The best things to do in Chester with kids

Growing up around 50 miles from Chester, I’ve been visiting my whole life, from school trips to family days out with my own daughter – because from Roman history to the fabulous zoo, there’s so much to discover in Chester with kids.

Black and white timbered building in Chester - beyond the historic streets, there are lots of things to do in Chester with kids
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It’s a gorgeous place just to stroll around – on a sunny day, wandering past the pretty black and white medieval buildings or along the city walls is hard to beat, but it’s just as good if you’re visiting Chester in the rain with kids, with some fantastic family attractions.

So from free days out to history, family trails and a gloriously gruesome chance to discover history through the ages, I’ve picked out my top things to do in Chester with kids.

Deva Roman Discovery Centre

Once the site of the largest Roman fortress in Britain, with the largest military amphitheatre just outside the city itself, Chester is a perfect place to visit with kids who are fascinated by the Romans.

And one of the best places to bring this to life is at the Deva Roman Discovery Centre, previously called Dewa Roman Experience, which reopened in summer 2023.

On an original Roman site, you can see genuine artefacts, get hands on and learn more stories about the empire, with tours led by Roman characters for an added family-friendly element.

A collection of Roman armour and shield at Dewa Roman Experience in Chester - the renamed Deva Roman Discovery Centre is one of the best places to visit in Chester with kids

After boarding a ship to travel to the Roman port, you’ll be assigned and identity and occupation at the fortress, before learning about daily life, from homes to hygiene, food to fighting, as well as learning more about some of the gladiators who battled it out in the amphitheatre.

There’s also the chance to join soldier school on Saturdays and on Wednesdays during school holidays, marching through the streets of Chester to see more Roman sights and practising battle formations along the way.

Check out our family day out at Dewa Roman Experience, as the Deva Roman Discovery Centre was then known – while it’s been renovated before reopening, it gives you a taste of what’s in store.

Roman Amphitheatre

Built in the first century CE, Chester’s Roman amphitheatre sits just outside the site of the old fortress and was the largest in Britain.

In fact, there have been two stone amphitheatres here over the years, used both for training the legions in military tactics and weaponry, but also for entertainment.

Ruins of the Roman amphitheatre in Chester - one of the best things to do in Chester with kids

With some similarities to other amphitheatres across the empire, including Pompeii, the city’s two arenas were both different from all other British amphitheatres making a visit unique when you’re in Chester with kids.

Free to enter, less than half is visible (much remains unexcavated) but there’s still plenty to fire the imagination, if you want to try out your own Gladiator impersonation.

For more ideas of the best Roman places in the UK with kids, check out my top picks

Chester city walls 

Move over York, Chester’s city walls are the oldest, longest and most complete in Britain, with some parts dating back nearly 2,000 years.

The Romans were the first to construct defensive fortifications, before the Saxons added to them. But it was the Normans who rebuilt them to make a complete circuit around Chester.

View down steps and along the old city walls of Chester - the original Roman and medieval walls still encircle the city and you can walk the whole way around Chester with kids

Centuries on, you can still walk the entire way around the city’s historic walls, looking down onto the streets as well as out beyond Chester – and it’s completely free to do so.

There are four main gateways – Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate and Bridgegate – but also other steps up (including some accessible ramps) around the city if you just want to walk part of the walls.

It’s worth knowing that the local council has an ongoing series of repair and restoration works taking place, so you may find temporary diversions along the route.

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is not only one of the top family-friendly attractions in Chester, but it’s known to be one of the best zoos in the entire UK, if not the world.

The enormous zoo is spread over 125 acres and is home to an impressive 20,000 animals from 400 different species. You can see many exotic creatures from all around the world, including endangered Asiatic Lions, gigantic Komodo Dragons, and many more.

Baby Indian elephants calves play together at Chester Zoo - one of the best places to visit in Chester with kids

There are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep kids entertained too, such as walkthrough bird aviaries and a butterfly house, while the educational animal talks and keeper presentations are sure to fascinate teens and older children.

Families can also enjoy a lazy river boat trip, get up close and personal with furry friends in the petting zoo, take on the Treetop Challenge, and make the most of one of the zoo’s several children’s play areas as well.

There is also an aquarium at Chester Zoo, otherwise one of the closest options is the Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port, around 20 minutes away by car

Chester Cathedral

Dating back to the 10th century, Chester’s beautiful Grade I listed Cathedral is a must-visit in the city for visitors of all ages.

During a free visit, you can wander around and admire the Gothic architecture, historic artefacts, and colourful stained-glass windows. Or there’s the option to pay £6 for a one-hour guided tour to hear fascinating stories from the cathedral’s 1,000+ years of history.

Tower of Chester Cathedral seen through the black and white facades of buildings - one of the many things to do in Chester with kids

But the real highlight of the cathedral for younger visitors has to be Chester Cathedral in LEGO.

The detailed Lego model of the cathedral has been constructed gradually over the last few years and will consist of over 300,000 bricks when it’s complete. You can donate £1 to add a brick to the model, with proceeds going towards the Chester Cathedral Education Trust Fund.

Chester Castle

Another of the best free things to do in Chester with kids is a visit to Chester Castle.

Founded by William the Conqueror in 1070, Chester Castle was one of the city’s most important medieval buildings and served as the administrative centre of the county for hundreds of years. 

The exterior of the Norman castle on the hill in Chester - a visit is one of the great things to do with kids in Chester

Very little of the original castle still remains today but you can visit the 12th-century Agricola Tower – the first stone gateway to the castle – and a small section of the castle walls.

Step back in time as you explore the tower’s vaulted chapel, with frescoes dating to the 13th century. Then climb to the top and walk along the castle walls for amazing views over the city.

The Castle also runs a series of family-friendly events throughout the year. Their biannual Civil War event is a particular highlight, with live character actors and immersive events bringing the story of the historic castle to life.

Chester’s Roman Garden

Located just outside of the ancient city walls, Chester’s Roman Garden is a charming little park constructed in traditional Roman Style. It’s a great spot to visit with young history buffs or if you need a bit of green space to relax in.

Around the gardens, kids can search for Roman building fragments and artefacts that have been sourced from excavations all over the city. There are also signposts describing each of the ruins, with information and stories about the city during Roman times.  

And for little ones who may not be as interested in Roman history, the park is still a lovely spot to enjoy a peaceful picnic or to give them a chance to stretch their legs away from the busy city streets.

Chester Roman Gardens, the park has lots of historic remains from the city's Roman history - one of the best places to get outdoors in Chester with kids

Sick to Death

Treat the family to a “sick” day out at one of Chester’s most unique and grossest family attractions, Sick to Death.

Suitable for kids of all ages, the unusual immersive attraction takes you on a journey through the gory history of medicine, with live character actors and plenty of fun interactive exhibits. 

Kids can meet the Grim Reaper and Asclepius, the ancient Greek God of medicine, try to avoid deadly diseases in “Diagnosis Alley”, and even perform an autopsy on themselves. Plus don’t miss the TURDIS, the only time-travelling toilet in existence!

Sick to Death manages the tricky feat or being both a fun and educational experience for the entire family. As long as you’re not too squeamish that is!

Treasure Map Trail

For a fun way to explore Chester on foot, check out the Treasure Map Trails to spot some of the quirky sights of the historic city.

One of the Treasure Trail Maps for Chester, with a dinosaur theme - my tips for the best things to do in Chester with kids

With two different options, you can choose from one leading you around Chester’s Eastgate and amphitheatre or around the Northgate and cathedral.

There are two different themes to brighten up the trails as well, with one decorated with superheroes and the other featuring dinosaurs, ideal if you’ve exploring Chester with younger kids.

Theres also 10% off using code MUMMYTRAVELS.

The Rows Trail

The Rows are a series of 13th-century black and white half-timbered buildings connected by long, covered galleries (walkways) consuming much of Chester’s four main streets. 

Unique to the city, the Rows are Chester’s most distinguishing feature and one of its most photographed landmarks. Today, the Rows are full of independent shops and quaint little cafes.

For a fun way to discover Chester’s Rows with kids, you can download “The Rows Trail.” Created by the Visitor Information Centre, the trail takes you on a self-guided walking tour of the historic buildings, with plenty of cool facts and interesting stories to wow the little ones with.

If you’re visiting Chester with teens, check out the self-guided Haunted Chester audio walking tour, including Roman soldiers still said to stand guard, a ghostly monk haunting a spooky passageway and even the tale of an official exorcism.

Black and white buildings of The Rows against a blue sky - there are some fun family trails to explore historic Chester with kids

Chester Hop on hop off bus tour

With its compact centre, Chester is a very walkable city, even if you’re visiting with younger kids – but if you’re short of time or looking to save little legs, there is a hop on hop off bus tour.

Connecting the railway station and Chester racecourse with the city, it also stops near the River Dee for boat tours, as well as helping you get to the cathedral, castle and amphitheatre, along with the Grosvenor Museum.

The whole route takes around one hour and runs every 30 minutes, but you can hop on and off as much as you’d like, with 24 or 48-hour tickets.

Boat trip on the River Dee

Hit the water and experience Chester from a different perspective with a relaxing boat cruise along the River Dee. 

ChesterBoat offers 30 minute sightseeing cruises along the river – perfect for younger children with shorter attention spans.

Stone arches of Grosvenor bridge over the river Dee with houses and church spire in the background - boat trips on the river are one of the fun things to do with kids in Chester

Boat trips start from The Groves and head upstream, under Queens Park Suspension Bridge, past beautiful riverside homes, and along the banks of Grosvenor Park and Chester Meadows.

As you take in the scenic views, a local guide will entertain guests of all ages with engaging stories from Chester’s fascinating past. 

Click here to book tickets with free cancellation, including reserve now pay later options

Grosvenor Park

There are plenty of lovely green spaces all across Chester, but Grosvenor Park is definitely one of the best parks in Chester for kids.

Sitting on the banks of the River Dee, there are loads of fun things to see and do in the Grade II listed park for children and adults. 

You can take a stroll around the beautiful gardens and admire the award-winning ornamental flower beds. And for kids who don’t care about prize floral displays, there’s the chance to run around the expansive lawns, feed the ducks on the lake, and enjoy the exciting children’s play area.

On weekends, public holidays, and school holidays, toddlers and younger children can also take a ride on the park’s popular miniature railway.

And the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre has productions including Shakespeare plays, if you’re visiting Chester with teens.

If you’re looking for more places to get outdoors in Chester with kids, the Countess of Chester Country Park isn’t far from the city, and home to the Chester Wetland Centre

The ornate Eastgate clock on the city walls by The Rows - discovering some of the best things to do in Chester with kids

Grosvenor Museum

The Grosvenor Museum is a free museum in Chester that explores the history of the city from prehistory to the present day. From ancient fossils to Roman tombstones and skeletons, there are plenty of fascinating collections to explore.

To keep younger visitors engaged, you’ll also find interactive models, screens, dressing-up areas, and fun activities. 

The museum also hosts a series of fun and educational family friendly events throughout the year, including themed craft sessions and special family tours and trails.

The Ice Cream farm

I’ve tried to focus everything in this post on places to visit in Chester with kids (or very close by) but when you’re less than half an hour from the world’s largest ice cream parlour, that has to deserve a mention!

The Ice Cream Farm in Tattenhall, Cheshire, has a string of ice-cream themed play areas too, including soft play, crazy golf, sand and water play, mini quad bikes, play diggers, even the chance to find buried treasure.

All topped with a choice of 50 different ice cream flavours, including vegan options and sorbets, as well as quirky choices including Jammy Dodger, Popping Candy, Unicorn and Bakewell Tart.

No surprise it was one of the most visited free-to-enter attractions in the North West.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission

Images: Deva Roman Discovery Centre, the Rows, Eastgate clock copyright MummyTravels, map courtesy Treasure Map Trails, main images and all other images courtesy of Depositphotos


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