Nottingham won a coveted TripAdvisor award for being the best value in a city destination in 2013, proof that the city is ideal for family-friendly getaways. In addition to museums, galleries, and amusement parks, plenty of free, low-cost outdoor activities for kids can help you stretch your vacation budget. If you’re taking the kids on a trip to Nottingham, don’t miss these top six activities perfect for families.
Spend the afternoon exploring the historical haunts of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and his evil nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham. This 450-acre national park features walking paths, cycling trails, and hundreds of ancient trees. Major Oak, the most famous example, is more than 500 years old, and a key element in Robin Hood lore. A visitor center, scientific institute, nature reserve, arts-and-crafts center, Robin Hood exhibit, two shops, and a charming restaurant round out the experience. The South Forest Complex, added in 1991, has facilities for swimming and indoor sports, plus four upscale restaurants.
Sherwood Forest is located about 20 miles north of Nottingham and park admission is free. If you drive, however, you’ll be charged £3 to park. You can also take the bus to Edwinstowe, which is about a 10-minute walk from the visitor center.
Galleries of Justice Museum
The Lace Market, High Pavement, Nottingham
Located in the historic Lace Market district of Nottingham, the Galleries of Justice Museum was named England’s best small attraction in 2014. The museum was also labeled one of the most haunted, making the place a sure hit with adventurous kids. The museum explores 300 years of crime and punishment, including the history of some of England’s most notorious criminals. Visitors to the museum get to participate in a criminal trial held in an authentic Victorian courtroom and follow the condemned into the prison cells located deep in the caves beneath the museum.
Depending on the activities you choose at the museum, admission runs from £4.25 to £8.75. A family pass for two adults and two children costs £24.50. The museum is open seven days a week, and the last tour begins at 4 p.m. Be sure to visit the City of Caves, the museum’s sister attraction. You can save 25 percent off admission if you buy tickets to both at the same time.
Crags Road, Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire
The limestone gorges and caves of Creswell Crags are free to the public. You can spend a day exploring the lake, grounds, and archaeological sites. For an adventure, the kids will really love, pay the admission fee (£13 for adults, £11 for children) and take the Ice Age Cave Tour and the Rock Art Tour. After donning an illuminated hard hat, you’ll descend into Robin Hood Cave, the largest cave, dating back to the last Ice Age and explore the archaeological relics of ancient man. You’ll get to see the only rock art in all of Britain, 13,000-year-old engravings of the birds and animals of the era.
Creswell Crags is open year-round from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. If you drive, there is a £3 charge for all-day parking. You can also get there by train or bus The Creswell train station is about a one-mile walk from the caves, and the Elmton Road bus stop is about 10 minutes by foot.
Stonebridge City Farm
Stonebridge Road, St. Anns, Nottingham
Enjoy a bit of the country life right in the heart of Nottingham at the Stonebridge City Farm. The farm is free to visitors and is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day. Visitors can wander through the green space, feed, and pet animals such as sheep, cows, goats, ponies, ducks, and chickens. There is also a kid-friendly garden to explore and fun classes on topics such as animal handling and beekeeping.
Stonebridge City Farm also grows and sells a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs, honey, and jams. You can even enjoy a freshly prepared, locally sourced organic meal at the charming café. The farm is on Stonebridge Road, St. Ann’s, an easy drive using public transportation.
Twinlakes Family Theme Park
Melton Spinney Road, Melton Mowbray Leicestershire
This popular theme park recently added a huge new Splash Zone water park with a 22-foot flume ride, making it a huge hit with families, especially during the warm summer months. In addition, there are roller coasters, a train ride, falconry exhibit, Joust-a-Bout experience, Monkey Mayhem, the mini-monkey park, a lazy river, a G-force swing, and a leisurely lazy river, just to name a few popular rides and attractions. Activities abound for toddlers, too, if you want to bring your youngest family members.
Located in Melton Mowbray, Twinlakes Park is about 20 miles from Nottingham; use post code LE13 1SQ on your car’s navigation device. Daily passes cost £17.99 for adults and children, £8.99 for toddlers, and babies under 95 cm in height are free.
The National Ice Center
Bolero Square, The Lace Market, Nottingham
Nottingham’s history with ice skating goes back to 1895 and the city is home to Britain’s most famous ice skating couple, Jane Torville and Christopher Dean, who dominated the Olympics in Sarajevo. The National Ice Center, completed in 2000, is a state-of-the-art facility for aspiring skaters and interested amateurs. It is also the home of the Capital FM Arena, a popular performance venue for ice shows, sporting events, and concerts.
Located in the fashionable Lace Market district, the National Ice Center has public skating sessions at various times every day of the week. Check the center’s website for updated information. Fees for public skating range from £4.50 to £6.50, depending on day of the week, and skate rental is available for an additional £2. There is no car parking at the ice center, but it’s easily accessed by foot, rail, and tram.
Since Nottingham is a popular destination with tourists, reserve your hotel stay in advance to secure the room you want. But don’t fret: Some quality hotels near the city let you stay close to the attractions you want to explore.
Nottingham is a great family destination, and you can find indoor and outdoor activities to suit children of any age and interest. Fortunately, there are great options in every price range.