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more things to do in Bristol when it’s too hot

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post on things to do with kids in Bristol when it’s too hot. Time for an update, so here’s a few more.

Ice cream

Yep – since I wrote last, the city has exploded with ice-cream and gelato bars (there’s a difference, don’t  you know).

I love the Parlour Cafe at the bottom of Gloucester Rd. I equally love Swoon at the bottom of Park Street, but, part of me feels it’s wasted on kids, who just like any old ice cream, whereas Swoon’s concoctions are so delicious they are best un-shared and un-melted.

My favourite, controversially, is the utterly garish, completely weirdly located, and over the top Sundaes, on King Street. It’s child heaven. It’s mostly empty during the day. It’s wipe clean booths are perfect for sugar based tantrums. It’s massive. The staff are patient. The coffee’s alright too.

There’s Oliver’s on CARGO2 as well, on Wapping Wharf, but I haven’t tried it yet, the queue was enormous on opening day. But it’s looking good – many Bristol bloggers with kids have sampled!

If you like to avoid meltdowns at the end of family days out, and you haven’t been to the MShed side of the harbour – there’s an ice cream van right at the end by the bridge. You can avoid it by going round the back of MShed instead.

The cool indoors

Nothing worse than an indoors playdate somewhere too hot. So my top picks would be:

  • Baby cinema, if you have a non-crawler. Watershed, Everyman, The Cube, there’s loads to choose from.
  • Bowling – there’s a new Megabowl at Cribbs which looks pretty swank. If you’ve got babies, you can bowl yourselves. If you’ve got anything else, they can bowl. You can eat popcorn and fetch stray balls. All enclosed in perfect air-conditioned heaven. And The Lanes in town has long been a favoured destination for children’s activity, too
  • Waterstones, The Galleries. This is a good venue if you’re children can’t move yet, and then again if they can listen to instructions. The toys are intermingled with things for sale, at a ration of about 99% to 1% so you can feel a bit like you are in the Crystal Maze. But it’s got a SLIDE. And other cool stuff. And it’s probably less boiling than the park.
  • The Bristol Ferry – it has a cover over your head to stop the sun. You can see the city from the water. They help you on with your buggy. You can hop on and off all day

  • The Bristol Bus Tour – see above. Everybody should do this at least once, it’s fabulous. And cools you right down. And dogs are welcome, as they are on the ferry
  • The SS Great Britain – yeah, it’s a massive ship. But the vast majority of the tour is inside, and it’s cool, and a bit cold in places, as you go into the bowels of the amazing cabins. It’s such a treat – nothing like it, and so interesting for children of all ages

Shady trees you hadn’t thought of

Why jostle for the three trees near the playground at your local park, when you can try something new?

  • Brandon Hill – I know, I bang on about it A LOT, but it’s so good. Sit under a tree in the middle, your children can run down to the playground and come back up for a drink.
  • Queen’s Square – flanked by huge Plane trees, so much people watching to be done, a great picnic spot for all ages
  • Arnos Vale – honestly, forget it’s a cemetery and get down there. Shaded walks, beautiful views, lovely cafe
  • Botanic Gardens – this place is a treasure waiting to be discovered. It’s so beautiful

  • Bristol Zoo gardens, after 2.30pm – the crowds go, the school parties get on the coaches, and you’re left there, with your kids, in total peace and quiet, with some delicious picnic spots and places for water play. Oh, and at the moment, DINOSAURS!


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