Local blogger and mum-of-two Jade from The Autism Page has kindly penned this guest post for us, sharing her top recommendations for inclusive family-friendly attractions in Bristol. Over to Jade…

Bristol is full of fantastic inclusive family attractions. Knowing that an attraction is disability friendly can make a big difference, so I wanted to share our favourite places to visit around the city.

I’ll also include the visual guides and social stories where they exist, as I know how important these are when preparing for a visit with my family. 

These attractions are popular, but we’ve always managed to find quiet areas and friendly staff whenever we have needed them. They are all places where everyone is welcome.

Inclusive attractions for a sunny day

Wild Place Project

Wild Place Project is a wildlife conservation park just north of Bristol and is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a large place so it doesn’t get too crowded. There are lots of great picnic spots and places to play along with lots of animals to see including giraffes, bears and lemurs. The Barefoot trail is a must for sensory seekers.

Wolf at Wild Place Project

Image - Wild Place Project, credit Evan Dawson

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a great place for young children and now is the time to visit as the animals will be relocated to the Wild Place Project site in late 2022. There is a nice mix of indoor and outdoor sections with a great playground. The gorilla house is a must see and my kids love the sealions and penguins exhibit. 

Baby gorilla on back of mum at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Image - Bristol Zoo Gardens, credit Jordan Jones

Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park is a great day out for the kids with a wide variety of play areas and farm animals. Personally, we love the riverside walk along the River Avon which is a great way to break up the day and I’m looking forward to seeing it transformed into Dinosaur Valley this summer. The train and tractor rides are fun for kids. In school holidays there are often additional events going on at the park.

Mum and two kids on mini jeep at Avon Valley Adventure Park

Image - Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

A large zoo with an impressive array of animals including elephants, camels and lions, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is perfect for kids that love being outside. There is a giant maze and lots of play areas to keep the kids entertained. 

Spectacled bears at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Image - Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Windmill Hill City Farm

Windmill Hill City Farm is free to visit with some lovely outdoor play opportunities and a Stick Man Trail that will keep little ones busy for a couple of hours.

Ducks on a pond at Windmill Hill City Farm

Image - Windmill Hill City Farm

Inclusive attractions for a rainy day

We The Curious

We The Curious is a fantastic science museum with tons to see and learn while enjoying the hands-on exhibits. The giant bubble makers and brick building play area are always popular and there is an excellent animation section featuring Aardman’s most recognisable duo, Wallace and Gromit.

Two kids playing with Time exhibit at We The Curious' Project What If

Image - We The Curious, credit Lisa Whiting

Bristol Aquarium

Bristol Aquarium can be a great calming space. There are lots of underwater displays and you can’t beat the underwater tunnel for a sensory experience.

Clownfish at Bristol Aquarium

Image - Bristol Aquarium

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a fantastic option for experiencing history and exploring the famous ship.  You can even get beneath the ship in the dry dock. A brilliant opportunity for visual thinkers to see history close up.

Brunel's SS Great Britain

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain

Aerospace Bristol

Aerospace Bristol’s main attraction is its Concorde which is amazing up close – you can even step on board. The main hanger has lots for flight and space fans and the engineers of tomorrow to explore. There is also an outdoor play area for when a break is needed.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

Image - Aerospace Bristol

M Shed

M Shed is a museum dedicated to the social history of Bristol and is full of visually appealing interactive displays including a double decker bus. Located right on the Harbourside, there are some great spots on the upper floors to take a break and watch what’s going on outside on the water.

Lodekka double decker bus exhibit at M Shed

Image - M Shed, credit Quintin Lake Photography

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is a must-visit spot for history and dinosaur fans. There is a small play area ideal for younger kids.

Boxkite at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Image - Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, credit Bristol Culture

All of the venues above have a café and options for food which are family friendly, as well as areas to picnic if you bring your own food with you.

In the school holidays you can go to the Gympanzees roadshow which is the perfect place to visit for disabled children. Play sessions at Gympanzees are specifically designed for young people (0-25) with SEN, physical, sensory, learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Somewhere that’s not just disability friendly but designed with differences in mind.

Some of the above attractions hold early opening and/or specific SEN and autism-friendly events, some of which are listed here but do check directly with venues too. Additionally, venues across the city have specific SEN sessions, such as Flip Out for some indoor inflatable fun or Hengrove outdoor play park.

Bristol also has lots of great green spaces to spend an afternoon like Ashton Court Estate and Blaise Castle Estate. I also like Leigh Woods for a woodland walk.

Before you visit make sure you check out the accessibility pages on the venue’s website as they have lots of useful information that can make a visit easier. And don’t forget that for most of the paid attractions you can get a free carer ticket, so check before you book.

About the author

Jade is mum to her two boys aged seven and five. Jade began blogging at The Autism Page after her eldest was diagnosed as autistic at age two. She now works in parent support and delivers training about autism and lives with her husband and boys in Keynsham.

Keep up with Jade’s latest recommendations, information and advice over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

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