I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while. Firstly because this is exactly what I would have liked to have read when I was new to the area. And then also a knackered, sleep deprived parent scrabbling round for something fun to do for my child that didn’t make me want to scratch my own eyes out… Learning that one of our favourite play cafés shut down during the pandemic also hammered home how important it is to support these local businesses. Here’s my guide of things to do with kids in Chesterfield and the local area. Most of the suggestions are probably most suited for pre-schoolers, but I’ll update this as my own daughter grows.
Play Pod at The Hub in Clay Cross
This is a lovely, quiet sensory room that you can book as an individual or small group. I’d say it’s most suitable for babies and toddlers, or children with additional needs. There’s soft and relaxing areas and a range of stimulating interactive equipment. There are clean baby changing facilities, toilets, lockable buggy store room and it’s really easy to park. And there’s a very child friendly tea room. It’s also a bargain at just £3.50 per child per hour (for private use of the room!). To book, call 01246 859210 or email at: email@example.com
The Shed Bambino Coffee Morning, Sutton Scarsdale
The Shed is a multi-function ‘concept space’ that runs creative workshops, co-working, yoga brunches and book clubs. Once a month they host a coffee morning for parents and babies and children under 4 years of age. It’s free to attend, just pay for refreshments but you do need to book in advance. Definitely do not miss the home baked cakes – I had the most amazing Victoria sponge cake at one of their pop-up cafés. The ladies who run it are so lovely and friendly, and it’s a really inspiring, creative space. I wish this had existed when my own daughter was younger, as it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d have enjoyed. Find out more here.
There used to be a really good playgroup called Tots Café on at St Thomas’ Church on Chatsworth Road, Brampton, Chesterfield. It was easy-ish to park, free to attend, decent coffee and really lovely helpers. It’s sadly not running currently, but if this ever re-starts I would definitely recommend. We aren’t religious but always found it really welcoming. There is now Tots Time and Thursdays mornings and Tots Together on Tuesday afternoons at St Mark’s but this does seem much more faith based (but there’s free coffee and I’ve been assured that the staff are equally lovely – I just don’t have any personal experience of either).
Things to Do with Children in Chesterfield when the Weather’s Good
Play area at Dunston Hall Garden Centre
The newly renovated bistro at Dunston Hall Garden Centre serves freshly made food and a decent coffee. It also has some good quality play equipment. A lot of it is probably most suitable for maybe four years and up, and there’s nothing much for the very young ones, but we have always really enjoyed going here. I’d recommend booking a table. Read more here.
If you’re not in the National Trust it’s definitely worth joining, particularly if you have young children. Even if you didn’t want to join, children under five go free. Hardwick Hall is less than a twenty minute drive from Chesterfield and is a great for a walk around. We never bothered looking inside when I visited with my daughter but there loads to explore outside. In addition to the formal gardens, there’s a woodland trail, den making equipment and loads of space to just let her run free. There’s also a shop, café and toilet facilities, picnic area and wide open space to run about and play in, all only a few minutes’ walk from the car park – so perfect for toddlers (or when you just need to get OUT for a couple of hours).
Further afield, with a similar vibe on a much bigger scale, Calke Abbey is also amazing for children. Other local National Trust properties that we’ve enjoyed visiting as a family are Kedleston Hall (I love going in the summer to see the wild flowers), Clumber Park and when it reopens Sudbury Hall is not to be missed.
I’ve not been myself, but several people have said how good Bolsover Castle (owned and operated by English Heritage) is for children.
For 20+ ideas of pram, pushchair and buggy friendly walks in Derbyshire (including where to park and where to get a great coffee after) click here.
For more adventurous walks and lots of ideas of things to do with children in the Peak District, Peak District Kids is a wonderful resource.
Free Things to Do with Kids in Chesterfield
One tip is to research your local children’s centres and see what activities/facilities they have. I found it quite frustrating that the information wasn’t more accessible online – but it’s worth persevering (once everything returns to normal – sadly children’s centres still seem to be shut?). We found one place, Alice’s View Children’s Centre in North Wingfield where you could book to use the facilities which effectively meant you had a private sensory room to use with friends for free! Thank you so much to Katie who kindly got in touch with the details on this (that my baby brain didn’t retain!).
Also check out your local library. Most run some sort of storytelling or wriggly readers type class which are usually free. The library in Chesterfield town centre has a large children’s section and space to spread out and read. Instilling a love of reading is probably the single most important thing you can do to help your child’s education. A regular trip to the library can be a really fun activity and your child can choose books that appeal to them. Library cards are completely free – and (just in case you’re sometimes embarrassingly disorganised like me) there are no late return fees for children.
Queen’s Park is wonderful with children. During the warmer months there’s a ride on train during the school holidays and weekends (pay extra for this) but also two big playgrounds, café and toilet facilities. Read more about Queen’s Park and other great playgrounds here or other great pushchair friendly walks here.
Things to Do with Kids in the rest of Derbyshire and Further Afield
I’m not a massive fan of soft play places but it’s still my daughter’s idea of absolute heaven. So of course we go. Particularly when it rains.
There’s a new soft play place and dessert bar in Chesterfield (Kooca) that looks good but we’ve not yet tried it.
The only soft play place I’ve been to and that I would actively recommend is Injoy in Derby. It’s a bit of a trek for us but we make a day of it. What I like about Injoy is that as well as being HUGE it feels new and clean. They also have a really cool interactive/digital play room upstairs. I haven’t ever seen anywhere like this anywhere else. You do have to pay extra for this – but we definitely rate it. It’s a calmer, more chilled out vibe than the craziness of the soft play bit. There’s also a climbing wall there but we haven’t used that (yet!).
If you’re making the trip to Derby you might want to check out my other suggestions of family friendly things to do.
Curious Kids Town, Sheffield
This is a really nice (quieter!) alternative to soft play. Set inside a renovated industrial unit, Curious Kids Town is a child sized town. There are so many different rooms and shops for children to engage in all sorts of different imaginative play. There’s a small café area that serves reasonable coffee and snacks (no meals). I would recommend booking in advance. There’s some free on-site parking but it does get busy so worth arriving in good time for your session.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my round up of our favourite things to do with kids in Chesterfield. If you know of anywhere else please do share the knowledge in the comments below.