Bath is a town in the Southwest part of England with a unique history that dates back to the Roman times. This UNESCO World Heritage site is noted for its natural thermal hot springs. The ancient Romans built a large bathing complex here to enjoy the waters, and Bath has been a wellness and relaxation destination ever since.
Bath is also a setting in several of Jane Austen’s novels. Austen was a resident for several years and the town draws lots of her fans to visit.
Bath also has great restaurants and lots of fun, quirky shops with something for everyone in the family.
Just one-and-a-half hours from London by train, Bath is an easy day trip that offers a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It has a very walkable, compact town center and many attractions sure to please anyone interested in history, museums, and stunning architecture.
We spent a day in Bath on our recent visit to London. Here are some of our top recommendations for things to do in Bath with kids that adults will enjoy, too!
The Roman Baths were originally constructed around 70 A.D. above the natural thermal hot springs. The bathing complex also included a temple and other buildings. A newer complex was built on top of the Roman bath, but now you can visit both, as the Roman ruins have been excavated.
The self-guided tour of the museum and bath complex takes about an hour or two. Admission includes an audio guide, which I highly recommend using. There is also an excellent audio guide just for children, which does a wonderful job of explaining the history and significance of each display.
There are also costumed Roman characters situated around the bath complex. They love to chat with kids and explain what life was like in Roman Britain.
Towards the end of the tour, you can sample the water, which is supposed to have healing properties. It’s fun to see the look on everyone’s faces when they try it because it doesn’t taste very good!
To avoid crowds, visit earlier in the morning. During the summer months, you can also visit the Roman Baths in the evening, when the site is lit by torches and stays open until 9:00 pm.
Next door to the Roman Baths is The Pump Room, first constructed in the late 1700’s as an assembly room. Visitors would come here to socialize and drink the spa waters. Now a restaurant, The Pump Room is an elegant place to take afternoon tea.
Best For: Ages 5+
Bath Abbey is a beautiful Gothic cathedral that welcomes visitors seven days a week. Little ones may get bored looking at the soaring ceilings and stained glass windows, but be sure to at least stop in the plaza outside to admire the architecture, watch the street performers who gather here, and listen to the church bells that ring on the hour.
Older kids and adults might enjoy the Bath Abbey Tower Tour, given Monday through Saturday. This 45-minute guided tour takes visitors behind the scenes of the cathedral and up two spiral staircases to the top of the tower for gorgeous views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
Best For: Ages 10+
Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms
The Assembly Rooms, opened in 1771, were created for Bath residents and visitors to “assemble” – for tea, dances, card playing, or listening to music and lectures. There are four rooms that can be viewed for free, and it’s fun to imagine what it must have been like to attend a ball here. The rooms are still beautifully maintained, with elegant, ornate crystal chandeliers and fine art on the walls.
The Fashion Museum Bath is located in the basement of the Assembly Rooms and features an amazing collection of historic and contemporary fashion covering the past 400 years. There are everyday outfits as well as dresses worn by royalty. A very informative audio guide is included with admission.
The museum offers crafts on school holidays as well as a sticker trail for kids. There is also a dressing-up area where kids and adults can both try on a variety of Victorian and Georgian clothes and accessories for a cute photo op.
Best For: Ages 7+
No. 1 Royal Crescent
No. 1 Royal Crescent is a Georgian townhouse turned museum that shows visitors what life was like in the late 1700’s for the wealthy of Bath and their servants. It’s located in the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a crescent shape, that is a unique example of Georgian architecture.
Each room in No. 1 Royal Crescent has historic furniture, pictures, and objects. There is a guide in each room to answer questions.
The museum offers free “History Detective” activity packs to children ages 4 and up. There are also Georgian-era costumes in the Servants’ Hall for children to try on.
Best For: Ages 5+
Royal Victoria Park
This 57-acre park is a great place to take the kids to burn off some excess energy or to have a relaxing picnic on the lawn.
Little ones will love the huge playground full of fun equipment like climbing walls, swings, slides, and zip lines.
Everyone can enjoy a walk through the botanical garden. There’s also a duck pond and mini golf course. In the summer, visitors can watch hot air balloons taking off from the lawns of Royal Victoria Park. In the winter, there’s an open-air ice skating rink to enjoy.
Best For: All Ages
Other Bath Attractions
Bath has loads more kid-friendly attractions to visit. We couldn’t get to them all in one day, but here are some options we found that are on our list for our next visit.
Bath City Farm is a 37-acre attraction with animals, a play park, two walking trails, and a small farm shop. Kids will enjoy learning about and visiting the cows, goats, sheep, ducks, ponies, chickens, and pigs on the farm. Then, they can burn off some energy at the play park, which has swings, a slide, a climbing wall, and a sandpit. Admission is free, but donations are requested to support this non-profit organization.
The first postage stamp in the world was sent from Bath on May 2, 1840, so it’s a fitting place for a museum dedicated to all things postal. The Bath Postal Museum details the history of mail service from ancient times. It also has displays on the history of the post box. There are old letters, postcards, stamps, and photographs to see as well. The museum has family trails, interactive games, coloring pages, and quizzes to help keep kids entertained. Both kids and adults can also try on old postal uniforms. You’ll find this unique little museum in the basement of the Bath Post Office.
Fans of Jane Austen may want to stop by The Jane Austen Centre. It features a small exhibition which explores Austen’s time in Bath and how it influenced her books, characters, and personal life. There are costumed guides to answer questions as well as the opportunity to dress up in Regency costume yourself for a fun photo op. If you want to take home some souvenirs, there is a quaint gift shop here, too, with a variety of Jane Austen themed gifts. The Jane Austen Centre also has a Regency Tea Room open daily, with staff in period costumes and a large selection of tea and treats. You do not have to visit the exhibition to enjoy tea at the tea room.
The Victoria Art Gallery is a small museum located near the Pultney Bridge with a collection of items from the fifteenth century to the present day. The gallery has a family trail to get kids engaged by searching for and discussing certain art works. They also provide art trolleys stocked with coloring sheets and word searches to keep little ones entertained. Admission is free.
Where to Eat
Bath has an amazing number and variety of restaurants. No matter what you’re looking for, from pizza to high tea, you’re likely to find it here.
One eatery that’s a must-visit is Sally Lunn’s Eating House. Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Bath (dating back to at least 1482), Sally Lunn’s serves its famous Sally Lunn bun. This brioche-like bun was created by Sally Lunn in 1680, and is still baked by hand from the original recipe. Sally Lunn’s Eating House serves buns with sweet or savory toppings for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. This spot is very popular, so you may have a short wait for a table at peak dining times.
If your kids have a hankering for pizza, we recommend The Real Italian Pizza Co. on York Street. This casual, family-owned restaurant specializes in traditional wood-fired pizzas. They are truly delicious.
If Japanese food is more your style, then check out the chain eatery Wagamama for ramen, yaki soba, gyoza, curry and more. It’s very kid-friendly with a special children’s menu, quick service, and an activity sheet to keep the little ones entertained.
If you decide to take afternoon tea in Bath, there are tons of restaurants, tea rooms and bakeries to choose from. For the most elegant, expensive experience, try the restaurant at the very formal Royal Crescent Hotel. There’s also The Pump Room, next to the Roman Baths, which is very popular with tourists. Jane Austen fans will enjoy the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre. If you want something very casual and a bit quirky, check out The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
If you’re not planning to stop for afternoon tea, then pick up a treat from Ben’s Cookies on Union Passage. Their cookies are scrumptious.
Bath is easy to get to from London by train. There are frequent departures from London’s Paddington Station that arrive at Bath Spa Station in the town center. The trip only takes about an hour and a half each way.
Bath is a very walkable town, and most of the sites listed above are within 20 minutes of the city center.
If you want to give your feet a break, consider taking the City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. The bright red double-decker open-top bus service offers two routes, covered on the same ticket. The City Route, with 17 stops, takes you to some of the top attractions, including the Royal Crescent, the Roman Baths, and the Assembly Rooms. The Skyline Route, with 21 stops, takes you across the River Avon to the countryside, where you can get gorgeous views of Bath and the surrounding woodlands. Each bus includes a live English guide, as well as audio guides in 10 other languages.
Tips for Your Day in Bath
- Bath is a popular weekend getaway destination for UK residents. If you can visit during the week, you’ll have fewer crowds to deal with, making it much easier to get around with kids.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Even if you’re using the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus to get around, you’ll be on your feet a lot at each attraction. However, the town really is best seen on foot.
- Don’t forget your camera. Bath is unbelievably gorgeous and you’ll definitely want to capture its beauty.
- Be sure to ask if the attraction you’re visiting has a Family Saver Ticket to help you save a few pounds on the entrance fees.
- Free walking tours are offered by the Mayor of Bath’s volunteer guides. The tours are two hours long and detail the history of Bath. Children are welcome, but due to the length of the tour, it’s probably better suited to older kids and teens. Reservations are not required.
- There are two free audio walking tours that you can download to your mobile phone from the Visit Bath website.
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