A Bewildered Guide to Family Friendly Manchester


I’m not one of those ‘opinion-on-a-stick’ commentators who says and does outrageous things to spark a reaction. My recent appearance on BBC Breakfast proves that. But having spent years of my blogging life promoting Yorkshire above any other region of the country, this post is all about spending a family friendly day out in Manchester.

Yes, I don’t want to reignite the Wars of the Roses, but we ventured across the Pennines to see how those who dwell over there do family friendly activities. If you are staying in any of the hotels and serviced apartments Manchester has to offer, keep reading to find out fun things to get up to.

Disclaimer: The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Here’s what happened in video form:

Head Over Heels, Chorlton

Our first stop was at a soft play centre in Chorlton, in the south-west of the city. I know that every town in the country now provides a dizzying array of soft play options, but I was assured that Head Over Heels was something a bit special. Annoyingly, despite my cynicism, that information was completely correct.

The fun castle theme runs throughout the imposing play structure, which features multiple obstacles, ladders and slides. It didn’t feel cramped, even though we went at the point in the school holidays when even the hipster parents of Manchester’s more bohemian suburbs have run out of patience trying to teach their offspring how to whittle mini figures of their favourite literary characters and decided to just throw money at entertaining them instead.

Family Friendly Manchester - Head Over Heels Chorlton Ball Pit

There’s also a great ball pit, which pours balls on top of children’s heads at any given opportunity. But the pièce de résistance is the light-up disco dancefloor, tucked away in a side room. When we found it, it was deserted. People of Manchester, what is WRONG with you? I’d have happily stayed in there all day, throwing shapes. However, I’m 40-years-old and I could only manage five minutes before I needed a sit down.

Family Friendly Manchester - Disco at Head Over Heels

The cafe is spacious and serves great coffee and delicious cake, which is one of the main requirements in any soft play in my book. The staff are really friendly, particularly the lad who found Elsa a playmate to slide with whilst I took Seth into the toddler room. It was beyond the call of duty and made me love the place even more.

Finally, I need to mention the music. I had just spent an hour-and-a-half listening to Elsa’s Disney Princess mix in the car, so I was delighted to find Head Over Heels pumping out some indie anthems for the duration of our stay. Listening to The Smiths whilst the kids burn up their energy? Surely that is the number one family friendly Manchester cliche in the book. Great stuff.

Head Over Heels Chorlton Location

You can find Head Over Heels at Albany Road Trading Estate, 1A, Albany Rd M21 0AZ. There is also another branch in Wilmslow.

Salford Lads Club

On the theme of The Smiths, no visit to Manchester with the kids is complete without getting them to pose in front of Salford Lads Club for a photo. Yes, they might not get the connection with one of the city’s musical powerhouses, but that’s not the point. They can still recreate the iconic image from the inside cover of The Queen is Dead.

Family Friendly Manchester - Salford Lads Club

It’s free, it’s close to the city centre and it looks great on your Insta stories. What’s not to love?

Salford Lads Club Location

You can find Salford Lads Club on the corner of St. Ignatius Walk and Coronation Street in Ordsall, Salford, M5 3RX.

Dino Falls Adventure Golf

I wanted to look at slightly unusual aspects of family friendly Manchester on our visit, and this certainly fits the bill. Okay, it’s not exactly a hidden gem. It’s squeezed between the bustling M60 motorway and the Trafford Centre, one of the country’s biggest shopping malls. However, you don’t usually find many chances to play crazy golf whilst a triceratops growls in your general direction.

Family Friendly Manchester - Dino Falls Adventure Golf

I was slightly concerned that two small children who had never picked up a golf club in their lives might not enjoy the game, but the actual golf isn’t really the point. They loved knocking the ball around the holes, exploring the caves, streams and other Jurassic paraphernalia.

The scorecard fell by the wayside and Seth managed to complete most of the course by picking up his ball and placing it in the hole, but we really enjoyed our round. Elsa managed a hole in two, and was within a whisker of a hole in one. She was excited by that prospect, obviously failing to realise that would qualify her to buy a round for everyone on the course. This being the middle of the school holidays, the contents of her piggy bank may not have been sufficient.

Family Friendly Manchester - Playing at Dino Falls Adventure Golf

Dino Falls Adventure Golf Location

You can find Dino Falls Adventure Golf at Old Park Ln, Stretford, Manchester M17 8PG.


Any good family friendly Manchester trip requires lunch, and we had ours at Salvi’s in the Corn Exchange. They had pizza, they had lemonade, they had ice cream – basically the building blocks of any treat meal for my children. And, let’s be honest, for me.

Family Friendly Manchester - Salvis

There are a couple of branches around the city, with more on the way. They are child friendly, but with quality fresh food (that doesn’t always go hand-in-hand) and they even consulted children from all over Greater Manchester to create the perfect kids’ pizza.

The Pepper Pig is sometimes available on the menu (not when we went unfortunately) and features mozzarella, tomato, pepper and sausage. Plus, 50p from each purchase goes to Forever Manchester – an organisation that supports community activities across the city.

Salvi’s Locations

You can find Salvi’s at Unit 22b, The Corn Exchange, Manchester, M4 3TR and 19 John Dalton Street, Manchester, M2 6FW.

Our Day in Manchester

I’m sorry ardent Yorkists, we had a great time in Manchester. I’m not thinking of upping sticks and donning a parka any time soon, but it’s a great place to visit.

We were allowed back over the border, so it seems that we’ve been forgiven. After all, we’ve provided plenty of family friendly Yorkshire tips in our time too.

Your Family Friendly Manchester Tips

Have you got any good family friendly Manchester tips? Where should people go? What should they see? Leave a Comment below and share the love.

About bewildereddad 390 Articles
I'm Jim Coulson, a West Yorkshire dad blogger, content writer and radio presenter who loves heading out around Yorkshire with my kids and exploring the best family activities.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.