Things to do with toddlers in Manchester

Creative Tourist

If you’re part of a toddler’s support team, planning is your friend. so we’re pleased to present you with our guide of things to do with toddlers in Manchester. Of course, no matter how well-prepared you are there are no guarantees that your outing will go smoothly, but it’s a wonderful city for young children to explore. A compact size and flat terrain make it easy for kids to navigate under their own steam, and you’re never too far from somewhere to stop for a play.

If you want more things to do with the kids, check out our regularly updated families guide which picks out the best cultural adventures for families in Manchester and the North.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Waterstones Manchester Deansgate

    Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, 91 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 2BW - Visit now

    Add Waterstone’s to your internal map. The two city centre branches are reliable refuges for the littlest explorers. The Deansgate branch has a dedicated children’s area, but the branch inside the Arndale Centre is the better of the pair: it has a Costa Coffee right next to a lovely play area in the children’s section. This comes with a few well-loved toys, soft cushions and a big table that’s always equipped with paper and crayons. Your child’s art might even be used to decorate the shop (though mind they don’t decorate any books).

  • 2. Science and Industry Museum

    Jonty Wilde

    Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4FP - Visit now

    With it’s great (and free) hands-on Experiment! Gallery, MSI is top for toddlers, and it has two cafes and an indoor picnic area where you can eat a packed lunch. If they still have some energy left, the kids might enjoy playing on the grass in nearby St. John’s Gardens, or you could take a picnic to the canal and watch the narrowboats.

  • 3. People’s History Museum

    People's History Museum Manchester
    Image courtesy of the People's History Museum.

    People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER - Visit now

    People’s History Museum has a great kid-friendly cafe and plenty of regular children’s activities and hands-on exhibits to keep curious minds (and hands) busy.

  • 4. Manchester Art Gallery

    Manchester Art Gallery. Photo by Andrew Brooks
    Andrew Brooks

    Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3JL - Visit now

    Manchester Art Gallery has the children’s Clore Interactive Gallery to explore and they frequently run workshops throughout half term and the summer holidays. The cafe has a pay-as-you-feel deal for children too.

  • 5. Manchester Craft & Design Centre

    Manchester Craft & Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JD - Visit now

    In the Northern Quarter, Manchester Craft & Design Centre offers a little respite from the city (and baby-changing).

  • 6. Dough Pizza Kitchen

    Image of Manchester's Dough Pizza Kitchen
    Ben Williams

    Dough Pizza Kitchen, 75 - 77 High St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1FS - Visit now

    Pizza and pasta at Dough in the Northern Quarter is another excellent choice.

  • 7. Piccadilly Gardens

    Piccadilly Gardens Manchester
    By Dave Morton (23 Piccadilly Gardens) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 3BG

    And on hot days, the fountain at nearby Piccadilly Gardens is irresistible for water play (the nearby Pret has baby-changing facilities). Bring a change of clothes!