The summer can be an expensive time. You might find yourself struggling to keep your kids entertained while they’re off school, or thinking about going on holiday, which can make it easy to overspend. But there are plenty of places in Bristol where you can have a great time and not risk breaking the bank.
Places to Visit
Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol and features a play area for children, a nature conservation area and Cabot Tower, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of Bristol.
Ashton Court is a historic 850 acre park 10 minutes from the centre of Bristol. It offers a cafe, deer park, 18-hole golf courses, orienteering and mountain biking trails and a miniature railway open on selected weekends.
Castle Park is just off the city centre and offers a scenic walking route, as well as a playground and the remains of a medieval castle. St Peter’s Church is at one end of the park and, while not being open to the public, is a great historical feature.
Blaise Castle has a variety of beautiful walks, perfect for the kids and there’s also a play area and café. The Blaise Castle House museum showcases many historical aspects of the site, from traditional toys to the painting room.
Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge connects both sides of the Avon Gorge and is located close to Clifton Village. It’s one of Bristol’s most famous attractions, where you can enjoy views of the whole city.
Leigh Woods is located about 30 minutes from the city centre, on the other side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a great place for walking and cycling, with marked routes surrounded by a variety of trees and plants. There are also flat grassy areas perfect for picnics.
The Downs sits between Clifton and Redland and is a huge green space perfect for outdoor activities. The flat open space is great for flying a kite or playing a game of football.
The Willsbridge Mill is run by a group of volunteers who manage the Willsbridge Mill buildings and including Community Café for the benefit of the local community, schools and businesses. There are plenty of beautiful places to go for walks.
Avon Valley Railway
The Avon Valley Railway is one of the few traditional railways remaining. You can see the old station and booking office in Bitton and they have a Buffet building where you can find food. They also have old locomotives, including carriages, scattered across the site.
Queens Square is a Georgian park only a 5 minute walk from the city centre. A large statue stands at its centre and it’s surrounded on all sides by traditional Georgian houses. It’s a great place to go for a walk and regularly holds events.
John Wesley Chapel
The John Wesley Chapel was originally built by John Wesley in 1739 and was expanded from 1748. It includes a variety of original features, including a preachers’ room upstairs. The building was used as a meeting house, school and dispensary for medicine, as well as a chapel, and it is where the early roots of Methodism were established.
You could also try visiting one of the many parks across Bristol, including St George Park, Eastville Park, or one of Bristol’s eight nature reserves. There are plenty of things to see and do, with most parks full of play equipment for kids. You could take a packed lunch with you – but remember not to leave your rubbish behind.
Click the top right-hand corner for the full-sized map.
Bristol has a wide variety of events that take place over the summer. Some happen annually, while others may be once every few years or even just a one-off.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is an annual event, taking place at the end of the summer. There are many free things to do during the festival, such as watch the balloons take off in the morning or see the Night Glow spectacle. If you take your own food and drink with you, you won’t have to spend on the stalls, which can be quite expensive.
The Harbour Festival usually takes place every July at the Bristol harbourside. There will be music, events and more that you can listen to and watch for free, including circus acts, dance, poetry, tennis and boating displays.
Bristol museums often hold free or affordable summer activities for children, to keep them entertained while they’re off school.
Money Saving Tips
Going on days out to free parks and other green spaces is a great way to save money, but there are plenty of other things you can do to avoid overspending this summer.
- Take your own lunch. Buying lunches on days out can really add up. It’s much cheaper to make your own sandwiches, or you could try making one of these BBC Goodfood recipes for variety.
- Bring your own entertainment. To avoid your kids pressuring you to buy footballs or frisbees sometimes sold in parks, buy your own beforehand and take them with you. It could save you more than you think.
- Check out free events. Many museums and some parks hold free events over the summer. It can be worth looking into when these are happening and planning your days out around them.
- Buy tickets in advance online. If you’re planning to visit somewhere that charges an entrance fee, such as a zoo, then you can sometimes get in for cheaper by buying your tickets online. Make sure to compare the online price (plus booking fee, if there is one) to the price on the door to make sure you are saving money.
- Get inspired. If you’re stuck for ideas on how to keep your kids entertained, take a look at some of the activity lists online, such as the one by the National Trust.
- Travel at off-peak times. Travelling off-peak means you can get to where you want to go for much less. Check out the Trainline.com for more information on off-peak train times.
- Buy the right ticket for you. Although some tickets can initially cost more, tickets like the Day Rider can save you money overall if you’re travelling on several busses throughout the day. Take a look at the First Bus website, or out <ahref=”http://www.pennywise.org.uk/travel-advice/”>Travel Advice page for more information.
- Keep the heat out. Instead of relying on electric fans, try closing your curtains or blinds to stop the sun from overheating your house. Leave enough of a gap so that you don’t need to use an electric light, though!
- Use your fridge/freezer. Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you don’t have to leave the tap running to get cold water, or you could store bottles half-filled with water in the freezer and fill the other half up once they’ve frozen. Filling your freezer up can also save you money on your electric bill.
- Avoid using your hose. Your water bill can skyrocket if you use a hose to water your garden. Instead, try filling up a bucket or watering can with leftover water from your bath or collected from while you’re waiting for your shower to warm up.
- Host your own film night. Instead of going to the cinema, trying having a film night at home instead. You could make your own snacks and watch a film showing on TV, or one you own.
- Have a no-spend day. Mark one day off (or more) where you challenge yourself not to spend a penny. You can make meals from what you have in your cupboard, go for a walk or invent your own activities.