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13 things to do in Birmingham with kids

I grew up an hour from Birmingham. But while I couldn’t wait to explore the world, it wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I properly paid attention to what was on my doorstep and started exploring all the things to do in Birmingham with kids.

A red and green narrowboat on the canal in Birmingham with the cube and Sea Life Centre seen behind - my pick of the best things to do in Birmingham with kids
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A great spot for a city break, there are a string of family-friendly attractions to tempt year-round, including the Birmingham Christmas market in winter. So if you’re considering an easy short break, this is all the motivation you need to book a trip – from museums and penguins to chocolate and Lego!

Because you don’t need a long-haul flight to discover somewhere completely new, with so much travel inspiration closer to home too… starting with my pick of the best things to do in Birmingham with kids.

National SeaLife Centre Birmingham

Growing up in the Midlands, you’re pretty much as far from the sea as you can be on our island – but a visit to this fantastic aquarium is no sorry second best and one of my favourite things to do in Birmingham with kids.

Frankly, the Birmingham SeaLife centre at Brindleyplace beats more than a few windswept beaches, especially in winter, as you can touch starfish in an interactive rockpool, see sharks and rays, a giant turtle in a 360 degree ocean tunnel and spy seahorses.

My daughter looks at the colourful corals and marine life in one of the displays at the Birmingham Sealife centre aquarium - one of my top things to do in Birmingham with kids

The revitalised old canals are just on the doorstep too, with a string of family-friendly restaurants around Brindleyplace and towards The Cube and the Mailbox along with some of the many family-friendly hotels in Birmingham.

Check out my review of our visit to the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham – the revamped penguin area has also now reopened. 

Legoland Discovery Centre, Birmingham

Lego plus Lego-inspired fun makes this one of the best places in the UK if you love getting hands on with the bricks. There are three rides as well, plus a 4D cinema, but the big highlight for most kids (of all ages) is getting to create in the 10 Lego build and play zones.

Aimed at children aged three to 12, the Legoland Discovery Centre also has special activities for under-fives (and those aged under three are free) plus a Duplo Farm.

Or enjoy the Miniland city, made from 1.5 million bricks, as well as master builder workshops. There’s even the Lego City soft play area for little ones.

You can buy combination tickets for the Legoland Discovery Centre and Sealife Centre opposite, saving up to 40% on the on-the-door price – click here to book

Thinktank Science museum - one of my top things to do in Birmingham with kids

Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

Science museums have changed dramatically since I was young – award-winning Thinktank has more than 200 hands-on displays, a 4k Planetarium, outdoor Science Garden, transport in the Move It gallery and Our Changing Planet for older kids.

For younger kids, there’s also MiniBrum, an interactive gallery that’s a miniature version of the everyday world, aimed at the under eights. This mini city puts kids in charge (similar to children’s museum Eureka) with different play zones including a construction site, shops and park, as well as sensory areas for babies.

Inside the museum at the Millennium Point building, you can also discover talking robots, a chocolate wrapping machine and plenty of other displays focused around science, technology and the natural world.

For a stylish place to stay in Birmingham that’s also good for families, check out my review of the Birmingham Radisson Blu hotel 

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Ideal if you’re looking for free things to do in Birmingham with kids, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (aka BMAG) is well worth a visit, even if there had been an entrance fee!

EDIT: The museum is closed for renovations and expected to reopen in 2024 – date tbc

The highlight with kids is the Staffordshire Hoard – some of the Saxon pieces discovered in a field in Staffordshire and split between the museum here and another in Stoke-on-Trent.

As well as the replica golden helmet, there’s fascinating background on how archaeologists restored the ancient pieces (using thorns to get the caked on mud off, for example) and chances to get hands on, dressing up, feeling the weight of different swords and playing nine men’s morris, as well as marvelling at the intricate golden decoration and cloisonne jewellery.

You’ll also find galleries on the Ancient Egyptians, Greek and Romans – including a beginner’s guide to Egyptian gods – as well as different religions and beliefs, plus activities and crafts during school holidays.

The littlest visitors will love the Mini Museum, with displays on animals, more dressing up and even some soft play.

Plus there’s art both modern and classic, a fabulous collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, and other galleries on Birmingham itself. Throw in the impressive Edwardian tea room and some rather handy lockers for bags (bring a pound coin) and it’s easy to stay much longer than you intended.

GoBoat boat rental

EDIT: Not currently operating

Discover the city from a different viewpoint and get behind the wheel of a boat with GoBoat – Birmingham is currently the only UK city outside London where you can hire the electric boats.

With space for up to eight in each electric boat, it’s child-friendly – there’s even room for a buggy on board! – and dog friendly as well.

You don’t need to have experience before you set off, with training given on arrival, along with a route map, plus you’ll get life jackets for babies and buoyancy aids for children too. The captain must be over 18.

Bring a picnic – you can hire the boats for up to three hours and there’s a table to sit around – although if you’re having a few drinks on board, the captain has to steer clear of any alcohol.

Check out our review of GoBoat with kids in London

Restaurants on the canalside by the Mailbox and Brindleyplace in Birmingham - heading along the waterfront to the Sealife centre is one of my top things to do in Birmingham with kids

The boats depart from the canalside not far from the National SeaLife Centre Birmingham, and along the way you can spot The Mailbox and The Cube, as well as Edgbaston Tunnel, Birmingham University, The Roundhouse and Gas Street Basin as you sail along.

If you’re planning to combine your jaunt along the canals with a visit to BBC Birmingham at The Mailbox, sadly all public tours have been cancelled, including the chance to pose with the TARDIS or step behind the Strictly Come Dancing desk, as well as the behind-the-scenes tours.

The Bear Grylls Adventure

Venture over towards the NEC and The Bear Grylls Adventure is one of the newest and coolest adventure activities in Birmingham for kids and adults alike. As long as you’re an adrenaline-junkie!

Opened by the adventurer himself, the unique activity centre has many daring activities to choose from, including shooting, archery, escape rooms, high ropes, climbing walls, indoor skydiving, shark diving, and a Royal Marines-inspired assault course. 

You can book individual activities separately from around £20, or splash out for a multi-pass and spend the whole day taking part in several different challenges. The minimum age for most activities is 8+, while shooting and diving are both 10+.

Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park

Just south of the city centre, you can find red pandas, lemurs and monkeys, not to mention iguanas, snakes and lynx, at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park (previously known as the Nature Centre).

With information on their conservation work, it’s great for older kids to learn a bit more about the world as well as some animal spotting plus there’s also a play area on the site.

Several buses run from the city centre and prebooking tickets is recommended.

Scroll down for more ideas of things to do nearby at Cannon Hill Park

Two blocks of milk chocolate against a yellow background - the best things to do in Birmingham with kids includes a visit to Cadbury World

Cadbury World

Is it possible to mention a city break to Birmingham with kids and not suggest a visit to Cadbury World? Easily one of the top things kids would like to do if you’re in Birmingham, it’s probably on more than a few adult wishlists too.

Just a bit further south of the city than the Wildlife Conservation Park, you can watch chocolatiers at work, chase a giant Crème egg, ride a Crunchie rollercoaster on a 4D experience, design your own packaging, and learn a bit more as you trace chocolate’s history and arrival to Europe.

Plus there’s the world’s biggest Cadbury’s shop to finish, as well as other chocolate experiences to try.

Selly Manor Museum

Step back in time and experience what Tudor life in Birmingham was once like at the Selly Manor Museum. The museum is located in Bournville, near Cadbury World, and has close links to the Bournville Family themselves.

Set inside two beautiful Tudor homes, kids can enjoy dressing up in traditional costumes, trying on real armour, and handling historic objects. The family-friendly museum also has a variety of fun trails you can follow, as well as printable activity sheets and themed word games. 

Plus, keep an eye on their calendar for special events throughout the year, from half-term Halloween fun to Christmas crafts and more.

The conserved houses of the Back to Backs in Birmingham, one of the most unusual things to do in Birmingham with kids

Birmingham Back to Backs

Also known as Court 15, the Back to Backs are four conserved houses covering life from the 1840s through to the 1970s, set around at 19th century courtyard.

Once common across the city, it’s now Birmingham’s last surviving court of back to backs – houses built back to back around their communal courtyard.

Designed as they would have been when they were inhabited, right down to fires in the grates and some sounds and smells of the past, it’s a fascinating look at what life was once like for many families.

You can only visit with prebooked tickets for a guided tour, so it’s better if you’re looking for unusual days out with older kids than preschoolers – tours take around 90 minutes.

Cannon Hill Park

If you’re looking for a peaceful spot to escape the bustling city centre on a sunny day, head south to sprawling Cannon Hill Park.

The 250-acre green space is the most popular park in Birmingham and has plenty of things to see and do to keep the little ones occupied for a few hours, quite apart from the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park (above) which is also based here. 

Head out onto the large boating lake on a swan pedal boat, take a ride around the large scenic park on the land train, or enjoy a game of mini-golf at Golden Putter. Among the play areas, there’s even a small fairground with a few fun rides and games for toddlers to 10-year-olds. 

People sit by glasshouses at the Birmingham Botanical gardens, a great option if you're looking for things to do outdoors in Birmingham with kids

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

As well as the city’s parks, outdoorsy families shouldn’t miss a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Not only will you get to explore the beautiful gardens and buildings, many of which date back to the early 1800s, but there are also plenty of fun family-friendly activities to enjoy. 

As well as events during school holidays, there are a string of fun and educational trails for children to follow. Don’t miss the Magical Plants trail where you can discover the real magical plants that inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.

There are also orienteering trails and activity sheets for more ways to keep kids entertained (although the family activity backpacks are not currently available).

The Botanical Gardens also put on loads of family-friendly events and exhibitions throughout the year – previously the Jurassic Encounters event even saw huge dinosaurs roaming the gardens, while there’s often outdoor theatre for kids during the summer.

View of the silver Bull Ring shopping centre and church, as well as other buildings on the skyline of Birmingham - a tour is one of my top picks of things to do in Birmingham with kids

Birmingham Treasure Hunt Trail

If you’re looking to explore the city, swap a standard guided tour for a treasure hunt through Birmingham with kids.

There’s a great self-guided sightseeing treasure hunt designed to work on your phone, with a pirate captain setting challenges and clues to solve along the way.

Or if you’re visiting with teens, the Haunted City Outdoor Escape Game shares some of Birmingham’s spookiest stories, in an activity that’s part treasure hunt, part tour and part escape room-style game.

Or check out the themed Treasure Trails of Birmingham, with several different options including the chance to explore the canals with the whole family working together to find clues located on buildings and monuments around Birmingham, as well as learning some fascinating facts about the city.

Following a two-mile loop, the Venice of the North trail is an easy one with younger kids – you go at your own pace, but allow a couple of hours.

For more tips on fun family days out, Visit Birmingham has some great suggestions, or if you’re looking for the closest theme park to Birmingham, Drayton Manor theme park is around a 30-minute drive away

*First published 2014, last updated 2023*


The top things to do in Birmingham with kids - from museums and animals to chocolate and Lego, my pick of the top family attractions in Birmingham UK for a great city break with kids

ThinkTank image courtesy of Marketing Birmingham, Botanical Gardens/Back to Backs courtesy Make it West Midlands, chocolate image courtesy of Adobe Stock, all others copyright MummyTravels



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