.uk
Bristol is a city with everything for everyone and scores high marks for being very family friendly. It is a place that can be enjoyed by those with an affinity for the arts, music, nature, architecture or those that can appreciate a beautiful, rather chilled out scene. Bristol is a place that we will be returning to as well as recommending!