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Lake Windermere is in the English Lake District which is a mountainous region filled with many stunning lakes in the northwestern side of England. This area of England is called Cumbria. While much of the Lake District is national park and recognised by UNESCO, there are several towns and villages within this beautiful area. If you are visiting northern England with the kids and would like to visit the country, then this is English countryside at its best.
Small country towns are great places with kids and the Lake District offers a lot to do with children. Lake Windermere has become known as a great spot for families and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The east side of Lake Windermere has more tourists because of all the great activities, however a short drive around the lake takes you to the peaceful and less crowded west side.
We had an amazing time exploring the lakeside and enjoying the views.
Here are a few ideas of what you can do around Lake Windermere to start you off on your Lake District adventure.
Windermere Lake Cruises
Their cruises offer a range of options, from your typical 90 minute around Lake Windermere cruise to your all day excursion with buffet lunch. You can also combine a cruise ticket with one of the many other tourist attractions on Lake Windermere such as the Lakes Aquarium or a return trip on steam train. You can also hire row boats and motorized boats with the kids.
Visit the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
Set in the tourist town of Bowness-on-Windermere,this fun centre for younger children involves a walk through the world of Peter Rabbit. There is also a small Beatrix Potter garden and tea room. If your children enjoy live shows, then it is worth purchasing a ticket online to the one hour Peter Rabbit musical. It’s a fun little show and our girls enjoyed it. This attraction is geared towards younger children, so if your teens are Beatrix Potter fans I would give this a miss and visit her Hill Top home instead.
Want more Beatrix Potter? Visit her Home of Hill Top
Hill Top is the be-loved house owned by Beatrix Potter that inspired many of her stories. It is now cared for by the National Trust. I’m a fan and really enjoyed these experiences with the kids.
If you do decide to visit, make sure you are early as you can only buy tickets on location of the day of your visit. Because the house is small, it is timed entry, but there is a lovely garden to wander around as well as a small gift shop. The small car park and ticket area is also in a separate location so don’t be surprised (like we were) to find yourself walking on a well-used road (no sidewalk/footpath) through the small village to get to the house (150 meters). But keep your eyes peeled, as inspiration for some of Beatrix Potter’s stories came from here as well. Hill Top is quite popular and can get quite busy, so try to arrive early with the kids.
If you are real fans or just enjoy the Lake District scenery, there are several Beatrix Potter trails and locations to check out in this area. Here’s a map prepared by the National Trust. If you miss out on house entry, you can still visit the beautiful gardens around the home and the shop.
Brockhole on Windermere
This is a family focused attraction that allows families with children the opportunity to enjoy time at the lake while participating in some fun activities such as tree top treks, pony rides, adventure playground, and variety of boat rentals. You can do so much here- there is even a house and garden with a cafe. Pre-book your activities during busy times to get a priority parking spot. However, you don’t have to drive here as this is a stop on one of the Windermere Lake Cruises.
The aquarium has a focus on the Lake Windermere fish, but it also has exhibits that showcase creatures from around the world such as the Amazon. They also have sea otters, ducks, turtles, rays, and marmosets- check their website so you can schedule your visit around a feeding time. The aquarium is not large, so it’s easy to include it in either a cruise or drive around Lake Windermere.
This is probably one of the most child friendly castles around as it doesn’t have the antiques and precious items you will find in other castles. Instead, you will find a Peter Rabbit adventure, indoor art and craft rooms, and an indoor Beatrix Potter picnic room. Outdoors there is a play area and plenty of room on the grounds or near the lake for a picnic. As they have a small parking lot, they encourage visitors to arrive by other means- such as by boat.
Claife Viewing Station
The viewing station was built in the late 1700’s to provide tourists with stunning views of Lake Windermere. The station was also a popular setting for parties at that time. The colored glass in the windows gave visitors a chance to imagine the lake in different seasons. Even now, there is a selection of small panes of colored glass that you can pick up and look through. My kids loved the views and had fun with the panes of glass. There is a short uphill walk to the viewing station. At the bottom, there is a small cafe that also serves takeaway lunches. There are lots of opportunities here to either do a walk, have a picnic, go for a bike ride. Also, the parking lot is separate (but close) to the Viewing Station. However, the toilets are a five minute (adult feet) near the ferry landing.
Lake Windermere offers so many opportunities for families from a busy holiday to a relaxing slow paced one. I hope you will be inspired to visit Lake Windermere and the Lake District with your family.
Like visiting lakes? Go here for articles on visiting Lake Maggiore with kids and Orta San Giulio with Kids, both beautiful lakes in Italy.
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