Out of ideas... and the summer holidays haven't even started yet? Read our guide and get buzzing about summer in the city all over again. We've found a teddy bear exhibition in Ashton, an explorers' trail with magnifying glasses in Manchester Cathedral, family yoga at Dunham Massey - and a whole lot more.
1. Circus skills, music & stories at Elizabeth Gaskell House
You might not think there’s much for kids at Elizabeth Gaskell’s house, but this stunningly restored neo Classical villa has a host of activities planned over the summer, including circus, music and reading workshops for young people.
84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester M13 9LW. Tel: 0161 273 2215 Wed, Thu & Sun only, prices vary, www.elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk
2. Octonauts at Sealife & a free sandpit at the Trafford Centre
There’s a new Octonauts attraction at Manchester’s SeaLife centre - but, of course, the main attraction is Ernie the turtle who lives in the huge marine aquarium. He shares his home with sharks, rays and a host of smaller and weirder fish. Just next door to SeaLife is LegoLand - another rainy day treat - while outside in the courtyard there’s a giant (free) sandpit to get buried in.
intu Trafford Centre, Barton Square Bridge, Stretford, Manchester M17 8AS Tel: 0871 221 2483, times and prices vary, www.visitsealife.com
3. Share food to a swinging soundtrack at Old Trafford Picnic
This weekend, Centenary Gardens and the school playing fields next to Seymour Park will be given over to a mass picnic, and music from the Prohibition Swing Band. Free entry, bring your own food.
Sat 22 Jul, Centenary Gardens, Northumberland Road, Manchester, noon-3pm, FREE, www.facebook.com
4. Free explorers packs & more at Manchester Cathedral
History is carved into the benches and choir stalls of Manchester Cathedral, and free Explorers backpacks for kids, complete with instructions and spyglasses, offer the perfect way to find out more. The visitors centre offers plenty of facts and the cafe is a good one (Teacup's Proper Tea). The playground on the pedestrianised bridge at the bottom of the hill below the cathedral is a oasis in good weather.
Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester M3 1SX. Tel: 0161 833 2220, times vary, free, www.manchestercathedral.org
5. Circus trail & family yoga at Dunham Massey
Dunham Massey is a wonderful place to visit, with its marvellously preserved stately home, rose gardens and deer. Furthermore, this summer the team behind circus-inspired family show, The Lost Carnival, have created an adventure trail through the grounds filled wth performance, challenges, and installations. There are lots of other activities taking place too including ‘family yoga’ (Mon 24 & Wed 26 Jul, 12.30-3.30pm).
Until 30 Aug, Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham WA14 4SJ. Tel: 0161 941 1025, times & prices vary, activities free, entrance fees apply, www.nationaltrust.org.uk
6. Book bench trail - all around Manchester
Perhaps you’ve noticed a host of ‘book benches’ - AKA benches in the shape of books - popping up around Manchester. No? Well that’s because each one is designed with children in mind. Download the trail via the link below - and see the city in a bookish light.
Various locations, free, www.literacytrust.org.uk
7. Free exercise classes for kids with Park Lives
Manchester’s parks are great places to hang out over the summer holidays. They're also home to free exercise classes thanks to the Park Lives programme. Must visit parks include Whitworth Park - which is new to Park Lives this year - Platt Fields and Alexandra Park.
Various locations, free, www.parklives.com
8. Dinos take over Philips Park with Jurassic Kingdom
Love dinosaurs? Check out 30+ animated giants in Philips Park near the Etihad Stadium. Read our preview.
Until Sun 23 Jul, Philips Park, Stuart Street, Manchester, M11 4DJ, from £9.50 (child), www.jurassickingdom.uk
9. Teddy Bear exhibition at Portland Basin Museum
Not far from Manchester city centre in Ashton (near Ikea and easy to reach by tram or car), there's a special teddy bear exhibition to explore.
Portland Basin Museum, Portland Place, Ashton, OL7 0QA. Tel: 0161 343 2878, times vary, FREE, www.tameside.gov.uk
10. Pay as you feel kids food & a portraiture show at Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery has a whole space devoted to kids activities and hands-on fun, alongside a range of family-friendly exhibitions including current portraiture show, To Be Human, which includes new work by Boris Nzebo. Mary-Ellen McTague has recently taken over the food side of things in the gallery cafe - read our preview. The menu now includes 'pay as you feel' kids food and Breville toasted sandwiches.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL. Tel: 0161 235 8888, www.manchesterartgallery.org