Best Museums in Manchester for Children

Best Museums in Manchester for children

Manchester is a great city and there is so much to see and do as a family and its sad that its often overlooked when people are visiting the UK.  Similarly to London, Manchester is jam packed with museums covering so many different areas and each providing a different and unique experience to children and families.  Below are my pick of the best museums in Manchester for children which are all a great day out for families and most are free, so great for keeping the costs down on adventures!

Manchester Museum (Free)


I love Manchester Museum and used to walk past it daily whilst I was at University in the city.  The Museum is located in the University on Oxford Road.  The Museum has amazing collection ranging from dinosaurs, mummies and live animals. In addition, there is loads of other things to from the natural world and different cultures.  The size of the museum is great and you can cover lots with children in a day.  If you visit during the week or in term time it is ideal as the museum is much quieter and perfect to really let the children learn and explore.


For families:  there is tons of events on at the museum and one of the picks are the Big Saturday events at the museum with each month seeing a new topic matter being covered. There is much more for families from babies to toddlers with specific events and activities for each age group.  Full details can be found here.

Information:  Open daily from 10 – 5pm.  Entrance is free and the museum is a great day out for the whole family.  Location on Oxford Road means that it is pretty easy to access the museum via public transport but if you are driving, the ideal parking spot is at Booth Street West (Car Park D).

Museum of Science and Industry (Free)


The museum is located on Liverpool Street and is a fantastic day out with children.  The museum is devoted to the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on the city’s achievements in these fields.  I love this emphasis and it shows how much Manchester has to be proud of.  The museum is home to lots of interactive areas for children, from the great Experiment area, which houses over 25 interactive exhibits to the museum hosting new and cool exhibitions ideal for the whole family.  One thing I love about MSI is that the exhibits are always changing, bringing in unique events and experiences and it offers something for the whole family.  The current exhibit back at the museum is the Play It which is a hands on Video gaming event (perfect for occupying teens over the holidays).  The museum is free to enter (donations can be made on-line) but some of the exhibits are chargeable.


For families:  there is lots of great exhibits for the whole family, with the Experiment! area to many of the temporary (and longer) exhibits suitable for everyone.  I loved that the museum is really fun and just walking around you can learn so much about Manchester’s past and how much science and industry has evolved in such a short space of time.  The museum will easily take you several hours and is a great way to getting the children excited about science.  I love that there is a really good mix of things to do for the whole family.  We have visited adult only events and those aimed at teens, and I love that the Museum strives to involve everyone in their extensive programme.


Information: The museum is free and open daily there is a car park on Water street and costs £6.50 for the whole day.  Liverpool Street is easily accessible via public transport and the MSI has lots of information on how best to visit the museum here.

Police Museum (Free – only open Tuesdays)


The Police Museum is one of the hidden gems in the Manchester Museums.  The Museum not only collects and preserves archive material and objects relating to the history of policing in the Greater Manchester area, but acts as an important resource for community engagement, where visitors can talk to staff and volunteers about policing.  GMP Museum holds primary and secondary source information about the history and development Greater Manchester policing. The museum is a very unique experience for children and you can get really hands on with police equipment and clothing.  I know some children can be reluctant to go to Museums but I think this would be a great day out for them and let them try out something that they see all the time but do not get the chance to get up and close to very often.

police museum

Information: the Museum is located in Northern Quarter and is best accessed via public transport.  There are car parks around the area and street parking in front of the building but it can be a little bit of a nightmare with one way roads.

Imperial War Museum (Free)


The Northern arm of the Imperial War Museum does not disappoint and is a fantastic day out, showing how war affects people’s lives and is great for children to learn lots about the history of the UK during the times of war.   At the moment there us a special Horrible Histories exhibition about the Blitz and we had a really lovely day when we visited last year.  The exhibition finishes on 10th April and is well worth the visit.  In addition, there is always lots of extra exhibitions and events for families to enjoy throughout the year.

From the museum, for a small additional cost you can able to take a  lift to Air Shard and enjoy lovely views of the quays and Media city.


For families: There is lots of extra events planned every month for families during the school holidays and weekends, information of this is here.  In addition, there is Time Stack which is a great way for children to learn about history through fantastic story sessions and get hands on with artefacts.  I love history and love when the little adventurers are able to access history in a really hands on way

Information: there is a huge carpark at the entrance of the IWM North.  You can easily catch public transport to the museum or to Media City and walk across the bridge to the Museum.

National Football Museum (Free)

National Football Museum

Home to some of the UK’s best football teams, Manchester is also home to a museum dedicated to the nations favourite sport.  Now that Maya has her heart firmly set on football, I am sure we will be visiting all the time.  Located in the coolest museum building (Urbis) the museum is in the very heart of Manchester city centre.  The museum has loads of activities, exhibits for children of all ages to try.  Over the holidays and weekends there is always additional events for families to try from soccer skills to crafts and you can easily spend several hours in the museum.


There are also several paid activities through the Play Football Plus including the following and some additional activities,

  • Soak up the pressure of Wembley, keep your nerve and go for glory in the Penalty Shootout
  • Test those lightning-quick ‘keeping reactions and prove yourself as the top Shot-Stopper
  • Learn some new showboating skills to dazzle the defenders in On The Ball
  • Celebrate victory in the League Cup, FA Cup or Premier League when you Lift The Trophy, and take home the photo of you and the Cup.

these activities are best suited for over 7s.  Each of the activity costs 1 credit and the information about the activities and costs are here.  By taking part in these activities it really helps with keeping the activity free in the future.


The tickets can be purchased from the information desk and it is a great way to help the museum to continue to run and remain free to the public.  I also love that the tickets can be taken home and if you log on-line you can view pictures, your scores and can print off certificates of the activities that you have done (NB: Keep the tickets safe!)

For families:  there are lots of hands on activities for children open all year round and most of these are free.  For the older children it is great to try the Play Football Plus and for just £35 you can claim a family Football Plus+ package (unlimited credits between up to 4 people) every time you visit for a year.

Information: The location of the Museum is perfect for transport by public transport and is a short walking distance from Victoria Station.  If you are driving into the city, the old Boddingtons Car park is a great place to park for the city.

People’s History Museum


This little of a gem of a museum is often overlooked compared to some of the bigger museums but is well worth the visit.  Like the other museums in Manchester it is free and actually covers a very unique aspect, with the focus of the museum on the history of democracy in Great Britain and about ordinary people’s lives at home, work and leisure over the last 200 years. The subject matter may make you think that the museum would not be family friendly but the museum is really set up for being family friendly and has hands-on activities for all ages, in every gallery.  For children aged 3 – 6 years old you can get a Busy Bee explorer packs, which is great fun for the kids.  In addition, there are family friendly trails, which I love as an idea to get children excited about visiting museums and you can even win a prize!  From all the museums this is possibly the most child friendly.


For families: as highlighted the museum is extremely family friendly and in addition to the above, the museum also host a number of family friendly events, details of which are here.  One of my favourite things is that the museum have a picnic area in the Engine hall for visitors which is a must for my little adventurers.

Information: the museum is open daily from 10 – 5pm  and is on the Left Bank, Spinnigfields.  The museum has car parks within walking distance and is easily accessed via public transport including the free metroshuttles which run from the train stations

Museum of Transport (Adults £4, under 16 free)


Located a mile and half outside of Manchester (just off Cheetham Hill Road) is the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester.  I just recently discovered this museum and it looks great especially for fans of buses and transport.  The Museum tells the story of public road transport in Greater Manchester from its very beginnings in 1824 to the present day. The collection spans over 100 years, from an 1890s horse bus to a full size prototype Metrolink tram.


I loved the look of this museum as it was so unique from all the others that you can visit with children and for most young children getting up close to vehicles is always exciting.  Paying admission only for adults is also great and can make for quite a nice day out with very little expense.

Information: The museum is open daily on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, Bank holidays and everyday in August.  The museum opens from 10 – 4:30pm and is located off Cheetham Hill Road.  There is very limited street parking outside.  the Museum can be accessed via public transport, details are here.  Children under 16 years old visit free with a paying adult.

Art Gallery Manchester (Free)


I love the Art Gallery and have the Gallery a great place to visit with children and offers something a little different to enjoy with your children.  The Gallery has several exhibits which are free for the public to enjoy.  I love that the Gallery have tried to be really child friendly and for those with younger children, there is explorer tool belts for family groups with children aged three to six. There are plenty of tools to help you explore the gallery including binoculars, magnifying glasses, spot cards and much more.  I thought this was a great idea and will make it such an enjoyable experience for families.  In addition, the Art Gallery has an interactive space dedicated to families situated right in the centre of our gallery to interact with ideas and each other; exploring the theme of Transformations through sensory, imaginary and creative ‘play’, taking inspiration from the new exhibition; The Imitation Game.

Through out the holidays the Art Gallery has a number of events aimed at families and are great for a different activity to enjoy as a family!

Manchester Art Gallery

For Families: In addition to the above information, families can also enjoy a number of art work shops aimed a inspiring all the future artists, they run the Open doors is a creative workshop especially for children with autism and other social communication issues, their families and carers. They also have a Baby Art club (babies who do not walk) is a space where carers and babies can play and explore together inspired by artworks in our collection and a  Mini art club (ages 1-4 years old) we aim to support language, physical development and social skills by looking at artworks and exploring ideas and materials in our studios.    In addition, on the second weekend of every month, 1 – 3pm (Starting again 9th & 10th April) they hold a family weekend where you can create, discuss and learn together with a diverse range of artists over the year.

Information: The art gallery is open daily from 10am – 5pm and is located on Moseley Street so a short distance from Piccadilly Gardens so perfect to reach by public transport.  There are a number of car parks in the area if you are driving into the city.

So those are my picks as the best museums in Manchester for children.  Have you got any favourites that I have missed?



I am a traveller, mother and blogger. We love to go on adventures (big and small, near and far) and strive to show our children how amazing and beautiful the world is! I caught the travel bug many moons ago and despite having three little adventurers, I still suffer from "itchy" feet. We love the great outdoors and one another. Come and join the fun :)

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4 Responses

  1. These are some great ideas, and another reason why I should probably try and organise a weekend up in Manchester with the kids sometime soon. Even tempted to go to the Art Gallery tomorrow whilst we are up.

  2. Jo Laybourn says:

    Great round up of the Museums Manchester has to offer families and children! Thank you! The football one looks particularly fab!

  1. June 30, 2016
  2. November 15, 2016

    […] has a comprehensive post about the top picks of museums in Manchester, but it’s the Manchester Museum that comes highly recommended. There are tons of events and exhibits from dinosaurs to mummies […]

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