things to do in Bristol - Bubbablue and me

Great places to visit in Bristol with kids: M Shed and Bristol Aquarium

One of the reasons I’d decided on Bristol for a few days away, was that in case of wet weather, we’d have plenty of indoor activities to do. We did have one day of rain, so my pre-planning for places to visit were useful.

things to do in Bristol - Bubbablue and me

Bristol Aquarium

We’ve been to Sea Life Centre, Birmingham when N was a lot younger, so I thought he’d like to see the fish again. So a morning at Bristol Aquarium was on the cards.

As with many aquariums, it’s quite pricy in my view considering it’s not that large. It cost almost £23 for the walk up price, although you can stay all day, or go back in later if you want. For us it wasn’t worth the money as we were out again, probably before an hour was up!

jellyfish at bristol aquarium.

The aquarium’s well kept, and there’s a variety of creatures to see…turtles, small sharks, fish, starfish, sea horses and more. We went as it opened so wasn’t busy and we could get as close as we wanted to the tanks.

fish at bristol aquarium

We had a fast walk round with N half-heartedly looking at the fish. He liked the sharks, and the starfish,

fish shoals and starfish c

and then wanted snacks before dragging me through to the lobby again.

chilling out in bristol aquarium c

I noticed an education area with activities for children, so there was more we didn’t experience. But with most places, I think you need to have older children who’re more interested in reading about the fish, and more on the educational side, to get the most out of your visit.

I don’t know how much N’s eagerness to finish the route was down to seeing the Postman Pat and In the Night Garden rides outside the exit. He wanted a ride on one, so I let him pay a 50p out of his purse to have a go. Arggh, damn tourist places putting playgrounds and rides just by the entrance or within view of the lobby!

M Shed

The next place we visited was M Shed, which is a free museum based on Bristol people, places and work. On 3 floors, overlooking the harbourside, it’s great for any age. The rooms show a history of Bristol the place, and then the people and work over the years. On our first evening in Bristol we’d got our bearings on a walk, and spotted the steam locomotive. Unfortunately it didn’t run in the rain so that was a bit disappointing for N as that’s what I’d said he could go on while we were there.

N wasn’t too keen at first on the actual museum, until he spotted the old Victorian till laid out for children to play shop with. He waited for some other children to have their go, then launched straight in. Apron on, and ready to sell his vegetables, weighing them out. Playing shop is a favourite at the moment, so this area was a perfect find.

playing shop with the victorian props

We then wandered round a bit looking at other items on show. There were a few interactive areas, but generally hard to get close to as it was quite busy. The computer screen displays around the museum weren’t working, so I’m not sure what they would have shown.

balloons at bristol m shed c

He also discovered the children’s art area, so straightaway sat down to draw some pictures. I’ve never seen him so keen to draw as he was on this holiday, and while there he drew 3 pictures.

making pictures at mshed bristol c

The main attraction in the museum was the vintage bus. I suppose driving everywhere, means any vehicle that’s different is interesting to N. We sat upstairs for a bit, then it was time to look around the rest of the downstairs which was full of larger exhibits.

N dressed up as a fireman (admiring himself for quite a long time in the mirror – vain child!)

dressing up as a fireman c

And spent a lot of time ‘talking’ on all the telephones around M Shed. The phones were all set up for people to listen about people or activities back in time in Bristol, for example different working women, or different emergency services and their work. They were a little on the quiet side to listen to, but I don’t think N was particularly listening, or that he realised that it was just someone talking on a loop. He enjoyed just listening and then talking back to them though. Very funny for me to watch.

on the telephone at mshed bristol

He also liked the Anderson Shelter – spotted it and went straight in, not worrying that there was someone else in there looking already.

mshed anderson shelter c

By the time we finished, we were just about in time for lunch but N just wanted a cake and drink at that stage. The choice for food was fairly limited if you wanted lunch, although there was a reasonable pick and mix children’s lunchbox option as well as hot menus. The museum’s definitely set up for children; you can pay a couple of pounds for an activity pack, but by the sounds of the children enjoying themselves with the exhibits anyway, I’m not sure you’d need one of those.

artwork at mshed c

In the afternoon, I was planning to head to Blaise Castle museum so we could look at the old toys, but after 2 drive rounds and eventually finding the Blaise Estate (tip, it doesn’t advertise outside that it’s the museum – the sign outside the exit reads Blaise Estate – and it looks like a park), N was still asleep so we just headed back home…well, detoured to Primark to stock up on cheap autumn clothes for N.

There’s lots of other places that I’d have loved to have visited with more time – SS Belfast would have been interesting, but probably for when N’s a bit older. And lots of free museums, which is good to see when you’re on holiday.

mirror ball in millennium square bristol c

Have you been to Bristol, or do you live there? Where would you recommend to visit?

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  1. Ahh Emma this looks and sounds fantastic. I have never been but you made me want to take a trip to it now! lol Lovely photos glad you had such a great time! Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. It’s my first week back in the UK and my one year blog birthday so it’s very busy busy in the LTM household. I am hosting giveaways everyday this week so a bit behind on commenting. So sorry. #sharewithme

    1. I’ve only been through previously too, on the way to Brean Sands after a motorway break down/detour. We then broke down again on the Clifton Suspension bridge as it was closing and had to push the car off. Glad we had no episodes like that this time!

  2. SS Great Britain is definitely worth a visit. Having said that my kids highlight was the room where a wax model was ‘being seasick’ very realistically!

    We were down at M-Shed a couple of weeks ago too as we stopped there on the way to the balloon fiesta. We only had cake and coffee in the cafe though so can’t comment on the museum 🙂

  3. This looks and sounds like a really fun way to spend a day! Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful pictures and also for the suggestions. 🙂

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