I was invited to Derby alongside a group of bloggers by Visit Derby where we stayed in The Stay Company serviced apartments and explored what the city had to offer. I was amazed to find that there were lots of options for things to do as adults visiting Derby but also as a family visiting with children.
Below are some of the highlights that I think make for fun things to do in Derby with kids.
Museum of Making
The Museum of Making is the newest museum in the city. It is FREE to enter, although it does have some activities and attractions that require a minimal fee. The museum celebrates the area’s rich history of innovation and has several different areas that you can explore with a number of interactive activities to help children learn through doing. These include everything from arts and crafts to building marble runs.
There is also a fantastic model railway that you can go and see at anytime during your visit but if you happen to be there at 11am you will be in for a special treat.
As well as having the static sections that are dedicated to local history they also have visiting shows and exhibitions, so even if you have been to the Museum of Making before it is always worth checking their website to see what they have on. There is currently an exhibition called the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. There you can have a go at bringing 30 beautifully created automatas to life at the press of a button. Each of which have been loving created by 12 contemporary artists.
You can even have a go at making one yourself, an activity that will be enjoyed by children and adults a like. This exhibition costs £2.50 and it is recommended that you book in advance, although you can just turn up and see if there are spaces on the day.
There is so much to see and do in the Museum of Making that you will easily be able to keep the kids entertained here for 1-2 hours, more if you stop off at the cafe and gift shop too.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery
The Museum and Art Gallery is also FREE and unlike what you might think it is actually a great place to take children to. As an art gallery it houses a stunning collection of the late Joseph Wrights work. A local artist with a really interesting back story.
If, however, you don’t think your child will appreciate such a collection just yet then worry not as there are a number of other sections they can explore.
For example there is a room dedicated to historical artefacts that date back to both the Egyptian times and the Vikings, two subjects that most Key stage 1 and 2 children will be exploring at school, making this a wonderful place to bring the theory to life.
There is also the Notice Nature Feel Joy Collection which comprises of over 2,000 specimens from the natural history collection including a fantastic fox and a magnificent Malayan Sun Bear.
Just like the Museum of Making the Museum and Art Gallery have several areas where children, and adults, can stop and get involved in an activity including a dressing up area and a number of hands on experiences.
The two museums are both in the city centre and are in walking distance of one another so why not make a day of it and visit both.
Dotted about the city are some lovely stars similar to those you would find on the walk of fame in Hollywood. All the stars have various names in the middle of them that are all special to Derby in one way or another. Trying to find them all can be a great way to pass some time with the children whilst walking from one location to another across the city and it also gives a brilliant opportunity for researching the names they don’t recognise at a later date.
A Cathedral might not be your first thought when you are looking for things to do in Derby with kids, however, Derby Cathedral offers something completely different. As well as being able to walk round Derby Cathedral and appreciate the amazing architecture, stained glass and statues children over 8 can also take a tour up to the very top. This involves climbing 189 steps and then stepping out on to the roof of the Cathedral, not something you do every day. Once up there you can see for miles and miles and listen to the amazing stories the guides have to offer about tight rope walking donkeys and how the firemen used the Cathedral as a watch tower during the war.
These tours are only available from April and you need to book in advance.
The Deda is a centre for dance and has lots to offer including regular classes for those that live local. If however you are looking for things to do in Derby for a weekend visit or as part of a city break then check out their website for any drop in sessions they might be running. If you are visiting Derby as a group then you can book a private aerial class as long as all the children are aged 7 and over. The aerial beginners session gives everyone a go on the ropes, trapeze and silks and it lots of fun for both children and adults. This is the perfect activity to tire out any energy filled children.
Where to eat in Derby with kids?
If you are looking for somewhere to eat as a family in Derby then head to Annie’s Burger shack. This family friendly restaurant is in walking distance of the city centre and has the most extensive burger menu I have ever seen. Every burger is available as vegetarian, vegan, meet and chicken. So there really is something for everyone.
Personally, I can highly recommend the The Buffalo Ranch, which is a chicken burger but you can of course change that.
They also have a dessert menu but the main meal portion sizes are so large that we couldn’t fit dessert in so I can’t recommend anything specific but they all sounded amazing.
Annie’s burger shack also has a children’s menu that costs £4.50.
If you are planning on eating out more than once then check out the top 20 Derbyshire restaurants for some more inspiration.
I hope this guide to things to do in Derby with kids is helpful and that you have a wonderful time whether you are a local or visiting for the first time.