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The Bristol crawl – best places to take your crawling and cruising baby

The crawling and cruising stage has already been quite long for us, and it looks like it’s staying around for the summer. Sometimes I’ve found it quite hard to think of places to go and just let Tibbs ‘be’, without facing the challenges of more mobile older children or the usual risky things that babies are drawn to like magnets. They do seem to love a park bench area strewn with fag buts and glass, concrete stairs and revolving doors, don’t they?

So, for anyone in the same boat, here’s my favourite places to take a crawling or cruising baby in Bristol. Be warned though – if you’re a dirty hands and knees phobic, some of these aren’t for you! Also, it goes without saying that most of these are more fun at quiet times, like early mornings and weekdays.

Colston Hall, main foyer.

Look at it! Huge swathes of lovely swooshy floor! Little leather cube seats to pull up on! Small raised stage to aim for! And very, very decent baby friendly food in the cafe in the corner. This is my top pick.

The fountain area, The Mall, Cribbs Causeway

So, John Lewis doesn’t open till 10am but the Mall opens a lot earlier. Get there at 9ish, get a parking space, get a coffee, and the baby can totter around the edge of this bad boy, unable to fall in until they can heave themselves over the edge (so depends on the size and ability of your baby of course) and then patter about on the shiny marble floor. Yes, this one not so good on busy days. But ideal for killing time until JL opens (I enjoyed joining the gathered crowd of outraged retirees and new mums literally limboing to get under the security doors at opening time)

Millennium Square fountains and open space, town centre

Quite an obvious one unless you are keen on totally clean or very new to Bristol, but this place is absolutely joyous on a hot day. Watching all the children unable to resist playing in the water is just fab. There’s no reason why on a quiet time a crawling baby can’t watch from the shiny, flat tiled areas, or join in a bit if supervised. Having spent my own hen do there, I’d avoid Saturday afternoons though!

Tyntesfield, lawns and parkland

I know it’s National Trust, and if you’re not a member that means stumping up to enable the baby to stump about, but I promise you, you won’t regret it. An entire day exploring the lovely lawns and gardens, totally dog mess and litter free, with plenty of cows and deer to look at. Can’t go wrong with that. If there’s anywhere to take the visiting Grandparents to show them what junior can do, this is it.

Bristol Central Library – Children’s section

Surely the ONLY library in the country with a pirate ship in the middle of it, which has multiple cruising functionality. There’s row upon row of books to pull out and throw on the floor (I think you might have to put them back though). There’s friendly staff. And the best bit – THERE’S  A REALLY GOOD RHYMETIME ON A SATURDAY MORNING. Yes, Mums, you can now inflict rhymetime on your partners on a weekend and there’s no excuse not to go!

The picture here is of the amazing Book Hive celebrating 400 years of public libraries in Bristol. Also worth cruising down to.

Atrium Cafe, Arnos Vale

Lush coffee in a beautiful setting for you. Nice large flat space with pull up opportunities on the many ledges and chairs for them. Dogs to pat, really friendly mums to chat to, nice staff and changing facilities too. Ideal. Also cannot be beaten for a ‘challenging’ buggy walk – you’ll have buns of steel after two visits.


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  1. Rachel Rachel

    Love this post. And the photos are amazing!

  2. What a good list! I can’t even remember where we took T when he was crawling, it all seems like so long ago! Colston Hall does look amazing for toddlers though, and I really need to take a trip back to the central library.

  3. Sharon Sharon

    Amazing guide. Thank u xxx

  4. Lia Lia

    Wow, the kids section at your library looks cool and we love running around half naked at Millenium Square fountains (well, the kids do!!)

  5. Colston Hall looks great. I struggle with the crawling stage, it’s so hard when they want to get down and explore but can’t yet walk. Although Tiger has just started walking so now I face new problems like him wanting to run off the whole time! x

  6. great post – looks like some great places to take a crawling baby

  7. Mithi Mithi

    Ah, what a lovely post … we have finally (at 18 months) gone past the cruising stage to full on walking – but the library and fountains are still firm favourites. Must say the Bookhive is gone 🙁 It was limited time only…

    • No! I had a search and thought it was on for a few months yet. Thanks for letting me know!

  8. we love millennium square! I’ve never been to Colston hall with Wilf funny enough x

  9. What a great idea for a post, some of these where perfect spots for me when F was cruising. x

  10. Really great tips – I wish I had known about all these places when Mr A was crawling about everywhere

    Laura x

  11. Lucy Cartlidge Lucy Cartlidge

    Great post, thanks!

  12. Emily Emily

    Great idea! It can be a nightmare on a wet day when you’re desperate to get out. I would add junction 3 library – it’s free and there’s a slide with a tunnel underneath – perfect. Check the opening hours first though as they can be a bit odd.

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