The kids break up from school tomorrow and next month I’m having my kid brother, Cody (he’s 10, I’m 28!), stay with me for a week as he gets super bored with the summer clubs so my mum has asked me to entertain him for a week – god help me! When she first asked me I was pretty excited but after a few weeks I started to realise that I have ZERO experience looking after kids so I decided I needed to do some research and make a plan of things to do over the week that would keep us both entertained. I figured a mixture of activities I need to pay for and free/cheap ideas would be the best plan as I don’t intend to max out my credit card taking him to theme parks every day! I also quickly remembered that the rain is a big fan of visiting Manchester so lots of indoor ideas, that wouldn’t have him constantly attached to Phil’s Xbox, would be useful for those not-so-great-weather days. With that in mind, here are some of the fun things I’ve found to do in the Manchester/Lancashire/Cheshire area that I have put on a list of potential options…
Building a fort in the living room and having a picnic
When I was a kid, building a fort was THE best thing to do on a rainy day. It felt like a mini adventure even though it was nothing more than a few cushions and a bed sheet! You can even add fairy lights and make some hot chocolate to take the adventure through to the evening – maybe even have dinner inside the fort? I can already foresee a Dominos being ordered when Phil gets home from work and finds us cosied up in a living room fort as he’s an even bigger kid than Cody!
Crazy Golf @ Paradise Island Golf, Trafford Centre
Budget: £14 for an adult and a child to do 1 course
Crazy golf is always an activity that Phil and I enjoy doing, we often go for an evening out to Junkyard Golf near Piccadilly train station with friends which is great fun as it incorporates crazy golf, club music and cocktails…winning! Somehow I don’t think that’s a suitable option for Cody though but Paradise Island Golf at the Trafford Centre is kid friendly and really reasonably priced. Plus there are plenty of places nearby to grab something to eat or do some other activities like Laser Tag and the cinema.
Watch a film at the cinema
Budget: Roughly £17.50 for an adult and a child when booked online at Cineworld
I actually have a Cineworld membership card so I’m a little biased here as I LOVE films plus, as I pay my monthly subscription, I would only need to pay £7.63 for Cody to get in…result! There are always plenty of films on with a good selection of child-friendly movies (including a few that don’t make adults want to pull their hair out!). This is always a good option for one of those lazy days where you don’t want to do much but still want to get out of the house for a bit. You’ve got Cineworlds in Ashton-under-Lyme (near iKEA!) and Didsbury, Odeons in The Printworks, on Deansgate and at the Trafford Centre plus Vue at the Lowry so you have plenty of locations to choose from.
Go to a Museum or Tour
Manchester has so much to offer in terms of museums! There’s something for everyone, whether your kids are into sport and want to see the National Football Museum or even do a Manchester United or Manchester City stadium tour or whether they like cars or buses and would enjoy the Museum of Transport. Maybe they’re interested in the finer details and fancy the Museum of Science and Industry or maybe they love their history and would enjoy the Greater Manchester Police Museum, the Imperial War Museum or the People’s History Museum. Or if they don’t have a preference then there’s something to please everyone at the Manchester Museum. How about a BBC tour at Media City to learn about how the media works and walk in the footsteps of some celebrities? Whatever their into, there’s a museum that would spark their interest for the day. The best thing about some of the museums is that entry is completely free and, as it usually takes a few hours to go around the entire venue, there’s plenty of on-the-house entertainment with some learning thrown in too!
Get some winter sports in at Chill Factore, Trafford Park
Budget: £39 for an adult and child 2 hour lift pass (experience required) or £30 for an adult and child 2 hour snow park pass (no experience necessary)
Chill Factore is a fab day out for anyone who enjoys snow sports or playing in the snow. Whilst the main slope is the main attraction for most people with experience, Chill Factore also offers slip and slides, beginners slopes, lessons in skiing or snowboarding, sledging and downhill donut tubing lanes! There’s also “Mini Moose Land” for kids up to 4 to play in the snow, bounce on inflatable animals and build with soft toys. There is also an extreme snow area, a climbing wall, cafe and games on site with availability to hire every item of clothing and accessories you’d need to enjoy the day, just in case you don’t have any of your own.
Trampolining fun at Oxygen Freejumping, Trafford Park
Budget: £16 for an adult and a child when booked online (plus use code DOWTK20 for 20% off!)
Bouncy fun can be had for a great price at Oxygen Freejumping! They offer everything from hour long independent sessions to fitness classes and age orientated sessions (the PJ mask “jumping adventures” toddlers session looks wicked!). This is a great way to get kids moving without them complaining of being bored after 5 minutes. Bouncing around playing silly games is always a winner with kids (and adults)!
Go for a walk at Dovestones
When the weather is nice, but not too hot, a walk in the countryside is always great for the soul. There’s an unlimited number of places in the North West where you can explore miles and miles of countryside and reservoirs etc. Plus Manchester is slap bang in the middle of the Peak District and the Lake District. And if you don’t want to go that far afield then a quick Google search will tell you where your nearest nature reserve, walking route or park is. We happen to live right on the edge of the moors – literally they’re at the end of our street! Dovestone Reservoir (Dovestones) is a really popular destination for hikers, dog walkers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. So why not wack on your trainers or walking boots, pack a bottle of water, maybe even a picnic and get some fresh air in your lungs! If you live in the city centre and would find it difficult to get out to the countryside then take a look at my next option!
City centre exploring, Spy Mission Treasure Trail
Budget: Free – £6.99
Manchester has so many different areas to explore…you’ve got street art in the Northern Quarter and fancy restaurants in Spinningfields, the canals in Castlefield and culture of Chinatown. You can see the industrial history of the city in The Village whilst you’ll find the post-IRA, regenerated buildings in the Millennium Quarter. Why not take a self-guided sightseeing tour around the city spotting the famous landmarks or even do a scavenger hunt and make a list of things to see if you can spot in the city whilst exploring. If you’re not great at planning or wouldn’t know where to start then never fear, Treasure Trails have a ready made Manchester and Castlefield trail, with a downloadable option, that you can order through their website. They even offer a text service to give you clues if you get stuck!
Alton Towers Theme Park, Stoke-on-Trent
Budget: £59.50 for an adult and a child when booked online
My dad and I used to go to theme parks all the time when I was younger; I have tonnes of those photos of us on the log flume with my dad at the back, grimacing as he got soaked by the water, whilst I was loving life at the front! Theme parks can be super expensive these days but they’re worth it once in a while. Plus you can get a discounted rate if you book online more than 5 days in advance – and if you can get hold of one of the BOGOF vouchers that circle around every summer then even better! Alton Towers in Staffordshire near Stoke on Trent is the nearest theme park to Manchester and is tonnes of fun!
Spend the day at Heaton Park, Prestwich
Budget: Anywhere between free and as much as you like
Most people know Heaton Park for the large events held there, such as concerts, Parklife festival and funfairs, however it’s is also a mecca of outdoor fun for all ages! There’s play areas, an animal centre, historical buildings, beekeeping demonstrations, a golf course, a land train, donkey rides, a boating lake, fishing lakes, an orienteering course, football pitches, a garden centre and more! There is quite literally something for everyone because, even if you don’t want to be active or take part in any of the facilities, you can just sit outside and relax! The tram stops nearby at Bowker Vale so Heaton Park is easily accessible from all parts of Manchester.
Whatever you do with the kids this summer I’m sure they’ll have fun! Can you recommend anything that you think Cody would enjoy doing that I’ve missed off this list? Let me know…