13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids

Windermere Jetty covered our expenses but have not paid/asked for this post and have had no editorial control. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids

I am always saying we need to visit the lakes more often - it's only a couple of hours drive from where we live in Newcastle and such a gorgeous part of the world. This year I promised we'd make at least one trip over there and on an overcast and windy day in the summer holidays, we travelled across the Pennines to explore Windermere Jetty.

Windermere Jetty is a new visitor attraction on the banks of Lake Windermere. Officially opened by Prince Charles in April 2019 and part of Lakeland Arts, the centre is a working destination that reflects the industry and engineering of the Lake District National Park and shares stories from its past. We spent 4 hours at the centre on a windy and overcast Sunday afternoon and really had a lovely time. Today I thought I'd share 13 reasons to visit.....

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids

1 - Free Parking for Visitors & Accessible via Public Transport  

Anyone else find parking in the Lakes to be a little on the tricky side? At Windermere Jetty, if you visit the museum or cafe, you're given a parking code and you can park free of charge. Bargain! The site is also dedicated to helping to protect the environment and encourages the use of public transport. You'll find free bike racks, a dedicated bus running over the summer (see below for a timetable) and you can arrive by boat with Windermere Lake Cruises (also see below). 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - bus timetable

Equally, if you visit the museum or cafe you can moor your own boat free of charge for up to three hours (must depart by 5pm). Simply contact the museum before your visit to make arrangements.

2 - Codebreaker Trail 

Jack loves a museum trail and at there's a free codebreaker trail to try at Windermere Jetty. We had to go around the museum twice as we missed a couple of clues and it's a great way to discover facts you might not have been aware of. The prize is a little rubbish (a sticker) but as it's free, we can't complain *too* much - it is the taking part that counts after all. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - codebreaker trail

3 - Learn Facts about the Lake District National Park 

The museum part of the jetty is dedicated to the history of the Lake District National Park and some of the boats which have played an important role here. I loved watching the old footage from WWII training exercises which were carried out in the lakes here - it's something I'd never really thought about before. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids - WWII exhibition

4 - Enjoy the Best Value Sunday Lunch in the Lakes 

The Windermere Jetty Cafe is free to visit and a real gem. Overlooking the banks of Lake Windermere with indoor and outdoor seating, this dog-friendly cafe has to serve the best value Sunday Lunch in the North. For just £10, you can enjoy a roast dinner and homemade dessert. We tried this deal and it was delicious - all homemade and it tasted a lot more expensive than it was. There are children's options, salads, sandwiches and homemade soups and quiches too plus a little stand serving Lake District Ice Cream. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - cafe views over lake

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - sunday roast deal in cafe

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - roast beef

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - sticky toffee pudding

5 - Sail your own Model Boats 

Windermere Jetty has its own boating lake (right by Windermere Lake). It was a dull and windy day on the day of our visit but on brighter days, I can see this being very popular. There are picnic tables and a pirate ship to play in too. Toy boats are on sale in the gift shop if you forget your own. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - model boat lake

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids - pirate ship by lake

6 - Take a Heritage Boat Ride on Osprey 

Osprey was built in 1902 (a fact Jack has been repeating ever since) and has a fascinating history. This beautiful steamboat can take up to 12 passengers at a time out onto Lake Windermere for a 45-minute sailing that you won't forget. Trips run up to 5 times per day (subject to weather conditions) and although we've tried a fair few boat trips in our time, this one feels really special and you can almost feel the history as you silently sail.

The captain will share stories of how the boat was used in the past, who might have been sitting where you are sitting and how the boat fell into disrepair and was then lovingly restored. We also found it really interesting to learn about how steamboats work and as they are powered by a special kind of coal of which there is only a limited supply, how they might run in the future. Sitting onboard Osprey and chatting with the crew was a definite highlight from our visit and if you are torn between including a heritage boat trip as part of your day or not, I'd 1000% recommend including. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - osprey heritage boat rides

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - on board Osprey boat

7 - Dress like a Sailor 

Don't forget to ask at reception to borrow an activity backpack - it's packed with props for you to get the most from your visit. From binoculars to telescopes, we loved ours. The Captain's hat and gloves were our favourite discovery in there and really got Jack into the spirit of the day. 

8 - Create your own island, boat and flag 

There are free activities in the activity centre which is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the views of Lake Windermere. On the day of our visit, we created our own island, built a boat and designed a Rickelton flag. It was lovely to do something like this where we could all get involved and it was self-led so all at our own pace. All materials were provided and there's no additional cost. 

9 - Listen to stories in the Boat House 

At 2pm, a crowd will gather in the boat house to hear 'tales at two'. I am guessing they always tell the same story (Swallows and Amazons) and the setting was just perfect to hear this adventurous tale and see the boats from the film. Storytime lasts around 15 minutes and there is seating provided. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - stories in the boat house

10 - See conservation work in action 

Windermere Jetty is a working museum and you can actually watch restoration work taking place in the workshops. Repairing and restoring boats is a real craft and it's great that you can get so close to the action and have a nosey. 

11 - Play digital and educational games 

We missed this game during our first walk around the museum but the crew onboard Osprey mentioned that we had to check it out. They talked us through how a steamboat works and then it was our chance to give it a try using this digital game. Jack loved it and although he added too much pressure on his first try, his second try was successful and we now have a bit of an understanding of how steamboats work thanks to modern technology and some hands-on fun.

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids - interactive games

12 - Eat Pizza as the Sun Sets 

If you're looking for a night out in the Lakes, this looks pretty special. You can enjoy pizza and Prosecco/Craft beer/Soft drink whilst the sun sets over Lake Windermere for just £9.95 every Friday and Saturday evening throughout Summer. I bet this is so magical and would be top of my list for something to do if I was staying over in the area. 

13 Reasons to Visit Windermere Jetty with Kids  - sun set pizzas

13 - Visit Whatever the Weather 

A lot of the activities in the Lakes are geared towards outdoor pursuits but the weather can be very rainy too and to be honest, there aren't that many rainy day options in the area. Windermere Jetty is mostly undercover and can be enjoyed in all weathers. If you happen to be visiting during a particularly heavy rainstorm, I bet it's lovely to hide in the museum, listen to stories, take the trails and craft with the kids. The museum has been built using tall glass windows throughout so you can enjoy the views of the lake AND stay dry and entertained at the same time. 

I've read a couple of mixed reviews for Windermere Jetty online but I can hand on heart say that we had a brilliant afternoon here. I always say you only get out of a museum visit what you're willing to put in. You could easily walk around in half an hour and think 'is that it' but if you take the time to chat with staff, play the interactive displays, join in with the trails, take a ride on Osprey, listen to the stories, read the displays, create your own crafts, take your toy boat on the boat lake, enjoy a bite to eat in the cafe and more, there's more than enough to fill a full afternoon here and I fail to see how families could ever be bored. We certainly left feeling like we had a much better understanding of the Lake District, it's history and future and I'm really pleased we made the trip.

Find out more about Windermere Jetty and buy tickets here:  https://windermerejetty.org/



  1. The views from the cafe are beautiful!

  2. That Sunday lunch looks incredible (of course food is the first thing I notice in any blog post!) I would love to visit the lakes more - we might be going on a last minute trip this week. Melis x

  3. Sam I am new to your blogs and reviews and finding them invaluable. If it is ok to mention to anyine heading to the Lakes, I have run a free FB group called Get Up and Go. It lists places to go and free/low cost local events and attractions for families. Thank you for all your hard work.

  4. This sounds brilliant! I love all the little touches too - and what amazing value for lunch.


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