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From the Zoo to the River - Family-Friendly Chester

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If you and your family like zoos, be sure to set aside at least half a day to enjoy Chester’s world-class facility. There’s also watery fun to enjoy, with boating on the river and a renowned aquarium. Exploring the city walls is great for all the family and, to burn off any extra energy, there’s no shortage of playgrounds and parks in and around the city.

Animals and adventure playgrounds


Animals charm and fascinate all age groups. Close-up encounters with rare and exotic creatures at Chester Zoo will impress even hard-to-please teenagers, and the whole place hums with laughter and excitement. Cafés, picnic areas, numerous playgrounds, and spacious gardens keep everyone satisfied. A couple of smaller venues near Chester give children contact with British farmyard animals, as well as offering extensive play areas and other activities.


Chester Zoo


Alongside all the big-name draws like lions, elephants, and orangutans, there are some quirkier experiences, including an underwater giant otter viewing zone and a free-flight bat enclosure.


Upton-by-Chester, Chester CH2 1EU Tel: +44 1244 380280


Chester Zoo website


Cheshire Ice Cream Farm


You’ll find more than farm animals here. Forty scrumptious ice cream flavors are made on site, plus there’s quad biking, crazy golf, playgrounds, and a café for grown-ups.


Drumlan Hall Farm, Newton Lane, Tattenhall, Near Chester CH3 9NE. Tel: +44 1829 770995


Cheshire Ice Cream Farm website

The river and aquarium


You can take a row boat on the River Dee, or encourage the children to get some exercise ferrying you along on a pedalo. Those who prefer not to take things into their own hands can have a relaxing ride on one of the cruise boat tours. All ages will enjoy the impressive aquarium less than 30 minutes north of Chester. There’s an underwater tunnel, daily shows, African and Amazonian themed areas, and one of the largest shark collections in Europe. It’s even possible for kids to dive with white and black tip reef sharks.


Blue Planet Aquarium


The aquarium allows close-up encounters with sea creatures, from tiger sharks to tiny amphibians, and younger children will also enjoy the outdoor Pirate Playground. The junior shark diving experience is available at weekends and should be booked in advance.


Cheshire Oaks CH65 9LF. Tel: +44 151 357 8804


Blue Planet Aquarium website


Fun at Grosvenor Park


Britain is good at parks and Chester is no exception. Bang in the city centre is Grosvenor Park, with a playground and miniature railway. Adults can admire the ornamental flower beds while little ones scamper around the expansive lawns. Award-winning Westminster Park is larger, and has a play area and BMX track. Also check out one of Chester’s museums or the cathedral - they have special activities laid on for kids, especially during school breaks.


Chester Cathedral


Children enjoy hunting for carvings of the Chester Imp and a little dog scratching his ear. Recommended is the Cathedral at Height tour - although note that children must be able to walk up the tower and spiral staircase unaided.


St. Werburgh Street, Chester CH1 2HU. Tel: +44 1244 324756


Chester Cathedral website


Grosvenor Museum


This excellent museum gears itself towards families, and organizes a range of events during school vacations. Check the website to see the latest on workshops, walks, and exhibitions.


27 Grosvenor Street, Chester CH1 2DD. Tel: +44 1244 972197


Grosvenor Museum website


Family-friendly eating places


Plain and simple English pub food really hits the mark when you’ve got children in tow. Some venues provide special kids' menus of reliable favorites, like scampi and chips or bangers (sausages) and mash. Chester has a host of beautiful traditional pubs within the city walls. Choose one with a beer garden for the children to run around in, while you settle back with a pint of real ale.


Bear and Billet


Built as a townhouse in 1664, this black-and-white timber-framed pub has tiny lead windows and overhangs the street. Inside, there’s a real fire, plenty of space, and a huge menu of home-cooked food that will suit the whole family.


94 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RU. Tel: +44 1244 311886


Bear and Billet website