Great Things to Do in Cambridge with Kids
Going to Cambridge with your little geniuses? Prime them for their future (hopefully) with our guide to this university city.
The iconic colleges of the University of Cambridge are spread across the centre of the city, appearing to radiate braininess and prestige. As you wander through the cobbled lanes of this old-world city, you’ll probably find yourself in the midst of student activities, protests and ceremonies, day-dreaming briefly about losing your family and hanging out with the cap-and-gown brigade of youth. But where to get the whole outfit? It’ll never work; best to stick it out with the kids for now.
And fortunately, Cambridge is packed with all sorts of family-fun activities. You’ll of course want to show them around the university as a not-so-subtle way of pushing them towards an academic future. That goes without saying. But what of the other activities that are actually fun and entertaining? There are gardens, riverside walks, fascinating museums and play areas. Just take a punt… out on the river. The boat thing that’s a bit like in Venice. You know what we mean, right? It’s a Cambridge tradition. So without further ado, here’s Plum Guide's list of things to do in Cambridge with kids.
Once you've checked into your Plum Guide home in Cambridge (might we recommend the lovely Retroeur?), it's time to explore the city's many cultural institutions. Away from the grimaces of the Cambridge students worrying about handing in their next essay lies the Cambridge Science Centre. It’s not quite as strenuous as the exams being sat by the students, but will help your children to learn about the physical world around them. It has all sorts of games that have an educational purpose, so your kids can unwittingly learn stuff without realising they’re doing anything other than innocently playing. Watch their minds explode with information from the displays about everything from the human body to prehistoric fossils. Then head to the University Museum of Zoology to see exhibits of well-preserved animals and skeletons. Among the highlights are a box of beetles collected by Charles Darwin and an enormous whale fin that is the weight of eight double decker buses. So… pretty big. See the enormous Goliath beetle and the komodo dragon skeleton among other unforgettable sights.
Hang out at the park
Watch a game of cricket, football or croquet on the immaculate lawn of the Parker’s Piece. This leafy square is surrounded by trees, and often hosts important events and fairs, making it a great option for things to do in Cambridge with kids. Chat to some of the dog walkers and students hanging about in this central green hub to get a sense of the local culture. For something a little more rural, head out to the city’s south-eastern peripheries for the Wandlebury Country Park and Nature Reserve. Put together a picnic to enjoy in the shade of the trees and hike up and down the grassy mounds. Grab a bite to eat or a hot beverage from the pop-up cafés. Spot pheasants and highland cattle among the wildlife in this serene and scenic spot outside Cambridge. On the northern side of the city lies the Milton Country Park, with its children’s playground and vast lake. Quack at the ducks and swans and embark on one of the circuits that lead around the edge of the water. If you can't get enough greenery, book your stay in Cambridge at our Plum Guide-vetted home Solstice, which overlooks the Common and is moments away from the River Cam.
A garden is like a posh park. Those are the kinds of pearls of wisdom (not) you get from us. In any case, the upscale and elegant university and its surrounding city centre are replete with gardens the whole family can enjoy. Try the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and walk along its elevated walkway. Hang out in the scented garden to hide your own body odour amid the lovely smelling floral displays. Admire the intricate designs of the glasshouses and snap photos of the colourful rose beds. Then, walk through the centre of the city along the banks of the River Cam. Take a punt trip with a guide, who’ll use a long stick to propel you along the water. It’s quite a Cambridge tradition and the kids will love it. It’s a little like a gondola, but not, and it’ll kind of remind you of Venice, but not. Just don’t fall in.
See the actual university
Come on, you’ve done all the parks and gardens and things, and you’ve come all this way from wherever you live. It’s time to follow in the footsteps of some of Britain’s most established and pre-eminent thinkers, with a trip around the Cambridge University. See the impressive Bridge of Sighs and watch people punting below. The Corpus Christi College is pretty prestigious – well, all the colleges here are – but this one contains the Corpus Clock. It’s painted pure gold and is super complicated, so we won’t go into all the details, but just know that we know…