A Wonderful Weekend in Bath, England with Kids

The Circus
The Circus

For any mother who fell in love with Mr. Darcy long before falling in love with the father of her children, Bath, England, may be a bucket-list destination. Jane Austen lived in Bath — the setting of her books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion — and had a firsthand view of the social scene of British gentry and aristocracy who took to Bath for its healing hot springs and stayed for the “tea.”

Located about 100 miles west of London, Bath is just an hour and a half train ride from Paddington Station, making it a perfect place for a weekend jaunt. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its intact Georgian architecture, landscape and historic elements. And while Mom may feel as if she is stepping foot onto a set of one of her favorite Austen films, Bath is a family-friendly and walkable city filled with activities kids will enjoy.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
The Circus, a ring of historic townhouses, is one of Bath’s most iconic sights

Best Things to Do in Bath, England with Kids

Day 1

Leave London Town behind with a head start on the traffic by catching a morning train for an uncrowded and more comfortable journey. From Bath Spa Station, located in the heart of town, you can easily walk to accommodations. The entire town is pedestrian-friendly, albeit the bustling summer season could prove to be troublesome with strollers in some of the busiest shopping streets.

Parade Gardens

Once you arrive and deposit your things at your hotel, take the kids to Parade Gardens to get some energy out amid the manicured lawns and gardens overlooking the River Avon. As a spa town, Bath is filled with green spaces, and during the summer months, Parade Gardens offers concerts and entertainment at its bandstand. There is a café within the gardens providing light refreshments to grab for a serene picnic, and you can stroll the paths and take in the sculptures and beautiful floral displays.

Bath Abbey

Adjacent to the gardens stands the imposing Bath Abbey and its spectacular Gothic architecture. With flying buttresses, intricate stonework and stained-glass windows, the abbey is Bath’s answer to Notre Dame. Don’t miss the ascension of sculpted angels making their way to heaven on the front of the abbey. If everyone is ready to get their steps in, climb the 212 stairs to the tower for views of Bath that extend into the countryside.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
Take time to tour the magnificent Bath Abbey, with a rich history that dates back to the 7th century

Pulteney Cruisers

Near the gardens and the Abbey is the Pulteney Bridge, one of the few bridges in the world lined with shops on both sides (like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, although this bridge is newer and “only” dates back to the 18th century). Cross the bridge and the River Avon and you’ll find yourself in another, smaller park where river cruises await. The Pulteney Cruisers double-decker boats travel along the river for hour-long journeys that are just £5 for children aged 5 to 15 and free for younger tots. (Adults are £12.)

Cave Dining

For dinner, we enjoyed dining in the caves of a historic building at La Perla. The intimate venue, located on North Parade at the south end of Parade Gardens, is a Spanish tapas restaurant with small plates for kids who are up for experimenting. Next door is a similar cave restaurant, Opa, with Greek cuisine. For less refined palettes, Sotto Sotto’s classic Italian menu should do the trick. Regardless of your choice, the cave restaurants are intimate, and reservations should be made in advance.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
The city’s namesake Roman Baths provide a window into the past

Day 2

Spend your first full day in the city visiting its most iconic and historical spots, many of which appear in blockbuster films and world-renowned literature.

The Roman Baths

After easing into Bath, spend your second day uncovering its history. Begin where the city originated and visit the Roman Baths. One of the best-preserved ancient bath complexes, the baths date back to medieval times and underwent an extensive excavation during the late 19th century. Although the statues surrounding the baths are not originals, the ruined setting is mesmerizing and expansive. You and the kids will all learn more about the origins of Bath via self-guided audio tours through the complex. Alas, you cannot take a dip in these thermal baths, and be forewarned that it’s not the easiest place to explore with a stroller.

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The Pump Room

After the baths, pop into the neighboring Pump Room for a spot of tea — or to sample the mineral water straight from Bath’s thermal springs, as has been the custom for hundreds of years. This quintessentially British experience is set beneath the building’s grand Georgian architecture, filled with chandeliers, high ceilings and oversize windows flooding the space with natural light. The space has been a social hub of Bath since the 18th century and was frequented by everyone who was anyone in society, including Jane Austen. As expected, the tea service includes scones, finger sandwiches and a variety of pastries with a selection of tea.

Jane Austen Centre

Of course, moms won’t want to miss the Jane Austen Centre, a museum dedicated to the life and works of the famed author. Guides dressed in period clothing take guests through the exhibition with entertaining performances, and kids can have fun dressing up in Regency-era costumes. Interactive exhibits, crafts and storytelling sessions are also offered to entertain the kids and introduce them to British literature.

The House of Frankenstein

Austen wasn’t the only famous author who spent time in Bath. Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, completed her classic novel while living in town. Like the Jane Austen Centre, the House of Frankenstein includes exhibits on Shelley, but its immersive experience also feature horror-themed displays and a recreation of Frankenstein’s laboratory, which may be more up the alley of a teen than a tot.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
No. 1 Royal Crescent is furnished to evoke daily life in the late 18th century

The Royal Crescent

As you make your way from the Centre, head to the famed Royal Crescent by following Gay Street to visit The Circus. But you won’t find a Big Top here. The historic circular street was inspired by the Roman Colosseum and is filled with Georgian townhouses, each with elaborate carvings and décor on the facades. The Circus is often used as a backdrop in films, as is the nearby Royal Crescent, one of the most iconic examples of Georgian architecture in the country. Still one of the city’s most prestigious addresses, it features No. 1 Royal Crescent, a restored townhouse that is now a museum to give visitors a peek into what life was like in the 18th century. Outside the museum, the Royal Crescent Lawn is another great place to pop a squat, enjoy a picnic and give the kids some outside playtime.

Theatre Royal

In the evening hours, take in a show at one of England’s oldest theatres, the Theatre Royal. Another example of Georgian architecture, the restored space features plush red velvet seats, opulent gold detailing and ornate plasterwork for a stunning backdrop to modern performances and musical productions. The theatre has welcomed some of Britain’s’ most renowned actors, including Dame Judi Dench.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
Flower beds dot the expansive grounds of Royal Victoria Park. Photo by Anthony Brown/Adobe Stock

Day 3

With Bath’s top sites behind you, spend the remains of your trip within one of England’s most stunning parks and feel as if you have left the town for the countryside.

Royal Victoria Park

The Royal Victoria Park, which was opened by then-Princess Victoria in 1830, spans 57 acres and is a must-visit while enjoying the spa town. Kids will love the play areas — especially the Children’s Playground — and a chance to feed the ducks at the picturesque pond, and the family can enjoy a scavenger hunt of sorts seeking out the various monuments and statues within the park, including an obelisk dedicated to Princess Victoria. The 9-acre Botanical Gardens within the park are considered one of the best in Europe.

Fly Away Ballooning

If you really want to take in Bath, do it from the sky in a hot air balloon. Children 7 and up are welcome on either shared or private flights that depart from Royal Victoria Park, weather-dependent, from March through October. The flight itself lasts an hour but the entire outing can take up to four with only a complimentary drink, so bring snacks and admire the views for an amazing adventure the kids surely won’t forget.

A Weekend in Bath, England with Kids
The Family Master Room at the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, with two connecting bedrooms and ensuite baths, is ideal for families. Photo courtesy of the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Where to Stay in Bath

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

For five-star luxury nestled into the heart of the Royal Crescent, you’ll feel as if you are back in Austen’s era with a stay at the stately Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. The landmark hotel is more than 250 years old and features 45 guest rooms and suites, each with its own unique design. There are 17 suites offering more space for families, including Master Suites, which can be outfitted with toy boxes and cots for children and can accommodate up to four. Or for a truly refined stay, book the Garden Villa, which can sleep up to 8 with two suites and two Deluxe Rooms. The villa features a private walled garden and is also pet-friendly. Guests of the hotel have the added luxury of a private lawn space (with the best views) on the Royal Crescent Lawn.

TIP: Ciao Bambino Family Travel Advisors can pass special amenities and perks to clients who book the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa through us. Reach out to inquire or to book a stay.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa

Named one of the top hotels in the world, the Gainsborough Bath Spa is located in the heart of the city, near the Roman Baths. Featuring a spa with natural thermal waters and an open-air rooftop pool, the hotel is pure relaxation for parents and a chance for kids to splash about after a day at museums. The property’s two-bedroom suite is ideal for families, including a split-level room with separate living area and two rooms outfitted with king-size beds. The Gainsborough Suite is another option, with a lounge area with double sofa bed and a separate king bedroom.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly accommodations and activities in England on Ciao Bambino

52 tips for traveling in England with kids

8 favorite day trips from London with kids

The best castles in England to visit with kids

Editor’s note: Photos by Lissa Poirot except where noted. Lissa has been covering travel for more than a decade, including sites such as TripAdvisor, CruiseCritic, The Points Guy, Family Vacation Critic, Family Traveller and Cruise Hive. Her love of travel has led her to visit more than 43 countries and has her on a mission to see every state in the U.S. (only 4 states to go!). She has taken her kids on travel adventures since they were infants. When she’s not traveling, she’s exploring new attractions and events in New York City or Philadelphia, as she lives between both fabulous cities.

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