We went to Liverpool for the very first time back in May 2018 and completely LOVED IT. There is so much to do there, it’s a very unique city, family friendly, trendy, modern, historic with loads of free museums. 48 hours in Liverpool with a toddler
Only 3 days in Liverpool to jam pack full of things to do made our stay there super busy, but taking off all the traveling time etc it was really more like 48 hours. On the first day we arrived late from Birmingham, went out to eat and straight to the YHA. The next day was the full of fun from start to finish, and our last day I didn’t want to leave.
48 hour in Liverpool with a toddler
Day One – World Museum, Mattel Play and Museum of Liverpool
I’d done some research prior to our trip and knew that we were in for a treat with museums in Liverpool…. there’s a quite a few and we sure loooove museums. On the morning of our first full day there we headed to the world museum. This museum is free and huge! It has extensive collections covering archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. Special attractions include the Natural History Centre and a planetarium.
Top tip: don’t tell your toddler about going to the Thomas museum before you go to any other museum. Hahahaha! We had plans to go to Mattel Play! on the docks aka “the Thomas museum” so obviously, getting to the world museum, even though we all love museums… was not going to live up to his expectations once he was excited about Thomas museum! Saying this, the world museum was so impressive and I would definitely go back. It was like a mixture between the natural history museum and museum of London, but an aquarium and a planetarium in addition.
Not enough time was spent there as Eric was so desperate to get to Mattel Play but the time we were there I did enjoy it a lot, and it is free. At the world museum highlights were definitely the dinosaur section, fantastic, and the Weston Discovery Centre where we got to handle objects. Skeletons, bones, fur, textures, all sorts! This was so fun and Eric really enjoyed it. The staff were enthusiastic and engaging with Eric.
Mattel Play is on the docks and the docks are soooo nice. There’s lots of shops, museums, cafes, bars, etc., on the docks so it’s a real lively place to be, all done up and trendy with a good vibe. It was definitely my favourite place in Liverpool. I would go back there in a heartbeat. It was all condensed too and easy to walk around on foot with a little one, not overly busy.
I will write a separate review for Mattel Play in detail but in short, after our visit I was a little disappointed, but now it’s been months since then and I’ve had more time to think about it I did like it and would go back. At the time I thought it was expensive and think I just expected too much.
For the price I thought there was going to be lots more, especially the Thomas area. There were also parts of things which were broken, or dirty, and in reflection to the cost to get in I expected everything to be pretty… perfect, to be honest.
Eric was 2 and a half (just about) when we went and he loves Thomas the Tank Engine but isn’t fussed about the other two sections which are Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. I think if your little one is not a fan of these parts then there isn’t enough just in the Thomas area to go just for Thomas The Tank Engine. In the Thomas section are some large Thomas the Tank Engine trains (Rosie was broken, though!), a miniature train that goes around to ride on, a soft play area with Hector the Helicopter and ball pit, building block ‘coal’ area and the Fat Controller control room.
It was very interactive with different things to do in each area and I think if we went back Eric would definitely spend longer there.
Mattel Play cost £12 for Eric and £3 each for me and Ollie. There is a cafe and gift shop, and the gift shop is pretty unavoidable so we did buy toys from there, in total it cost about £28 for an hour or so of entertainment. For a special occasion and if your toddler loves all those characters and is around 3 years of age then I do think it is worth a visit, but bare in mind there is so much more to do in Liverpool.
Walking around Liverpool was really pleasant and we enjoyed window shopping, finding places to eat and just… walking around. The city centre is small and actually, everything is so close together it’s the perfect place for exploring on foot as everything is within reach wherever you go. It is hard to get lost, but it doesn’t feel small because there is SO much to do. It was like a mini London but very well condensed. There is a big shopping centre, Liverpool One, but unlike any other shopping centre is all open with no… roof. With 170+ stores, bars & restaurants it spans a big part of Liverpool city centre, very modern and clean. It was really nice to be at a shopping and leisure centre but in the open air. At the top is Chavasse Park with lots of open space, turf and restaurants.
We are Vegan and didn’t have trouble at all finding places to eat, there are so many lovely cafes and independent bars that are child-friendly to eat in Liverpool. Parts of Liverpool did remind me of Brighton, really. Lunch for us was in a record shop which had a cafe tucked away right at the back. They were so accommodating and friendly towards Eric, the food was delicious. I can’t remember the name of it unfortunately, we were spoilt for choice deciding where to go, though.
The second half of that day was back to the docks for more museum-ing. We saw a ship going out of the docks which Eric loved! Took some photos around and it’s all pedestrianised with no cars around so Eric could just roam, or even sit on the floor… it was very clean. Really nice place to be.
Museum of Liverpool was our next part of call. We discovered that during the mornings special sessions for toddlers, free, can be pre-booked in a separate little learning area “Little Liverpool” so we booked on to one of these for the morning after. This museum was another fantastic one, could have spent ages there.
For children I found it to be incredibly interactive and interesting for all ages. Vehicles, skeletons, dress up, little play areas, trains, local history… it was all really fascinating and while we read everything Eric always had something to play with nearby.
Museum of Liverpool is the UK’s first museum dedicated to the history of a city… “Visitors can explore how Liverpool’s port, its people and its creative, industrial and sporting history have shaped the city”. The situation we were in (had been out all day!) meant we were rushing through it all really, which is a shame but when you are on these sorts of trips you don’t have the time to dedicate half a day to one museum!
Accommodation – YHA
You might know we’re big fans of YHA and we have YHA memberships which save us £3 per person per night, a huge saving. It was not expensive at all to stay at YHA Liverpool and the location was fantastic; just behind the docks, walking distance with everything. Nothing was too far and it was very convenient.
In total it cost just over £100 for 2 nights for 3 of us and that included breakfast for 2 mornings. There might have been cheaper places to stay such as a TravelLodge, but we love the convenience of a YHA with the kitchen facilities means we can prepare and make our own food to take with us out on the day which saves us money. We cooked and ate our own dinner there in the lounge on the first night, saving us about £40 on eating out for dinner in Liverpool.
We had to make up lots of food to take with us on the last day there as from Liverpool was going to Leeds on route to Sheffield, running out of money and needed to take our own food where possible so the kitchen was very useful.
Day Two – Little Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum
Our morning started with a walk to the docks from YHA (a few minutes away) to Little Liverpool, the special discovery play area in Museum of Liverpool. The session was free and great for kids, Eric had lots of fun playing fishing with a net and catching blocks with historical facts on them. The room had little nooks and crannies to play with and finished with a song.
A visit to the Tate was a must! I was worried Eric as going to find it boring and go into self destruct mode in there… but we managed to stumble across a cool little exhibition with free tea making and hammocks to run under. As well as tea making, from a selection of herbs, in a separate room was Ink Printing… so we did that… on ourselves! Fun. The Tate is free.
We were leaving Liverpool that day late afternoon, but still had 2 free museums to see: International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum. Both were interesting, fun… and overwhelming once you’ve been to so many museums over the last day (and we had been traveling for the last 3 days) so my heart wasn’t in it. But it is FANTASTIC that there are so many museums and FREE at the docks. Really, there is so much to do on a budget.
Liverpool is a city I’m dying to go back as soon as possible. I loved it, found it very easy in the sense there is so much to do and it is all very close together. It is a very friendly city, very clean, modern yet historical, family friendly, fun, trendy and all round a lovely place. I haven’t been anywhere like this in England, I would say it’s like a combination of London and Brighton, without a beach, but still by the water.
I definitely will be going back and next time would love to do a boat trip.
Our trip ended there and from Liverpool we went onwards to Blackpool, another place we had not been before. You can read all about our Blackpool trip and what we did here:
Thank you for reading, I would love to hear about your experiences of going to Liverpool and your favourite things to do there!