Bristol is the largest city in the south west of England.
As a city I feel Bristol is very much underrated. It’s a great city to look around, has amazing history and architecture. Best of all many of the attractions are free or very reasonably priced (especially in comparison to other cities).
It’s easily accessible by train from other major cities (only 2 hours for London). So why not take your teenager to experience this exciting city? They will love it.
Climb Up Cabot Tower
Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill Park. Image: Flickr Creative Commons
Located just off Park Street in the West End is Brandon Hill Park which is the oldest park in Bristol and where you’ll find Cabot’s Tower. The 105ft tower was built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s famous voyage from Bristol and the continent of North America four hundred years earlier.
Teens will love to climb the spiral staircase inside Cabot Tower in order to enjoy the panoramic views of the city of Bristol and its Harbourside.
Another great thing is it’s free!
Find out more at Visit Bristol
Climb aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain
SS Great Britain (image: Flickr Creative Commons)
Walk along Bristol’s harbour to find the SS Great Britain which is one of the most important historic ships in the world. She was launched in 1843 and was the largest passenger ship in the world between 1845 and 1854. The SS Great Britain is currently a museum and well worth a look around. There’s lots of fun tasks to try and you can experience the sights and sounds of travelling by boat. If your teen is feeling adventurous they can climb the main mast!
Find out more at SS Great Britain website
Walk Across the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge (image Flickr Creative commons)
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is designed by the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1831. It took 33 years to complete the bridge and was originally designed for horse drawn traffic. It now takes over 4 million vehicles per year. It’s perfect for teens to take an Instagrammable selfie!
We recommend that you start your visit at Clifton village. Walk across the bridge and take in the views before stopping at the visitor centre.
If you are staying in Bristol City Centre, travel by bus or follow the Avon Trail riverside and woodland walk.
Find out more at the Clifton Bridge website.
The Sliding Rock
Photo credit: heatheronhertravels.com
If you are near the Suspension Bridge, many teens will love to visit the “sliding rock”. (Natural rock slide that has been worn smooth by people sliding down it over the years.) It’s right next to it, near the Clifton Observatory and lots fo fun to slide down.
The Giant’s Cave
From the inside of Clifton observatory you can venture into the Giant’s Cave. Tackle the 130 steps to go down to the bottom of the cave. It opens out onto a cliff face with beautiful views of the Avon Gorge and gives you a totally new view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
It’s a bit cramped going down but well worth it. It really is a hidden gem and teens will love the adventure.
Find out more here.
M Shed is a free museum which tells the history of Bristol’s past from prehistoric times to the present day. Explore the city’s war-time experiences, industrial heritage and engineering history. There’s lots of interactive exhibits. Teens may particularly like:
Banksy’s Grim Reaper is a Banksy that was painted on the side of the boat and has been taken and preserved at the museum.
A visit to the roof terrace balcony to behold stunning views of the Habourside.
The working exhibits on the harbourside which include steamboats, trains and cranes.
It’s best to book online in advance to guarantee entry.
Find out more at M Shed
There are plenty of places to shop in and around Bristol for teenage shopoholics. Check out some ideas:
Bristol Shopping Quarter – in the heart of the city centre, it’s home to hundreds of shops.
Cabot Circus – is based in the heart of the Bristol shopping Quarter, under cover and where you can find your high street favorites including Zara, River Island and House of Frazer. There’s also designer outlets and an Apple shop.
St Nicolas market – a covered market in central Bristol.
Clifton Arcade – 17 unique shop selling vintage clothing, jewellery and antiques.
Cribbs Causeway – a massive shopping complex outside the city centre.
Glouster Road and Stokes Croft offer a wide variety of independent shops.
To find out more about shopping, check out the visit the Bristol shopping section.
Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974. You can spot some his artwork throughout the city. If your teen is into art or graffiti, why not go and find a few. The Banksy Bristol App will guide you to the locations of the current Bansky’s in Bristol.
They include the Grim Reaper inside M shed (as already mentioned). Find the Girl with the Pierced Ear Drum on Sidney Row and the Paintpot Angel in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
We The Curious
We the curious is a science museum based on Bristol harbourside.
It’s a fabulous attraction for kids so if you have a mixed age family it’s well worth a look. There’s lots of interactive displays. Younger teenagers will especially like the planetarium and the aardman displays.
Chance and Counters, Board Game Cafe
Based at the bottom of the historic Christmas Steps, Chance and Counters is a fantastic venue, particularly for a rainy day. Try out one of the 850 plus board games and enjoy some lunch or tea and cake. They’re pretty busy on evenings and weekends so book in advance if you can.
Find out more at Chance and Counters website.
Visit a Lido
In the summer months, why not take the plunge at a Bristol lido. There are lidos in Clifton and Portishead but Portishead is probably best for teenagers to access.
Find more information at Portishead lido.
Bristol Ferry Trip
Take a ferry ride up and down the Floating Harbour with Bristol Ferry Boats. They offer scheduled services which you can hop on or hop off.
Alternatively, you can do a full round trip of the harbour. They also do longer themed tours during the spring and summer months.
Check the Bristol Ferry website for details on how to book.
Get On Your Bike
Bristol to Bath Cycle Path (image credit heatheronhertravels.com)
If you have an active teen, consider cycling in Bristol.
Bristol was named England’s first “cycling city” in 2008. There are a range of cycling path to explore including short, circular routes around the harbour and river. If you want a longer route, why not cycle from Bristol to bath along the cycle path. It’s 9.5 miles in total.
The Visit Bristol website has some good information on where to cycle and the best places to hire a bike.
In need of an idea for a rainy day? Share the adventure of an escape room with your teenagers at Escape Hunt Bristol! There are 4 thrilling experiences are designed to be fun for the whole family.
Choose between themed adventures including Doctor Who, The 4th Samurai, Our Finest Hour and Blackbead’s treasure.
On arrival you’ll be met by your Games Master in character who’ll brief you on what you need to do.
This escape room is a Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice for 2021 so it’s well worth a family visit. There are also outdoor games.
Find out more at Escape Hunt Bristol
Visit Blaise Castle Estate and Museum
Blaise Castle Museum (image Flickr Creative Commons)
If you’re looking for free attraction (donations are welcome) and if your teenager loves history, this is worth a visit. I have to say my own 14 year old son would probably not enjoy this, so might not be for every teen!~ However as a teenager I would have loved the history and I’m sure many teens would today too.
It’s 15 minutes drive out of Bristol City Centre. The castle set among 400 acres of parkland. Inside you can see everyday objects from centuries past such as Victorian toilets, baths, kitchen and laundry equipment, model trains, dolls, trains and period costumes.
The Wave In Bristol
If you have a budding teenage surfer, The Wave near Bristol is an artificial surfing centre. You can book lessons (which include beginner, intermediate and advanced). After a couple of beginner lessons there are hour long sessions you can book onto.
Find out more at The Wave.
Bristol Zoo and Zooropia!
If your teens are interested in animlals they will love Bristol zoo. ZooRopia is a high rope adventure course which is also based at Bristol Zoo. Teens will enjoy the 17 fun sections challenge and the thrilling finish, whizzing back down to ground with the zip wire.
To access ZooRopia you will need a ticket to both the zoo and ZooRopia.
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