Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.
With dozens of fantastic family-friendly attractions, the Peak District is perfectly placed for fun and frivolity. Read on to discover the diverse range of theme parks to enjoy in this fantastic region.
The Peak District boasts some of the biggest and best theme parks around which range from adrenaline-junkie hotspots and rollercoaster rides to wildlife parks where you can get up close and personal with nature. It is proven that a rush of adrenaline and a hit of endorphins can fill us with happiness and in turn put us in a great mood. Who knew flying full speed through the air, hanging upside down at height and plummeting vertically to the ground could be so good for you?
Planning adventures and activities for your group, whether that be your family or a group of friends, is so important for the fun-factor of any holiday. So let's have a look at what the Peak District has to offer… don’t worry, they don’t all include rollercoasters!
Alton Towers is the number one theme park in the UK and is situated in Staffordshire on the edge of the Peak District. Their mission is simply to ‘make Britain happy’. A bold statement, but with over 50 rides, two themed hotels - including the Cbeebies Land Hotel designed specifically with families in mind - luxury treehouses, an enchanted village and a waterpark, this resort is making good on its pledge and remains ever-popular, appealing to young and old alike.
Highlight: Scarefest is run over Halloween and is the event of the year to most that experience it. Towers Street gets filled with pumpkins, scarecrows and eerie lights and you'll need keep an eye out for ghosts haunting the rides. Lit with green and purple tones, the whole park adopts a spooky atmosphere which you will either love or hate!
Suitable for: Families, but young children must be accompanied at all times and height must be checked at every ride.
Challenge yourself: Take on ‘Oblivion’, the world's first vertical drop roller coaster. It takes you 180 feet up in the air, dangles you at the top and then drops you into a dark hole!
Location: Stoke on Trent, ST10 4DB. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
The Gulliver’s franchise has a few venues dotted around the country, but this one is in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. It is a family-run theme park where it’s all about ‘big adventures for little people’ and children under 90cm can go for free.
It is perfect for younger children with over 60 rides and attractions including play areas just for toddlers. For slightly older children, there is a giant waterslide that provides a constant source of entertainment, as well as The NERF Zone where they get to shoot each other with blasters, a huge pirate ship and the ever-popular JCB Zone where children can operate one of the iconic yellow diggers.
Highlight: There is a chair lift that helps you travel between the lower and higher parts of Gulliver's Kingdom, making the whole experience one like no other! Parents will enjoy this peaceful moment of calm whilst floating along a sky-high woodland channel.
Suitable for: Families with younger children and babies. Remember the sun cream for the sunnier days!
Challenge yourself: Why not try out the Log Flume which takes you high above the hills for breathtaking views of the town itself? This will be your last moment of calm before you and the kids head for the giant splash at the bottom!
Location: Matlock Bath, DE4 3PG. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
Drayton Manor is home to Thomas Land, a world with rides and experiences that are themed around Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. The resort is an award-winning theme park in Staffordshire with an open-plan, 15-acre zoo that is home to many endangered and rare species. The staff run programmes to help preserve the world’s wildlife and educate the public. It is a place of cheery atmosphere and welcoming spirit.
Maelstrom (Image courtesy of Drayton Manor Theme Park)
There are over 100 exciting attractions at Drayton Manor including water rides, live shows and outdoor play areas. The sheer variety of rides is brilliant, satisfying a wide range of visitors. The carousel, dodgems and Bertie Bus are there for the younger generation whilst The Haunting, Buffalo Coaster and Accelerator will keep those who want to be scared happy.
Highlight: You can visit the original set of model trains from the ‘Thomas and Friends’ children’s TV show. Any train enthusiast, young or old will love this, not to mention the sense of nostalgia that you will get too.
Suitable for: Families with teenagers, younger children and babies, although we challenge any adult not to enjoy themselves too!
Challenge yourself: Try your luck on Cranky’s Drop Tower - hold on tight and get ready for a thrilling ride as you get lifted right up to the sky before an exhilarating drop back to the ground!
Location: Tamworth, Staffordshire, B78 3TW. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
Go Ape in Buxton is a different kind of theme park in Derbyshire. It is one of the highest courses in the country and within walking distance from the historic spa town of Buxton. Although not technically a theme park, the activities still appeal to thrill-seekers and you can choose from a treetop adventure, a journey through the forest on a Segway or a zip trekking adventure.
Close by is a two-million-year-old natural limestone cave called Poole's Cavern in Buxton Country Park where you can wonder at the amazing crystal formations that adorn the vast and illuminated chambers. Enjoy a tasty meal in the Cavern Café before spending some pocket money at the fossil and gemstone shop.
Highlight: There is a host of zip wires that takes you on an exhilarating extended course through the trees. Float and fly through leafy green foliage with nothing but woodland underneath you.
Suitable for: Teenagers and adults, and generally people who are not scared of heights.
Challenge yourself: Take on the ‘Treetop Challenge’ - the Goliath of the Go Ape high-rope adventures! This is one to test your nerve for heights.
Location: Buxton, SK17 9DH. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
Peak Wildlife Park
Peak Wildlife Park is a fabulous option for those looking for a fun day out when visiting this area. The emphasis is on the animals, but there is a secure outdoor play area and Jungle Bounce with a huge, bouncy castle – a theme park for little ones! There is a large sandpit and an indoor soft play area with two large jungle-themed levels, an array of slides, a ball pool and a viewing area from which to sit and watch the Asian short-clawed otters play.
There are so many animals to see here and the park takes you on all sorts of adventures. Explore the South American Walkthrough and come face to face with the world’s fourth largest rodent, the Patagonian Mara, and enjoy watching the Humboldt Penguins waddling around as they come to say hello. In Wallaby Wonderland, you can meet the Bennetts Wallaby and learn about the wallabies that used to roam free in the Peak District Roaches. Along with all this, you can grab refreshments and snacks at the on-site café, or take your own picnic and enjoy it in the designated area.
Highlight: At the African Village Walkthrough, you can find Pygmy goats and meerkats. Watch them for hours as they forage and scuttle about adding humour to your day.
Suitable for: Families with children of all ages.
Challenge yourself: Explore the whole park and see how many animals you can name without reading any information boards – this will really test your wildlife knowledge.
Location: Leek, ST13 7QR. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
Twinlakes Theme Park
This all-action and all-weather theme park has rides galore, a Creepy Critter Zone, a Bird of Prey Centre, a waterpark and a zoo, just to mention a few. Within the different adventure zones, you will find activities and rides that suit a range of ages. The Labyrinth Venture Zone offers trampolining, an indoor play area, roller skating and a mystic mirror maze. Buccaneers Island Zone homes the more adventurous rides like the ‘Rum Runner Coaster’ and ‘Shark Bite’.
There are on-site cafés, shops and seasonal events that run throughout the year at Twinlakes, including Grandparents’ Weekend where the oldies can join in for just £5 each! This year, they plan to have special appearances of Peter Rabbit and Hey Duggee which will get the kids really excited. Make it a real family affair and plan a trip to Twinlakes Theme park.
Highlight: The Twinlakes Water Park would be a brilliant day out on its own. It’s over half an acre of wet and wild fun. Take a ride on the log flume and then cool off in the splash play water park.
Suitable for: Families with children of all ages.
Challenge yourself: Take an exhilarating ride on ‘Excalibur’ which is a high-flying swing ride where you can ride in twos and take in the awesome scenery below. Let’s hope you come back down!
Location: LE14 4FF. Visit their website for opening times and prices.
Last, but not least, is Manor Park in Glossop. It is on the eastern side of the centre of Glossop and fringes onto the Conservation Area of Old Glossop. There is a car park at Corn Mill and on-street parking is available nearby. Again, it's not technically a theme park, but with this much going on for free, it deserves a mention.
This popular park includes a skate park for the older children, a play area for children up to the age of 12, tennis courts, a basketball court, a five-a-side football area, a lake with ducks, a sensory garden, a flower garden, and a miniature golf course, and finally a beautiful miniature railway which runs throughout the summer for a small fee. The park, where local events also happen regularly, has an active friends’ group on Facebook that is frequently updated and where you can find more information.
Highlight: The miniature railway would be a lovely little trip for children as they explore the park in a new way.
Suitable for: Families with children of all ages.
Location: Glossop, SK13 7SH.
For even more great days out in the Peak District, take a look at our guide to the top attractions in the Peak District. For more ideas on what to do with the family why not also get some inspiration from our guide to a family-friendly Derbyshire.
If you're planning a fun-packed family holiday in the Peak District, find somewhere to relax and stay in between all your days out with our family-friendly cottages across the Peak District.