Today I’m sharing my space with Emma, an English travel blogger who usually lives in Bulgaria but found herself stuck in Liverpool over the 2020 lockdown with 3 kids aged 10 – 17!
We were staying in Liverpool courtesy of Airbnb when the UK announced its lockdown. We have a house in rural Bulgaria, but we adore the city of Liverpool so we just decided to stay in Liverpool & see what a year here would bring us.
Prior to Liverpool we had emigrated to Australia, France and Bulgaria and also visited fifty-two countries along the way. We are used to adapting and exploring new places and Liverpool has been amazing. Our three children love the outdoors, being adventurous and generally keeping busy. Liverpool has delivered on all of these merits.
Here are a few of our favourite family-friendly things to do in Liverpool.
Visiting Liverpool with kids
Liverpool is a UNESCO city in the north-west of England. An old port city, it is has a prominent maritime history and this is evident by the dazzling grandeur of the buildings, the prestigious architecture that is prominent all around the city and especially the Pier Head that stands at the mouth of the River Mersey.
Liverpool is separated into different areas by Quarters which is representative of the buildings and their usage. We have the Knowledge Area where the universities, university hospitals & the Bombed Out Church are located, Ropewalks is a delightfully, quaint area full of narrow cobbled streets with boutique style shops and backstreet eateries whereas the Creative Quarter, which is around the Baltic Triangle, has many redeveloped factories and breweries. The Cavern Quarter has subterranean pubs and clubs and the Georgian Quarter has the cathedrals, the Philharmonic Hall and the theatres. You won’t really have any need to visit the Cotton Quarter (which is now a newly developed business quarter) but I’d definitely recommend a visit to China Town. Liverpool’s China Town has the largest Chinese Gate outside China. The most famous area of Liverpool is, of course, The Waterfront, where you’ll find the Three Graces taking up their elegant position on the Pier Head.
One of our favourite spots to visit in the sunshine is the Three Graces on the Pier Head. This is because our kids love to skateboard, rollerskate & scooter this enormously flat area which also has grassy spots and the canal that runs from Leeds to Liverpool. Many very welcoming skaters come here and bring with them an array of jumps which they happily share. This area has been invaluable to our kids and we nearly always stop here first before going elsewhere and yes, we use this as bribery!
If you’re wanting to get to know Liverpool, you could start with a tour of the infamous Liver Building which is on the Pier Head and climb to its 15th floor to enjoy spectacular 360° views of Liverpool. If you’re a Batman fan you might recognise this building as this is where they recently filmed The Batman (2021) with Robert Pattinson falling from the tower. Next door is the Cunard Building, the original home of the Cunard Cruise Line which has now been transformed into an exhibition on British Pop Music. It’s a great place to visit if it’s raining as is the City Radio Tower, aka St Johns Tower which is the spaceship building in the air which you can see from anywhere in Liverpool. There are tours to the top of this 125-metre tall building and is the second tallest free-standing building in Liverpool and the 32nd tallest in the United Kingdom.
If you take a wander through the pedestrianised Waterfront area you’ll find The Beatles Statue, the Museum of Liverpool, The Piermaster’s House, Tate Liverpool with its colourful stack rock statue, RIBA the national architecture centre and then you can amble across to one of the most famous docks in the world, the Royal Albert Dock. Here, you can visit the Maritime & Slavery Museum, book a night aboard a narrowboat or walk the King’s Parade and admire the views over to The Wirral. No stay in Liverpool is complete without trying the local dish ‘scouse’ and the Victorian Pumphouse, which is a small brick building in the docks serves up a mean bowl of this cuisine. This entire area is a warren full of eateries and underground bars where kids are more than welcome. Other places to try are the boutique bakery ‘rough hand made’ or stop off at the Fab 4 cafe which is in the Beatles Museum.
Liverpool is easy to explore on foot and is pushchair and scooter friendly. You should expect to be able to cross the city in roughly forty-five minutes on foot, however, Uber is cheap and readily accessible with a trip across the city costing about £4. Buses are very regular and a week’s bus ticket can cost as little as £10. There are regular ferries across the Mersey and even a cruise terminal which takes you to Ireland, the Isle of Man or even across the Atlantic! Mersey Ferries also offers a River Tour and you cannot miss this ferry as it is a multicoloured hotchpotch of designs and colours contrasted with some foreboding black stripes. If you have older, music-loving kids, Mersey Ferries even offer a summer six-hour music festival, ‘Fezzy Cross The Mersey’, aboard one of their boats. The open-top bus is specifically designed for short-stay visitors and allows you to hop on and hop off as you’d like. It takes you to all the classic places like the Metropolitan and the Anglican Cathedral as well as the Docks and museums.
When you visit, you must go to the RopeWalks area where we recommend Frost Burgers, Potts Cafe, The Nakery and if you’re in China Town, The Bagelry or any of the Chinese restaurants. One of Liverpool’s biggest draws is its colourful nightlife. Travelling with kids usually makes that difficult to manage however an amazing compromise is the infamous Baltic Market, which sits in the Creative Quarter. Here you’ll find a number of restaurants, bars and even family-friendly live music. It’s one of our favourite places to go in Liverpool and we recommend that you try Thai Tatertots from Wholesome Junkies, the sharing box from Little Korea and fried plantain & rainbow curry from Eat Up Gud. The Baltic Market has amazing energy and vibrance where you share tables with people and food from around the world. It is very kid-friendly and one of our kids’ favourite places to go for food. There’s a lot of street art in The Baltic, including the famous wings by Paul Curtis.
Liverpool has a number of theatres and concert halls. The Empire Theatre mostly showcases large musicals whilst the Hope Everyman tends to have independent and classical productions and short, child-friendly productions. The M&S Bank Arena hosts a range of events from glitzy popstars to comedians, funfairs and everything in between. The Philharmonic Hall is an impressive building and the orchestra is world-renowned and they often host child-friendly productions sometimes with a narrator. Liverpool also has the Epstein Theatre, the Capstone Theatre, St George’s Hall and the 02 Academy. If you’re looking for music there’s certainly no shortage here.
Liverpool has over seven free museums which are all kid-friendly and a number of large parks, although you won’t be able to walk to the parks as they’re too far out of the city. Both Sefton & Princes Park are great for half-days out. Our favourite museum is the World Museum which is located next to the Walker Art Gallery and the Library. If you have older kids and you’re wanting to explore Liverpool’s history and roots in Slavery, you should check out Laurence Westgraph and his Slavery Tours. He runs a number of different tours some of which are appropriate for kids. Liverpool also played an integral part in the second world war and if you want to learn more about this, you can visit Western Approaches HQ which provides a super fun, energetic and hands-on approach to learning about history and what it was like to live in Liverpool during WWII. Alternatively, catch the ferry over to Birkenhead and visit the U-Boat Story, another interactive museum featuring exhibits on German U-boats. Here you can see inside a U-534, one of only four U-boats left in the world and entry to U-boat Story is free with all River Explorer Cruise tickets.
Specifically for kids, we love the cafe Sugar & Dice, where you can play board games for £5 per family, you could also visit the weird underground Williamson Tunnels or even go on a family treasure hunt around the city. Come in May and you’ll find the free River Festival where tall ships line the dockside and you’re allowed to board and explore them.
Merseyside has some of the finest beaches in England and they’re located roughly a 30-40 minute car journey from the centre. The beaches are best visited when it’s warm and as a day trip from Liverpool. Crosby is the closest beach but the beaches of Formby and Southport are just as nice. Crosby beach is home to the iron statues ‘Another Place by Anthony Gormley’ where you’ll find 100 statues looking out over the water. At high tide, some are covered by the water and at low tide, some sit in a little pool of water. Our favourite beach is located over the dunes of the Cabin Hill Nature Reserve in Formby. You’ll also find a red squirrel reserve in Formby but get there early as parking can be limited.
Another day trip we’ve been planning is the Manchester Ship Canal Cruise which leaves the River Mersey and heads through the Manchester canal via Runcorn up to the Latchford Locks. Most of the bridges that you’ll sail under were built in the 1800s and the cruise lasts roughly six hours. Alternatively, you could book a narrowboat holiday on the local canals and be your own captain!
Liverpool is a wonderful city and one of the best ports of call in Europe. Make sure you visit soon!
About the author
Emma Pamley-Liddell is an English born explorer-photographer, wife and mum to three kids. From England, she has emigrated to Australia, France and Bulgaria and has been nomadic since 2016. Visiting fifty-two countries in their children’s lifetimes they do best when exploring off the beaten track countries and locations, staying within the local community and doing adventurous activities that spike our adrenalin. From hiking active volcanoes to exploring lost pyramids and ziplining across the countryside, they like to have fun in a socially responsible manner, helping local economies to thrive. You can follow on their journey on Facebook, Youtube or Pinterest.