UK’s Fun Capitals - OutdoorToys

Which areas in the UK are the most enjoyable for kids?

The best part of being a child is having fun, and whilst we try to keep them entertained at home with the help of the latest toys or a new swing set, sometimes the best memories are made on days out! 

Some areas seem to offer a wider variety of activities for kids than others. And while some little ones may prefer to burn their energy off at the local swimming baths, others may prefer the thrill of a day out at a theme park. So, with this in mind, we want to investigate the most enjoyable cities in the UK to be a child.

We will analyse the UK's biggest cities to see which offer the most child-friendly restaurants, parks, nature spaces, activities, swimming pools, cinemas, soft play areas, and the nearest theme parks, revealing the fun capitals of the UK!

The Most Fun Cities in the UK to be a Child

Cardiff is the Most Fun City in the UK, with 24 Child-Friendly Activities per 100,000 People

1. Cardiff, Wales

Fun Factor Score out of 10: 7.49

The capital city of Wales, Cardiff, is the UK’s top fun haven for kids, taking first place in the race with a top score of 7.49. Cardiff recorded among the highest number of child-friendly restaurants (147.76 per 100,000 people) and also has the third-most nature and park spots, behind Aberdeen and Plymouth (12.27 per 100,000). If you don’t live in the vicinity, you can cover a lot of ground in just one day!

The closest theme park to Cardiff is Barry Island Pleasure Park, just 9.8 miles away, with rides ranging from classics like the Dodgems & Waltzers to a giant 32-seater space machine aerospace, which is the UK's biggest thrill ride.

2. Brighton

Fun Factor Score out of 10: 6.90

Brighton placed second on our list of the most fun cities, with a score of 6.90. Brighton is a great city for kids, with plenty of attractions (21.49 per 100,000 people), including a ghost train at the Horror Hotel on Brighton Palace Pier. There is a crazy golf course with neon dinosaurs, and you can even see sharks swimming 450 feet above you at the Sealife Brighton Aquarium! Brighton is among the locations with the most child-friendly restaurants (270.25), so you needn’t worry about finding something to eat that the little ones will enjoy!

3. Newcastle upon Tyne

Fun Factor Score out of 10: 6.80

Newcastle placed third with a score of 6.80. Attractions for kids in the Northeast capital include tree-top adventure golf, the Wetland Centre (to watch otters and flamingos) and the Ouseburn farm! There are 22.35 attractions per 100,000 people in the city and a high number of child-friendly eateries (320.39 restaurants per 100,000).

Newcastle’s closest theme park is Flamingo Land Resort, with its award-winning zoo and giant thrill rides. Families can even book a stay at the accompanying Luxury Resort Village to enjoy a holiday or weekend break.

4. Northampton

Fun Factor Score out of 10: 6.65

In the East Midlands, Northampton placed fourth in the ranking, scoring 6.65. There are plenty of activities for kids in Northampton (14.79 per 100,000 people), including a trampoline park, escape rooms, and wildlife parks where you can hold various birds of prey. In Northampton, there’s also a number of restaurants to choose from for kids (125.32 per 100,000) and plenty of swimming pools to enjoy a dip (​​9.14 per 100,000). Gulliver's Land Theme Park is the nearest theme park, just 19 miles from the centre.

5. Nottingham and Reading

Fun Factor Score out of 10: 6.55

Nottingham and Reading ranked fifth, scoring 6.55 equally. Reading offers a large number of child-friendly diners (186.68 per 100,000 people) and also has among the most swimming pools (23.12 per 100,000), including the luxurious Thames Lido Pool & Spa with a heated pool and Caversham Lakes, where kids can enjoy paddle boarding and open water swimming.

Nottingham recorded more activities for children than Reading (24.05 per 100,000), including a Go Ape Centre, Tropical Butterfly House, and Gulliver's Valley Theme Park, just 34.8 miles away.

The City with the Most Child-Friendly Restaurants

1. Bolton

Child-friendly restaurants per 100,000: 437.81 

Bolton records the most child-friendly restaurants, with 1,201 restaurants (437.81. per 100,000 people). Some of the most popular cuisines in the area include Indian, British, European, and Italian food.

The City with the Most Parks & Nature

1. Aberdeen

Parks & nature per 100,000: 19.43

Aberdeen is the greenest city on our list, with 39 parks and nature spaces (19.43 per 100,000 people). Some of the nature sights include Duthie Park Winter Gardens, Hazlehead Park, and Pitmedden Garden & Museum of Farming Life, with its Great Garden dating back to 1675.

The City with the Most Things to Do with Kids

1. Edinburgh

Things to Do with Kids per 100,000: 44.67

Edinburgh records the most activities to enjoy with children, with 218 activities (44.67 per 100,000 people). Among these are plenty of historical sites to enjoy, including Edinburgh Castle, the Camera Obscura World of Illusions, and Edinburgh Zoo.

The City with the Most Cinemas

1. Edinburgh

Cinemas per 100,000: 2.25

Edinburgh is our most cinematic city, with a total of 11 cinemas (2.25 per 100,000). According to Tripadvisor, the best cinema is Dominion Cinema, which has 297 “excellent” reviews.

The City with the Most Swimming Pools

1. Luton

Swimming Pools per 100,000: 26.47

Luton has 59 swimming pools (26.47 per 100,000), making it an excellent choice for families who enjoy aquatic activities.

The City with the Most Play Gyms

1. Reading

Play Gyms per 100,000: 8.72

There are 20 play gyms in Reading (8.72 per 100,000), which is great news for families living close to the centre. One of the most popular centres is The Mad House Play and Party World, which offers premier soft play facilities.

The City with the Closest Theme Park

1. Aberdeen - Codona's Amusement Park

Distance to City's Nearest Theme Park: 0.6 miles

The residents of Aberdeen are lucky enough to have Codona's Amusement Park located right in the centre of the city, within a 15-minute walking distance! There’s plenty of fun to have here with the whole family, including a karting track to take part in family races, pirate adventure golf, and giant tree huts for kids to climb.


We began by making a list of the 30 largest UK cities by population from The Geographist.

We used Tripadvisor to find the number of child-friendly restaurants, parks and nature spots,  and things to do with kids and divided these by the population.

We took the number of cinemas in each city/town from UK Cinemas: England.

We took the number of swimming pools in each city/town from Yelp.

We took the number of indoor play gyms from Yelp.

We found each city’s closest theme park on Wikipedia. We then calculated the number of miles from each city to its closest theme park using Google Maps.