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Guest post by Jo from My Anxious Life
Are you tired of the same old attractions? Looking for a new location to have an action-packed family adventure? Then look no further than my home city of Nottingham! We’re bursting at the seams with a variety of beautiful sights and exciting venues, all instilled with our own rich and unique history, where you’re guaranteed to make amazing family memories you’ll never forget.
Get inspired, with my favourite things to do in Nottingham with Kids
The Home of Robin Hood
Let’s start with the most important thing. Nottingham is proud to be the home of the country’s most iconic hero outlaw!
Learn about the city and its legends on one of Ezekial Bone’s character-led Robin Hood Tours. You can choose the multi-award-winning Robin Hood Town Tour to explore the city, delve into its history and discover the truth of the ‘Hooded Man.’ Or plump for Nottingham in a Nutshell if you’re after a quick, whistle-stop tour of the city centre to discover the best attractions, restaurants and quirky places you otherwise might have missed.
Although the castle is currently closed for refurbishment (due to open in 2020/2021), you can still visit the iconic Robin Hood statue for a selfie and then head over the road to the Robin Hood Experience, a hands-on family museum with costumes & artefacts dedicated to the local outlaw.
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A visit to Nottingham wouldn’t be complete without a trip out to Sherwood Forest. Here you can marvel at the Major Oak which, according to local folklore, was where Robin Hood and his merry men slept. It’s about 800–1000 years old and in 2014 was voted ‘England’s Tree of the Year.’ If you get your timings right, you could visit on the annual week-long Robin Hood Festival that’s also held there.
History and Art
The multi-award-winning National Justice Museum is a must-visit when in Nottingham. Based in Nottingham’s historic Shire Hall and County Gaol, you can delve into the fascinating history of justice through time. You can meet historical characters, decide if someone is guilty in a live mock court, explore real prison cells and take part in a range of interactive games and activities. They also run free weekly Make and Create sessions.
It’s worth purchasing a combination ticket, and also visiting the museums’ sister attraction, the City of Caves tour, where you can discover a hidden world beneath your feet in Nottingham’s largest network of sandstone caves. Over the centuries, they’ve been used as dwellings, cellars, WW2 air raid shelters and even a medieval tannery.
The Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard is also well worth a visit – located at the base of Castle Rock, the museum depicts the social history of Nottingham over the last 300 years. It contains a mixture of reconstructed rooms, shop settings and gallery displays. Step back into an air-raid shelter, experience being in a Victorian home, see inside a child’s bedroom and look through the cupboards in the kitchen.
Just outside the city, you can find Southwell Workhouse, the most complete Victorian workhouse in existence and Southwell Minster, one of the UK’s most beautiful cathedrals which is also home to the original Bramley apple tree, planted more than 200 years ago. (Yes, we love our trees!)
Nottingham is also home to one of the largest contemporary art institutions in the UK. Nottingham Contemporary has been described as “the most inspiring gallery in the UK” by The Guardian and was shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019. Its unique, RIBA Award-winning building has welcomed over two million people and presented more than 50 exhibitions of international art since opening in 2009. I love to take my children and see their reactions to (age-appropriate) modern art, and the gallery regularly runs family workshops, including crafts, games, music, light and more, to complement exhibitions.
Nottingham has so many beautiful country parks, green spaces and ancient forests that you’re spoilt for choice with places to explore and enjoy the fresh air, as well as learn a few things too!
The arboretum, in the heart of the city itself, is rumoured to be the inspiration for Neverland in JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.
Outside of the city, there’s Clumber Park – a large National Trust owned property with 3,800 acres of parkland to explore, including a walled kitchen garden, lake, play area, discovery centre and beautiful ornamental bridge. And Rufford Abbey, a free entry English Heritage site which is home to the best-preserved remains of a Cistercian abbey west cloister range (dating mainly from around 1170) in England.
Why not experience the romance and mystery of Newstead Abbey, which was home to the notorious ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ Romantic poet Lord Byron, or visit the beautiful Wollaton Hall, which you might recognise as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Batman trilogy?
And up at Sherwood Pines, you can explore the many cycle paths that wind through the forest, have a treetop adventure at Go Ape, or jump on board an all-terrain Segway for a unique forest adventure!
I hope you feel inspired to visit our great city and explore the wonderful places it has to offer. And rest assured – the places listed here are just the beginning!
What are your top things to do in Nottingham with Kids?