Furness Abbey was founded by a group of French monks in 1127 in the 'vale of nightshade' on the Furness peninsula near Barrow.
It was to become second only to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire as the most important Cistercian monastery in the country.
At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the Abbot surrendered the Abbey to Henry VIII rather than face trial for treason.
Within a year lead was being stripped from the Abbey’s roof and the buildings were dismantled eventhough the monks were still in residence.
The romantic ruins of the abbey were celebrated by Wordsworth in his Prelude in 1805.
Today’s visitors can see the remains of the east end and west tower of the church, the ornately decorated chapter house and the cloister buildings as well as an exhibition about the history of the abbey.
Visit website: www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/furness-abbey/
The Dock Museum is located in Barrow-in-Furness alongside the Walney Channel. Most of its exhibits concern the history of the town, focusing on the shipbuilding industry at VSEL, (now BAE), the steelworks industry, of which Barrow once had the world's largest, the Furness Railway and the World War II bombings of the town. There has been a museum in Barrow since 1907 and in its current location since 1994, when 50,000 people visited it in its first year, visitor numbers peaked at 120,000 in 2001.
The museum has free entry, and is one of the Lake District’s top attractions.
Visit website: www.dockmuseum.org.uk
South Lakes Safari Zoo is home to over 1,000 of the rarest and most endangered animals in unique natural environments which enable you to get as close as physically possible to experience the amazing creatures with which we share our planet. Wander amongst kangaroos, wallabies, and emus. Be amazed as free-flying macaws soar overhead. Participate in animal feeding experiences or be a zookeeper for a day.
Visit website: www.southlakessafarizoo.com
With stunning views across Morecambe bay, this shingle island reserve is full of interest and a fantastic place for bird watching. South Walney Nature Reserve is home to the only grey seal colony in Cumbria.
Visit website: www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/south-walney
The Forum offers a diverse range of events, activities and exciting entertainment to Barrow-in-Furness. There is something for everyone during the year and the venue are very proud to welcome Internationally renowned performers alongside local dance and amateur groups. The Forum is a fully accessible, family friendly venue with approachable staff who look forward to welcoming you.
Visit website: www.theforumbarrow.co.uk
As befits the largest town in Cumbria, Barrow Town Centre is home to national high street retailers on Dalton Road and Portland Walk including Mark’s and Spencer’s and Debenhams. There is also a myriad of local independent specialist shops to browse, Café and Coffee shops.
As well as a range of national and independent shops, Barrow also boasts the largest indoor market in Cumbria which opens from 9 am – 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Market has been featured on the Hairy Bikers’ Show and the One Show on the BBC.
Barrow Market has a wide range of stalls and stocks over 100 Cumbrian sourced fine foods including meats from Peter Gott’s famous Sillfield Farm and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Barrow Town Centre is now a Business Improvement District.
Visit the Barrow BID website: www.barrowbid.co.uk
Piel Island lies half a mile (1 km) off the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula in the administrative county of Cumbria. It is one of the Islands of Furness and is the location of the English Heritage-owned Piel Castle.
The island is within the administrative boundaries of the mainland town of Barrow-in-Furness and is owned by the people of the town, having been given by the Duke of Buccleuch in the early 20th century. The Borough Council’s administrative duties also include the selection of the “King of Piel”who is the landlord of the island’s public house, the Ship Inn.
The area of Piel is about 50 acres (20 hectares). As well as the landlord and his family the island has three other permanent residents who live in the old Pilots Cottages.
Visit website: www.pielisland.co.uk
Barrow Park is a 45-acre public park in Barrow-in-Furness, the park was designed by Thomas Mawson in 1908 and was constructed in stages over the following two decades. Originally sited on the outskirts of Barrow, the park is now more or less central due to rapid growth of the town northwards during the early 20th century. It is designated by Historic England as Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The park contains a large boating lake, mini railway, skate park, various playgrounds and The Park Leisure Centre. The Barrow Parkrun takes place within the park every Saturday. Large sections of Barrow Park were redeveloped in 2005 to include a new pavilion, café, bandstand and display glasshouse. The park has gained Green Flag status.
Although all of the attractions listed on this page are child-friendly, we wanted to flag up a variety of local businesses who offer activities for children and families, these include: