City Breaks with Kids: Bath

Bath is, quite simply, one of the loveliest cities in England. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, it’s the only city in the UK to be classed as a World Heritage Site. It’s not hard to see why when you first glimpse the gorgeous honey-coloured stone of the Georgian buildings and visit the spectacular Roman Baths. There are delights on every corner, from the numerous museums and parks to the wonderful independent shops and restaurants.

It’s a fantastic city to visit as a family. It’s small enough to explore on foot and there’s more than enough to entertain children and adults alike. What’s more, it makes an ideal base to see more of the local area – the cities of Bristol and Wells, Stonehenge, Longleat and the Cotswolds are all nearby.

Walk in the footsteps of the Romans at the Roman Baths

A visit to the Roman Baths is an absolute must – it’s one of the finest spas of the ancient world. Naturally hot water has been rising up from the spring here for thousands of years. In the 1st century AD, the Romans built a magnificent temple and bathing complex where they came to bathe in the sacred waters, pray and seek healing.

You can still tread on the ancient stone pavements where the Romans walked, see the ruins of the temple to the Goddess Minerva and the various bathing rooms. It’s a great place to find out more about the Ancient Romans as there are displays of all the items that have been excavated from the site – thousands of coins, jewellery, writing tools, drinking cups, perfume pots and, best of all, the Roman Curse Tablets, on which the Romans wrote messages to Minerva on lead and pewter, cursing people who wronged them.

The children’s audioguide is excellent and there are characters in costume at the Baths every day to help visitors learn more about Roman Britain. During the school holidays there are family activities on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Don’t forget to taste the spa water at the end of your tour. You’ll probably find the warm water as revolting as we did!

The Roman Baths are open every day from 9am until 6pm. You can see them by torchlight in July and August when they remain open until 10pm. Adults, £15; children, £11.25; under 6s free. 

Try the Bath Bun at Sally Lunn’s

You can’t leave Bath without trying the original Bath Bun, created over 300 years ago by a French refugee. Part bun, part cake, part bread, Sally Lunn’s bun was really popular in Georgian England, where it was served for breakfast and afternoon tea.

Sally Lunn’s is in one of the oldest houses in Bath. You can visit the original kitchen used by Sally, with its faggot oven and Georgian range. The buns themselves are delicious and served with a sweet or savoury topping. We chose lemon curd, ginger butter and the most incredible cinnamon butter we’ve ever tasted.

Sally Lunn’s, 4 North Parade Passage, is open every day from 10am until 9.30pm. Sundays, from 11am until 9pm and on Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm.

Raid the dressing up box at the Fashion Museum

You can try on corsets, top hats, Victorian dresses, bonnets and wigs in the brilliant dressing up room at the Fashion Museum. The museum has one of the world’s best collections of historic and fashionable clothes so you’ll find everything from Tudor shirts, 18th-century French silk dresses with hooped petticoats, Jane Austen-style Regency muslin frocks and beautiful satin shoes from the 1800s right up to the Roland Mouret Galaxy dress.

The Children’s Trail showcases ten historical fashion looks for kids and there are family workshops in fashion design on Tuesdays during the Summer holidays.

The Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street is open every day from 10.30am until 5pm, until 4pm from November to February. Adults, £8.75; children, £6.75.

Dance around the ballroom at the Assembly Rooms

My two boys could not resist dancing around the ballroom in the Assembly Rooms. This is where thousands of people gathered for parties and balls, including a fair few of the characters in Jane Austen’s novels. The ballroom is the grandest of the three rooms and contains the finest set of 18th-century chandeliers in the world. They are more than 8 feet high and in Georgian times they would have been lit with 200 candles.

The Assembly Rooms are free to enter on the days when there isn’t an event going on.

Have afternoon tea at Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms

Afternoon tea is a Great British tradition and has always been popular in Bath. You could have your tea in the elegant surroundings of the 18th-century Pump Room but Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms is a far more fun and laid-back setting for kids.

The entire restaurant has been decorated in the style of wartime Britain of the 1930s and 1940s so it’s all embroidered tablecloths, knitted tea cosies, wartime posters and mismatched china. The waitresses wear old-fashioned pinafores and headscarves and the afternoon tea is an absolute delight: a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and huge slices of homemade cake.

Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms, 6-8 Saville Row, is open every day from 10am until 5pm.

Take a boat out on the River Avon

Have fun messing about on the river for an hour by hiring a punt, rowing boat or canoe from the Victorian boating station at Bath Boating Station. You can take one of the Pulteney Cruise motorboats there from the centre of Bath.

If you’ve got more time, don’t miss spending the day cruising along the picturesque Kennet & Avon Canal in a narrowboat.

Be a history detective at No 1 Royal Crescent

Find out what life was like for Bath’s richest and most fashionable residents by taking a tour around the first house to be built in Bath’s famous Royal Crescent. The rooms at No 1 have all been furnished as they would have looked in the late 18th century and children are given a History Detective Pack complete with magnifying glass, worksheet and fun activities to do in every room.

My two really enjoyed finding out that the Georgians didn’t leave the dining room to go to the toilet – the flush toilet hadn’t been invented so they had to go behind a folding screen and wee into a chamber pot. We also visited the Gentleman’s Retreat and the Lady’s Bedroom where we laughed at the wig scratcher which they needed because of all the head lice they had underneath their wigs.

Down in the Servants’ Hall you can dress up in Georgian clothes. There are additional craft activities on Family Fridays.

No 1 Royal Crescent is open every day until 5.30pm. Mondays, from 12pm; Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10.30am. Adults, £10; children, £4; under 6s, free.

Have a picnic in Royal Victoria Park

The large park in front of the Royal Crescent is a suitably grand place for a picnic and great for watching all the hot air balloons on a summer’s evening. The 57-acre park was opened by Queen Victoria when she was only 11 (before she became queen) and boasts a botanical garden, crazy golf, duck pond, bandstand with live music and a brilliant adventure playground with a zip wire and pyramid climbing frame.

For more information about visiting Bath, take a look at the Visit Bath website.

Disclosure: We were very kindly given free admission to some of the sights mentioned but all opinions are honest and my own.

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50 thoughts on “City Breaks with Kids: Bath

  1. I would have imagined there would be other cities in the UK to be classified as a world heritage site, for example Wells which you wrote about last week. Nice to know that fact about Bath. I have briefly visited Bath but it was too brief and in dreary weather that I had not been tempted to revisit the city. Reading your post makes me want to visit it.

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    • You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Obviously better to appreciate the glorious architecture and views on a sunny day but unfortunately there can be a lot of rain in Bath – and the rest of the UK, if I’m honest! But there are lots of things to do inside too so hopefully this will tempt you back.

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  2. your post took me back to my visit all those years ago:) I had tea at Jane Austen center:) Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in England. the Roman Baths are a great attraction/museum:) #city tripping

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  3. Great post! I didn’t do a lot of those activities when we visited Bath…was particularly gutted about the Roman baths but it was very busy! The Georgian house sounds fascinating. Head lice & weeing in the dining room…it was all glamour, ay. I would recommend the Jane Austen centre too if you are a English lit fan. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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  4. That sounds like a good 2 or 3 days’ worth of things to do in Bath! Or maybe i’m just a terribly slow traveller. The Bath Bun and afternoon tea are things i’d definitely go for. The Roman Baths look really interesting but I was a poor student at the time i visited so i didn’t want to shell out 15 quid! Is it anything like a Japanese onsen?

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    • Absolutely. It makes a great place for a short break – that way you can see quite a lot at a more leisurely pace and possibly even take a few trips into the beautiful countryside round about.

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  5. Great guide! I’ve only been to Bath once and that was a long time ago when I went with my family as a kid, so this was the perfect refresh. Love the background stories too like the no-toilets and head lice and wigs – yuk! Makes our head lice situation with kids not seem so bad!

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    • It would be so much easier if we could just hand one of those wig scratchers to our kids instead of going through the whole yucky delousing treatment! I think Bath’s wonderful for families. It’s definitely one of my favourite cities in the UK.

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  6. Wow everything looks so gorgeous, such a good guide! I’m especially lusting after that Afternoon Tea! I wish we had more tea and afternoon tea opportunities here in the states, it’s so hard to find! xo

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  7. I have read so many nice things about Bath! To be honest, it has to be one of the top places I want to visit in the UK. I didn’t know about the Bath Bun (looks delicious). And, there is no doubt I will like to have tea in the city.

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  8. Bath is definitely a gorgeous city but I didn’t know about the buns. Now I’ll have to go back for some!
    Thanks!

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  9. I’ve always wanted to visit Bath, and I love that there’s so much to do besides just visiting the Roman Baths! That Bath Bun sounds and looks so delicious!

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    • Really, really delicious, Ashley! And that cinnamon butter was just perfect with it. I do think Bath is one of the nicest cities in England. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the UK. Thanks so much for commenting.

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  10. Love this! Bath is one of my favorite cities. I visited back in 2014, but I was with a tour group, so I didn’t have time to wander. I’m hoping to go back in the next year while I’m in London for postrgrad and will want to hit up that adorable tea room! Found you through Wanderful Wednesday, and will definitely be following! xo

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  11. I just met a bunch of students from Bath last night who were raving about their little city! I have to admit it’s never been on my radar before, but after this, I definitely want to visit! Looks like a lovely time! 😀

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