A medieval city with plenty of mod cons, Chester blends the old – the sandstone trail, the River Dee, not to mention the Romans – with the new, including escape rooms, trampoline parks, paintball games and more. We’ve rounded up some of the best indoor and outdoor activities Chester has to offer to keep the whole family entertained during your visit.
Chester Zoo, with over 15,000 animals across 500 species, is the UK’s most-visited zoo and a travel destination in its own right. You can read all about it in our dedicated page to Chester Zoo.
Elsewhere, we’ve split up our favourite outdoor pursuits into the more sedate and those that involve shooting guns! Keen walkers will love the Sandstone Trail. A three-day trek stretching for 34 miles, taking in ancient market towns and the glorious English countryside, the walking is relatively easy and often elevated along sandstone ridges, providing stunning views. There are plenty of places to stop and drink in the fresh air via cafés and pubs, with our Chester Central (South East) hotel your best base for exploration.
If that's too much like hard work, step on board any of the Chester Boat Tours from the banks of the River Dee nearby The Groves. Ranging from half-hour trips to immersive – not literally, thankfully! – two-hour trips that go as far as the famous Iron Bridge and provide running historical commentary, to hiring your own, rather more leisurely paddle boat for a gentle afternoon on the River Dee.
Adrenaline junkies are equally well covered in Chester. Outpost Paintball in Higher Kinnerton – about 15 minutes’ drive from our Wrexham North hotel – will bring out your inner soldier as you stalk, shoot and escape a spray of paintballs. With 19 different games and zones, the site has real military heritage as it was built at the height of the Cold War as an anti-aircraft installation. Open for children over 11 and adults, it’s best to book ahead as it can get busy at weekends and during school holidays.
If that’s got you interested, you can take your aim to the next level and try the North Wales Shooting School. With over 50 years of shooting and teaching experience behind them, the school provides clay-shooting tuition, as well as multiple ranges covering air rifles and several trap systems suitable for novices and experts alike. The 30-minute clay-shooting experience is a great introduction to the sport, using low-recoil ammunition to lessen the impact and open up the sport to more people.
Video guide on activities in Chester
If you’re a fan of escape rooms, then you’re in luck – and we hope that luck stays with you throughout the challenges – as Chester has no fewer than three different venues, all offering tricky, twisty-turny capers and mind-boggling timed escapes. Taking into account where our hotels are based, Escapism Chester is the closest at less than a mile from our City Centre outlet. Open from 10am to 10pm daily, there are five rooms in total and, ranging in difficulty, they’re ideal for groups of between two and six people.
Breakout Chester is 1.6 miles – or a six-minute drive or taxi ride – from our Chester Central North hotel and has seven escape rooms spanning Wild West and carnival themes, and opens daily from 10am to 10pm. Last but not least is Virtual Reality Escapes, which gives a totally different twist with VR headsets worn for 15-minute, 30-minute or hour-long challenges across 12 different games.
For those that prefer their reality to consist of trampolines, crash pads and dodgeball, head to Flip Out. One of the largest parks of its kind at over 57,000 feet, they have more than 200 trampolines, a dedicated under 7s arena, a stunt box zone, ninja obstacle course and loads more. Open daily 9am–10pm during school holidays (and one hour later in term time), our Wirral (Two Mills) hotel is closest at under 10 minutes’ drive.
If you’re looking to keep the little ones entertained, look no further than Zippy’s Playworld, a three-level soft-play centre equipped with rope swings, ball pits, mazes and climbing walls, as well as dedicated toddler and baby areas.
A traffic-free 15-mile loop, the River Dee Round is a great place for families to stretch their legs. Using cycle routes, canal towpaths and quiet lanes, the route takes you along the River Dee before coming back through several villages, with a choice of five pubs and café stop-offs – the ideal bike route!
Alternatively, try out the Sustran Chester Railway Path. An eight-mile route, it takes you from Chester to Connah’s Quay at the mouth of the River Dee across old railway tracks crossing into the Wirral. If you fancy combining one of the city’s hotspots with a bit of exercise, the Zoo Circular is another eight-mile ride that takes in quiet streets and cycle paths along the way, with a stop at Chester Zoo en route.
As befits a city that largely fits within its compact medieval walls, exploring on foot is often the best way to get around. Fans of spooks and spectres should start with the Ghost Tour. With hundreds of claimed ghost sightings and 2,000 years of history to spur them on, the 90-minute tour runs every Saturday during the year, as well as Fridays during the summer months.
This isn’t strictly a walking tour as you’re chauffeured around in considerable style in one of only three London General Omnibuses in the world, but we felt we had to include the Chester Heritage Tour. See the sights from the vintage open-top bus from where you’ll take in Chester Castle, the Grosvenor Museum, Chester Baths and the Roman Amphitheatre.
Sign up to the Roman Tours company to get an insight into what life would have been like in Roman Britain. The 90-minute tour takes in archaeological sites in a fun and informative way, transporting you back to a time when Chester was the largest Roman fortress in the country.
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