Things to Do in Windermere & the South Lakes

Explore things to do in Windermere and the South Lakes with Visit Cumbria’s guide to Windermere attractions. All 33 of the best places to visit in Windermere, below, are within a 20 minute drive of Windermere lake shore.
 
Scroll down to browse all things to do in Windermere or jump to Windermere family attractions, boat trips on Windermere and Coniston, living museum attractions, historic places to visit in Windermere or gardens to visit in Windermere and the South Lakes.

 

Or jump to our interactive Map of things to do in Windermere and the South Lakes

Things to Do in Windermere for Families

All of the places to visit around Windermere listed on this page are suitable for children but these are the most popular with families. With lots of things to do in Windermere for children and adults, it’s the perfect base for your family holiday.

Brockhole – Windermere lake

image of a Brockhole Visitor Centre with lots of things to do in Windermere in the lake district
Brockhole, situated in 30 acres of gardens between Ambleside and Windermere, is the Lake District National Park Authority Visitor Centre. One of the most popular Windermere attractions, it has its own landing stage, tree top trek, boat and bike hire, shop, tea rooms….see all things to do here >>
 


Grizedale – near Hawkshead

image of Grizedale Visitor Centre near Hawkhead in the Lake District
The Forestry Commission visitor centre is set deep in the heart of the Grizedale Forest, near Hawkshead. Things to do and see include an exhibition space, gift shop, tearoom, adventure playground, picnic tables and mountain bike hire. A good starting point for superb forest walks and mountain bike trails.….things to do here >>
 


Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway – Newby Bridge

image of a steam train trip, one of the things to do in windermere in the lake district
Beautiful old steam trains run between Haverthwaite Village, Newby Bridge and Lakeside Pier on Windermere lake. Tie your 18 minute ride in with visiting some of the most popular Windermere attractions such as the Lakes Aquarium, the Lakeland Motor Museum and Windermere Lake Cruises ….things to do here >>
 


Lakeland Wildlife Oasis – near Milnthorpe

image snow leopards at a windermere attraction in the lake district
A blend of museum and zoo, the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis homes exotic species as part of its conservation breeding program. There’s a butterfly house, tropical halls and visitor facilities. 20 minutes from Newby Bridge.….all things to do here >>
 
 


The Lakes Aquarium – Newby Bridge

image of fish at the Lakes Aquarium, a visitor attraction in Windermere in the Lake District
From diving ducks to piranha, the aquarium houses native aquatic wildlife and more exotic species. Another of the most popular Windermere attractions, there’s also gift shop and a choice of restaurants. Located on Lakeside Pier where the boat and steam train trips call in….things to do here >>
 


The World Of Beatrix Potter – Bowness-on-Windermere

image of a Mrs Tiggywinkle character at the Beatrix Potter visitor attraction in Windermere in the Lake District
One of the most popular things to do in Windermere for children is a visit to the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness. Here you’ll find modern displays of the favourite characters, storytelling, extensive Potter themed gift shop and restaurant. One of the premier indoor Windermere attractions for families ….more things to do here >>
 


Fell Foot Park – Newby Bridge

image of Fell Foot Park at Windermere lake in the lake district
Things to do in this Windermere lake shore park include picnics, paddling, duck feeding and rowing boat hire. There is National Trust gift shop and tea room. Fell Foot is on the Windermere Lake Cruises route and connects to Lakeside Pier for other top Windermere attractions.….things to do here >>
 


Wray Castle – Ambleside / Windermere lake

image of wray castle which has lots of things to do in windermere on a rainy day in the lake district

One of the best rainy day places to visit in Windermere for families, Wray Castle is a rambling mock-Gothic castle with masses of indoor and outdoor space. Things to do include dressing up, giant foam brick building & a Peter Rabbit experience. On the shore of the lake, it’s great for sunny days too ….more things to do here >>
 
 


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Things to do in Windermere – Boat Trips

It’s fun just being on the water and an unbeatable way to see the magnificent scenery. There are also themed cruises on special dates. All of the cruise routes call in at some of the top Coniston and Windermere attractions.

Windermere Lake Cruises – Windermere lake

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
One of the most popular things to do in Windermere, and the 16th most popular visitor attraction in the UK, is to take a boat trip on Windermere lake. “Steamers” and traditional launches run the full length of the lake, calling it at top Windermere attractions….things to do here >>
 


Coniston Launch – Coniston Water

image of a coniston launch on coniston water in the lake district
Just 20 minutes drive from the west shore of Windermere lake is beautiful Coniston Water. Coniston launch runs boat trips on the lakes in 2 traditional wooden launches. A more peaceful, relaxed environment.….things to do here >>
 
 


The Steam Yacht Gondola – Coniston Water

image of the steam yacht gondola on coniston water in the lake district
Also on Coniston Water is the beautiful Steam Yacht Gondola, the oldest steam yacht in the North of England.

Take the full lake cruise or hop on and off at her 3 stops around the lake, which include Brantwood, and enjoy one of the walks from the piers….things to do here >>
 


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Things to Do in Windermere – Museum Attractions

As well as fascinating exhibitions there’s lots of things to do in Windermere museums. These modern interactive visitor attractions have children’s trails, story telling, quizzes, art and crafting sessions, special family events and much more.

Lakeland Motor Museum – Newby Bridge

image of the Lakeland Motor Museum, with lots of things to do in Windermere on a rainy day in the lake district
The all-weather Windermere visitor attraction holds a fascinating collection of 30,000 exhibits, including classic cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pedal cars & caravans and a display on the record-breaking Campbell family….things to do here >>
 
 


Dove Cottage & The Wordsworth Museum – Grasmere

image of a Dove Cottage in Grasmere the Lake District
A must see Windermere area attraction for Wordsworth fans. Dove Cottage was Wordsworth’s home for 5 years and the adjoining Museum & Jerwood Centre holds the world’s greatest collection of manuscripts, books and paintings relating to British Romanticism ….things to do here >>
 


The Windermere Jetty Museum – Bowness-on-Windermere

image of the Windermere Jetty Museum , one of the most exciting windermere attractions in the lake district
Currently closed while a brand new home is built for the collection at Windermere Jetty. Once open this will be one of the most fascinating places to visit in Windermere. It will home exquisite classic craft and also offer a unique behind-the-scenes view of the conservation work….things to do here >>
 


Stott Park Bobbin Mill – Newby Bridge

image of Stott Park Bobbin mill, a small visitor attraction near Windermere in the lake district
A working mill built in 1835, Stott Park created the wooden bobbins vital to the spinning and weaving industries of Lancashire. Now a small Windermere attraction with guided tours, steam weekends and a gift shop selling bobbin related products.….things to do here >>
 
 


Blackwell – Bowness-on-Windermere

image of Blackwell, a living museum and Windermere attraction in the lake district
Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts house, is one of England’s most important surviving houses from the turn of the 20th century. Now a popular Windermere attraction, things to do include a program of family activities, including a children’s trail. Also a gift shop and tea rooms.….things to do here >>
 


The Ruskin Museum – Coniston

image of the Ruskin Museum in Coniston Village in the lake district
Telling the story of Coniston over the years, displays range from the Stone age with Langdale axes and other implements, the Bronze age (weapons and other artefacts) to the jet era with Donald Campbell and his famous Bluebird. ….things to do here >>
 
 


Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s Home – Near Sawrey

image of Hill Top, one of the most popular places to visit in Windermere area
Some 100,000 visitors per year visit this little 17th century stone house and its lovely traditional cottage garden. This was Beatrix Potter’s home and where she wrote many of her best loved books. The house contains thousands of Potter artefacts and papers. ….things to do here >>
 


Brantwood, Home of John Ruskin – Coniston

image of Brantwood, a house to visit in the lake district
Take the Coniston Launch and call in to Brantwood for tea. The former home of John Ruskin, poet, artist, critic, social revolutionary, conservationist and one of the greatest figures of the Victorian age. The house & 20 acres of gardens hold important Ruskin collections ….things to do here >>
 


Townend – Troutbeck near Windermere

image of Townend Yeoman House near Windermere in the lake district
Townend, the Yeoman Farming House is now owned by the National Trust. It presents a unique insight into the life of one Lake District family through the centuries. Things to do include twice daily tours during the season and cooking afternoons.….things to do here >>
 
 


The Old Grammar School – Hawkshead

image of The Old Grammar School museum at Hawkshead in the lake district
The Old Grammar School in the pretty village of Hawkshead was founded in 1585 by the Archbishop of York, Edwin Sandys. It is now a museum housing a unique collection of historic items relating to the school, whose most famous pupil was William Wordsworth.….things to do here >>
 


The Beatrix Potter Gallery – Hawkshead

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
Exhibitions of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings and illustrations.

The gallery is housed in the 17th Century building which was once the office of her husband, local solicitor William Heelis. Also readings of tales from Beatrix Potter’s books on selected afternoons in the school holidays.….things to do here >>
 


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Historic Places to Visit in Windermere & the South Lakes

Step back in time with house tours of these historic attractions and enjoy exploring the extensive grounds and gardens. Things to do in Windermere historic houses include activity trails, wild life watching, craft rooms, quizzes, the maze at Levens Hall, and full programmes of special events in the holidays.

Holker Hall – Cartmel

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
The family home of Lord & Lady Cavendish, Holker Hall is probably the finest house in the Lake District. Open to the public, you can tour the house with no rope barrier restrictions and enjoy 25 acres of award winning gardens and woodlands.….things to do here >>
 
 


Levens Hall – Levens, near Kendal

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
Both the superb Elizabethan mansion and the renowned gardens are open to the public. Of special interest are the topiary gardens, the oldest in the world. There is also a tea room, gift shop, a plant centre and a children’s play area ….things to do here >>
 
 


Sizergh Castle – Levens, near Kendal

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
Some 17 minutes drive from Windermere village, Sizergh Castle is a romantic medieval house set in large landscaped gardens. Things to do include wildlife spotting, house tours, a wild play trail where kids can explore and play, a cafe and a shop. A National Trust property.….things to do here >>
 


Allan Bank – Grasmere

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
A National Trust property, Allan Bank is a great place to see red squirrels and have a picnic. There’s also a craft room to use or browse the library, make yourself a free cup of tea, and curl up with a good read. The woodland walk takes about 45 minutes. There’s also a walled garden and formal lawns to enjoy. ….things to do here >>
 


Wordsworth’s Grave – Grasmere

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district

One for Wordsworth fans, pretty St Oswald’s Church graveyard contains the graves of many of William Wordsworth’s family and that of the poet himself. It is one of the most visited literary shrines in the world. Next to the church is the famous Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread shop….things to do here >>
 
 


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Places to Visit in Windermere – Gardens

Some of the loveliest places to visit in Windermere and the South Lakes, these beautiful gardens are set in England’s most glorious landscape.

Holehird Gardens – Troutbeck, near Windermere

image of Holehird Gardens in Windermere in the Lake District
Keen gardeners looking for things to do in Windermere will appreciate the five acres of gardens with their great diversity of plants that thrive in the area. Holehird Gardens are managed by the Lakeland Horticultural Society and have beautiful views across Windermere lake and the fells.….things to do here >>
 


Rydal Hall Gardens – Rydal

image of Rydal Hall at Rydal in the lake district
Over 30 acres of gardens, woodlands, streams, waterfalls and a sculpture path. There are mosses, native flora and trees, including a Sweet Chestnut some 500 years old with a girth of 36 feet. The formal gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson ….things to do here >>
 


Stagshaw Gardens – Ambleside

image of Stagshaw Gardens at Ambleside in the lake district
If you’re looking for free things to do in Windermere to while away an hour or two in peace and quiet, stroll down to this lovely 8 acre woodland garden, just a short walk from Ambleside town. There are fine collections of rhododendrons and azaleas, a stream and lovely views….things to do here >>
 


Graythwaite Hall Gardens – Newby Bridge

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
Open to the public from April to August, the 12 acre gardens were originally designed by Thomas Mawson. An interesting mix of formal and informal planting is set in 1,000 hectares of woodlands, home to osprey and golden eagle. In spring the rhododendrons, azaleas, and other shrubs create a blaze of colour. ….things to do here >>
 


Hayes Garden World – Ambleside

image of a windermere lake cruises boat trips on windermere lake in the lake district
Cumbria’s most prestigious garden centre is still owned by the same family who opened it in 1921. Their history in Lake District gardening spans 200 years. Now a pleasant all weather Ambleside attraction it offers leisure shopping and a restaurant as well as a large selection of plants and all things garden.….things to do here >>
 


Dora’s Field – Rydal Village

image of doras field at Rydal, near windermere lake in the lake district
Next to St Mary’s Church in Rydal, about 1.5 miles from Ambleside, Dora’s Field is covered with daffodils and bluebells in the spring. Wordsworth originally planted the daffodils in memory of his daughter. Surrounded by trees, it is a pleasant place to pause and sit on one of the benches provided.….things to do here >>

 


 
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