Whether you’re looking for a half-term family holiday that’s filled with adventure or simply fancy a weekend break from the norm, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Derbyshire.
From outdoor adventures in the Peak District National Park to animal encounters in the National Forest, we have compiled 10 of our favourite family-friendly activities that should keep kids entertained and help you avoid the dreaded ‘I’m bored'.
Take a look at our list of some of the best child-friendly things to do in Derbyshire:
1. Take a pony trek through the Derbyshire countryside
Children will love taking a horse ride through the countryside with Derbyshire Pony Trekking. Rides can be tailored to individual abilities and basic tuition is given before all treks. Routes can include Poulter Country Park and Scarcliffe Park Woods and range from gentle rides through pretty woodland to thrilling fast-paced gallops.
Derbyshire Pon Trekking offer trekking all year round, even in the snow! Pre-booking is essential so, to avoid disappointment, make sure you plan ahead.
- Location: NG20 9RH.
- Contact: 07757 106679
- Please note: Children must be at least 4 years old to ride.
2. Go for a picnic in the grounds of Elvaston Castle Country Park
There are more than 300 acres of woodland, lakes, parkland and gardens to explore at Elvaston Castle Country Park. You can go on a nature trail, feed the ducks or just find a scenic spot for a picnic - teddy bears optional! Children can burn off some energy at the playground and there are plenty of open spaces that are ideal for a family game of rounders.
Elvaston Castle Country Park is very dog-friendly too so it's a great option if you’re bringing along the canine members of your family.
Fun facts about the castle
- It was re-designed by James Wyatt in the early 1800s based on the original house dating back to 1633.
- Today both the buildings and gardens are registered (Grade 2 and Grade 2*) as being of special architectural and historical interest.
- The gardens are locally renowned for their rockwork structures and fine examples of topiary, originally introduced and designed by William Barron in the 19th century.
Location: DE72 3EP
Opening times: Open all year round. 9am - 8pm April to September; 9am - 5pm October to March.
3. Have fun on the slopes at Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre
Whether you fancy skiing, snowboarding or zooming down a slide on a toboggan, there is plenty of fun to be had at the Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre. You’ll find nursery, main and teaching slopes to cater for different abilities plus a range of ski and snowboard lessons to get you started. For thrills and spills with no lessons required, head to the Cresta Run toboggan run to ride your way down the fun 500-metre course. There are also a couple of sno-tube slides to try which involve making your way down the slope on a large inflatable ring.
- Location: DE11 8LP
- Opening times: 10am - 10pm Monday to Friday; 9am - 6pm on weekends.
- Please note: Children must be at least 3 years old for skiing, 4 years old for tobogganing and 9 years old for snowboarding.
4. Explore Sudbury Hall and the National Museum of Childhood
Sudbury Hall is a National Trust site which is filled with things to keep little ones entertained. The Museum of Childhood includes games from the past such as marbles and jacks which can be played on a replica Victorian street. There’s also the chance for children to climb through a fireplace and experience life as a turn-of-the-century chimney sweep.
Outside Sudbury, there’s lots to explore too and it’s worth picking up a National Trust ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ sheet to spark your children’s imaginations. This was also one of the locations where the BBC's version of Jane Austin's 'Pride and Prejudice' was shot. Read all about it. Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds of Sudbury Hall - browse our range of dog-friendly holiday cottages.
- Stunning plasterwork, wood carvings and paintings by craftsmen such as Grinling Gibbons and Louis Laguerre.
- The outdoor woodland play area, which is tucked out of view at the rear of the house.
- Enjoy refreshments in the Coach House Restaurant, and pick the kids up something in the gift shop.
Location: DE6 5HT
Opening times: View the website for all opening times.
5. Have an adventure in the National Forest
In the heart of the National Forest, you’ll find a 120-acre, award-winning site called Conkers which is filled with activity and adventure. Intrepid children can zoom down a thrilling 110-metre zip wire, traverse across an aerial rope course or experience the sensation of free-falling with the Powerfan Descender. With scooter safaris, underground warrens, an indoor enchanted forest play zone, a fairy labyrinth and even a 4D cinema, there is more than enough to keep children happily entertained all day.
- Location: DE12 6GA
- Opening times: 10am - 5pm until end of March; 10am - 6pm April to September.
- Admission: This season you can purchase a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for just £20. Otherwise, adult: £4.55, child: £4.55
6. Meet the animals at National Forest Adventure Farm
Children can get up close to animals including Shetland ponies, Herdwick sheep and donkeys at the National Forest Adventure Farm near Burton upon Trent. Little ones can learn how to groom a pony, handle a guinea pig and collect up some freshly laid eggs before taking a tractor ride to spot Highland cows and reindeer at this popular Derbyshire attraction.
Also on offer:
- Go karts
- Dig zone sand pit
- Musical maze
- Assault course
- Crazy golf
- Farmyard safari
- Visit the website for full list of 2020 events.
Location: Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, DE13 9SJ
Open: 10am - 6pm daily
7. Swing through the trees at Buxton
If your children like a challenge then the Go Ape treetop challenge at Buxton is one of the highest in the country. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate, adrenaline-filled trail or prefer a gentler passageway through the trees, all high-level bases are covered with the Pannjarve Bridge, a Net Bridge and a tricky Jungle Crossing. The course features an extra-large Tarzan swing plus a specially extended course with additional zip wires and a tree-to-tree section to tackle.
The course should take around 2 hours to complete and is suitable for children aged 10 and above.
Location: SK17 9DH
8. Take a trip back in time at Crich Tramway Village
For a gentler day out, we recommend heading to Crich Tramway Village where you can enjoy unlimited rides on a vintage tram and explore a recreated period street which includes a good old-fashioned sweet shop and traditional village pub.
The Matlock site also features a lovely woodland section with wooden walkways, mining tunnels, sculptures trail, picnic area and outdoor playground. Children can even borrow a special backpack for the duration of the visit which is filled with fun activities for them to try. This is a great family day out!
- Location: DE4 5DP
- Open: 10am - 4.30pm March - April; 10am - 5.30pm April - September
- View the website for admission prices
9. Learn some water sports at Carsington Water
Carsington Water is a large Derbyshire reservoir which makes an ideal spot for learning a range of water sports including windsurfing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Taster lessons are available so you can try out the various activities plus family tuition sessions mean you can all learn a new sport together. If you don’t fancy hitting the water, you can hire a bike and pedal around the scenic cycling trails at Carsington Water which link to the popular Tissington Trail.
Carsington Water Sports and Leisure hires out equiptment for:
Location: DE6 1ST
Open: 10am - 5pm daily
10. Find dinosaurs at Gulliver’s Kingdom
Gulliver’s Kingdom is a family-friendly Derbyshire theme park that has been specially designed for children aged between 2 and 13. There are more than 60 rides and attractions to choose from including a pirate’s play area and a log flume that makes the most of stunning Peak District views. One of the highlights at Gulliver’s Kingdom is the Lost World of the Living Dinosaurs attraction which features 13 animatronic dinosaurs for children to seek out.
- Location: DE4 3PG
- Open: Visit the website for all opening times through spring and summer
- Prices: Day tickets - Adult: £21.00, child: £21.00. You can save money if you book online.
Book your family-friendly holiday to Derbyshire
Ready for a fun-filled Derbyshire holiday? Take a look at our range of family-friendly Derbyshire holiday cottages and start planning your next getaway to this beautiful part of the UK. We have highlighted some lovely village holiday cottages for you to browse through but you can find our full range of family-friendly accommodation with a click of this button:
Family cottages in Bakewell
- Pine Croft - A detached bungalow with lots of space, within easy reach of Chatsworth House and the surrounding countryside. Sleeps 4.
- Rookery Cottage - A 17th-century cottage set in stunning secluded gardens. Sleeps 6.
- Fox House - A gorgeous detached character property in walking distance of Bakewell’s many renowned amenities. Sleeps 10. Welcomes 2 dogs.
Family cottages in Matlock
- Springfield Barn - A stylish converted barn situated up a farm track on top of a hill with wonderful views. Sleeps 4.
- The Hayloft - A traditional stone cottage situated on the edge of Matlock complete with games room. Sleeps 6.
- Derwent View - A pretty detached stone barn close to Matlock Bath and the Heights of Abraham. Sleeps 9. Welcomes 3 dogs.
Family cottages in Buxton
- Chapter House - A three-storey town house in heart of a historic spa town, perfect for a small family. Sleeps 4.
- Bagshot House - Beautiful detached period property in the suburbs, complete with cinema room! Perfect for get-togethers. Sleeps 18
For even more inspiration, take a look at 8 outdoor activities to try in the Peak District and our guide to Peak District historic houses and castles.