10 places to make summer memories in Cheshire
- Credit: Yasmin Thomas
The Schippers family choose their favourite outings for a Cheshire day out to remember long after the last lick of ice cream
Jenny Schippers and husband Mark, along with their daughters Isabelle, aged eight, and five-year-old Thea live in south Warrington. Through Jenny’s work as a travel writer and content creator (@girlabout.cheshire on Instagram), and Mark’s profession as a travel agent, they love nothing more than exploring close to home and further afield.
1. Jodrell Bank
Standing tall in the Cheshire countryside, close to the pretty hamlet of Goostrey, Jodrell Bank remains at the centre of scientific research and space exploration some 75 years after it was built. Recognised as a site of Outstanding Universal Value and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2019, Jodrell Bank Observatory is owned and managed by the University of Manchester. Open to the public Tuesday to Sunday, visitors are welcome to explore the four pavilions, outdoor exhibits and 35 acres of beautiful grounds including the Jodrell Bank Arboretum.
The newly opened First Light Pavilion is an exciting addition to the site with its futuristic design seemingly rising from the earth below. Mirroring the shape and scale of the Lovell Telescope, the grass-topped building is perfectly aligned with the sun, acting as a giant sundial. For a small additional charge (£3 adults, £2 children), visitors can experience the Space Dome and its 30-minute narrated planetarium show, suitable for school-age children and upwards.
Elsewhere children of all ages can enjoy the playground, the interactive exhibits, and the Whispering Dishes. Picnics are welcome and there are plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas alongside two cafés. Finish the day with a visit to Bidlea Dairy for ice cream, just a five-minute drive away.
2. Riverside Organic Farm
In an elevated position, overlooking rolling fields just outside the quaint village of Davenham, Riverside Organic Farm is a hidden gem offering much more than a well-stocked farm shop. The old dairy, open Tuesday to Sunday, serves Snugburys ice cream, the café has a delicious breakfast and lunch menu, and the outside play areas will keep the little ones occupied for hours.
With an enclosed seating area with ride-on tractors and a playhouse, plus a larger adventure play area for older children – all ages will be entertained while the adults can relax. There are also farm animals, guinea pigs and even emus to spot around the farm. sites.google.com/riversideorganic.co.uk/riversideorganic
3. Castle Park
A firm family favourite, this pretty park within walking distance of Frodsham high street ticks all the boxes for a fun day out. The site has an impressive wooden playground to explore, complete with two sandpits, alongside plentiful picnic tables and Cheeky Ice Cream parlour.
Within its manicured grounds, there are tennis and basketball courts, a bowling green, an adventure playground suitable for older children and formal gardens. The Castle Park Arts Centre onsite showcases art by local artists and crafters as well as hosts live music in the café courtyard. castleparkfrodsham.co.uk
4. Great Budworth Ice Cream Farm
In Cheshire we are blessed with ice cream farms ranging from huge outfits to much smaller affairs. Great Budworth Real Dairy Ice Cream Farm is on the non-commercialised end of the spectrum, offering visitors a charming and personal service. Tucked away behind the picture-postcard Great Budworth village, the ice cream is served from a small café at the side of the family house and farm.
Open daily during the summer, there are a few pieces of play equipment for the children and plenty of seating. Visitors can also buy feed for the chickens and goats. icecreamfarm.co.uk
5. Anderton Boat Lift
One of our favourite free days out in Cheshire. The Anderton Boat Lift, close to Northwich, is a feat of engineering nicknamed the Cathedral of the Canals. Lifting boats from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal 50 feet above, visitors can watch in awe or take a boat trip to experience the lift themselves. Named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, the Visitor Centre, coffee shop, outdoor play area and nearby nature park can make this a full day out. Combine with a visit to Marbury Park and the opportunity to try out its newly-built play area before stopping at The Milk House in Comberbach for self-serve milk and milkshakes. canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/anderton-boat-lift-visitor-centre
6. Delamere Forest
The ancient woodland of Delamere is a wonderful place to explore come rain or shine. For bigger kids, Go Ape is a thrill-seeking high ropes adventure through the canopy, while down on the ground the newly opened Superworm Trail will keep smaller children entertained. This self-lead mile-long trail begins at the Visitor Centre where activity packs can be bought for £3.50. Follow the brightly illustrated panels and complete the trail pack full of activities before finishing the day at Kelsall playground. This enclosed wooden play area close to the Morris Dancer pub is perfect for a picnic and a run-around. forestryengland.uk/delamere-forest
7. Kenyon Hall Farm & Sunflower Fields
This thriving family-run farm situated in Croft, Warrington is a busy farm shop and café offering a calendar of summer events to keep the whole family entertained, including seasonal fruit picking, a maize maze and a sunflower trail beginning in early August. Children will also love the play area complete with a vintage tractor. kenyonhall.co.uk
Other popular sunflower fields in Cheshire confirmed to open in 2022 include Libby’s Patch near Macclesfield (libbyspatch.com) and the Dunham Massey Ice Cream Farm (dunhammasseyicecream.com). Further afield, the enormous Sunflower Maze near Tarbock, Liverpool, (sunflowermaze.co.uk) will be back open this year having originally started as a charity fundraiser in 2020 raising money for the NHS during the pandemic.
8. BeWILDerwood Cheshire
This magical forest of adventure complete with Wobbly Wires, Slippery Slopes, storytelling, and the Mish Mash Maze can be found just north of Whitchurch. Based on the whimsical BeWILDerwood books created by author Tom Blofield, children and adults of all ages will have the best time together on giant swings, zipping along wires and whizzing down slides.
Younger children are catered for too with age-appropriate preschool play areas, smaller slides and crafting in the Big Hat. Make sure to visit the Storytelling Stage where the world of BeWILDerwood is bought to life in front of your eyes.
9. Walton Gardens
Warrington’s largest municipal park, close to Stockton Heath, started life as the home of Lord and Lady Daresbury before being bought by Warrington Borough Council in 1941, initially to house officers and troops. Nowadays, the formal gardens, children’s zoo, woodland, and parkland at Walton Gardens are free to enter daily.
Children can spend hours in its vast, enclosed play area complete with picnic seating and weekend craft activities. For those looking to try something a bit different, alpaca walks can be arranged with the Children’s Zoo giving visitors the chance to get even closer to the characterful Topaz, Jim and Mally.
The city of Chester is brimming with family-friendly spaces that are all within easy walking distance of each other. Begin at Grosvenor Park for elevated views across the River Dee, a delightful miniature railway and an attractive playground. From here, cross over the pedestrian suspension bridge and walk along the riverfront to Edgar’s Field close to Handbridge.
This smaller play area may not have the same facilities as the previous but the wooden pirate ship and play equipment are always popular. Next, cross the Old Dee Bridge and pick up the Chester Walls at the University following towards Chester Castle and racecourse. With the racecourse on your left, continue along the walls to Water Tower Gardens where you can descend to an adventure playground set to challenge older kids.
Jenny is a Cheshire Life writer and regularly blogs for Girl About Travel and Visit Chester & Cheshire, discovering brilliant places to eat, walk, and visit in the county.