four photos of walks, soft play and a cafe. Text reads places to stop on the M6

10 Places to stop on the M6

Are you looking for family friendly places to stop on the m6? If you have a long journey up or down the M6 then this is the guide for you. I’ll cover the best places to stop on or just off the m6. These are a mix of some of the best motorway service stations and other places that are a short distance from motorway junctions. Find all the best Family days out North West here.

Where does M6 start and end?

The M6 is a motorway in England that runs from near Rugby in Warwickshire and ends near Gretna Green in Scotland.

Tebay services

Tebay services has to be the best motorway service station on the M6. It’s on the edge of the Lake District and is the perfect spot to stop on your way up or down this section of the M6.

For example we have used it when visiting Scotland, the Northern Lake District and Center Parcs Whinfell forest. It’s a great option for anyone travelling through Cumbria looking for good food and somewhere to stretch your legs and enjoy a bit of fresh air.

Food displays in a cafe

There is a southbound section and a Northbound section so you can visit this service station no matter which direction you are travelling.

There is a duck pond to stroll around on the North bound side. Both sides have a cafe and a ​family-friendly farm shop with loads of products from their own farm and other local suppliers. There are cakes, essential supplies and even a butcher!

The cafe serves delicious food and there is even a small soft play for young kids.

Find out more about Tebay services here – Tebay services.

Brockholes nature reserve, Preston

Brockholes is the perfect place to stop if you want a short walk. There are lakes to walk around as well as woodland areas. There are several play areas which are great for kids of all ages. Parking is chargable.

There is a cafe on the floating visitor centre too if you need to buy refreshments.

Building that appears to be floating on water

Brockholes is in Lancashire, just a few minutes from junction 31 so you won’t be detouring much from your M6 journey.

Find out more about Brockholes here – Brockholes Nature Reserve

Sizergh Castle National Trust

We love our National Trust membership for picnic spots and opportunities to stretch our legs whilst we are travelling. There are a number of National Trust properties near to the M6. If you are members you can get free entry.

Sizergh castle is located a short drive from junction 36 of the M6. It’s a great stop whether you are National Trust members or not.

Large historic house

For none members, the car park is pay and display and you can visit the cafe without paying any more than parking. We love the coffee shop here are there is always a delicious menu of food to choose from including snacks, lunches and sweet treats.

You can also access the play trail by just paying for parking too. It’s only about 1 mile long and is great for kids. Do check the website before visiting as it does get closed sometimes for maintenance. It’s not suitable for pushchairs though. Find our full guide here – Sizergh castle play trail

Please note the play trail is closed until spring 2025 due to extensive rain and footfall damage. Please check before travelling.

Stepping stones through woodlands

If you are National Trust members, you can also walk around the beautiful gardens and enter the house if it is open.

Find out more here – Sizergh | Lake District | National Trust

Rheged centre

The Rheged centre is a great place to stop near Penrith. only a could of minutes from the M6 junction 40 exit. We’ve visited here countless times of the years and have never been disappointed.

There are a range of shops to browse, a cinema, gallery with changing exhibits, soft play and a couple of cafes where you can expect ​great food. They often have events running too.

Find out more here – Rheged

Trentham gardens

This detour is probably somewhere to stop if you are looking for a day trip. The gardens are really big and you do need to buy a ticket to enter so you need time to really get the most out of your visit. That said, if you do choose to have a day here you won’t be disappointed.

Metal sculpture of faries sitting on a dandilion

The gardens are a great place to wander and there is a large children’s adventure playground, maze and barefoot walk. It’s a great place for a wander.

Find out more here Trentham gardens review.

If you do want somewhere for a quick stop then you could still call here as the car park is free and there is a small shopping village and a large garden centre as well as cafes.

Shugborough NT

This is a National Trust in Staffordshire, not far from exit 13, a great place to stop just above Birmingham. There are acres of parkland, ancient woodland and formal gardens. There’s also a farm, cafe, gift shop and a natural play area. Everything is included in your membership if you are a National Trust member.

Natural wood playground

Find out more here – Shugborough Hall National Trust

Billy Bobs, Myerscough

Billy Bobs, Preston is a great stop on a motorway journey. There is an American diner if you want a full meal or an ice cream parlour if you just fancy a sweet treat.

​The other reason to visit is the children’s play area. These are charged but the fee is low. There is a large, fantastic outdoor play area with lots of wooden transport themed play equipment for under 10s.

Helicopter play frame outdoors

There is also an indoor play area in a barn. This is not your traditional soft play. Expect lots of hay and fun play equipment for kids. I would say this is better suited to older kids as there are high rope swings, a bucking barrel and a foam pit.

Find out more about Billy bobs in our review here – Billy Bob’s Preston.

The flower bowl entertainment centre

There’s loads of family entertainment at The Flower bowl which is just up the road from Billy Bobs and five minutes from junction 32 of the m6. Activities include a cinema, bowling, crazy golf, shuffleboard and curling. There are other activities and also a restaurant, coffee bar, fish and chips and an ice cream parlour.

Find out more here – Flower Bowl


Knutsford is a small town in Cheshire that is worth a stop. There is a small high street with plenty of cafes and tea-rooms as well as a selection of independent shops.

Two children walking towards a fenced play area

There’s also a lovely children’s play area and large duck pond. You can even walk into Tatton Park, although you’re a long way from the mansion. It’s still a lovely place for a free walk.

There is some on road parking a car park that at the time of writing is free on Sundays.

Red brick buildings along a busy high street

Rugby services

This one is if for you if you are looking for motorway services near junction 1 of the M6. Although it is still a motorway service station, this one is slightly better than your average for families as there is an indoor and outdoor free play area for kids.

The food outlets are as you would expect in a service station. Don’t be expecting anything like Gloucester services or Tebay! We have stopped here a couple of times though on our way to the ferry in Harwich and it meets our needs for a quick stop and stands out more than other services in my mind due to the free play areas for younger visitors.

Find out more here – Rugby Service

More articles that you might like to read

Find lots more ideas for places to stop with my guide to National trust near the M6.

Have you been to Center Parcs Whinfell? It’s just off the M6. Find my Center parcs Whinfell forest review here.

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