When you’re the largest and longest natural lake in all of England, it’s difficult not to attract visitors. Covering 14.8 square kilometres, Windermere is the unofficial heart of the Lake District and rightly sees thousands of tourists immerse themselves in its quaint charm each year.
Start things off good and hipster with the Homeground Coffee and Kitchen, perfect for the first meal of the day. At Homeground Coffee and Kitchen you’ll find not only a modern-chic cafe with stark wooden interiors, but also a superb brunch menu. Highlights include the Waffles (£6), Eggs Benedict (£7.50) and the Brunch Burger (£9), so go relish in this contemporary Lake District vibe, sit back, and take your pick.
Instead of immediately heading for the hustle and bustle of Bowness-on-Windermere, make sure you don’t skip a look around Lakeland‘s Flagship store situated right by Windermere station. You can spend hours trawling this beloved homeware brand, perusing kitchen goods you never knew you needed (or existed!) Similarly make sure you don’t walk by the tiny Fireside bookshop, slotted in just a few minutes down the road – a vintage two storey book store with classics by the hundreds.
Kids Stuff 🎪
At Bowness-on-Windermere, the fun really begins. Take the kids for a look around The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, where you are permitted to browse, at your leisure, through areas 1 to 8, with each stage getting you up-close-and-personal with a fascinating Beatrix Potter tale. If you’re lucky, you might even meet a few characters along the way! A ten minute down through walk through the town gets you to Glebe Road, home to The Bowness Fun Factory and the Bowness Treasure Trail – both brilliant activities to keep the kids occupied.
Monkeying Around 🐒
For something that requires a little more bravery, we’d recommend Treetop Nets at the Lake District Visitor Centre. For two hours unlimited adventure, all Treetops recommend is a moderate level of fitness and an adventurous spirit! The maze of nets will suspend you up to 9m (almost 10ft) above the ground between the huge oak tress and – unique to the UK – Treetop Nets has over over 16,000 square feet of giant trampolines, slides, walkways and tunnels all made from netting for you to play in. There are even zip wires, too. But if you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry, there is a dedicated lower area of nets for those younger and less confident participants.
After that all that daringness, it’s surely time for a treat. Head to the main harbour, where you can find Windermere Ice Cream Co and those little green and white ticket offices and souvenir shops. In both of these places (and many more throughout the town) you’ll be able to buy yourself the one and only Lakeland brand ice cream, Thunder and Lightening – a smooth mix of chocolate, vanilla and honeycomb. This flavour is a one off Lake District treat, so make sure you savour it. And don’t leave Windermere without a good dose of countryside shopping. Bowness-on-Windermere has whole high streets worth of jewellery, fine art, Lakeland souvenirs, outdoor brands and bookshop by the plenty.
Boat Trip ⛴
Whilst your at the harbour, you might as well get on the lake, right? That’s where Windermere Lake Cruises come in, operating from 9am–6pm, you can take an open topped cruise around the lake enjoying the breeze. For an adult it’s £7.70 for the Islands Cruise – a 45 minute circular cruise from Bowness, where you can enjoy contrasting scenery of mountains, wooded shorelines and lovely tranquil bays. Once back on land, you might want to check out the Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, a house you can simply tour and tour again, boasting wonderful lake-side views. It’s a wonderfully stored manor house crammed with artistic splendour, but brace yourself for the beauty of the main hall and get ready for some serious house-envy.
Now for dinner! Porto Restaurant in Bowness-on-Windermere is a highly rate eatery for those who aren’t worried about spending money when it comes to good food. With fine wines and fabulously presented dishes in a lavish environment, you certainly get what you pay for. Try the Pan Roasted Chicken and an arancini, rocket, pear and walnut salad with chive cream cheese for £14.95 or a King Prawn Cassoulet for £14.95. They have a special children’s menu, so the kids don’t have to go quite as fancy. And right opposite, there’s Hyltons restaurant – a slightly cheaper, but just as tasty alternative. All main mains average £10 and they have a superb blackboard of special dishes; we’d recommend the chicken with pancetta!