If you have kids, you’ll know that the best thing you can give them isn’t toys or clothes, but experiences. If you’re taking them to Cambridge, you’ve probably got lots of ideas about what to do—but we can help with a few too, from bowling to animals and bookshops, we have put together a guide of things to do in Cambridge with kids.
Kings College and Kings College Chapel
Founded in 1441 by Henry VI and the earliest of the royal foundations, King’s College is worth visiting for the huge expanse of lawn extending down to the river and King’s Bridge. Here, you’ll enjoy lovely views of the Backs, the various college grounds along the riverside. Distinguished alumni include writer Horace Walpole, poet Rupert Brooke, and economist Lord Keynes.
A must-see here is King’s College Chapel. Renowned for its 12-bay perpendicular-style interior, as well as its breathtaking fan vaulting by John Wastell (1515), it’s a must-see in Cambridge.
Also worth checking out: the lovely tracery on the windows and walls; the spectacular 16th-century stained-glass windows; the lavishly carved 16th-century wooden organ screen and choir stalls; and the altarpiece, Rubens’ Adoration of the Magi (1634).
Hot Tip: If visiting during term time, be sure to attend Evensong to hear the world-famous king’s College Choir in action.
Queens College Mathematical Bridge
Founded in 1448 by Andrew Dockett under the patronage of Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, Queens’ College was refounded in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. It has the most complete medieval buildings of all Cambridge’s colleges, including the magnificent gateway leading to the red brick First Court, dating from the period of foundation.
Other Queens’ College sites to visit include the wooden Mathematical Bridge. This 1902 reconstruction leads over the Cam to the lovely college gardens and is so-called because it was built without nails, relying for its strength on meticulous calculation.
Also worth seeing are Cloister Court (1460) with the President’s Lodge — a handsome half-timbered building — and Pump Court with the Erasmus Tower above the rooms, occupied by Erasmus when he taught Greek here (1511-1514).
Walnut Tree Court (1618) and Friars Court with the Erasmus Building (1961) and Victorian chapel (1891) are also worth seeing.
Looking for a family adventure and fun outdoor activities for kids?
Head away from Clayton Hotel Cambridge for this amazing trip, which will let your children see tapirs and lions in the glorious outdoors. The zoo came to Linton in 1972 and remains just as committed to conservation now as it was back then—with all 18 acres of the grounds devoted to wildlife.
This self-guided walking tour is guaranteed to be a fun day out for all the family. It’s a great way for children to explore Cambridge. Order your pack online and head off on your family adventure whenever you are ready. The scavenger hunt trail is a loop and approximately 1.7 miles long, perfect for children over the age of 6. Don’t worry if you get stuck, you can message the organisers and they will send you more clues to help you figure it out. Contact Treasure Trails for more information
This magical space is just a 5-minute stroll from the hotel. Your kids might not be able to manage the whole 40 acres of this incredible place, but they’re sure to appreciate the beautiful gardens and greenhouses. Any child who wants to be a scientist will be fascinated by the purpose behind growing all these rare plants in one place, and if you plan it right you might even manage to drop in on one of the fabulous family events. Make it a family day out and pack a picnic!
Any child with an engineering brain will be fascinated by the items on show here, from the letterpresses, the hand-operated presses that made machinery work, to the information and artefacts from local industries. This educational activity shares the history of the pumping station and where the work was done.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The most famous museum in Cambridge, The Fitzwilliam should be included on everyone’s must-see list of tourist attractions. This masterpiece of architecture contains a magnificent collection of English pottery and china, as well as Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, and illuminated manuscripts.
The exceptionally fine gallery has works by Hogarth, Gainsborough, and Turner, as well as Impressionists and Dutch Masters of the Baroque including Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Rubens. There’s also a great café on-site, along with a gift shop.
Although built in the 12th century, Anglesey Abbey was refurbished in 1926 and came to be known as a house of fine art and furnishings. Now a National Trust property, this spectacular home contains numerous tapestries by the likes of Gobelin, Soho, and Anglesey. There’s also an art collection featuring Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge.
Be sure to spend time enjoying the surrounding gardens and 114 acres of parkland. These impressive grounds include the Wildlife Discovery Area, where younger visitors can watch birds and bugs in their natural habitats, and the Lime Tree Lookout. Afterward, visit the historic water mill — the Lode Mill — to watch the grindstones do their job
If the adults have loved looking at the colleges next to the hotels near Cambridge train station and the kids are threatening mutiny, head to Tenpin Bowling. With 28 modern lanes, all computerised, children can enjoy trying to get strikes over on the adults, enjoy delicious meals and snacks, and adults can enjoy the licensed bar and a drink from the Costa Coffee tucked away inside.
Heffers Children’s Bookshop
What would Cambridge be without books? Heffers is a Cambridge institution, stocking books for academics and adults but having a very special children’s department full of books, character toys, child-friendly activities and more. If you have a bookworm, let them run around in here and maybe even pick a book to take back to Clayton Hotel Cambridge for tonight’s bedtime story. Just make sure they don’t pick too many that it’s difficult for them to carry them all back to your room!
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Developed by Cambridge University in 1884, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds an important collection of prehistoric material and artifacts dealing with social anthropology. Collections have been gathered from around the world and include pieces from Africa and the Orient, with a focus on the visual and classical arts.
Of particular note is the Pacific collection, taken mainly from Cook’s explorations, and other research projects made by notable British anthropologists. Regular educational programs for kids and adults are held throughout the year (check their website for details).
Be sure to also visit the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, too. This fascinating museum houses the university’s geology collection, including some two million minerals, rocks, and fossils. Highlights include numerous meteorite specimens, as well as the Beagle Collection consisting of fossils and rocks gathered by Charles Darwin between 1831 and 1836. The museum also offers a wide variety of family activities and kids’ programs.
Also of interest is the newly refurbished University Museum of Zoology. Highlights of this recently renovated Cambridge attraction include a large collection of scientifically important zoological material.
National Horse Racing Museum
Just 13 miles east of Cambridge, the market town of Newmarket has been a center of English horse racing since 1174. Horse fans will enjoy visiting the National Horse Racing Museum on the picturesque High Street. Exhibits relate to the history of the “sport of kings,” still one of the most popular sports in Britain.
The collection includes paintings of famous horses and jockeys, old saddles, tacks, and trophies. There are several stables actually in the town, not to mention the famous racecourse and training “gallops” close by.
Cambridge Food Tour
This walking tour will introduce you to some of Cambridge’s best places for all thing’s food. The tour includes pubs, fish-and-chip shops, delis, and specialty shops, and you can set up your tour to fit your tastes perfectly.
See the Buskers and Street Performers Festival
Buskers are a fun part of English culture. Over a 3-day period in September, spread throughout the city, buskers are invited to participate in a competition for the best performers as voted by the public. Take a stroll through the city streets and enjoy the music!