32 Reasons Ambleside Is the Best Place to Visit with Your Family

A scenic and beautiful town in Cumbria, England, Ambleside is a very popular tourist destination among families. It has so much to offer both kids and adults. It’s a great place for exploring on foot or by car, and even better when you have a picnic in hand! Ambleside is the ideal location for an unforgettable family trip.

The town itself has a lot of history, as well as culture and traditions that will make anyone fall in love with it. It’s a charming place where you can enjoy the peaceful ambience and explore the town on foot.

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Is Ambleside a good place to bring kids?

There are many things to do for children in Ambleside that provide a fun and safe environment for them. The town is full of interesting shops and activities as well as beautiful scenery, which makes it the perfect location for families to spend their spare time.

Places to explore around Ambleside

Loughrigg Fell

The name Loughrigg appears to be derived from the Old Norse for “lake ridge”.

Located to the west of Ambleside, and is one of the most popular hills for walkers in the area with an excellent view of Windermere.

Stock Ghyll Force Ambleside

The picturesque waterfall is located just a short (though steep) walk outside of Ambleside’s town centre.

Fed by the waters of the River Rothay, Stock Ghyll Force drops over 60 feet into a plunge pool and then continues downstream.

Waterhead Pier

A popular tourist spot located at the northern head of Lake Windermere and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The pier is also a popular spot for fishing, and a number of boathouses are located along its length.

Borrans Park

A beautiful public park in Waterhead, on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere.

The Park was originally two fields and was purchased by the council in 1935 for the people of Ambleside and was made into a park to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George 5th

Galava Roman Fort

An ancient Roman fort located to the south of the town of Ambleside.

Built in the late first century AD, the fort guarded the crossing of the River Rothay on the Roman road from Manchester to Carlisle.

The Grot & the Waterfall at Rydal Hall

One of Britain’s earliest examples of a viewing station.

William Wordsworth was particularly fond of the Grot, writing about it in one of his earlier poems ‘An Evening Walk’ and visiting with his nephew shortly before his death.

“The Croc” on The River Brathay

Named after the ancient tree stump that juts out in the middle of the pool that resembles a gnarly old crocodile.

On a warm spring or autumn day, you can have the place to yourself and it is a great place to relax after a hard day on the fells.

Rydal Cave

The Rydal Cave walk is a great opportunity to explore on a low level.

The walk is a 4.5-mile loop that can begin and end at the Rydal Cave car park (beware, it can get very busy), The walk takes you through some beautiful scenery.

Wray Castle

A National Trust owned Gothic Revival castle on the shores of Lake Windermere with turrets, towers, informal grounds and miles of lakeshore paths.

The house was built using Dr James Dawson’s wife’s inheritance from a gin fortune. Apparently, she took one look at the house when it was finished, and refused to live in it.

Where to eat in Ambleside

Fresher’s Cafe

Famously friendly café in Ambleside, the heart of the English Lake District.

Delicious homemade food including all-day breakfast, spectacular quiches, sandwiches, toasties and jackets, fresh homemade soups and cakes galore. Vegan and GF options.

Mr H’s

Vintage tearoom in the very heart of the English Lake District, serving yummy homemade delights.

Dogs are welcome. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available.

Rattle Ghyll Fine Food & Deli

Providing hearty, home-cooked goodness, all to take away, along with a shop bursting at the seams with locally and ethically sourced foods.

They have a refill section, just pop along and fill your own containers from our selection of foods and cleaning products.

Stiles of Ambleside

A family-run coffee bar situated on the main road leading into Ambleside in the Heart of the Lake District.

Both pet and family-friendly, they serve good quality, locally sourced food and locally roasted coffee.


Offers Italian and Mediterranean food served by friendly knowledgeable staff.

All you need to know is that it’s 100% worth a visit, from the extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff and owners to the tasty cocktails, and the relaxed dining experience.

Dodds Restaurant

Right in the very heart of Ambleside, Dodds offers lunch or just a coffee in the afternoon, or visit for an evening of relaxation with good food, fine wines and cool beers, all served with a warm welcome.

Bar Es

A rustic Mexican-themed interior, with relaxed seating for your evening meals and drinks.

If you are not ready to give up the great Lake District outdoors, they have a beer garden which also features heaters and a canopy.

The Picnic Box

Amazing selection of made-to-order sandwiches/baguettes/paninis & more.

With hot & cold options, and fantastic value too. Well worth visit.

Old School Room Tea Shop

The Old School Room Tea Shop serves a good selection of light refreshments including soup, sandwiches, and homemade cakes.

Zeffirellis and Fellinis Restaurants

Whether you’re vegetarian or not, you won’t notice – the cooking is that thoughtful.

There are lots of gluten-free options available, and many items are vegan.

Doi Intanon Thai Restaurant

Lovely restaurant serving authentic Thai food, very busy for good reason, and reasonably priced.

Great flavour, spicy and delicious.

Things to do in Ambleside

Zeffirellis Cinema and Live Music

An award-winning family-run restaurant, bar and Cinema. Getting people up on the dance floor with their live music events.

‘Zeffs’ is also a hugely popular independent cinema. It has been voted the fourth best cinema in the country by the Guardian.

Windermere Lake Cruises

Providing 1-hour and 2-hour sightseeing tours of Windermere Lake – one of England’s largest natural lakes and is home to many beautiful islands with rich historical significance.

White Platts Recreation Ground

A 9 Hole Mini Golf course with a 90-metre hole, 9 Hole Putting Green, and 9 Hole Crazy Golf Course.

For the more energetic person, there are three full-size tennis courts. For a more gentle life, there’s a large Bowling Green. Lastly, there’s the infant play area

Ambleside Climbing Wall

An indoor climbing centre with over 150 top-quality routes, a bouldering cave and a spacious viewing area.

Suitable for climbers of all ages and abilities, try out this unique active adventure.

Brockhole on Windermere

An ideal location for holidaymakers with a passion for great outdoor play and hobby enthusiasts.

Activities include Krazy Karts, Archery, Laser Clay Shooting, Brave the Cave, Faerie Trail,  Adventure playground, Treetop Nets, Treetop Trek, Gardens and grounds, annnnd All weather play! Phew!

Go Ape Grizedale

A haven for zip-wire fans. Each of the high ropes courses offers long flights, but the king of forest flying is Zip Trekking Adventure – a spine-tingling 3km aerial adventure.

And why not try one of 10 walking trails ranging from 1 to 10 miles.

The Armitt

History buffs will absolutely love The Armitt (a museum, gallery, and library full of interesting and unusual objects telling the history and heritage of Ambleside and its people) because they can learn about the history of Ambleside.

Ambleside shops with something for all the family


Enjoy the 3 exciting children’s experiences at the wonderful RockShop attraction in Ambleside, including their very own Dinosaur Den themed treasure hunt, jump into the unique Gem Pit, and get creative in our Pippin Bead Bar.

Hayes Garden World Ambleside

Opened in 1932 as a small market garden supplying local residents with fresh produce.

After several expansions, the garden centre now offers everything from plants and flowers to garden furniture and tools. Hayes also features a nursery and café.

Fred Holdsworth’s Bookshop

An independent bookshop founded by Fred Holdsworth in 1956. The shop stocks a wide range of books.

Fred’s is a well-loved institution in Ambleside and is popular with both locals and visitors to the town.

Something for mum and dad

Kindred Spirits

Priding themselves on offering a unique experience, and actively encouraging you to explore the room and taste before selecting a bottle, Kindred Spirits will ensure you have the tasty tipple that suits you.

Beer Ambleside

With over 300 independently brewed craft beers and ciders at each. There is also a range of quality Natural Wines, Meads and small-batch produced gins.

Discover more of the Lake District

With weekly articles highlighting the very best of the Lake District, there’s always something to get you inspired for your next trip!

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