It’s a beautiful place, but we all know the Lake District weather can be a little temperamental to say the least! If you’re lucky enough to experience the famous local weather, here are some ideas for things to do in Bowness on Windermere in the rain.
World of Beatrix Potter
The World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness on Windermere is always a popular choice; its been around for thirty years for a reason. Young children love the attraction, which brings to life Beatrix Potter’s famous stories in a beautiful recreation of the Lake District countryside. Much of the attraction is inside so you can shelter from the rain, although they do have Mr. McGregor’s garden outside which is definitely worth a visit.
Prices: find them here
Parking: A pay and display car park on Rayrigg Road is directly opposite the entrance to the World of Beatrix Potter. There are two car parks on Rayrigg Road, this is the one right at the Bowness on Windermere end.
Pre booking? No, tickets are purchased at the entrance so its ideal for a spur of the moment visit to escape the rain!
Is there a cafe? Yes, open from 10am. Pop in for a brew, lunch or afternoon tea (which is lovely). They also do a picnic basket for kids
Good to know: If you live locally, you can apply for a locals discount card, which comes in very handy for repeat visits over the winter months. Make sure to apply in plenty of time for the card to be posted to you before any planned trips.
Built in 1926, this is a little gem of a cinema in the middle of Bowness on Windermere. We have a modern cinema more local to us, but we love visiting here for the gorgeous atmosphere and the traditional family cinema feel of the place. It has been at risk of closure a few times as it competes with the bigger cinemas, but it is still going strong and I highly recommend a visit.
Parking: There is a car park right next to the cinema, on your right if you are travelling down the hill from Windermere. Alternatively, there is parking on Rayrigg Rd and The Glebe further down into Bowness, both of which mean a walk up the hill to the cinema.
Pre booking? Yes, but also tickets available on the door.
I often like to use the rain as an excuse to visit one of this area’s many cafes and restaurants. I’ve written more about my favourite recommendations for places to eat with kids here. When the weather is bad, I like to try to combine finding somewhere to eat and drink with something to do. So most places in this post also have somewhere to eat and drink, so you can stay warm and dry! In addition, I would try Homeground cafe in Windermere, and Villa Positano in Bowness for Italian.
Windermere Jetty Museum
Windermere Jetty Museum is a brilliant place to go when it’s raining in Bowness on Windermere. The museum is dedicated to the boat history of Lake Windermere, and you can get up close to a variety of different boats in the interactive galleries. They also have different exhibitions, events and activities for children on throughout the year, and you can find their events calendar here.
The cafe at Windermere Jetty museum has amazing views, whether you sit inside or outside, and I can highly recommend the lunch there. The children’s menu went down well with my three children too! All in all a great way to spend time staying out of the rain.
Parking: The museum has plenty of parking. If for any reason the car park is full, parking further along Rayrigg road is available.
Pre booking? Yes. tickets are available on the website but you can also just walk up and purchase tickets.
Good to know: If you have a packed lunch and want to find somewhere to eat it, you can find a signposted viewing point a little bit further along Rayrigg Road, heading away from Bowness. It’s a perfect place to park up and eat your lunch while enjoying the far reaching views up Lake Windermere to the Langdales.
Hire a Boat
This might seem like an odd choice! Being out on Lake Windermere in the rain isn’t everyone’s first choice. But! If you choose a boat with a cover, it can be a nice quiet time on the lake. There are a few choices for boat hire:
Windermere Lake Cruises – they offer small boats for hire as well as putting on the big lake steamers. Electric boats that seat up to 6 with a small cover over the front section are available from Windermere docks and Windermere beach. You can find locations and prices here.
Windermere Aquatic – their very helpful website has two different covered electric boats for hire. The Mystic seats up to 6 while the Fantail seats up to 10, and children under 11 go free on both. Windermere Aquatic is found on The Glebe in Bowness, along with their boat shop which is also a brilliant place to hide from the rain.
Parking. There is a pay and display car park at the end of the Glebe. There is also free parking along the Glebe and also past the pay and display car park (this is where we always park). The free parking is free all day from Oct-April, and free for two hours from April – Oct.
The flagship Lakeland store is located in Windermere and is a great place to go when it rains. The shop itself is nice to wander around, and they often have cooking demonstrations which can be entertaining to watch.
Upstairs at Lakeland there is a family friendly cafe with lots of locally sourced options. There is also a small soft play, ideal for toddlers and young children. I have spent many rainy Sunday mornings here with a coffee while my children played! There is also free wifi with plenty of lounge chairs to access this. Overall this is a great choice for somewhere to spend a few hours when its raining in Bowness in Windermere.
Good to know: at busy times, the cafe runs a virtual queue system with a buzzer, so it’s worth checking the wait times if you know you want to eat. Then if you need to wait, you can look round the shop, use the soft play or make use of the free wifi upstairs.
Lakeside to Haverthwaite Railway
The Lakeside end of the Lakeside to Haverthwaite railway is a short drive away from Bowness on Windermere, still right next to Lake Windermere. Or, if you want to avoid driving and parking, you could hop on one of the Lake Cruisers from Bowness on Windermere which will take you to Lakeside.
The railway is an old branch line, and now runs vintage steam and diesel locomotives. All little steam train fans will be delighted! The train furnishings are from a bygone era, meaning the train journey is a real experience for all the family. When the train reaches Haverthwaite, you can find a lovely tearoom for refreshments or lunch. Also undercover is the gift shop, and most excitingly, the Engine Shed, where you can browse to collection of steam and diesel locomotives! Then hop back on the return journey to Lakeside, all while staying dry.
Prices: Find them here.
Parking: There is parking at Lakeside, but also plenty of other ways to get there. You can find all the information here.
Good to Know: Cumbria residents can get a discount on train journeys on this line with a My Cumbria card. Find out more about that here.
Also at Lakeside, the Lakes Aquarium is a decent aquarium experience, and a great way to stay out of the rain for a couple of hours. The aquarium is fully accessible for wheelchair users, with disabled parking spots close to the entrance. There are daily otter talks at 11:30am and 2:30pm which we found very entertaining!
Then when you’ve made your way all around the aquarium, refuel with a snack or lunch at the 1872 cafe, which is also a shop to stock up on lovely treats. Its just across from the aquarium, next to the railway platform.
Parking: There is parking at Lakeside, but you can also access it easily by boat. Find all the information here.
Lakeland Motor Museum
I’ve lost count of the times we’ve visited this place! We have some BIG car fans in our family so we’ve often found ourselves here when its raining. Its a real mixture of all different types of cars (and other vehicles) from all different eras, along with other vintage memorabilia. There’s also a lot of local history related to cars and cycles, and a large Campbell Bluebird display. I see something new every time we go!
Prices: Can be found here. Also, if you live locally you can apply for a locals discount card, which also works on Windermere Lake Cruises. That can be found here.
Parking. There is plenty of parking at the Motor Museum.
Good to know: Although this museum is a feast for the senses, it is pretty much hands off. If your child is at the tricky toddler stage, this is worth knowing beforehand.
Ok maybe this should have taken the top spot. Because lets face it, no one is surprised when it rains in the Lake District! So if all else fails (and if its not too awful outside), get on the wet weather gear, load up a flask with hot chocolate and venture outside. A gentle lowland walk or a meander around a lake can still work in the rain, and a hot drink and a slice of cake at the end make it feel even better!