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five days with a preschooler in Bristol | what to do (part 1)

There are roughly two types of preschooler – those who still nap, and those who don’t. Therefore, these days are split into mornings and afternoons, in case you need that bit for a nap. This is part 1 of five days’ worth of ideas for entertaining preschoolers and toddlers in Bristol, but there’s so much to do, there’ll be a part two coming soon.


Start as you mean to go on (i.e. as much sitting down as possible) by going to the British Gymnastics Centre (also known as Hartcliffe Gym) for a giant, freeform soft play session. 10-12, every morning bar Thursdays. £4. Get there early!

In the afternoon, seeing as you’re on the way out there anyway practically if you’re in Hartcliffe, why not head up to Chew Valley lakes and feed the ducks, have a play in the playground, and grab a coffee from Salt and Malt?

(obviously, a car is helpful for this day, I know)


Go swimming – lots of us do baby swimming and then stop, because it’s expensive, or because another comes along, or because it’s cold, or because dad takes them on weekends. Here’s our council pool timetables just in case you fancy it.

Go home! Sometimes we can feel like it’s not ok to just be at home, but actually, just having an afternoon getting the toys out, building, drawing, making dens, can be pretty cool. Better still, invite someone round, maybe even another parent you don’t know so well and you’d like to get to know, and have some fun.


Put on some good clothes for the weather and head up to St Andrews Park in Bishopston, with your own bucket and spade/diggers/mini cars. The sand play there is really good, as is the whole playground actually, but preschoolers seem to love the possibilities of that much sand. The coffee stand is good, too.

At 2pm head to Kudacan for the afternoon session from Poco Drom. Singing about animals, nature and happy things. A true South-West institution!


Get to Windmill Hill city farm in the heart of Bedminster for the morning. Run about, see some animals, learn something new, all for free. Eat your picnic lunch in the playground (everyone always forgets about the awesome playground), or eat in the lovely cafe.

Walk from the farm the short distance to Dame Emily Park, marvel at the street art and the teenagers doing their thing in the skate park, and enjoy the playground. Then, end the afternoon with a nice sit down at Hungry Caterpillar Cafe in Bedminster for the afternoon – it’s open till 5pm on Thursdays, so you could maybe play there and treat yourselves to chips at the North Street Standard or the Steam Crane for tea afterwards?


Explore an area you don’t know. We did Old Market the other day, and found amazing junk shops for old toys, great fabric places, and The Old Market Assembly which is an unbelievably kid friendly and gorgeous lunch stop.

End the week in town with a play around harbourside. Walk or buggy along from MShed down to Underfall Boatyard, and get the ferry back. Feel spring springing all around on the docks. Look out for ducks, rowers, funny looking boats, count the dogs, the joggers, the dropped ice creams and the seagulls. Do nothing, but see everything at the same time. Get the bus home, sit on the top deck.


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