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Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

Universal Studios theme park England, UK – all you need to know about the potential project

The latest on plans to open a Universal theme park in Bedford, England

Theme park giant Universal has revealed ‘very early’ plans for a potential park and resort experience in Bedford, England.

There are no Universal theme parks in Europe yet, so this would be huge news for UK families.

Universal Orlando Resort was the highlight of our trip to Florida, so here at the Family Holiday Guide, we are VERY excited at the idea of some of that magic being brought so much closer to home.

So here we look at everything that is known so far.

Where might Universal be opening a theme park in the UK?

Universal are looking at a former brickworks site in Bedfordshire, England.

The 480-acre (195 hectares) plot is in Stewartby, between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It lies between London and Birmingham. It’s around 60 miles (97km) from London and 78 miles (126km) from Birmingham.

Proposed site of a Universal theme park in Bedford, England, UK. A map showing the site in Stewartby.

Why has Universal chosen this site?

Universal say they have chosen the site:

  • Due to its ‘transportation connectivity to London and Europe’.
  • Because ‘more than half of the UK population live within two hours’.
  • Its proximity to Luton Airport.

Has Universal actually bought land?

Yes, Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation has purchased the parcel of land.

What stage are the plans at?

Universal says the plans are in the ‘very early stages’.

It is conducting a feasibility study and it could be months before they decide whether the potential project will proceed.

What has Universal said?

“We are always looking at new locations around the world, including in Europe, and the UK is an attractive place for a potential project.

“While we do own the land, we are only at the beginning of our feasibility study as part of our evaluation of potential sites.”

Where are Universal’s other parks?

Universal Destinations & Experiences has some of the world’s best and most innovative theme parks with advanced film and television-based attractions, hotels, resorts and live entertainment.

It has five entertainment and resort complexes:

  • Universal Orlando Resort
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
  • Universal Beijing Resort
  • Universal Studios Singapore.

Is the project being supported locally?

The idea has been welcomed by Bedford Borough Council.

Its mayor Tom Wootton, said the theme park could be ‘transformative for the borough’.

Universal is keen to consult with the local community and has already created a website to inform people living in the area and has also written to residents.

The letter includes details of the thousands of jobs that its parks create and states that the company is committed to enhancing the natural beauty and protecting the ecology of the areas in which it operates.

It added: “While we have been encouraged by the positive nature of conversations we’ve had so far with various national and local stakeholders — including Bedford Borough Council and the Mayor of Bedford Borough — we plan to work closely with our local communities should we progress. “

What about the Government?

The plans have also been discussed by the Government and appear to have the backing of Bedford Labour MP Mohammad Yasin.

He said a park would bring ‘enormous prosperity and jobs’ to the area.

The MP spoke in the Commons to ask the government to support road improvements to help deliver the proposed theme park.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have also been briefed on the bid.

What do you think?

We will keep you updated with the plans. What do you think of the idea? Let us know in the comments.

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Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham – everything you need to know before visiting the chocolate attraction

Review: Cadbury World, Birmingham – everything you need to know before visiting the chocolate attraction

The complete guide to Cadbury World and top tips including how not to get confused and miss half the tour like we did

Name

Cadbury World

What is it?

Cadbury World is a family attraction based around the famous British chocolate maker Cadbury.

It is not a tour of the actual chocolate factory which doesn’t open to the public due to food regulations.

Nor is it a theme park, although it does include a 4D cinema, a gentle ride and yes, some ‘free’ chocolate.

Instead, it is more of a museum or visitor centre – a trip through the history and making of chocolate and Cadbury confectionery.

Where is it?

There is only one Cadbury World and it is in Birmingham. Specifically, it is in the suburb of Bournville – the town that chocolate built – four miles south of Birmingham – in the grounds of the original Cadbury factory.

The village was founded by George Cadbury when he moved his chocolate factory there from Birmingham in 1879, with homes built to house Cadbury workers.

Some of my female ancestors worked at Cadbury including my great grandmother.

She was there for around 10 years before marrying in 1915 and one of her roles was to tie ribbons on the boxes of chocolates.

What did we think?

When you get out of the car, the sweet smell of chocolate tantalisingly fills the air and anticipation is high, particularly as this visit follows our recent viewing of the film Wonka.

But this is not a Willy Wonka-style chocolate factory. And sadly, you don’t get to see any chocolate being made or packaged.

As a reporter in the Midlands years ago, I once filmed inside the actual factory at Cadbury. Wearing a shower cap affair to cover my hair, I watched as Cadbury Creme Eggs were made and wrapped and it was a fascinating experience. I seem to recall that the main taster at the time, wasn’t too fond of Cadbury Creme Eggs, which I thought hilarious and a waste of an excellent job!

It’s a shame families don’t see any of this. What you do get is a history of cocoa beans in the Aztec Jungle, the Cadbury story and how the chocolate is made, over a series of different zones.

Exploring the Aztec Jungle at Cadbury World

Exploring the Aztec Jungle

I will run through all the highlights of our trip first but there were several downsides too, including confusion over the time to arrive, the busy outdoor area, the queue to get in and the fact a lot of visitors (nearly including us) missed a huge chunk of the experience due to bad signage (more on this in top tips).

But the children seemed to get a lot of out of it and are already keen to go back so I’m overall pleased that we made the effort to go.

Highlights

*Do you get free chocolate at Cadbury World?!

Yes. You are welcomed into the tour with a handful of chocolate bars – we were given a Cadbury Wispa, a Dairy Milk Caramel and a Twirl each.

Brandishing 12 chocolate bars at us, we were given the option to buy a small purple Cadbury bag for £1 or a Cadbury tote bag for £2 to put them in – it feels a bit grabby of Cadbury not to present them in a free bag but hey ho.

Free chocolate bars at Cadbury World

Three ‘free’ chocolate bars per person included in the ticket cost

Then, during the tour you are offered warm, liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk in little cups with up to two toppings from a choice of chocolate buttons, fudge, mini marshmallows and crushed Oreos. Delicious but choose your toppings wisely, I felt the Oreo crumbs soaked up too much of the melted chocolate.

*The 4D Cinema

This is in the outdoor area and can be visited before or after (if not closed) your tour. Visitors wear 3D glasses, sit in motion seats and feel as if they are on a chocolate journey which includes a Crunchie rollercoaster.

The 4D cinema at Cadbury World

The 4D cinema

*Demonstration

There is a section where you watch someone demonstrate how chocolates were made by hand using moulds, in years gone by, which I found interesting, given my family connection.

Chocolate demonstration at Cadbury World

Chocolate demonstration

*Drawing with chocolate

You can queue to have a few minutes drawing or writing in melted chocolate from a bottle.

Drawing a heart with melted chocolate at Cadbury World

Drawing with melted chocolate

*Rides

There is a slow ride called Cadabra, where you sit two in the front and two in the back of a moving car around a track. This is a very gentle ride suitable for all ages.

The Cadabra ride at Cadbury World

The Cadabra ride

A new ride is due to open soon called Cadbury Chocolate Quest.

Top tips and downsides

Arrival time.

You would think an ideal arrival time would be shortly before the ticket entry time that you have carefully chosen, but you may be advised to get there much earlier.

When I happened to click on an instructions email on the morning of the day we were going (sent a few days earlier), it advised us to get there an hour and a half earlier if visiting in school holidays which we were (and 45 minutes earlier otherwise).

This is to ensure that you can enjoy the ‘outside activities’ before the tour, including the 4D cinema and play areas, as they may be closed afterwards.

We changed our plans to get there earlier, but wished we hadn’t (see the next top tip).

Outdoor Section

When we arrived at 1.45pm, the outdoor area was so crowded and noisy that it made for a stressful start to the day. We joined a long queue for the 4D cinema.

However, when we returned to the outdoor section at 4pm after our trip around Cadbury World, it was much quieter and there was no queue for the cinema at all.

So if you have children who would be at all sensitive to noise and crowding, check out the later cinema times and play area closing times before you arrive and consider doing this section later. It’s worth it even if you end up being stuck in Birmingham traffic afterwards.

A Cadbury shop front

A Cadbury shop front

Don’t miss any of the route!

It is a self-led tour, which led to some confusion on the day we were there.

Work was being carried out on a new area which may have caused the problem, but we and lots of other people exited the tour into the shop, having missed all the best bits.

I asked someone working there whether they no longer offered the melted chocolate in a cup (my best memory) and found out that we had taken a wrong turning, missing all the upstairs including the ride, demonstration and drawing with chocolate.

We were escorted back in and shown the right way but we had been following dozens of others who I am sure had done the same. I spoke to one woman later who had found the upstairs but still somehow missed the ride.

Tickets and queues

You must book tickets ahead of your visit, don’t just turn up. Even with booked time slots, we were queuing to get in for 10-15 minutes past our designated 2.30pm slot.

Buying chocolate

As well as the free chocolate, you can buy chocolate from the shop at the end or the factory shop if buying in bulk. Prices didn’t seem to be any different to supermarket prices.

You can also pre-order personalised chocolate items.

Cadbury chocolate bars over the years

Cadbury chocolate bars over the years

Cadbury World information

Merlin: Cadbury World is one of the attractions you can visit if you have a Merlin Annual Pass.

Parking: There is a free car park with lots of spaces.

Food: There is a cafe that you can visit on your way in or out, next to reception.

Character afternoon tea is available to pre-book on certain days (normally Monday to Friday, not in school holidays).

There are seats outside for anyone who takes a picnic.

Opening hours: Vary depending on the day, can be 9.30am-5.30pm or 10am-4.30pm, here are the up to date times.

Cost: Latest ticket prices here.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: It took us an hour and a half to get around the main section, including queueing at the start, allow extra time for the outside section including 4D cinema and outdoor play area.

Access and restrictions: Cadbury World only allows one guest who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter per timeslot. A wheelchair slot and a standard ticket have to both be booked.

There are some wheelchairs at reception that can be borrowed on a first come, first served basis.

Carer tickets are available if certain criteria are met.

Babies: Children two and under are free but still need a pre-booked ticket.

There are baby changing facilities in all the toilets. There is a baby feeding room in reception and pushchair access throughout.

Address: Cadbury World,  69 Linden Rd, Birmingham B30 1JR.

To book: Cadbury World

Now you can watch our Cadbury World video on Instagram, below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe, thank you!

Related content:

Chocolate factory fun – we review York’s Chocolate Story

Chocolate, Harry Potter, trains and Vikings – all the ingredients for a family trip to York

Harry Styles Holmes Chapel Walking Tour – full guide and video of the village where he grew up

Harry Styles Holmes Chapel Walking Tour – full guide and video of the village where he grew up

Follow Harry Styles’ footsteps in One Direction around his home town of Holmes Chapel on an official walking tour

Harry Styles fans can now enjoy a fun and completely free day out by touring Holmes Chapel – the village he grew up in.
Harry mentions his pretty Cheshire village frequently and pops home from time to time to see friends and family, so you may even get a glimpse of the star himself.

In fact, fans visit so often that the village has put together a free tour with a safe route around key places like the bakery where he worked, the bridge where he had his first kiss which featured in a One Direction video and even his favourite Chinese restaurant, where he once took Taylor Swift on a date.

Also in Holmes Chapel are his primary and secondary schools and the house he still lived in when he appeared on the X-Factor.

Read on for the full tour and map and our special video tour but first some Harry and Holmes Chapel trivia.

Where is Holmes Chapel?

Holmes Chapel is between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester in the north-west of England.

It’s an affluent, expanding village in the county of Cheshire next to junction 18 of the M6 motorway.

The village has a lovely, friendly community, churches, independent shops, cafes, thriving pubs and other food outlets and lots of hair salons, perfect for a world famous superstar known for his luscious locks!

Harry himself describes Holmes Chapel as ‘picturesque’ during his X-Factor audition video.

Was Harry Styles born in Holmes Chapel?

Harry Edward Styles was born on February 1, 1994, in Redditch, Worcestershire, but moved to Holmes Chapel as a young child with his mum Anne Twist, dad Desmond (Des) Styles and older sister, Gemma.

A fan poses outside Harry Styles's house

Outside Harry’s former home

Which schools did Harry Styles go to?

Harry’s parents would have been spoilt for choice for great primary schools – there are two in the village – Holmes Chapel Primary School and the smaller Hermitage Primary School – and several others nearby. Harry attended Hermitage Primary School and has been back to visit since he became famous, even welcoming some of his old teachers backstage at concerts in Manchester – the nearest city to Holmes Chapel.

Hermitage Primary School, Holmes Chapel

Hermitage Primary School, Holmes Chapel

He then attended the village’s only secondary school – Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School – known locally as The Comp. He was still at this school, having just taken his GCSEs, when he began filming the X-Factor.

The high school in Selkirk Drive, not included on the official tour, is also where Harry played football with his local team the Holmes Chapel Hurricanes.

Holmes Chapel High School

Holmes Chapel High School

Although a former coach once said he was better at chatting up the girls than playing football!

The Harry Styles Walking Tour

The tour (directions at end) was put together by Holmes Chapel Partnership in a bid to keep fans safe – some had been ‘risking life and limb’ by using a busy road with no pavements to access the famous Harry’s Wall.

Landmark 1: Holmes Chapel Railway Station.

The tour starts at the village railway station as lots of fans arrive by train.  It’s on the Crewe to Manchester Line, with services to Crewe (around 14 minutes) and Manchester Piccadilly (around 40 minutes). Some trains even stop at Manchester Airport, perfect for fans flying in from abroad.

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Harry has used the station a lot, especially while filming in the X-Factor in 2010 when he would regularly leave for London on a Thursday and return to Holmes Chapel on Tuesdays.

Railway ticket officer Graham Blake had known Harry since the Watermelon Sugar star was 10 but got to know the then 16-year-old better during this time.

As he became more and more famous, there would be swarms of fans waiting for him at the station and Graham sometimes had to help him to hide.

Holmes Chapel Railway Station

Landmark 2: Harry’s Wall/Twemlow Viaduct

The route takes fans on a scenic route through the village, passing near to Hermitage Primary School, which Harry attended, over the historic Hermitage Bridge where the impressive Twemlow Viaduct comes into view.

Built in 1841 to carry the railway line over the River Dane, many arriving fans will have already travelled over it in trains from Manchester and Manchester Airport.

Fans walk then through two fields to get to Harry’s Wall.

Harry is famously said to have had his first kiss at this spot.

It’s also well-known to fans as the wall Harry wrote his name on in the One Direction biopic film This is Us.

Harry's Wall where Harry Styles had his first kiss

Harry’s Wall

As he walks up to the viaduct in the video, Harry says: “When I come home, if I walk and like don’t see anyone around, I can feel like I’m six again. Which is pretty crazy. I mean I’m a bit tall for a six-year-old!”

Fans now flock here to take photos and sign messages to the singer on the wall.

Landmark 3: Mandeville’s Bakery

Next on the tour is the bakery where Harry Styles worked on a Saturday, before finding fame on the X-Factor.

Mandevilles Bakery in Holmes Chapel where Harry Styles worked

W Mandeville Bakery

He tells Simon Cowell about his job while on stage during his X-Factor audition and he visits W. Mandeville Bakery during the This is Us video, to reminisce and meet his former boss and colleagues.

Harry says: “I remember when they said that they wanted me to work on Saturdays, I felt like I’d won the lottery. I was like, weekend job, I’m gonna be rich!”

Inside the bakery is a cardboard cut-out of Harry Styles, perfect for having your photo taken with, plus you can grab some lunch at the same time.

Harry Styles cardboard cutout in the bakery where he worked in Holmes Chapel

Have your picture taken with Harry Styles

The bakery opened 94 years before Harry was born, in 1900 and sells an array of delicious cakes, bread and pastries.

Landmark 4: Fortune City Chinese restaurant

Next you get to walk through the centre of Holmes Chapel, passing St Luke’s Church, the jewel in its crown.

Here you are spoilt for choice for food options including cafes, pubs and takeaways.

After passing the precinct, which includes the library and post office, you’ll cross at traffic lights to head to the Chinese restaurant where Harry took his then-girlfriend, Taylor Swift.

The family home where he lived is just before the restaurant on the right.

Harry Styles former home in Holmes Chapel exact location

Harry’s former home

His mum eventually had to move out of this house due to her son’s fame when he was in One Direction and Harry bought her a new home nearby.

Harry said Fortune City was his favourite Chinese restaurant and it was certainly handy for the family, being just a stone’s throw from their front door.

Fortune City Chinese Restaurant Holmes Chapel where Harry Styles took Taylor Swift

Fortune City

Our comprehensive video tour of Harry Styles’ most important places in Homes Chapel

Here is the Harry’s Home Village Tour map and directions, produced by Holmes Chapel Partnership:

Holmes Chapel Partnership Harry Styles Trail

Credit: Holmes Chapel Partnership

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

We investigate some of the popular annual passes for 2024 including Merlin, National Trust, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo

There are so many amazing places to take children across the UK but the cost can really add up, especially over the holidays.

So is it worth splurging on an annual pass so you can visit your favourite places as often as you want? We investigate the most popular options for 2024.

Merlin Pass

The Octonauts ride at Alton Towers

Alton Towers

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more.

What do you get?

Entry to 33 attractions including:

The different types of Merlin passes offer other savings depending on which you choose including free parking, discounted fastrack and cheaper food and drink.

Different Merlin Passes

There are four standards of Merlin passes – Merlin Discovery Pass, Merlin Silver Pass, Merlin Gold Pass and Merlin Platinum Pass.

The cheapest option is the Merlin Discovery Pass. It gives off-peak entry only (so excludes entry during school holidays, some weekends and special events) and access to Merlin attractions for over 200 days.  Excludes entry during school holidays, some weekend dates and special events.

Next cheapest is Merlin Silver Pass which also includes some weekends and school holidays, giving over 300 days of entry and 10 per cent off shops, food and drinks. It also includes discounted friends and family tickets.

The Merlin Gold Pass has even less exclusion dates, giving access over 340 days. It also includes free parking, fastrack vouchers and benefits like 20 per cent off shops, food and drinks.

The most expensive option is the Merlin Platinum Pass which gives 364 days entry, with no excluded dates other than paid events. It also includes free parking, £5 off fastrack and Share the Fun vouchers and £19 tickets for friends and family.

How much are the Merlin passes?

Merlin Discovery Pass is from £99 per person.

Merlin Silver Pass is from £169 per person (renewals from £119 per person).

Merlin Gold Pass is from £239 per person (renewals from £169)

Merlin Platinum Pass from £299 per person (renewals from £229).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can spread the cost with a monthly membership, on all but the cheapest Merlin Discovery Pass option.

You need to pay a joining fee and then a set monthly rate.

Silver Pass – joining fee £39.99, £10.99 a month, total cost £171.87.

Gold Pass – joining fee, £49.99, £15.99 a month, total cost £241.87.

Platinum Pass, joining fee, £59.99, £20.99 a month, total cost £311.8.

What about the small print?

The passes are delivered digitally to your email inbox ready to use.

You need to pre-book tickets online.

How much could you save?

This depends on which pass you go for and how often you visit Merlin attractions.

Merlin have an online calculator tool to show you how much you can save.

For a family of two adults and two children with Merlin Discovery Passes, visiting just Alton Towers once a month, could save £2,868, so a huge saving.

In fact just going to Alton Towers twice would save you £148. But you would have to go to a Legoland Discovery Centre five times to make your money back.

Nobody should be paying the full price for tickets though with offers available on cereal packets and in newspapers – although always check as often booking online in advance can work out cheaper.

Verdict

If you are a fan of Merlin attractions, know you will be going anyway and can afford it, these passes would seem like a fantastic investment which will encourage you to get out and make the most of them for a fun-filled year.

Carer passes

Carers of Merlin Annual Passholders with additional needs who require assistance, can receive a free Merlin Annual Pass.

The passes are transferable between carers. They just include the name, date of birth and a photo of the guest with additional needs.

You need to submit your request here.

Top Tip

Look out for Merlin pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June.

Related stories

Our Merlin content on the site includes reviews and guides to Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

Another popular article tells you How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System.

National Trust membership

deer outside Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

What is it?

An annual pass giving free entry to more than 500 National Trust parks, gardens and houses.

What do you get?

Free entry to National Trust sites, free parking at most car parks, a handbook and a National Trust magazine three times per year.

New members also receive a £15 National Trust giftcard.

How much is it?

A family pass for two adults living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (aged under 18) costs £146.40 per year, £12.20 a month.

A family pass for one adult and their children or grandchildren is £91.20 a year, £7.60 a month

Children under five go free anyway, so take that into account. You can pay by monthly direct debit if you prefer.

Joint membership for two adults living at the same address is £139.20 a year, £11.60 a month.

Individual memberships are £10 a year for juniors under 18, £42 a year for a young person aged 18 to 25 and £84 a year for adults aged 26 and over.

You can also buy lifetime memberships from £2,020 and from £1,510 for seniors.

All the up-to-date membership prices can be found here.

What about the small print?

It is relatively simple but there are some car parks not included for free. Sites like Stonehenge and Tatton Park, which aren’t exclusively run by the National Trust, can incur some charges.

You have to sign up for a year at a time and can only cancel when your renewal is due. Be sure to mark your renewal date in your diary so you don’t miss it.

How much could you save?

Average entry price to a large National Trust place is around £30 for a family of four so you can save a lot.

Car parking can be costly too, from £3 to £7 at a lot of places. We have just been to the Lake District where we used three car parks in one day, it all adds up.

Verdict

Good value for the sheer number of sites and car parks you can use, especially if you have a good selection near to you, as we do.

Top Tips

*You can buy National Trust Membership as a gift which the recipient can use again and again.

*We always keep our cards in the car as you never know when you will need them, for anything from an unplanned visit to a castle to a National Trust car park.

*National Trust venues are fantastic in the holidays – we particularly enjoy the Easter trails.

*If you apply to the National Trust for an Essential Companion card then members with additional needs can take one or two carers with them for free. Full details here. So a child with additional needs who is a National Trust member for £10 a year, can be accompanied for free by two parents, for example.

*You can take dogs to certain National Trust sites.

*The cakes are usually delicious!

Related content

We have lots of National Trust articles on this site, including reviews of Dunham MasseyQuarry Bank MillTatton Park, and our Famous Five trail in Dorset.

English Heritage membership

A visitor does a handstand in front of the stones at Stonehenge

Stonehenge

What is it?

A pass allowing access to over 400 historic places including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and more.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to more than 400 sites, free car parking, free entry for up to 6 children, a handbook, children’s activity pack and members’ magazine four times per year. Plus free or reduced entry to English Heritage events.

How much is it?

A family membership for one adult and up to six children is £69 a year or £5.75 a month.

Family membership for two adults and up to 12 children costs £120 per year, £10 a month.

Individual memberships are £69 a year for an adult aged 26 and over, £63 for a senior aged 65 and over and £57 a year for a young adult (aged 18 to 25) or student.

Joint memberships start from £96 and lifetime memberships start from £1,350.

All up-to-date membership prices are here.

What about the small print?

Not all events at English Heritage sites are free for members. They do get a reduced rate though.

You will get a reminder  letter one month before membership renewal. You must cancel at that time or pay for another year in full.

How much could you save?

Entry to each site varies in price. There are some for less than £20 for a family of four, but others come to £50.

You need to visit four or five English Heritage sites per year to start saving money.

Top Tips

English Heritage have sites in:

The North West including Hadrian’s Wall, Beeston Castle and Carlisle Castle.

The South West including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle and Old Sarum.

The South East including Dover Castle, 1066 Battle Abbey and Osborne – Queen Victoria’s family home.

The West Midlands including Kenilworth Castle, Witley Court and Stokesay Castle.

The North East including Belsay Hall and Gardens, Lindisfarne Priory and Warkworth Castle.

Yorkshire including Brodsworth Hall, Whitby Abbey and Clifford’s Tower in York.

The East of England including Audley End House and Gardens, Wrest Park and Framlingham Castle.

London including Eltham Palace and Gardens, Ranger’s House and Jewel Tower.

For more ideas visit this page on their website.

Verdict

There are lots of English Heritage properties but if you have National Trust membership as well, do you really need both?

It will depend on how many English Heritage sites there are near to you and around any holiday destinations you are visiting in the next year.

You could perhaps try National Trust for a year and English Heritage another year.

Related content

Our articles include reviews of Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) membership

What is it?

An annual pass perfect for people who love gardens and gardening.

What do you get?

Unlimited entry to the five RHS Gardens for the member and a guest or two children (four children for joint memberships), free entry to over 200 partner gardens at selected times, access to events, reduced rate tickets to RHS flower shows and a monthly magazine The Garden (worth £59). You also get unlimited, personalised RHS advice over the phone or online.

How much does RHS membership cost?

Individual membership starts from £74 (49.33 if pay by direct debit), joint membership from £110 (£73.33 by direct debit).

Student membership is £10 and life membership starts from £935.

Full details here.

Where are the RHS Gardens?

The five main gardens, all included in the membership, are Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Wisley in Surrey and Bridgewater in Manchester.

Where are the RHS Partner Gardens?

There are over 200 Partner Gardens across the UK and beyond in Barbados, France, Japan, Singapore and South Africa.

They include privately-owned gems and some of the world’s most popular gardens.

All the Partner Gardens can be found here.

The small print

The free entry to 200 Partner Gardens is only for the main member in a joint membership and only at selected times.

Top tips

*At the time of writing RHS, keen to share the joy of gardening with as many people as possible, is allowing those who receive any of the following benefits, to visit RHS Garden Harlow Carr for just £1: Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

You can book £1 tickets for yourself and up to five people accompanying you which can be a mixture of children and adults. Only one member of the party needs to be receiving benefits. You will need to present proof of your benefits on arrival at the garden.

*Able to visit the gardens for free at the time of writing are:

Up to two carers with a disabled visitor

Under-fives

Schoolchildren on school visits

Affiliated horticultural societies

Community groups supported by the RHS Community Outreach programme 

Carers

There is free entry for essential carers accompanying visitors with a disability at the main RHS Gardens – Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. If your membership has a guest entitlement you can still use this in addition to your carer.

Carer arrangements vary at the 200 RHS Partner Gardens.

How much could you save?

A visit to Harlow Carr, one of the five RHS Gardens, costs £47.50 for two adults and two children (aged 5-16 – children under five are free).

A joint membership, allowing four children to visit with you, would cost £82.50 a year, so you would only need to attend twice in a year to gain. If you visited once a month you would save over £488.

Verdict

If you love beautiful gardens and live near one of the main five listed, then membership would be worthwhile.

Chester Zoo membership

An orangutan and a baby orangutan in a hammock at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

What is it?

Annual membership to the most popular tourist attraction outside London.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to Chester Zoo, 10 per cent discount in the zoo’s shops and cafes, experience discounts, , access to junior members’ events, free entry once a year at several other UK zoos (Bristol Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Newquay Zoo, Marwell Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Twycross Zoo). It also includes Member Days where you can bring friends and family at a discounted rate and access to Our Zoo where members are emailed exclusive content.

How much is it?

There are two available prices for all memberships – a standard price and a 10 per cent cheaper price if you pay by direct debit.

For example, the price for a family of two adults and two children is £320 or £288 if you sign up by direct debit.

One adult and two children is £215 or £193.50.

Children aged 0 to two are free.

Additional children aged three to 17 are £81 or £72.90 each.

For all the up-to-date prices visit the website.

What about the small print?

Fairly straightforward, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You can go anytime. If you are using your free visit to another zoo you must take your membership card and membership letter.

You still have to pay the same price for the Christmas light show The Lanterns and other special events outside of opening hours.

How much could you save?

A day visit to Chester Zoo is up to £116 for a family of four booked in advance. There are rarely offers and discounts available.

You must all visit the zoo three times per year to start saving money.

Verdict

If you live close enough to visit regularly and have children who enjoy it, a Chester Zoo pass is a great family treat. Plus if you are members, you don’t feel you have to see every single animal and area each time and spend a whole day there for every visit, which is far more relaxed.

Top tips

If you have visited the zoo in the last month, Chester Zoo will take your ticket prices off the membership cost.

If you are planning to visit, don’t miss our popular article Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money.

Land of Lights Festival Warrington at Gulliver’s World Resort 2023: Guide and review

Land of Lights Festival Warrington at Gulliver’s World Resort 2023: Guide and review

All you need to know about the new Christmas trail Land of Lights Festival North 2023

A new festive lights trail has joined the list of popular illuminations events in the north-west of England.

The theme park Gulliver’s World Resort in Cheshire has launched its Land of Lights Festival 2023.

Read everything you need to know about it after our video tour.

 

Name:

Land of Lights Festival North (there is another one in Milton Keynes).

A girl at the entrance to Land of Lights Warrington, Gullivers World Resort

What is it?

A lantern trail through 12 themed areas.

Visitors walk through illuminations including giant animal and monument lanterns, enjoying festive food and drink.

Where is it?

It is at Gulliver’s World Resort in Warrington, Cheshire.

What did we think?

This was a lovely, long route, longer than most festive trails, past a lake, through play areas which younger children made the most of and felt really magical in places with lots and lots of illuminations.

Highlights

*Our favourite bit was a mesmerising walk through an insect and bug section with blue lights cascading down from above.

The insect-themed area at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

The insect-themed area

*It was great seeing all the different themed areas, ranging from dinosaurs in a Jurassic section through to skeletons in a Halloween part. Illuminations included Dennis the Menace, animals and Santa.

A T-Rex dinosaur at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

*A naughty highlight was a ride on the log flume – naughty as we found out afterwards, this wasn’t included in our lights package (see top tips).

Top tips

*Offers – there is a Land of Lights Festival voucher code if you book for a date in January or February – LIGHTS20 gives you a 20 per cent discount.

*Will you get to go on any rides at Gulliver’s World? Not with just a ticket to the lights, this is a separate event. It can be a bit confusing as some of the rides might still be open for other guests – we had two goes on the log flume, without realising that we shouldn’t! Also not included is a Christmas show that visitors were queuing for and a train ride to Santa’s grotto. It is useful to know this before you go else it can get confusing particularly towards the exit and you don’t want your children spotting other things going on and being disappointed. There are different Christmas packages that include the various options if you want to do more than just the lights. One of the festive packages this year called Twinkle includes the Christmas activities (rides, North Pole Express, Elf Workshop and Santa’s Grotto) and also allows access to Land of Lights.

Dennis the Menace at Land of Lights Warrington, Gulliver's Resort

Dennis the Menace

*Gulliver’s Annual Passport holders must still by tickets and don’t receive any perks as this is a stand alone event, say organisers.

*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.

*There are some dog-friendly nights (they must be kept on a lead) on November 16 and 30, December 14 and 28, January 7 and 21 and February 4 and 18.

*Can you buy tickets at the event – yes, at the higher price if they have not sold out.

*There is no strobe lighting but some lantern features do include flashing, twinkling and colour changing lights.

Land of Lights Festival Warrington information

Dates: It runs until February 25, 2024.

Food: There is festive food and drink to enjoy at The Food Hub at Safari Kingdom where you can buy churros, Yorkshire pudding wraps, German sausages and drinks.

There are other drinks stalls around the trail. And Lagado’s Restaurant and Grill (next to the entrance and exit plazas) is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings if you prefer to sit down in the warm.

Opening hours: Depending on the night, it runs from about 4.45pm until 8pm or 9pm

Cost: Depending on the date – there are peak and off-peak dates), tickets bought in advance online are £15 or £19 for adults and children. Concessions £9 and £11.

Tickets not bought in advance are £18 or £22 for adults and children and £9 and £11 concessions.

Under-twos are free.

There is no senior rate, the concessionary rate is for those with a Blue Badge, DLA or PIP letter and their carer.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: The trail takes around 90 minutes, depending on walking speed and how much you stop to eat, drink and look at the lights.

Access and restrictions: The route is mainly flat and firm, with some slight inclines.

There is a boardwalk which will not suit all mobility requirements but marshals will assist people on an alternative route if required.

Accessible toilets are available along the route.

Address: Gulliver’s World Resort, Old Hall, Warrington, Cheshire, WA5 9YZ.

To bookLand of Lights Festival Warrington

Parking: Parking is free

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light 2023 – all you need to know about this Christmas lights trail

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light 2023 – all you need to know about this Christmas lights trail

Full guide and review of Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

The UK’s most popular zoo has launched its Christmas lights event for 2023.

Visitors will be flocking to the festive trail in Cheshire – Lanterns and Light – which is one of the most talked about in the North West of England.

And we were lucky enough to visit on opening night for this review and guide – here is everything you need to know plus our exclusive video.

 

Name:

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

What is it?

This animal-themed festive lights trail takes place after opening hours at Chester Zoo.

Visitors walk through new illuminations, lanterns and light installations meeting characters along the way and festive food to buy and enjoy as you go.

An illuminated rhino at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

An illuminated rhino

Where is it?

Chester Zoo is on the northern outskirts of Chester in North West England.

What did we think?

The lovely lights and music of this trail are a great way to get into the Christmas mood.

It’s quite a relaxing trail, with cute touches and some stunning moments.

Highlights

*The flickering fire gardens – it was quite breathtaking to see real fire used as opposed to more modern illuminations – in hundreds of little lanterns.

*Person-controlled animal puppets dance and interact with visitors including elephants, an octopus, wild dogs and a rather enthusiastic zebra.

A person-controlled puppet wild dog at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

A person-controlled puppet

*A woolly mammoth makes a grand entrance on a large 3D projection screen.

a 3D woolly mammoth at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Woolly mammoth

*Marshmallow toasting with different flavoured chunky marshmallows including salted caramel, vanilla and chocolate orange.

Marshmallow toatsing at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Marshmallow toasting

*A lane filled with larger than life pea-lit animals such as a stag, penguins and a giraffe.

Illuminated penguins at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Illuminated penguins

*The children enjoyed a virtual reality experience at the end of the trail.

*Knowing that every ticket helps the zoo in its conservation work supporting projects in more than 20 countries, helping animals to survive and thrive.

Top tips

*Will you see any animals? You will sadly not get to see any of Chester Zoo’s 27,000 animals – the trail follows a specific route and the animal habitats are all closed. The zoo, a world-leading conservation charity, is home to nearly 600 species, many endangered in the wild and is well worth a visit during normal opening hours – Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money on a family day at this hugely popular attraction for families

An octopus puppet at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

An octopus puppet

*Is Lanterns and Light free for Chester Zoo members? Chester Zoo members pay the same price for tickets as everyone else. Organisers say this is because it is a special event outside usual opening hours which raises funds for the zoo and its mission.

*What to do if you are visiting the zoo in the day – you need to go back to the main entrance at 3.30pm when it closes and wait for your ticket time so book as early as you can.

*What happens if the weather is bad? The event will only be cancelled in extreme weather and you will be contacted in advance.

*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.

*There are three little rides for younger children including a carousel, which cost £3 each. The virtual reality experience at the end costs £6 each or £10 for two and there are three different options. Ours enjoyed a Christmas experience where they became an elf – the other two are animal-based.

The map of Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

Lanterns and Light map

*You might catch a glimpse of Santa.

Father Christmas at Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light information

Dates: It runs on various dates from November 17 to December 31.

Food: There is festive food and drink around the trail to enjoy, mostly within a Christmas Market Foodhall. Stands include pizza, burgers, hot chocolate, popcorn, crumble and giant, stuffed Yorkshire puddings.

Yorkshire pudding menu at Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

Yorkshire pudding menu

You are also allowed to take your own food, just no alcohol.

Opening hours: There are timed tickets every 15 minutes with sessions from 4.15pm to 8pm. The event closes at 9.15pm.

Cost: Prices for Lanterns and Light range from £18 to £22 for adults and £12 to £17 for children, depending on the day. Children under two and carers are free but still need a booked ticket.

Best for: All ages.

Time needed: The trail takes 60 to 90 minutes.

Access and restrictions: The trail is flat but a bit uneven in places, plus it can be hard to see in the dark.

You can hire a mobility scooter or wheelchair by emailing guest.services@chesterzoo.org or a buggy at rentals when you get there.

For guests who need a quieter environment there are quiet times at 4pm on November 18, 23, 24, 25, 29 and December 6, call 01244 380280.

Address: Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH. How to get to the zoo.

To book:   Lanterns and Light

Parking: Parking is free

Website: Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light

We review The Bay Filey – a dog-friendly Yorkshire holiday park on a beach

We review The Bay Filey – a dog-friendly Yorkshire holiday park on a beach

We take a family holiday to a holiday park on the beach in Filey, Yorkshire

Name

The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Where is it?

On the North Yorkshire coast near to Filey, south of Scarborough.

What is it?

A dog-friendly holiday park where you can stay in a house or a lodge, with access to a sandy beach.

Facilities include a swimming pool, gym, restaurants, pharmacy, playground, shop and arcade.

A lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there’s lots for children to do – there’s an indoor heated swimming pool (and separate baby pool), arcade and small adventure playground. They can play tennis, basketball or football and you can book activities (for an extra charge) such as pottery painting, archery and teddy-bear making.

The arcade at The Bay Filey holiday park

The arcade

Plus, of course, the beach – Hunmanby Gap Beach – is a short walk away for long, sunny days or even rainy day walks.

The beach at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

The beach

Is it dog friendly?

Yes, it really is and a lot of the people staying here had a dog with them. There was a box of goodies waiting in the lodge for our dog Charlie, containing a ball, travel bowl, blanket, poo bags and bag holder.

A dog present at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Charlie’s box of dog goodies

They are even allowed in the pub and pizza restaurant – which is good as holidaymakers are encouraged not to leave their pooches alone in the accommodation.

Although they need to be kept on a lead around the site, the beach is a perfect place for well-behaved dogs to stretch their legs and enjoy the ball from their goody bag.

A dog on the beach at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Charlie on the beach

The accommodation

When you first drive into this park, it feels like you are entering a modern housing estate. There are lots of pretty houses to stay at, but further into the park, you find sections with roomy lodges.

Houses at The Bay Filey

Houses at The Bay Filey

We stayed in a four-person lodge near to the lake – larger six-berths are also available.

It had an open plan lounge/kitchen-diner with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Inside our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

Inside our lodge

One bedroom had a double bed, the other had two singles and both rooms had tvs, plus there’s one in the lounge.

A bedroom at our lodge at Bay Filey Holiday Park in Yorkshire

A bedroom at our lodge

A sliding glass door at the front opened out on to a small outside terrace with a table and chairs and a partial view of the lake.

The lodge outdoor terrace at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The outdoor terrace

The kitchen was well-equipped with an oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher and even a washing machine.

Wi-fi was available in our lodge. But it is not available in every holiday home here, so check before you arrive.

Food and drink

The kitchen in our lodge was big enough to make self-catering a breeze.

There are also two restaurants on site – a pizza restaurant and takeaway called The Four Cats and a pub called John Paul Jones – both with great menus.

The Four Cats pizza restaurant/takeaway

The woman making delicious pizzas at The Four Cats was lovely and worked so hard, with takeaway orders coming in as well as for those dining in. Two pizzas was plenty for the four of us. There is even a dessert pizza, topped with chocolate and marshmallows.

Our highlights

*Access to the beach – being able to walk to a lovely beach has to be a big tick on anyone’s holiday wishlist – see our top tips for more details of how to access it.

*Arrivals – unlike many parks, here you can arrive any day at any time of the year, even during peak times. The only requirement is that stays are a minimum of two nights.

*Dog walking – outside our lodge was a lovely meadow with paths to walk dogs and explore, plus the footpath to the beach via the cliffs and other walk along footpaths in the area.

Top tips

Activities

Activities need to be booked in advance – download the Away Resorts App to book.  The tennis court also needs to be booked this way. You can start booking 21 days before your stay so make sure you download the App in advance especially during busy periods to reserve the activities you want.

Making a glitter globe activity at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

Making a glitter globe activity

How to get to the beach

There are two paths to the beach from the site – the main route off Silversands Way is steep in places, not suitable for anyone with mobility issues.

The path to the beach from Th Bay Filey holiday park

The main path to the beach.

The second way, from a gate on Sunrise Way, is a longer and narrow walk with clifftop views towards the end (and steep drops). It takes you through the beach car park and past a lovely beach café at the end.

Alternative path to the beach from Th Bay Filey holiday park

Alternative way to the beach

If you don’t want to walk too far or have a lot of beach paraphernalia to transport, you can drive a mile to the beach car park, which costs £5 for the day. There’s a steepish slope down to the beach but it’s not too far this way.

You can pay to use Portaloo-type toilets here at 20p a go.

Beach cafe

There is a beach cafe in a glorious spot overlooking the beach and sea. It serves food like toasted sandwiches, all-day breakfast, cakes and quiche and is great value. We had a lovely lunch, enjoying the view.

The beach cafe overlooking Hunmanby Beach

The beach cafe

If you are driving, turn left out of The Bay Filey and go left at the first roundabout and the car park is about 1 mile down the road.

But you will walk directly past it if you travel to the beach from the beach car park or if you take the clifftop walk from the site.

Swimming pool

You don’t need to book the pool but this can mean it is full when you arrive and you will have to return at another time, so check with staff when the best time would be. It’s a nice big pool but can get very busy and the changing rooms are a bit tight and could do with a revamp.

The swimming pool at The Bay Filey Holiday Park

The swimming pool

The gym at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The gym

Nearby

Hunmanby Gap Beach

The nearest attraction is obviously the beach. Hunmanby Gap Beach is a big sandy beach with a lovely café overlooking it. Great for swimming in the sea and perfect for dogs.

The beach when the tide is in at The Bay Filey Holiday Resort

The beach when the tide is in

When the tide if out, you can walk from here to Filey Beach.

Filey

The traditional seaside town and former fishing village of Filey is a couple of miles away. There is a promenade and an award-winning beach. Filey Beach is dog friendly but they are only allowed on certain parts of it from the start of May to the end of September.

Aerial clifftop view of Filey Beach

Filey Beach

Parking can be tricky, we parked at Filey Country Park and walked down steep steps and a steep slope to get to the beach. Attractions on the seafront include crazy golf, a bouncy castle and arcade.

Mini-golf at Filey Beach

Crazy golf at Filey Beach

Scarborough

Scarborough is around 25 minutes away and has beaches, a busy town centre, harbour and attractions like Sealife, Escape Rooms, Burton Riggs Nature Reserve and Alpamare Waterpark.

The wave pool at Almpare Waterpark

Alpamare Waterpark

The waterpark has an indoor wave pool and an indoor splash area with two toddler slides. There are four big water slides, one that you slide down on a mat and two on inflatables. There are also two gorgeously warm outdoor pools – which we surprisingly loved and spent a lot of time in on a cold, rainy day, while feeling sorry for the lifeguards on duty under umbrellas.

Away Resorts exclusive discount code

Away Resorts is a UK holiday park operator with 20 parks across the country in locations including Scotland, Lincolnshire, Isle of Wight, North Wales, Hampshire and Dorset, Cornwall, Hayling Island and Essex.

The company says its sites are all different but make the most of their individual surroundings.

We have an exclusive discount code for you when booking a holiday with Away Resorts until September 3 for 2023 holidays.

Use the code FAMHOLGUIDE10 for your excusive discount.

This offer excludes Away Resorts Boston West, Clumber, Gara Rock, Kenwick, Piperdam and Woodland Lakes.

The football pitch at The Bay Filey holiday park

The football pitch

More information

Address: The Bay Filey, 1 Moor Rd, Primrose Valley, Filey YO14 9GA

Telephone: 0330 0537000.

How to book: The Bay Filey Holiday Park

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

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*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all reviews and tips are our own.

 

Things to do in Bath for families

Things to do in Bath for families

What to do in beautiful Bath

England’s popular spa town is named after and famous because of its Roman-built baths.

Often voted among the best places in the country to live, work or visit, the city boasts stunning architecture, Roman remains, was once home to the author Jane Austen and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bath is on the banks of the River Avon, in the west of England.

More specifically, it’s in the north-east of the county of Somerset, 97 miles west of London and 11 miles south-east of Bristol.

The city is brimming with things to do, here are some of the best attractions and ideas:

Roman Baths

With more than one million visitors a year, the Roman Baths are a huge tourist pull.

The Romans built this grand temple, bathing and socialising complex in around 70AD.

Constructed around Britain’s only hot spring, it is now one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world.

Sadly, it’s not possible to swim in the Roman Baths today but you can taste the water which has been freshly pumped.

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Spoiler: The drinking water is warm and rather unpleasant but a good experience!

Tip: Make sure everyone takes an audio guide. You wear them around your neck and hold them to your ear like a phone. In each area is a number to type in and there are different guides for children – theirs are the numbers on orange backgrounds.

There are separate audio guides for children at the Roman Baths

There are separate audio guides for children

For more information visit the website: Roman Baths

Bus Tour

The city is not huge but if it’s your first visit, you struggle to get around, need a rest or just fancy a fun way to see the city, take a hop-on, hop-off bus.

On a sunny day, it’s a treat for children (and grown-ups) to sit on top of an open-air bus.

We went with TOOT BUS and tried both their tours – the City Tour and the longer Skyline Tour, take a look at the route maps.

They stop near all the major attractions and have audio in 10 languages – you collect headphones when you get on and plug them in next to your seats under the window.

TOOT open-top bus tour in Bath

TOOT BUS Tour

Why is travelling by open-topped bus so much more fun and relaxing than going anywhere by car?

Tip: The app works well for showing where all the buses are so you aren’t waiting around. Your e-ticket is swapped for a paper ticket when you first board and you will need it every time you hop on and hop off so don’t lose it!

The Royal Crescent

As we said at the start, the architecture in Bath is a sight to behold.

And The Royal Crescent is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK – this iconic landmark was built between 1767 and 1775.

Formed, as you would expect, in the shape of a crescent, it’s a 538-foot wide, curved row of 30 terraced houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park.

Many important people have lived or stayed here and it has been the location for films and dramas including Bridgerton, Persuasion, Inspector Morse and The Duchess.

Curious visitors can even get a look inside one – a museum resides at Number 1 Royal Crescent. This restored town-house shows what fashionable life would have been like in the 18th century. Children are enthusiastically welcomed and can turn detectives on a trail around the house.

Inside Number 1 Royal Crescent, Bath

Inside Number 1 Royal Crescent

There is also a hotel located in two of the town houses – The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.

Tip: Make the most of the staff’s expertise and don’t miss the chance to dress up in Georgian clothing. Also, there is a lovely small park opposite the Crescent, which makes an excellent picnic spot.

Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House

This cafe/restaurant – hailed a world-famous tea and eating house – is set in one of the oldest houses in Bath.

It is known for its regional speciality – Sally Lunn Bath Bunns – a type of bun baked to a secret recipe.

The Bunns are similar to brioche and can be eaten with sweet or savoury toppings.

Sally Lunn’s is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Sally Lunn's cafe and restaurant window, Bath

Sally Lunn’s

Tip: The restaurant gets really busy, if you don’t want to queue (you can only book if eating after 5pm), you can bypass the queue to visit a tiny museum and shop downstairs which sells Bunns to take home to toast and eat at your leisure.

Address: Sally Lunn’s House, 4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX.

Tip: Confusingly, there’s another regional speciality you can find in this city, called the Bath Bun, sprinkled with fruit and crushed sugar.

Try both to decide which wins the battle of the buns.

American Museum and Gardens

This Georgian estate on the outskirts of Bath, includes an American museum, beautiful gardens with valley views and a lovely children’s outdoor play area.

It was founded in 1961 to bring American culture and history to Europe.

Its cafe, The Deli, sells America favourites such as macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, filled bagels, hot sandwiches, cakes, scones and American cheesecake.

American Museum and Gardens, Bath

American Museum and Gardens

The museum recreates American houses through different decades and the enthusiastic staff will let you play games in a replica saloon bar.

Tips: If it’s a nice day and you buy food from the café, take it outside and enjoy it on the terrace with fantastic views over the garden.

Website: www.americanmuseum.org

Pulteney Bridge

As well as being a much-photographed example of Georgian architecture, this is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops all across it on both sides.

Walk across it or view it from the crescent weir or Parade Gardens (you have to pay to enter these gardens).

Pulteney Bridge, Bath

Pulteney Bridge

Interesting fact: It featured in the 2012 film version of Les Miserables.

Park and Ride

If you have a car, there are three excellent park and ride options around the edge of the city.

We used the one at Odd Down. The buses run every 10 to 15 minutes and this is a much less stressful option than trying to drive and park in Bath.

Parking is free all day if you buy a return bus fare (£2.70 per adult with children free).

For more ideas of what to do in Bath, visit the city’s official tourist information site Visit Bath.

*Have we missed any of your favourite attractions? Let us know of any attractions you would like us to add.

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*We received free or reduced rates for the purpose of this story, all views are our own.

Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

England’s largest gorge is a great family adventure but follow our advice to stay safe and enjoy it for free

Name

Cheddar Gorge

What is it?

A popular tourist attraction, Cheddar Gorge is a stunning limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills with show caves.

Visitors can complete a three-mile circular walk around the naturally-formed gorge – up one side, along the cliffs 900 feet above sea-level and back down the other side and through the village of Cheddar.

You can also visit the caves where the so-called Cheddar Man was discovered – a 9,000-year-old skeleton. There are two – the largest is Gough’s Cave which is over 500,000 years old with cathedral-like caverns, a large underground river system, stalagmites and stalactites.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

Where is it?

It’s near the village of Cheddar in Somerset in the west of England.

What did we think?

This stunning landscape is well worth a look.

The walk would be quite tough for younger children and less fit adults – there are lots of steep parts and the pebbly way means you have to watch your feet a lot of the time.

But the views at the top, and the satisfaction of completing the route, make it worthwhile.

We can see why it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

How to enjoy Cheddar Gorge for free.

If you do the circular walk clockwise, like we did, you will descend Jacob’s Ladder – not a ladder but a challenging 274 steps – down from the cliff tops into the village, for FREE.

If you want to walk UP the steps instead (there are four resting stops on the way up) – you will need to buy a Cheddar Gorge Caves and Day Ticket. If you’ve got any leg power left, another 48 steps takes you to the the top of the Lookout Tower and some fabulous views.

The ticket includes entrance to the steps and the Lookout Tower, both caves, the Museum of Prehistory and a cinematic experience called Beyond the View.

But it’s a fantastic experience without the extras and you can even park for free too if you park on the road instead of in one of the car parks.

There are more spaces further up the road away from the village – a good place to park is near to the Black Rock entrance to the trail.

Top tips

*There are some incredibly steep, sheer drops, keep an eye and a hand on children and keep dogs on a lead. I wouldn’t risk this with a child who could run off or anyone who wouldn’t appreciate the dangers.

*Wear walking boots or other suitable footwear, it’s a rocky walk.

*In need of some Christmas decorations? There is an all-year round Christmas shop in Cheddar!

Cheddar

Cheddar

*There is rock climbing and adventure caving for adults and children aged eight and above. Thrillseekers can also try out the Black Cat Freefall – where participants (minimum age 11), climb a 30-foot ladder and take on a big cave jump, attached to a safety line.

*If you want to find out more about the area, visit the Cheddar Man Museum of Prehistory.

Cheddar Gorge information

Food: The route around the gorge takes you through the village of Cheddar where you can buy ice-cream and other food or try cheese tasting at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company. Alternatively, take a picnic like we did, to enjoy at the top (it can get very blustery but the views are fabulous).

Cost: The cliff-top walk is free if you do the circular route and descend Jacob’s Ladder. Fees apply to ascend the ladder, visit the caves or museum or to take part in the activities like caving and rock climbing.

Best for: Older children and relatively fit adults.

Time needed: Around 2.5 hours for the walk, longer if you include the caves, museum, activities or a look around the town.

Access and restrictions: The walk, the caves and the Jacob’s Ladder steps are not suitable for wheelchairs or anyone with limited disability. You can get a sense of the place via car – the drive through the gorge is one of the most scenic in Britain.

Address: Cheddar Gorge and Caves, The Cliffs, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QF.

Parking: We parked by the side of the road – there seemed to be more spaces further up the road away from the village. A good place to park is near to the Black Rock entrance. Car parks include Cheddar Gorge Car Park and Cliff Street Car Park.

To book: The walk is free but to book paid-for parts of the experience go to the website Cheddar Gorge

Where to stay: We stayed at Wookey Hole Hotel, just eight miles from Cheddar Gorge and on the site of Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions, if you are inspired to explore more cavern, don’t miss our hotel review here.

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions – kooky by name and kooky by nature

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Wookey Hole Hotel in Somerset (at Wookey Hole Caves)

RELATED CONTENT: Things to do in Bath for families

Review: Wookey Hole Hotel in Somerset (at Wookey Hole Caves)

Review: Wookey Hole Hotel in Somerset (at Wookey Hole Caves)

We stay at the hotel next to the famous Wookey Hole Caves in Wells

Our video tour of the hotel and attraction

Name

Wookey Hole Hotel

Where is it?

At the famous Wookey Hole Caves attraction in Somerset, two miles from the cathedral city of Wells and 20 miles from Bath.

What is it?

A 58-room hotel with a memorable turret shaped like a witch’s hat.

There’s a nod to witches in other details too including the curtains in our room.

A witch statue peers out of a bush at Wookey Hole Hotel

A witch peers out of a bush at the hotel

This is due to the legendary Wookey Hole witch – said to have lived in the caves until she was killed by a monk.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there were lots of families here when we stayed and it is the target market for the hotel. Many are likely to be here to visit the adjacent Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions.

Children also benefit from a well kitted out games room and a great children’s menu in the restaurant.

The rooms

We had a family room with a comfortable double bed and two singles, a great alternative to the usual offering of two double beds and the children were pleased to have a bed each.

There was lots of good storage space, tea and coffee facilities and a tv plus free WiFi for unlimited devices.

A family room at Wookey Hole Hotel

Our family room

There are also double, superior and luxury family rooms. And a Witch’s Hat Suite for two adults with a bedroom and lounge. It can be found, as you might imagine, under the Witch’s Hat tower turret.

Food and drink

The Bistro is the bar and restaurant on site. It’s a nice room with wide windows on two sides.

The restaurant/bar at Wookey Hole Hotel

The restaurant/bar

Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10am daily and there’s the choice of a buffet-style continental or a cooked alternative such as an English breakfast or eggs benedict.

There’s a good selection of evening meals, with something for everyone, served from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

Our highlights

*The location – this is fantastic if you want to visit Wookey Hole Caves as it’s right next door. You can also do some scenic walks around the village and to Ebbor Gorge, which is about a 30-minute walk from the hotel.

*There is free car parking.

*The games room includes a giant Connect Four, air hockey table, table football, Jenga and classic arcade games.

Part of the games room at Wookey Hole Hotel

Part of the games room

Top tips

*As you’re staying on the same site, make sure to get up and out early as you can be first in the caves like we were – they opened at 9.30am when we stayed.

*Book the restaurant for breakfast or evening meals before you arrive to make sure you get one at your preferred time.

*Adjoining rooms are available if needed as are travel cots – only the bottom sheet is provided so bring your own bedding.

*There are often special packages available with stays including tickets to Wookey Hole, breakfast and discounts to other attractions, if you book directly with the hotel.

Nearby

*The adjacent Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions is a series of show caverns which date back millions of years. Alongside the caves are a dinosaur park, 4D cinema, adventure golf, soft play and circus theatre. Read our full review of Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions.

Dinosaurs at Wookey Hole Caves

Dinosaurs at Wookey Hole Caves

*The hotel is just eight miles from the stunning Cheddar Gorge, don’t miss our full guide to this natural phenomenom.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

*It’s two miles from beautiful Wells – the smallest city in England. We spent a fantastic afternoon here, spending ages exploring the Bishop’s Palace glorious gardens.

Bishops Palace and Gardens, Wells

Bishops Palace and Gardens, Wells

*It’s 20 miles from Bath, where we spent a lovely couple of days visiting attractions like the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent and the American Museum and Gardens as well as enjoying hop-on, hop-off open air bus tours. Read our full guide: Things to do in Bath for families

More information

Address: Wookey Hole Hotel, The Mill, Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1BB.

Telephone: 01749 672243.

Email:  hotel@wookey.co.uk

How to book: Wookey Hole Hotel

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions – kooky by name and kooky by nature

RELATED CONTENT: Things to do in Bath for families

RELATED CONTENT: Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

*One night of our stay was free for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Madeira – an island of highs, views and pretty red roofs

Madeira – an island of highs, views and pretty red roofs

We take a trip to the home of Ronaldo – the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira

There’s a spontaneous and enthusiastic round of applause as our plane touches down in Madeira.

We are cheering both the gentle landing and the stunning approach to this airport said to be so challenging to land at that pilots need special training.

Stepping off the plane, I catch a first glimpse of the countless red-roofed homes scattered over the hills which will become an abiding memory from this trip.

That and the view from our hotel room, pina colada slipping down as easily as the waves roll over the rocks in the Atlantic Ocean below us.

I’ll be as bold as to say this might be one of the best hotel room views we’ve ever had.

But then we are in Madeira – an island where stunning scenery is around every corner.

Our particular corner of this Portuguese island is the village of Canico de Baixo.

And our hotel is the Riu Madeira. A large, all-inclusive resort with two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, as much fresh food as you can eat and as many cocktails as you can drink.

One of the outdoor pools at the Riu Madeira hotel

One of the outdoor pools

There’s also a tennis court, games room, an area to play bowls and evening entertainment from singers, bands, magicians and a ballroom dancing duo who call up our daughter to help demonstrate her Strictly Come Dancing skills.

The applause makes her day. And it’s the staff here, especially those in the busy restaurant area, who deserve a pat on the back.

It can’t be easy to keep guests from over 300 rooms fed and watered but they come round to top up your wine glass with an efficient smile before it’s even half emptied.

We’re almost as quick to clear our plates of tasty food. The main restaurant is buffet style catering to every possible preference. There’s also a more adult focussed Kulinarium restaurant with table service. And a poolside bar and grill.

The main bedroom in our junior suite room at Riu Madeira hotel

The main bedroom in our junior suite

Our room is a junior suite with two large beds and a sofa bed for the four of us to choose from.

Having a separate lounge area allows us to spread out as does the large dressing room area – all kept spotless by our lovely maid.

Oh and that balcony I mentioned earlier overlooking the sea. It is literally a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean.

Sea view from the balcony of a junior suite room at the Riu Madeira hotel

Sea view from the balcony of a junior suite room at the Riu Madeira hotel

And there are plenty of stones to throw on the rocky beach.

The area around the hotel is a fun place to explore with caves, a small seawater pool, exercise equipment and a busy promenade to enjoy.

The lure of the swimming pool at our hotel is just as popular with our children – indoors if the showers sweep in, or outdoors when the sun shines.

Fortunately the sun is out for most of our week in Madeira so we can explore the narrow, hilly roads around the island.

We head east to the stunning clifftop walk of Ponta de São Lourenço .

The view from our walk at Ponta de São Lourenço

The view from our walk at Ponta de São Lourenço

Drive north west through mountains and tunnels to the natural seawater pools and aquarium in Porto Moniz.

Seawater pools in Porto Moniz

Seawater pools in Porto Moniz

And go south to Câmara de Lobos – a fishing village made famous by Winston Churchill, who painted its pretty harbour when he came in 1950.

Children looking at Churchill's view in Camara de Lobos

Looking at Churchill’s view in Camara de Lobos

One must in Madeira is to head up high.

We take the cable car from the centre of capital Funchal to Monte. It’s a spectacular ride and at the top you can enjoy the beautiful Monte Palace gardens before riding back down again on the cable car.

A statue and flowers in Monte Palace Garden, Madeira

Monte Palace Garden

Another way down is by toboggan on a traditional wicker basket sleigh along steep streets, guided by two people with nothing for brakes but the grips on their shoes.

If you like heights it’s worth stopping by at the Madeira Skywalk. You can walk across a glass walkway on a balcony 580 metres above the sea attached to some of the highest cliffs in Europe.

Madeira Skywalk

Madeira Skywalk

After a busy week of highs, it’s nearly time to leave.

The cliffs beneath the Madeira Skywalk

The cliffs beneath the Madeira Skywalk

For a last time, we awaken and pull back the curtains to enjoy the view and the sound of the Atlantic from our bed.

Then it’s back to the airport, named after the island’s most famous export.

Not its fortified wine but the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

He was born here and returns regularly and this is one happy family which may follow suit.

 

Where we stayed

The Riu Madeira hotel in Canico de Baixo, a four-star all inclusive, read our full guide and review to it here.

What to do in Madeira

*Visit the capital Funchal and take the Madeira Cable Car up to the large Monte Palace Gardens which are set on the steep hillside.

*Take a toboggan ride on a traditional wicker basket.

*Visit the traditional fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, visited by Winston Churchill and find the spot where he painted the view. Also look for his statue in the village.

*Visit the salt water pools at Porto Moniz and the small aquarium in the town.

*Take a walk at inland Levadas – similar to canal paths – at various sites throughout Madeira. The Fanal forest walk in the north west of the island is one of the best places to explore.

*Take a walk at Ponta de São Lourenço for stunning scenery and ocean views,

*Visit Santa Catarina park Funchal with its large playground, busy lake and views over Funchal and its port.

*Football fans can stop at the CR7 Museu – a museum dedicated to Cristiano Ronaldo on the waterfront in Funchal. There is a statue of the footballer outside.

*Stop by at the Madeira Skywalk on the cliffs of Cabo Girão and walk across the glass walkway on a balcony that juts out of some of the highest cliffs in Europe, 880 meters above sea level.

RELATED CONTENT: Riu Madeira – all you need to know about this refurbished all-inclusive hotel

*We received complimentary accommodation for some of our stay at the Riu Madeira, all views are our own.

 

 

Riu Madeira – all you need to know about this refurbished all-inclusive hotel

Riu Madeira – all you need to know about this refurbished all-inclusive hotel

We review the Riu Madeira Hotel on the Portuguese island of Madeira and give you a video tour

We love a Riu hotel so when we found out the Riu Madeira had been refurbished, we were excited to try it out. Here’s our full review and guide to this four-star all-inclusive on the gorgeous Portuguese island of Madeira.

Name

Riu Madeira

Where is it?

The hotel is in Praia dos Reis Magos in Caniço de Baixo on the south coast of the Portuguese island of Madeira, east of the capital Funchal.

It is nestled in the hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Outdoor restaurant seating at the Riu Madeira hotel

Outdoor restaurant seating

What is it?

It’s a four-star all-inclusive hotel with three restaurants and two pools and is one of the Riu Hotels & Resorts hotels.

As it’s all-inclusive, everyone wears a wristband and all food and drink is included. It also has a spa, hairdressers, lobby bar and a big room to watch shows and entertainment each evening.

Swimming pools and the sea at the Riu Madeira hotel.

Is it family friendly?

It’s great for everyone including families. Children will love the pools, location and food – there’s so much choice that there should be something for even the fussiest eaters including pizza and three pasta options every day.

There’s a tennis court and a place to play bowls. But there isn’t a RiuLand Children’s Club as we’ve seen at other Riu hotels and the two outside pools are deep although there’s a separate little paddling pool.

The lobby or reception area at the Riu Madeira hotel

The reception area

The rooms

There are 327 rooms, including single and twin rooms along with junior suites.

They all have air-conditioning, a balcony or terrace and free Wi-Fi, which was very fast and reliable.

The main bedroom in our junior suite room at Riu Madeira hotel

The main bedroom in our junior suite

We had a fabulous junior suite with the most stunning view over the sea, wonderful to enjoy from the bed or balcony. It had two double beds pushed together and a separate area with a sofa bed. There were two televisions, a bathroom with two sinks and a shower, plus bathrobes which you could wear around the pool (not available in children’s sizes). The sound of the sea from the room was so relaxing.

The second room in our junior suite at Riu Madeira hotel

The second room in our junior suite

Food and drink

There are three restaurants and all food and drink, including alcohol, is included.

The main buffet restaurant – we ate mostly in this restaurant which serves a huge selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are plenty of tables inside and out, overlooking the pools. It only felt really busy on one morning, which was a Sunday.

The main buffet restaurant at Riu Madeira hotel

The main buffet restaurant

Kulinarium – this is an a la carte speciality restaurant. The food is delicious, made from local produce and the service is fantastic, staff are so attentive. The menu is small and there is no separate children’s menu but if there is nothing they fancy, you can always fetch something from the buffet restaurant. This restaurant gets booked up in advance so make sure you book a night on arrival.

Kulinarium speciality a la carte restaurant at Riu Madeira hotel

Kulinarium

Pepe’s Food – this is a poolside grill bar which has a selection of food and drink open during the day.

Pepe's Food pool bar and restaurant at Riu Madeira Hotel

Pepe’s Food

Sports and activities

There’s a hard-surface tennis court, a card games room and an area to play bowls plus a small gym.

The tennis court at Riu Madeira

The tennis court

We spotted lots of people running along the sea front and many stop to use the outdoor gym equipment dotted around on the path running behind the hotel.

We went in February half-term but from around July to mid-September there’s a daytime entertainment programme for six to 12-year-olds, six times a week.

Our hotel highlights

One of the outdoor pools at Riu Madeira

One of the outdoor pools

*The pools – the indoor pool, one of the outdoor pools and the paddling pool is heated during the winter months.

Indoor pool at Riu Madeira hotel

Indoor pool

*Entertainment –  after dinner in the show room there was a different music act each evening until around 9pm followed by a show from 9.15pm including a magic show, a circus-themed performance and an Elton John tribute. Our favourite was the ballroom dancing as our daughter got picked to have a go.

The bar area at the Riu Madeira hotel

The bar area

*Views of the sea – the view from our bed and balcony and many of the sunbeds of the ocean, were stunning.

View from the sunbeds at the Riu Madeira hotel

View from the sunbeds

*The staff – staff were so friendly and attentive throughout the hotel.

Top tips

Pool towels are available from a hut next to the outdoor pools. You are allowed one each but can swap for a dry one or for a pool card whenever you want.

The towel hut at the Riu Madeira hotel

The towel hut

Breakfast got busier later in the morning so go earlier if you can for a more relaxing experience.

If you want to eat at the a la carte Kulinarium restaurant book as soon as you arrive because it fills up quickly.

Tell us more about Madeira

Madeira is one of the Madeira Archipelago (group of islands), as well as Porto Santo, Desertas and the Selvagens. The islands are south west of Portugal, off the coast of Africa and are actually closer to Morocco than Portugal.

Madeira used to be hard to explore as it is so mountainous with rugged coasts, but today there are raised roads and loads of tunnels – two of them over 1.9 miles long.

My abiding memory of Madeira will be of all the red-roofed homes scattered over the hills and the pretty lights sparkling on the hillsides at night, which you can even see from the airport as soon as you arrive.

The view of red roofed buildings from the Madeira Cable Car from Funchal to Monte

The view from the Madeira Cable Car

Nearby

If you leave the hotel by its rear exit, you cross a narrow path to get to the pebbly beach.

It’s pretty to look at but not easy to walk on and quite hard to swim from – you’ll need shoes and there are a lot of rocks plus the sea seems rough. There is a jetty with steps down into the sea and further around to the left is a part sectioned off by rocks which feels safer to swim in.

The pebbly beach at Riu Madeira Hotel

The beach is pebbly

Madeira is a wonderful island to explore. We had a hire car and marvelled at some of the steep mountain roads.

The capital Funchal is just a 15-minute drive from Riu Madeira. We were lucky enough to be there during its Carnival celebrations and enjoyed one of the colourful parades.

We took a cable car from Funchal, it’s a stunning ride up to the top where we visited the beautiful Monte Palace gardens before riding back down again.

Monte Palace Gardens

Monte Palace Gardens

Another way back down but not for the faint-hearted is by the famous Madeira Toboggan Ride. Passengers on wicker basket sledges are helped down the hill by two runners wearing straw boaters, in a tradition dating back to the 19th century and experienced by my grandparents in the 1970s.

We also visited the traditional fishing village Camara de Lobos which was loved by Winston Churchill after he visited in 1950 and stood at the site where he painted a portrait of the bay.

Children looking at Churchill's view in Camara de Lobos

Looking at Churchill’s view in Camara de Lobos

We headed east to the stunning clifftop walk of Porto do San Lourenco and drove north west to the natural seawater pools and aquarium in Porto Moniz.

A seawater pool at Porto Moniz

A seawater pool at Porto Moniz

When to go to the Hotel Riu Madeira

We went in February when the average temperature is 20 degrees and the rain is 97mm. This was perfect for us as we don’t like it too hot. Here is a year-round look at the average weather in Madeira:

January 20 degrees, 80mm rainfall
February 20 degrees, 97mm rainfall
March 21 degrees, 53mm rainfall
April 21 degrees, 55m rainfall
May 22 degrees, 22mm rainfall
June 24 degrees, 6mm rainfall
July 26 degrees, 1mm rainfall
August 27 degrees, 2mm rainfall
September 27 degrees, 28mm rainfall
October 25 degrees, 89mm rainfall
November 23 degrees, 88mm rainfall
December 21 degrees, 118mm rainfall

Riu Madeira more information

Accessibility: The hotel is on a hillside but is said to be generally suitable for those with reduced mobility. There are stairs up from the pool area to the restaurant and reception but also a small lift.

Facilities: Gym, hair salon, spa, tennis court, bowls, three restaurants, three pools, paddling pool, free Wifi.

The gym/fitness suite/centre at the Riu Madeira hotel

The gym

 

Address: Praia dos Reis Magos, 9125-024 Caniço de Baixo, Portugal

How to book: Riu Madeira

RELATED CONTENT: Madeira – an island of highs, views and pretty red roofs

We were given complimentary accommodation for part of our stay in exchange for this review. All views are our own.

Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

We watch Orlando Magic play a home game at the Amway Center in Florida

On our recent visit to Orlando, we were keen to check out a proper American sports event.

Our son is a basketball fan, so we secured tickets and are so glad we did – it’s a night we won’t forget and the atmosphere was amazing.

Here’s our guide, if you are interested in doing the same.

What is it?

Our tickets were to watch Orlando Magic, a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida which competes in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division.

It was their season opening game at home to Boston Celtics in front of a packed crowd of around 18,000 people.

Our children, aged 12 and 8, really enjoyed the experience which is totally different from a sporting event in the UK and extremely family-friendly.

Where is it?

Orlando Magic play their home games at the Amway Center. This big arena, which also hosts concerts, is in downtown Orlando about a 15 to 20-minute drive from Disney World or Universal Studios.

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

The Amway Center

What did we think

Our children loved this experience and are keen to go back to another NBA game in the USA.

It is very family-friendly with pre-match entertainment, food, activities on the big screen, gifts being thrown out into the crowd and more.

We didn’t hear any swearing or nasty chants like you may at a British football match. It felt really fun and safe.

Highlights

*Pre-match there were fun and games outside the Amway Center with a Fan Fest (this happens for the bigger matches at Magic). There was face panting, basketball hoops for children to shoot at, music from a DJ and merchandise stalls.

*Once inside, younger children could play at STUFF’s Magic Castle (named after the Orlando Magic mascot), a play area on the promenade level of the concourse.

*It isn’t hard to find children’s food at one of the dozens of stalls inside. There is pizza, hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream and more. We tucked into some pre-match pizza. A word of warning though – it gets quite overwhelmingly busy as it seemed almost everyone was having a meal before the match started.

*The atmosphere – we loved the countdown to tip-off, the last 10 or 15 minutes had light shows, music and more as the players were announced. Once the game starts there is so much to see, children won’t get bored.

*Apart from the action you get t-shirts fired into the crowd as prizes, games to play via the big-screen and chants to join.

*GIveaways – lots of matches have giveaways for fans with t-shirts or hats on every seat. Everyone at our match received a free t-shirt waiting on their seat for them – all adult extra-large but a great keepsake!

Our top tips

*Get there early. At a British sporting event, most people aren’t in their seats until the last few minutes. We got to the Magic game more than an hour before it started and it was packed!

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

Enjoying the match

*Bags aren’t allowed in, only very small handbags. Don’t bring your backpack from a day at the parks, you won’t get it inside.

*Food is similar priced to Orlando theme parks and portions are big so consider sharing to save some money. Drinks, including water, are very expensive in the USA and you can’t bring bottles in so this does add to the cost of the experience.

*Taxis are the best way to get to the Amway Center as there wasn’t much parking around.

*If you are worried about it being busy at the end, maybe leave a few minutes beforehand if it isn’t a close game to ensure children aren’t waiting around for a taxi, Uber or Lyft.

Our Lyft driver was able to pull up and collect us about 100 metres from the exit of the stadium.

Orlando Magic information

Food: There were all sorts of food options with a stall every 20 metres on different levels of the stadium. There was water and soft drinks available everywhere for children. You can eat food and have drinks either on the concourse or at your seat.

Opening hours: The stadium opens one hour before the match starts. Matches last between two and two and a half hours. So if a match is advertised to start at 7pm EST then arrive at 6pm and you will probably be there until 9.30pm.

Cost: Tickets depend on how close to the action you want to sit and who the opposition is. Tickets cost more for matches against more famous teams like Boston Celtics or LA Lakers. Tickets range from 15 dollars to 1,000 dollars.

Best for: Children aged six and above with the patience to watch the match, which lasts about two hours including breaks for half-time.

Time needed: Arrive one hour before the match starts. The game then last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Access and restrictions: Fully accessible with seats available for wheelchair users and companions. There are two accessible elevators on the west side of the building, which services the Event, Founders, Terrace, and Mezzanine Levels.

There are also four accessible elevators in the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the Club Level that provide access from the Club Level down to the loge and club seating areas.

Address: Orlando Magic, Amway Center, 400 W Church St Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32801, United States.

For tickets: If you’re planning on attending a game, you can contact an Orlando Magic Ticket Representative by visiting orlandomagic.com/tickets using the ‘Live Chat’.

Where to stay: We stayed at Marriott Village Orlando which was also a great location for Universal and the very expensive but very wonderful Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

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*We received free tickets from Orlando Magic for the purposes of this review. All opinion are our own.

The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

Family-friendly fun in America’s St Pete and Clearwater

If you’re heading to Florida and want to stay by the coast then consider St Pete and Clearwater.

With 35 miles of award-winning white, sandy beaches, warm blue sea and a fabulous choice of hotels, it’s a great place for a family holiday.

It’s also ideal if you’re mixing your holiday up a bit, perhaps starting with the busy parks of attractions like Universal and Disney World and then heading to the sea for a change of scenery.

Here is our list of top things for families to do in St Pete and Clearwater.

Clearwater Beach

Aerial picture of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is regularly named the best beach in the US in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

There are lots of activities to keep everyone entertained including swimming, boating, fishing, jet skiing, beach volleyball and biking along the Beach Walk promenade.

At sunset, Pier 60 hosts street performers, live music, craft stalls and food every evening, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the beachfront.

St Pete Beach

Enjoying the beach at RumFish Beach Resort, St Pete, Florida

Enjoying the beach at RumFish

St Pete Beach has also scooped America’s best beach honour – in 2021.

It boasts turquoise water and soft white sand. The sunset from the beach at our hotel Rumfish Beach Resort was stunning – here is our hotel review.

Little Toot Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin spotting with Little Toot Cruise

Dolphin spotting

Enjoy a Little Toot dolphin cruise from Clearwater beach with tours lasting 60 to 90 minutes.

The boats are built to provide maximum viewing areas for passengers with open netting.

Address: 25 Causeway Blvd, Slip 16, Clearwater Beach.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Looking after turtles at Clearwater Aquarium, Florida

Clearwater Aquarium

Clearwater Aquarium is famous as it was once home to Winter the Dolphin who was given a prosthetic tail and whose story was turned into a film, Dolphin Tale and its sequel.

It is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured marine animals.

Visitors can see dolphins, sea turtles and otters. There are educational games, moving dinosaur models and a cafe.

Address: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 33767, USA.

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

This child-friendly cruise on a pirate ship from Clearwater Beach includes entertainment like treasure hunts and water gun fights for the children and free beer and wine for adults.

Salvador Dalí Museum

Salvador Dali Museum in St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum

This art museum on the waterfront in St Petersburg is dedicated to the work of Salvador Dali.

It holds the largest collection of his work in the US.

Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St Petersburg, FL 33701.

Urban murals

A St Pete Mural, Sewing Seeds by Taj Tenfold

A St Pete Mural, Sewing Seeds by Taj Tenfold

St Pete is brought to life by more than 600 murals which adorn its walls.

You can take a guided tour of the colourful street art in the Downtown area.

There’s even an annual mural festival each October called Shine.

Morean Arts Centre

The Morean Arts Centre in St Petersburg displays works by local, national and international artists.

Its roots date back to 1917 when it was the Art Club of St Petersburg.

Address: 720 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

The Great Exploration’s Children’s Museum

This interactive museum is aimed at young children up to the age of around seven and is designed to make learning fun and active.

It is located next to the Sunken Gardens.

Address: 1925 4th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704.

Sunken Gardens

Next to the children’s museum is this site – four acres of botanical gardens in St Petersburg, which have been around for over a century.

The gardens boast hundreds of plant species, cascading waterfalls and even a flock of flamingos.

Address: 1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704.

Watch a baseball game

Baseball at Tropicana Field

Baseball at Tropicana Field

To experience the excitement of an American baseball game, watch the Tampa Bay Rays at their home – the Tropicana Field stadium in downtown St Petersburg.

A great opportunity for baseball fans, The Rays play Major League Baseball games.

Address: One Tropicana Dr, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Kayak through Fort De Soto Park

A great way to explore this beautiful park is by renting a canoe or kayak.

Newbies and experienced paddlers are welcome at the Topwater Kayak Outpost and you might get to see local wildlife including manatees, egrets and dolphins.

Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway St. Petersburg, FL 33715

St Pete Pier

Home to a range of restaurants and a state-of-the-art playground, the pier is a huge draw for travellers of all ages.

We dined at Doc Fords Rum Bar and Grille, which is in a fantastic position at the end of the pier overlooking the water.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Pete restaurant, Florida

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Petersburg

Fairgrounds St Pete

Fairgrounds St Pete is an art and technology museum.

Made by 60 artists, it is described as an immersive world of playful art and technology exhibits based on original Florida stories.

Address: 800 28th St. South, St. Pete, Florida 33712

Getting to St Pete/Clearwater:

St Pete/Clearwater is easily accessible with British Airways offering daily flights between London and Tampa (30 minutes to Clearwater) and Virgin Atlantic operating daily flights from the capital. Or you can fly to Orlando Airport (90 minutes to Clearwater) from London and Manchester.

Where to stay

We stayed at Winter The Dolphin’s Beach Club in Clearwater, where rooms are around £165 a night, read our review.

We also stayed on the heart of St. Pete Beach at RumFish Beach Resort, where rooms are around £230, here’s our review.

More information

For more information visit the area’s official travel website – www.visitstpeteclearwater.com

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*Photo credit: Thanks to VisitStPeteClearwater.com for some of the images used.

 

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

All you need to know about RumFish Beach Resort

Our full review and guide to the hotel where our room leads on to one of America’s best beaches, we fly through the air on a zip wire and enjoy free s’mores every night.

Name

RumFish Beach Resort

Where is it?

Located directly on St Pete beach, one of America’s best beaches, around a 20-minute drive from the city of St Petersburg in Florida.

What is it?

A three-star resort hotel with more than 300 recently renovated rooms, restaurants, beach access and children’s activities.

Is it family friendly?

Absolutely – there is lots to do for children with a packed calendar of activities daily.

The swimming pool at RumFish Beach Resort

The swimming pool

They can swim in the sea or the family pool, use water slides, zip wires, take pedalo rides, watch magic and entertainment shows or play tennis or mini-golf.

Water slides at RumFish Beach Resort

The water slides

The rooms

They aren’t the prettiest from the outside, especially arriving via the car park but the rooms make up for that with their size.

The bedroom at RumFish Beach Resort

Ours had two queen beds, a spacious bathroom with bath and shower, as well as lots of storage space in the wardrobe which also had a safe.

The real bonus though is the separate kitchen, lounge and dining area. The kitchen has a large fridge-freezer, sink, hob, plates and cutlery.

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room

Next to that is a four-seat dining table and sofa with TV.

And the icing on the cake? Our ground floor room opened directly onto the beach through a sliding patio door. Higher level floors benefited from a small balcony.

The view from our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The view from our room

The decor was slightly dated but was bright and pleasant with a white and blue sea theme.

Food and drink

With the kitchenette in your room, you can easily self-cater here but if you do fancy eating out there are lots of choices.

The main resort restaurant in the evenings is the RumFish Grill, complete with large fish tank, which featured on US TV. You can go and see the fish in the tank all day and even take tours of it with staff. There is a separate large bar area next to the restaurant.

For daytime dining, there is Gulfside Grill. Again, it’s not that attractive from the outside but don’t let that put you off.

Gulfside Grill cafe/restaurant at RumFish Beach Resort in Florida

Gulfside Grill

Inside and on the patio, friendly staff do American breakfast favourites and lunchtime meals. We had a lovely stack of pancakes here in the morning. The patio overlooks the family pool and pool bar serving drinks all day.

Staying at RumFish means you can also dine at any of the options at the nearby (TradeWinds) Island Grand Resort.

It’s about a 150-yard walk along the beach and has five places to eat including Salty’s Bar for light seafood meals with fresh shrimp a popular option, a Pizza Hut takeaway and ice cream parlour and several other more adult-focussed options.

Within a five-minute walk of RumFish, there are local restaurants and a 7-11 store or Dunkin Donuts to grab any supplies or quick snacks.

Nearby

This area is all about the beach so you won’t want or need to head too far but make sure to explore the sister Island Grand hotel for more activities.

This is bigger than RumFish and the family activities are divided between the two sites. At check-in, staff give you a pamphlet and map explaining what is available.

The Island Grand contains the pedalos, water slide and mini-golf options while Rumfish has the zip wire, surf simulator machine and fireside s’mores.

Make sure to take a walk along St Pete beach at sunrise or sunset to take in the stunning shoreline before it gets too hot.

A mum and children enjoy the sunset on St Pete's Beach, Florida

Enjoying the sunset

Aside from the beach, the area near the hotel doesn’t have lots of interest but take a 20-minute car or bus ride into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe.

The city is well worth a morning away from the beach – the pier has a children’s playground and is a lovely spot to eat, we went to the busy and family-friendly Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Pete restaurant, Florida

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille

We have written a full guide on what families can do in Clearwater and St Pete if you are looking for more ideas.

Our highlights

*The location – it really takes some beating. To be able to open your room door and walk straight on to the pure, white sand on a beach named America’s best by Trip Advisor in recent years is fabulous.

Especially at sunset the beach comes alive with people taking in the view either from a hotel cabana or while swimming in the warm, shallow sea.

Sunset on St Pete's Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Sunset

*The cabanas – Your resort fee entitles you to a free cabana each day, the helpful attendants will set it up for you and also are the best place to ask about doing any activities. It is important to have a shady cabana on the beach when it gets hot.

*The activities – The range of children’s activities – and the ability to use both hotels – makes the resort stand out. Our children loved the water slide and the zip wire, while we took a pedalo out as a family. All of that was included in the resort fee.

The only extra costs would be to hire jet-skis or paddleboards.

*Dining freedom – Having a good range of options to either self-cater, grab a takeaway pizza, eat at a casual spot right on the beach or enjoy a more formal seafood meal means there is a suitable option for everyone depending on your mood that day.

Top tips

*Check activity timings – we nearly missed the zip wire as the staff were very strict on finishing it one evening despite a queue of excited children.

Some activities didn’t seem to be obviously available at the advertised time so be persistent and ask the staff.

*A few of the younger staff, who mainly ran the activities, were fairly laid back and casual about assisting you, in contrast to the cabana team and the restaurant staff who couldn’t do enough for you.

*Evening entertainment – if the timings work out try to catch the stunning sunsets on the beach and go to the children’s entertainment.

We saw a great magic show where our daughter was on stage as the assistant and also a fun pirate theme games night.

*The beach is best early and late. Sunrise and sunset are the most spectacular times to be on the sand or in the sea, particularly during the hotter months between April and November.

Enjoying St Pete Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Enjoying the beach

*Explore both resorts on arrival – it is hard to navigate RumFish and it’s bigger, sister hotel the Grand Island Resort so have a good walk round and check out where all the activities are and restaurants are located.

*Don’t miss the s’mores – there is a fire pit lit every night at RumGish with s’mores to toast on an open fire. It was a lovely way to end the evening and a proper American treat.

Relaxing at RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort information

Address: RumFish Beach Resort, 6000 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706, United States

How to book: For the best rates book direct at www.tradewindsresort.com/rumfish

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*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

We take our children to stay at Legoland Florida Resort in the US

As part of an action-packed holiday in Florida, we squeezed in two days and nights at Legoland Resort, enjoying the main park and waterpark and staying at one of its three hotels.

The entrance to the park was just a few quiet steps from our room at Pirate Island Hotel – bliss after racing throngs of people at Disney World and Universal.

When we arrived in our hotel room, the children were thrilled at the bunk beds, the theming, the LEGO to play with and the treasure hunt for LEGO gifts.

And we adults were quite content to sleep opposite a giant image of a bearded Lego pirate next to wallpaper and curtains depicting Lego pirates.

If first impressions are anything to go by then Legoland Pirate Island Hotel was a hit. And we still hadn’t entered the park!

Read all about our mini-break to find all about what we thought of the park and hotel and don’t miss our top tips to make the most of your visit.

Name

LEGOLAND Florida Resort.

Where is it?

Legoland Florida is in the Winter Haven area. It is about an hour’s drive from Orlando in central Florida, America.

The resort is in its own grounds next to Lake Eloise in a self-contained safe site.

What is it?

LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a holiday destination made up of Legoland theme park (the second biggest in the world after Windsor), Legoland Waterpark, a new Peppa Pig theme park and three on-site hotels – the Legoland Hotel, Pirate Island Hotel and the Legoland Beach Resort.

Is it family friendly?

Do you really need to ask? The resort is all about families and their target age is two to 12.

The hotels have themed rooms, bunk beds, Lego to play with around the hotel, evening entertainment and specialised family dining at breakfast and in the evening.

Then there’s the theme parks…

The rooms

At Legoland Pirate Island, the rooms are, you may have guessed, pirate-themed. Images cover every wall, curtains and even the carpet.

The rooms themselves have a children’s area with bunk beds, and a rollaway third child’s bed if needed, a tray of Lego and a child’s TV which can play all the Lego movies on demand.

Bunk beds and Lego to play with at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

Bunk beds and Lego to play with

Adults get a king-sized bed (which was surprisingly high off the ground), plus side tables with lights and their own larger HD TV.

Double bed in a room at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

The bathroom is compact with toiletries provided in Lego-branded tubes.

The room also has a small desk, safe and good storage for cases.

With lots of pirate ship-style brown wood it is quite dark in the room and the corridors of the hotel.

For a fresher, brighter feel – but fewer pirates – consider the Legoland Hotel which is next door.

Food and drink

The Shipwreck Restaurant serves breakfast and dinner.

Breakfast (included free with all rooms) is unusual as it is table-service and you get a family skillet (basically a big round tray) with hot food on it to share.

Ours had waffles, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, American breakfast biscuits (a type of savoury scone) and a gravy/creamy sauce to go with them.

Breakfast at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

Breakfast at Pirate Island Hotel

Friendly waiters and waitresses take your drinks orders and you can request other items like cereal.

A big shout out to our lovely waitress Bailey who went the extra mile to get us some fruit and pancakes on request.

We enjoyed experiencing something different, but the skillet won’t suit every family at breakfast time.

There is a similar skillet offering in the evening for all courses of a three-course menu (adults $36 and children $15).

We were given a salad starter with bread then a choice of two skillets as a main course with a range of meats or fish and sides like mashed potato, rice and beans.

Pirate Island Hotel at Legoland Florida

Pirate Island Hotel

The restaurant will also do specific dishes for children like chicken and chips on request.

Dessert was either an ice cream and cookie dish or fresh fruit and marshmallows with chocolate sauce to dip in.

The quantities are absolutely huge, if you have a big appetite you will get value for money here. For those who prefer smaller portions, it might be a bit daunting!

Nearby

More Lego stuff – the adjoining hotel next door has a large reception area and Lego to play with. There is also a nice bar area, more pleasant than the Smuggler’s Bar in Pirate Island.

Lego fun to play with in the hotels at Legoland Florida Resort

Lego fun in the hotels

But of course, the main nearby attraction is the theme park itself – only 130 steps and 30 seconds away.

We could see the entrance opposite our room!

Legoland theme park

Legoland Florida has most of the rides you might expect if you have been to Windsor.

Lego Ninjago was our favourite as all four of us could compete together, shooting the villains with 3D glasses on as we spin through the ride.

Fortunately, the park was lovely and quiet when we visited during the week in October half-term so we could ride it four times!

Children with a Lego punk at Legoland Florida

Lots of photo opportunities

The site is spacious and with the lake on one side and plenty of greenery, it is quite a relaxing place to visit.

Most of the rides are suited to younger children, but there are some speedier ones.

We also enjoyed the aqua coasters and the fire engine ride where you have to pump your own engine to reach the blaze and put it out.

Some of the rides might feel a bit dated and quaint if you have just been to Disney World or Universal Studios but our children really enjoyed driving their own motorboats or steering a car in the driving school. Plus it was a relief to escape the crowds and the queues from the bigger parks.

Meeting a life-sized Lego figure at Legoland Florida

Meeting a life-sized Lego figure

There are several places to cool down from the Florida heat – such as indoor spaces where you can create with Lego and a 4D theatre.

For a bigger cool off there is Legoland Water Park on site.

Legoland Water Park

You can only enter the water park with a ticket to the main park itself, but you need to pay extra.

Frustratingly it is at the far end of the park – a 15/20 minute walk from the entrance which means if you return to the park after a break/lunch like we did, you have to carry your swimming gear past all the rides – there is no separate entrance.

Once you make it inside, there is a nice, long lazy river with giant Lego bricks floating along to play with and a pool with a wave machine which runs every 10minutes. The water is lovely and warm and it feels very safe.

There is seating at the front of the wave pool and some umbrellas for shade.

Opposite the wave pool is a section with small slides and a splash park for younger children.

Splash zone and water slides for younger children at Legoland Florida

Slides and splashes for younger children

It has a large bucket which tips water over everyone every few minutes, five or six gentler slides and spray guns to fire water at parents.

For older children, there are the Twin Chaser and Splash Out rides. These were much bigger, faster water slides but unfortunately were closed when we visited.

There is only one changing room at the entrance to the water park and it is fairly basic.

We enjoyed our visit to cool off but parts of it do need updating and painting.

Peppa Pig Theme Park

The new Peppa Pig Theme Park is aimed at young fans of the children’s tv phenomenon.

It includes interactive rides, themed playgrounds, a cinema and character shows and an indoor cinema for quieter moments.

There’s a splash pad for practising jumping in muddy puddles, fair games and a little roller coaster.

Our highlights

*Location – it is amazing to be staying so close to Legoland park. You can leave your hotel room just before the 10am opening and be straight on a ride minutes later.

No accommodation at Disney, Universal or most UK theme parks gets you so close to the entrance.

*Rooms – the theme is fun, the treasure hunt on arrival is entertaining and it is a magical experience for small children. It is brilliant to see their faces when they enter the room for the first time and discover their bunk beds, TV and Lego tray.

*Pool options – you can choose the theme park waterpark or there are smaller, shallow pools at both Pirate Island Hotel and the Legoland Hotel. The pool at the Legoland Hotel had its own small slide.

Legoland Hotel swimming pool at Legoland Florida Resort

Legoland Hotel swimming pool

*The setting by Lake Eloise – it feels very calm and tranquil compared with other theme parks. You can do a short boardwalk along the lakeside, although the signs warning of possible alligators and snakes could be alarming (we think we spotted an alligator eyeing up its prey in the lake near to the shore).

Top Tips

*Go to the park at opening and you get the place to yourself for a bit. It is so close to the hotel that it makes sense to get in first. We visited on a quiet midweek in October and didn’t have to wait more than five minutes for any ride all day. At the same time of year at Disney and Universal, some ride waits were 90 minutes!

*Breakfast got very busy after 8.30am so try and go beforehand if you don’t want to queue for a table. Also, the restaurant is more relaxing when it is quieter – the rest of the time it sounded like a full-on children’s party!

*Grab some towels from your hotel pool area to take to the waterpark if you haven’t brought your own with you. You use your room card to access the towels from inside a cabinet and check them back in when you return after your swim.

*There are strollers and lockers to rent just inside the entrance to the park.

Strollers and lockers to hire at Legoland Florida Resort

*Download the Legoland app for help navigating the park and seeing theatre times etc.

Video Tour

Legoland Florida Resort information

Food: There are various food outlets around the parks serving a range of fast food, ice creams and drinks.

For bigger meals there’s a pizza and pasta all-you-can eat buffet.

Address: Legoland Florida Resort, 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, USA.

Opening hours: Opening Hours change depending on the season but are generally – theme park 10am to 5pm, waterpark 12noon to 4pm.

Parking: Parking is free for hotel guests. Otherwise, it costs over $23 pre-paid or over $37 on the day.

How to book: LEGOLAND FLORIDA booking

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*We received complimentary or reduced prices for LEGOLAND Florida Resort, for review purposes, all views are our own.

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

We spend two sumptuous days with our children in one of America’s top luxury hotels fabulously located within Walt Disney World Resort

Name

Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Where is it?

It is within the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, US, a short ride from the Disney parks themselves.

What is it?

Four Seasons Resort is one of the top luxury hotels in America – widely considered the best in Orlando with a price tag to match.

Relaxing at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The AAA Five Diamond Award property has 443 rooms (68 are suites), fabulous restaurants and a small water park.

The lazy river at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The lazy river

Guests staying here are able to get into any of the Disney parks 30 minutes early. And travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Is it family friendly?

Oh yes, yes, yes. Our children adored this hotel, thoroughly appreciated the luxury and special touches and were thrilled with the water park.

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Staff were so good with them. When we checked in, they received a bag containing a scavenger hunt.

This was a great opportunity to explore the hotel and find our bearings while they searched for various points to have their booklets stamped.

And the prize at the end? Free ice cream in a fabulous café/ice cream parlour on site, prettily named Lickety Split.

There’s also a great, free kids’ club for children aged four to 12, with enthusiastic staff and brilliant facilities.

The rooms

Our room was spacious and luxurious. It was a park view room which meant we could watch the Disney fireworks and lights displays from our balcony.

Our spacious room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Our spacious room

It had two queen-sized beds, the largest hotel television we’ve ever seen and an iPad for contacting reception, booking restaurants, ordering extra pillows etc.

The big bathroom had two sinks, a bath, separate shower and a large mirror with a television in the centre, a great novelty, plus Bose surround sound.

Bathroom mirror television at Four Seasons Orlando

Bathroom mirror television

There was a very useful changing and wardrobe area with space for luggage between the bedroom and bathroom.

Plus, there was seating, a mini fridge and a present waiting for our daughter on the bed.

Food and drink

There are six places where you can eat at the hotel. We dined at Ravello restaurant, a modern Italian, with exquisite food and helpful, knowledgeable staff who called us by name.

This is also where the delicious buffet breakfast is served and it was lovely to be eating such quality fare.

We also enjoyed a lovely lunch around the pool, a server collects your order and delivers it back to you where you are sitting.

Nearby

The Disney World Parks of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are just a 10-minute ride away.

Hotel guests can enter the parks 30 minutes early – a huge bonus to be able to start exploring and queuing for the most popular rides when it’s a bit quieter – and travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Our highlights

*The staff: From the moment we pulled up in our hire car and multiple staff appeared to help with our luggage and park the vehicle, through to those on reception, the concierge service, the Disney desk, those around the pool and the restaurant staff, we have never experienced such diligence and care.

*The Explorer Island water park: you can swim or float on rings along a lovely lazy river which loops around the grounds, there is a small pool off it with a volleyball net and basketball hoops.

There is a big infinity pool, which from a distance, blends into a lake behind it. There are two water slides in a separate area plus a big splash zone.

The main pool at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The main pool

An adults-only pool in a separate area looked especially peaceful and inviting.

*Games and sports: There’s a games room called The Hideout with pool table, games consoles, a tv and more. There are also pool and table tennis tables dotted around in other places along with a basketball court.

The hideout at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The Hideout

*Seating: It is invitingly placed around the pools and is a mixture of sunbeds, cabanas and egg chairs. And there are towels available on tap.

Anything else to note?

We didn’t have time to use them but there’s also three tennis court, a golf course (Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club), a spa with 18 treatment rooms and a fitness centre.

Splash zone at Four Seasons Orlando

Splash zone

Top tips

*Be sure to check Disney park opening times and shuttle bus times the night before, the timetable comes out every evening. The buses usually run every hour. The Disney desk opposite reception can link your tickets to your resort booking so you can great straight into the theme park in the morning

*On set days, there are Disney character breakfasts at the hotel – The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals or you could even pay for a private breakfast or private meet and greet character experience with Mickey.

*Ask at reception for the times of Disney fireworks to watch, especially if you have a park-view room.

*This hotel isn’t cheap, rooms can cost up to $2,000 per night. That doesn’t include breakfast ($40 per adult and $20 per child). It is clearly aimed at the top end of the market but you are paying for an exclusive experience. There are no hidden costs here unlike other resorts with no resort fee and no costs for the kids’ club.

Sun lotion and water are freely available at Four Seasons Orlando

Sun lotion and water are freely available

The cheapest meals available on site were from the poolside restaurant with the most expensive at the top floor Capa steakhouse, which has two terraces with views across Disney World.

As it’s so expensive, it’s best to plan your days here when you can use the facilities and enjoy the tranquillity away from the crowds of places like Disney World.

The splash zone at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Video

More information

Address

Four Seasons Resort Orlando, 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32836, USA.

How to book

Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort

Children relaxing at Four Seasons Orlando

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We received a discounted stay for the purposes of this review, all views, as ever, are our own.

Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

A beyond magical experience for Harry Potter fans at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay in Florida

Name

Universal Orlando Resort

What is it?

Universal Orlando Resort is one of the most famous and popular attractions in the world, welcoming millions of visitors a year.

It includes two theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – plus Volcano Bay water park.

Based mainly on the themes of film and tv, there are loads of amazing rides, attractions and shows.

A huge draw these days – and certainly for us – is the Harry Potter areas known as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The American resort also includes a shopping area called CityWalk and eight hotels.

Where is it?

It is in Orlando, Florida, US.

What did we think?

We absolutely loved our time here and were especially blown away by the Harry Potter parts as three out of the four of us are fans.

Highlights

*We loved, loved, loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Diagon Alley (Universal Studios)

We explored Diagon Alley first, which is in the Universal Studios park. It can be found through a gap in the wall which would be easy to miss. There is so much to see and do there – a multitude of shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and places to eat such as the Leaky Cauldron.

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Universal

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

What first catches your eye though is the tremendous dragon above which sits astride Gringotts Bank or more specifically, the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. Every 10 minutes or so it breathes fire which can be quite a shock if you’re not expecting it. He emits a loud roar to warn you and it’s a great moment to capture on your phone. The Gringotts ride itself is spectacular, part roller coaster and part 3D experience, it’s perhaps too scary for young ones.

The dragon breathes fire over Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

The dragon breathes fire over Diagon Alley

At Ollivander’s Wand Shop, there is a small show where Ollivander selects someone from the group and everyone watches while the perfect wand is chosen for them. He tries three different wands, the first two with disastrous results while the third provides a satisfactory and magical reaction. Our son was the person taking part, which made our trip even more special.

There are mountains of wands to buy in the shop itself, but if you buy a more expensive interactive one, you can do spells in set places which you find on a map.

Wingardium Leviosa with an interactive wand at Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Orlando

Wingardium Leviosa with an interactive wand

There is so much to see and do here that you might miss fun elements like talking to an interactive goblin in the little Gringotts Money Exchange or tasting butterbeer.

The interactive goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange, Universal Studios Universal

The interactive goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange

We also caught a show from Molly Weasley’s favourite singer Celestina and the Banshees.

Celestina and the Banshees at Universal Studios Orlando

Celestina and the Banshees

The Hogwarts Express

To get to Hogsmeade in the other theme park – Islands of Adventure – you can board the Hogwarts Express. This is a memorable ride in itself.

You enter Kings Cross station, walk through a wall to platform nine and three quarters, thanks to mirror trickery. I don’t know how this works but make sure to send your children through while you video it for them to watch afterwards. Then you emerge on to the platform to see the train itself.

The Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Orlando

The Hogwarts Express

Once on board, the windows are screens which make you feel you are passing scenes and characters from Harry Potter while the corridor side of the carriage you are in, features shadows and voices of characters as if they walking past. There’s even a dementor on the way to Hogsmead. The return journey is different again.

Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)

When you arrive at the other station, you are in the Islands of Adventure Theme Park. Here you will find a snow-covered Hogsmeade wizarding village with more shops like The Owl Post post office, Dervish and Banges and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.

There’s another Ollivander’s Wand Shop here as well along with the Three Broomsticks restaurant.

Hogsmeade is where the popular roller coaster ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is located, which takes riders into the Forbidden Forest. This has the longest queues of any ride at the park so if you are keen to do it, then get there early or wait until last thing in the evening.

Also here is the Flight of the Hippogriff Family Coaster which is a good first roller coaster for younger people for try – although can still feel very fast and dramatic!

And this park is where you get to see Hogwarts castle itself.

Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure, Universal Resort Orlando

Hogwarts Castle

You only enter to do the ride there – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

*Other rides

Other rides we enjoyed at Universal Resort were the classics like ET Adventure – it opened in 1990 and can seem quite dated to adults but it’s a relatively gentle ride and was one of our daughter’s favourites so we rode it twice.

ET Adventure, Universal Studios, Universal Resort Orlando

ET Adventure

Next to the ET ride is one of the two areas of the park for younger children. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse rollercoaster is a nice gentle one to start with and there are opportunities there to have your picture taken with film characters.

In another part of the park is an area dedicated Dr Seuss with a series of smaller rides in a nice colourful area. We enjoyed the Trolley Train which gives a good view over the whole site. This is a good, slightly quieter spot to eat a picnic or rest for a few minutes.

Shows

One great way to rest your legs and escape from the heat is to go and watch a live show.

We loved Animal Actors on Location. Talented animal actors from films and tv including dogs, cats, parrots and more perform mischievous tricks.

There are other shows around both parks, including the Bourne Stuntacular which is very popular.

Top tips

*How long do you need

We had two days at Universal and that felt plenty for us. But if you are a group who love the biggest and most popular rides including roller coasters and screen-based simulators, then you may need longer. The second day felt amazing. We got there early and walked in confidently, knowing what we were doing and where we wanted to go.

*Park-to-Park ticket

If you are a Harry Potter fan then you are going to want to visit both theme parks and have a Park-to-Park ticket. Universal has cleverly split the Wizarding World of Harry Potter into two, with Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmead at Islands of Adventure, connected by the Hogwarts Express (which you can only ride with a Park-to-Park ticket).

*Express Pass

This is a way to skip the long queues and enter a much quicker line on around 14 listed rides in each park. There are two versions – regular which lets you miss the queue once per attraction and unlimited, which offers unlimited times you can use it per attraction. We had Express Passes and it made our visit so much more enjoyable, so I would really urge you to consider this if your budget allows and if the rides you are keen to try are included.

Express pass entrance, Universal Resort Orlando

*How to get there

If you are not staying in a Universal hotel on site – and we weren’t – the best way to arrive and depart, if you are within a few miles is by using Uber or Lyft taxis.

There is a specific drop-off and collection point and it works very efficiently.

This works out cheaper and easier than a hire car if you are staying quite near.

*Lockers

You aren’t allowed bags on some rides but there are lockers near to them. There are also big lockers near the entrance that you pay to use.

Lockers at Universal Resort Orlando

*When to get there

Make sure you get there before ‘rope drop’ – the actual opening time – as you can’t believe the amount of people pouring into the parks and to enter when it’s a bit quieter is bliss. You can then head to the Harry Potter parts first – we got there really early on our second morning and Diagon Alley is a completely different experience – it starts to get more unbearable mid-morning.

Flourish and Blotts, Diagon ALley, Universal Studios Orlando

A quiet Diagon Alley first thing in the morning

Volcano Bay

There’s a third park at Universal Orlando – a water park called Volcano Bay. It has a South Seas theme with a big volcano in the middle and feels like a tropical paradise.

Water slides at Volcano Bay, Universal Resort Orlando

Volcano Bay

Instead of queuing, you wear a TapuTapu on your wrist to book a ride time.

A Tapu Tapu watch instead of queues at Volcano Bay

A Tapu Tapu

There are lots of amazing rides but our favourites were the wave pool and the lazy river.

There is a slide section dedicated to younger children under a certain height, but we couldn’t find any of the next level up to build confidence – just much bigger slides. 

But it was brilliant for a change of pace and to cool down.

To get there you need to get a free bus from the City Walk transport hub at Universal.

Tip: Beware of extra costs. Take your own towels or pay $5 per towel. Locker rent is $20 so if one member of the party isn’t swimming, get them to watch the stuff from the sunbed.

For eating and drinking there are a couple of restaurants and a nice ice cream stall.

Video

Universal Orlando Resort information

Where to stay: We stopped at two nearby hotels – the reasonably priced Marriott Village Orlando and the very expensive, but absolutely fabulous Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Food: There are loads and loads of places to eat, including the Leaky Cauldron (Universal Studios) and The Three Broomsticks (Islands of Adventure) from Harry Potter. Bring snacks with you if you want to try to save money.

Opening hours: Varies daily, check before you go as you want to arrive early: Universal Orlando hours

Cost: Prices start from $70 for Volcano Bay and $109 for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A Park-to-Park ticket covering two parks starts from $159 for children. Look out for offers such as four days for the price of two – Universal Orlando tickets, packages and prices

Best for:  There’s something for everyone, even rides and activities for toddlers. Plus all the rides have a child swap (also known as kid swap or baby swap) option. This means even if a younger child can’t or doesn’t want to go on a ride, the rest of the family does not need to miss out. There are different ways this works depending on the ride so check first. We used it effectively on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Ride.

Time needed: Two days

Access and restrictions: Accessibility Information Universal Orlando Resort

Address: Parking address for the theme parks and Universal CityWalk: Universal Orlando Resort, 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819.

To book: Universal Orlando Resort

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*We received complimentary or reduced prices for review purposes, all views are our own.

Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county (plus video guide)

Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county (plus video guide)

All you need to know about the top family attractions in Durham

Durham is a wonderful county in north-east England, with loads for families to do, stunning scenery and excellent food and drink.

It’s the perfect place for a family getaway with city, coast and countryside all within one county.

Here are some of the best places to visit if you are visiting Durham City and the wider county and don’t miss our video too.

Durham Cathedral (Durham City)

Durham City is lovely to walk around and at its heart is this magnificent cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which has been in use for almost 1,000 years.

But Durham Cathedral has also been used in several movies including the first two Harry Potter films – the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets.

Durham Cathedral exterior landscape front
Durham Cathedral

The Cloisters served as Hogwarts’ quadrangle and outdoor corridors including the scene where Ron has a spell backfire and pukes up slugs.

And the Chapter House was used as McGonagall’s Transfiguration class.

This part is usually closed but we managed to see a bit of it by peering through the keyhole!

If you are eight and over, you can buy tickets to climb the cathedral tower – there are 325 steps to get to the top where there are great views of the city.

Food: The cathedral has a nice restaurant, the Undercroft, serving light lunches including sandwiches, cakes, baked potatoes and quiche, plus they do meal boxes for children.

Cathedral entry cost: Free, £5 suggested donation.

Tower cost: £5.50 adults and £2 children.  

Address: Durham Cathedral, Palace Green Town Centre, Durham, DH1 3EP.

The Undercroft restaurant at Durham Cathedral
The Undercroft restaurant at Durham Cathedral

Palace Green Library (Durham City)

Also in the city, near to the cathedral’s main entrance on the Green, is this small museum.

It contains treasures detailing the history of Durham dating back more than 2,000 years. There are also rooms dedicated to the history of the Durham Light Infantry and another with information about Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage status.

Palace Green Library, Durham

Palace Green Library

And there’s a children’s trail you can collect at reception for them to do.

Cost: Free.

Address: Palace Green Library, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RN.

Riverside walks (Durham City)

There are some beautiful riverside walks around Durham. We started from Framwellgate bridge along the River Wear in the city centre and headed towards Prebend’s Bridge.

Once there you can head up the hill towards the cathedral or for a longer stroll, keep going alongside the water around the bend in the river and take the Elvet Bridge into the city centre.

It is a one-mile flat walk from Framwellgate Bridge to Elvet Bridge.

Walking by the River Wear in Durham
Walking by the River Wear

There is also this Durham Riverside Walk plus lots of trails around Durham Cathedral along Woodlands and Riverbanks.

Our hotel the Radisson Blu Durham was on the river and was a great base to explore from: Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review and guide

Browns Boats (Durham City)

You can hire traditional, hand-made rowing boats to explore the River Wear from Browns Boats. The river is nice and wide so ideal even for novice rowers. 

Browns Boats on the River Wear in Durham
Browns Boats on the River Wear

The team at Browns will give you advice and guidance on where to go and how to row safely before you get on board.

The boats have one seat at the front and two at the back with the oarsman in the middle.

In an hour you have time to head in both directions along the river. 

Cost: Adults £8, children £5 (plus £10 refundable deposit).

Address: Browns Boats, The Boathouse, Elvet Bridge, Durham, DH1 3AF.

Dig for Sea Glass at Seaham Hall beach (Durham Heritage Coast)

It’s a strange sight to arrive at the beach at Seaham Hall, everyone is either stooping over as they walk or sitting and digging at the sand.

They are hunting for sea glass and it’s strangely addictive.

So, what is sea glass? It is coloured gems found along the shore.

They are formed from bottles, jars and other discarded glass which have been weathered, smoothed and rounded into frosted glass.

Our haul was mostly green and white in colour but there was the odd blue, yellow and even pink find.

Some of the sea glass we found at Seaham beach, Durham
Sea glass

Parking: There are steps down to the beach from the free car park above.

Address: Seaham Hall Beach Car Park, SR7 7AF.

Locomotion railway museum (South Durham)

Locomotion museum has all sorts of different trains from the national collection of railway vehicles.

It’s in the town of Shildon, which was the world’s first railway town.

Highlights include peeking inside a Royal Train which carried Edward VII’s wife and a game where you test your reaction times on railway signals.

Looking at the royal carriage at Locomotion railway museum

Looking at the royal carriage

There are locomotives from different eras from the 1830s onwards with a huge variety including cattle carriages, 19th century fire engines and more.

Food: There is a small cafe but you can also bring picnics to eat inside or out.

Cost: Parking and entrance to the museum is free.

Address: Locomotion, Shildon, County Durham, DL4 2RE.

Beamish (North Durham)

Beamish is a living, working museum, where the staff are dressed up to bring to life people and places from the past.

You can experience life in the 1820s, walk around a 1900’s town, a 1900’s pit village, a 1940’s farm and a 1950’s town.

Our highlights included dressing up for an Edwardian family portrait and our daughter having her hair styled in a 1950’s hair salon.

Having her hair done in a 1950's salon at Beamish museum, Durham
Having her hair done in a 1950’s salon at Beamish

You can get around the sprawling site by tram or old-fashioned bus and buy food from places like an Edwardian bakery or a 1900’s sweet shop.

Tickets are booked in time slots at 10am, 11am and 12noon, try to get 10am as it seemed to get busier later. If you arrive after 1pm you don’t need to reserve a timeslot. We were among the first to enter and went straight to the hair salon first for our daughter and managed to get an appointment straight away.

Food: There are various takeaway and sit-in places to eat, we bought some delicious savoury pastries from a takeaway in the mining village.

Cost: Payment includes membership for a year, it costs £21 per adult, £15.50 for students and seniors aged 60 plus and £12 for children (aged 5 to 16). Family reductions start at £37 for one adult and two children.

Address: Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG.

Raby Castle (Durham Dales)

This is one of England’s best medieval castles and was built in the 14th century.

The grounds of Raby Castle include a scenic deer park with lakes.

A real highlight here is The Plotters’ Forest, a woodland adventure playground for children.

Raby Castle gv

Raby Castle (Credit: Visit County Durham)

Food: Take a picnic or enjoy lunch or a snack at the Yurt Cafe.

Cost: Raby Castle opening times and prices

Address: Raby Castle, Staindrop, DL2 3AH.

High Force Waterfall (Durham Dales)

This spectacular waterfall drops 21 metres (70 feet) into a pool below, in the Durham Dales.

A girl at High Force Waterfall

High Force Waterfall

It’s a relatively short and well-maintained woodland walk for the reward you get at the end.

The sight and sound is spectacular although be careful with children as the viewpoint is down steep steps and on rocks in the River Tees.

We parked at the High Force Hotel, paid at the kiosk in the car park and the children took part in a dinosaur trail too.

We took a longer, steeper, circular walk back round and didn’t see anyone else this way at all.

Cost: Adults £2.50, children under 16 £1, children under five free.

Parking at hotel: £3.

Food: There is a kiosk in the car park selling snacks and drinks or you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner at High Force Hotel.

Address: High Force, Forest-in-Teesdale, DL12 0XH.

Where to stay

With so much to see and do around Durham, you will need a good base to stay. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in a great location in Durham City on the River Wear: Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review and guide.

And read all about our Durham trip here: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham.

Radisson Blu Durham hotel

Radisson Blu Durham

This is Durham

For more great ideas, visit the county’s official tourism website This is Durham.

Telephone: 03000 26 26 26

Email: visitor@thisisdurham.com

RELATED STORY: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham

RELATED STORY: Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review, guide and video tour

*We enjoyed complimentary accommodation and access to attractions for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review, guide and video tour

Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review, guide and video tour

We take our children to stay at the Radisson Blu hotel on the River Wear in a great location in Durham

Name

Radisson Blu Hotel

Where is it

It is overlooking the River Wear in Durham city centre, in the northeast of England, a mile from the cathedral and the castle.

Durham is a really beautiful city, full of culture and charm and there’s also loads to see and do.

What is it

This is a four-star hotel with 207 bedrooms.

Radisson Blu hotels are part of the Radisson Hotel Group. (Other brands in the group are Radisson Collection, Raddison, Radisson Red, Radisson Individuals, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson and prizeotel).

The hotel reception at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

The company describes the Radisson Blu hotels as ‘memorable, stylish and purposeful’.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, our room was perfect for a family and the swimming pool is the icing on the cake.

The rooms

Our family room was a good size, split into two areas – a spacious bedroom for us and around the corner, an area for the children with a sofa bed. Both areas have a tv and a desk.

One part of our standard family room at the Radisson Blu Durham

There’s also an en-suite bathroom with an array of toiletries. The room was equipped with tea and coffee facilities, dressing gowns, iron and ironing board, safe, hair dryer and ice bucket (ice is available along the corridor).

The children's part of the hotel room at the Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Food and drink

The hotel’s Collage restaurant serves breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner.

Breakfast is a buffet with a range of good quality hot and continental items including pastries, croissants, cereals, bacon, egg, mushrooms, toast, cheeses, fruit and yoghurt.

Breakfast at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

We stayed over a weekend and it seemed particularly busy on the Sunday morning.

There is a separate big bar area too, serving drinks and bar snacks.

The bar area at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Our highlights

*Our room was a fabulous size and a perfect layout for us with the two sections.

*The location is brilliant – we could walk everywhere we wanted to visit in the city centre.

At night, it’s a short stroll along the river to bars and restaurants and an Odeon cinema at The Riverside.

Inside the Food Pit in Durham - a restaurant/market hall with street food and a bar.

We particularly like the relaxed nature of the Food Pit – a street food hall. Set up like a restaurant but with seven independent food vendors offering different menus, so everyone can choose from a different section but all sit together. Food included Greek, Thai, Mexican, plus there’s a bar and an ice cream/waffle dessert option. There’s even pizza and chicken nuggets and chips if you look hard enough.

*The swimming pool – we LOVE a pool and this one, at 15 metres is a great size. There were even a couple of lanes sectioned off for lane swimming.

The swimming pool at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

*There is also a good-sized gym/fitness suite, but we didn’t have the tine to try it out, we were too busy swimming!

The gym/fitness suite at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Our video tour

Nearby

*Durham Cathedral

This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best examples of Norman architecture in England and has been in use for almost 1,000 years.

Durham Cathedral exterior landscape front

Of more interest to us though, is the fact that it has been used in the Harry Potter films.

The Cloisters served as Hogwarts’ quadrangle and outdoor corridors including the scene where Ron has a spell backfire and pukes up slugs.

And the Chapter House was used as McGonagall’s Transfiguration class.

This part is usually closed but we managed to see a bit of it by peering through the keyhole!

Browns Boats

Hire a traditional rowing boat and make your way along the River Wear.

A girl rows on a Browns Boat rowing boat hire on the River Wear in Durham

Seaham

Collect sea glass along the shore at Seaham, it’s surprisingly addictive.

The beach at Seaham, County Durham

Locomotion

This railway museum is a free attraction. It has trains of all shapes and sizes and is in Britain’s first railway town, Shildon.

Locomotion railway museum in County Durham exterior building gv

Beamish

Beamish – the living museum of the north, is a great day out for all the family. Near the town of Stanley, it tells the story of the people of North East England in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.

An old bus on a cobbled street at Beamish Museum in County Durham

For our full guide to local attractions read: Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county.

Hear all about our trip here: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham.

More information

Check-in and out

Check-in is from 2pm and check-out is by 12noon.

Parking

There is a car park behind the hotel which offers a discounted rate for hotel guests. At the time of writing it was £14 for 24 hours,

Address:

Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankland Lane, Durham, DH1 5TA.

Telephone number:

0191 3727200.

How to book:

Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

RELATED STORIES: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham

RELATED STORIES: Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county

This is Durham

For more great ideas, visit the county’s official tourism website This is Durham.

Telephone: 03000 26 26 26

Email: visitor@thisisdurham.com

*We enjoyed a complimentary stay for the purposes of this review, all views are our own.

The best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for families

The best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for families

Where to visit with children in stunning Stratford, home of William Shakespeare

The medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is famed for being the birthplace of English playwrite and poet William Shakespeare.

Many of the family attractions here are linked with the famous writer of plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, but not all.

Here are some of our favourite places to visit in Stratford.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

This restored 16th-century half-timbered house in Henley Street was William Shakespeare’s childhood home.

His father lived and worked in the house for 50 years and William was actually born there in 1564.

After William married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, they stayed at the house and their own three children were born there.

We really liked using the QR codes dotted about which we could use via a mobile phone to bring the information to life.

QR code at Shakespeare's Birthplace

Using QR codes

Another great resource is a wall of synopses of Shakespeare’s different plays which my son spent some time reading.

Wall of play synopses at Shakespeare's Birthplace

Wall of plays synopses

It is great to go inside the small house at the end of the tour, where knowledgeable guides in each room explain to children what life would have been like in Tudor times.

Time taken: Allow around an hour.

Address: Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6QW.

Website: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

This is the school where William Shakespeare was taught in the 1570s, where he wrote his first works and saw inspiring actors perform plays.

Shakespeare was able to attend this local grammar school as his father was Mayor of Stratford.

The attraction is guide-led and their passion and enthusiasm for the building shines through.

The best bit is where you get to sit in the schoolroom with an actor playing the part of Shakespeare’s teacher Master Thomas Jenkins. We even had a Latin lesson. It is very interactive with adults and children getting involved in the fun. The 20-minute lesson was a real highlight of our visit, especially when our daughter got to play the part of Julius Caesar.

A lesson at Shakespeare's school

A lesson at Shakespeare’s school

The visit here starts with a guide explaining about the history of the building, visitors watch a short video and then learn about a painting discovered in the Guildhall.

Later, you can dress up in Tudor clothes and learn to write with a quill and ink in a classroom still used by King Edward VI School in Stratford.

Writing with a quill at Shakespeare's School

Writing with a quill

Time taken: One to two hours.

Address: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6HB.

Website: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Shakespeare’s New Place

New Place, built in the 1480s, was William Shakespeare’s home from 1597 until he died there in 1616.

At the time it was also known as the Great House as it was the largest in Stratford and the only one with a courtyard.

Sadly, the medieval house was demolished in 1759, today you will find a museum there and an Elizabethan garden.

The gardens at Shakespeare's New Place

The gardens at Shakespeare’s New Place

The museum has a nice introductory animated video about Shakespeare and his return to Stratford which was interesting.

However the gardens are definitely the best part of New Place, they are beautiful with space to run around and lots of statues and information boards for children to learn about Shakespeare and his plays.

Time taken: Around 45 minutes with children

Address: Shakespeare’s New Place, 22 Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6EP.

Website: Shakespeare’s New Place

Stratford Butterfly Farm

This lovely place to visit has been open in Stratford since 1985.

A butterfly at Stratford Butterfly Farm

Stratford Butterfly Farm

You can leave your coats in a cloakroom before you enter the warm, tropical areas where hundreds of butterflies from all over the world flutter around you.

Try to identify the ones you spot using a picture guide. There is also plenty of information on the butterflies on a big board where you queue to get in.

Tickets are for timed entry to avoid it becoming too crowded inside the butterfly farm.

It isn’t only about butterflies, there is also a great minibeasts area where we saw creatures from ants through to a tarantula and snakes.

And there’s a nice shop and a pretty, small, garden area outside.

Time taken: Allow an hour to explore the farm at a leisurely pace.

Address: Stratford Butterfly Farm, Swan’s Nest Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 7LS.

Website: Stratford Butterfly Farm

River Avon

The River Avon meanders through Stratford and there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. You can hire your own boat or take a boat trip as we did.

The river cruise with Avon Boating, which has been operating since 1898 – was a pleasant 30-minute journey up and down the river on an Edwardian passenger launch.

Cruising with Avon Boating

Cruising with Avon Boating

We passed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried and under the 15th century Clopton Bridge.

There is a map on board and a free audio guide you can use along the river.

You can also hire a small boat, a motor boat, an electric launch or Cambridge punts with the company.

Loaction: We boarded at Bancroft Gardens.

Website: Avon Boating

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

This grade two-listed theatre is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and is dedicated to William Shakespeare.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

It has over a thousand seats and is located next to the River Avon in the centre of Stratford.

It’s the RSC’s main theatre where they regularly perform Shakespeare’s plays and other works.

Also on the site is the smaller Swan Theatre, a rooftop restaurant, a shop and a cafe.

Address: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB.

Website: Royal Shakespeare Company

Have we missed your favourite Stratford attraction? Let us know in the comments.

We used a Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass which gives you entry to 10 top attractions across Warwickshire including Warwick Castle, Avon Boating and Stratford Butterfly Farm.

Where to stay in Stratford

Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon review and guide

*We had complimentary entry to the attractions, all views are our own.

Warwick Castle – review, guide and top tips 2022

Warwick Castle – review, guide and top tips 2022

All you need to know about popular Warwick Castle – the perfect family attraction

Name

Warwick Castle.

What is it?

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle, originally built by William the Conqueror as a wooden fort in 1068, and rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.

This historical tourist experience is hugely popular and attracts visitors from all over the world – we heard plenty of American accents on our visit.

Suits of armour inside Warwick Castle

Inside the castle

There is lots of to see and do plus there are live shows and experiences during the year including large arena jousting performances and the UK’s biggest birds of prey show, to help bring the castle alive for visitors.

Where is it?

It is unsurprisingly in the town of Warwick in Warwickshire on the River Avon, less than two miles from junction 15 of the M40.

Highlights

*A fantastic show, the Falconer’s Quest – an outdoor bird show, made into a story.

There are a few rows of benches, but hundreds of other people sat around on the grass and on picnic blankets nearby to watch and had just as good an experience.

*The Horrible Histories Maze, where children can get a little book stamped at various stages.

*Archery and jousting lessons with enthusiastic staff dressed in medieval outfits.

Archery lessons at Warwick Castle

Archery lessons at Warwick Castle

*Interactive storytime in the Princess Castle.

*For younger children, there are attractions based around the Julia Donaldson character Zog, including a great outdoor play area.

Zog play area at Warwick Castle

Zog play area

Warwick Castle Top Tips

*The Castle Dungeon is a 50-minute walk with live actors and special effects but is scary and so for over-tens only. You have to pay extra for this attraction, it isn’t included in the entry price.

*Get there early – we arrived about 9.30am for a 10am opening which meant we were at the front of the car park – although it was still a bit of a trek – and one of the first through the doors.

*Pay for your car park at the start  – about 50 yards before the entrance on the right  – there can be queues if you leave it to the end and it’s a set price (£6) anyway.

*If you want to extend your stay, you can sleep over at Warwick Castle in the Knight’s Village. There are 24 standard Woodland Lodges which sleep up to five and four Knight’s Lodges which are bigger and sleep up to seven people.

*There are tours running every half an hour covering different areas of the castle and its history. We joined a 30-minute tour which explained the 1,000 year story of the castle with an enthusiastic guide. It was well explained to suit children and gives you a good grounding for your day at the castle.

*You can scale the towers and ramparts but be aware this is a one-way trip and there are a lot of spiral stairs to climb that will tire out little legs (and big ones). But there’s a great view from the top.

*We used a Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass which gives you entry to 10 top attractions across Warwickshire including Warwick Castle, Avon Boating and Stratford Butterfly Farm.

View from the top at Warwick Castle

View from the top

Food

There are plenty of food and drink options but it isn’t cheap. There was a pizza van making fresh pizzas (£11.90 for a basic Margherita), along with a fish and chip stall, ice cream vans and drinks outlets.

Lots of people brought their own picnics and there are plenty of lovely places to eat on the lawns and loads of benches to sit at.

Our video tour

Where did we stay?

We stayed at the gorgeous Mallory Court Country Hotel and Spa, which was about 15 minutes away.

More information

Address: Warwick Castle, Warwick, CV34 6AH.

Parking: The castle’s car parks are a fair walk from the castle as its grounds are protected.

Accessibility: There is a drop-off point where people with mobility restrictions can be dropped off.

Some areas of the castle are not wheelchair accessible – see here for a full guide.

The castle supports the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme for those with hidden disabilities.

Opening times: Open every day except Christmas Day. Hours vary.

Prices: From £24. Under threes go free.

Website: Warwick Castle

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The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

Ten places to take your children around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus

It may be slightly further on a plane than other European hotspots, but Cyprus is worth the four-and-a-half-hour flight from the UK for the year-round sunshine.

Other pluses make it easy to travel there with children – it is set up for families, English is widely spoken, the food is great and if you are nervous of driving abroad – well they drive on the left.

Once you’ve found a good base – we stayed at the sumptuous Columbia Bay Resort in Pissouri – it’s time to decide where else you want to explore.

There are waterparks, beaches, historical sites and more, including:

Tombs of the Kings

Our children loved exploring this World Heritage Site next to the sea.

Children explore Tombs of the Kings, Paphos/Pafos, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

There are seven excavated tombs, carved out of rock and spread out over a big site.

Despite the name, the chambers were not actually occupied by royalty but high-ranking officials and aristocracy of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Top tip: Our children loved climbing here but there are some hidden drops so be very careful with little ones.

Tombs of the Kings, Paphos/Pafos, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

Where is it: North of Pafos/Paphos harbour

Address: Tombs of the Kings Ave 63, Chloraka, Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra Tou Romiou)

This site on the south coast of Cyprus is, according to Greek mythology, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Aphrodites Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite’s Rock

We stopped off here, where she is said to have emerged from the sea, at sunset on our way back to the airport.

It’s a pebbly beach with big rock formations coming out of the water – one of them known as Aphrodite’s Rock.

Local legend says that anyone who swims around the rock will be blessed with eternal beauty.

Top tip: If you park in the car park opposite, you don’t need to cross the road, there is a passage under the road on to the beach. There is also a shop and cafe with toilets on the car park.

Where is it: On the main coastal road between Pafos/Paphos and Limassol

Children look out to sea at Aphrodite's Rock in Cyprus

Pafos Zoo

This is the biggest zoo in Cyprus with over 500 mammals from all over the world, ranging in size from guinea pigs to giraffes.

An elephant at Pafos Zoo

Pafos Zoo

There are also a thousand birds including birds of prey, penguins and parrots along with reptiles like crocodiles, snakes and giant tortoises.

And there’s a playground, a shop and places to eat.

Top tip: Our favourite part was the parrot and owl show.

Where is it: About 20 minutes north of Pafos/Paphos past the resort of Coral Bay.

Pafos/Paphos Harbour and Port

It’s nice to have a walk around the harbour area to soak up the atmosphere, even if you are just passing through on your way to somewhere else.

There are restaurants and cafes, shops and boats to watch, a promenade to walk along and a small castle at one end.

Some boat trips leave from here too.

Water parks

The nearest water park is Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark.

Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark in Cyprus

Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark

We ran out of time to try it much to our daughter’s disappointment, but it sounds amazing and includes high speed water rides, a lazy river and a wave pool.

Where is it: In Kato Paphos on the coastal road.

Boat trip

A boat trip is a great way to see the island and there are various options available.

Paphos Sea Cruises is one of the companies who offer excursions.

They have a pirate-themed one which children might enjoy called Pirates Adventure – Jolly Roger II, which includes a pirate show, lunch, face painting and more.

Kourion Archaeological Site

We enjoyed looking around the archaeological remains of the city of Kourion, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 365 AD.

The mosaic floors at Kourion Archaeological Site in Cyprus

The mosaic floors at Kourion Archaeological Site

It includes mosaic floors and a Roman theatre which has been restored and is used over the summer for performances.

Where is it: West of Lemesos/Limassol on the road to Pafos/Paphos.

Beaches

Of course, a family holiday in Cyprus would not be complete without trying out the beaches.

And this, the third-largest Mediterranean island, has loads of Blue Flag beaches.

There are pebbly and sandy ones – one of the best being Coral Bay.

Coral Bay beach in Cyprus

Coral Bay beach

This lovely, long, white-sand beach is surrounded by cliffs so the waves don’t get too big.

There are umbrellas and sun loungers over the summer months but not when we went and we could have done with somewhere to shade from the sun.

It was also fairly busy, unlike the pebbly beach, our hotel was on.

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort

Avakas Gorge

This dramatic gorge (a deep valley between hills or mountains) was created by a stream flowing over limestone for thousands of years.

Stepping stones at Avakas Gorge in Cyprus

Stepping stones at Avakas Gorge

It is quite a challenging walk better suited to older, fitter children.

We tried it on a hot day which made it harder so try to go when it’s cooler.

The mountain roads to get to it are not great – several people arrived in hired jeeps – we parked quite far away but this made for a longer walk.

Top tip: There are slippery rocks, so make sure you wear good footwear – not sandals or flip-flops – and look out for some steep drops.

Where is it: West of Pafos/Paphs

Kolossi Castle

We made a flying visit to this 700-year-old castle, birthplace of the world’s oldest wine, Commandaria , said to have been drunk by Richard the Lionheart at his wedding.

Kolossi Castle in Cyprus

Kolossi Castle

The castle was first built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th century.

It only takes around half an hour to look around but the entrance fee is low and it’s worth a stop-off on your way to somewhere else.

The rooms are empty but when you climb the steps, there is a great view from the top.

Where is it: Kolossi, 14km west of Lemesos on the road towards Pafos (Paphos).

Have we missed your favourite family attraction?

We would love to know of anywhere you recommend, please comment below.

RELATED CONTENT: We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

 

 

We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

Our review and all you need to know about Columbia Beach Resort in Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Name

Columbia Beach Resort

Where is it?

Pissouri Bay on the south coast of Cyprus.

What is it?

It is a five-star resort with 169 suites, two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, spa, gourmet restaurants and beach front location.

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The beach in front of the hotel

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there were lots of families when we went.

There’s a lovely kids’ club offering a range of activities each day.

The restaurants have a separate children’s menu including pizza, different pastas, fish and chips, burgers etc.

A pizza from the children's menu at Apollo Tavern restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A pizza from the children’s menu at Apollo Tavern.

There are two tennis courts plus the hotel is on a pebbly beach with sunbeds.

The rooms

The 169 suites are spread out over this sprawling complex in different areas.

We had a family suite in the main hotel building – it was one of the nicest rooms we had stayed in – big with a fabulous layout and two bathrooms.

The lounge area at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The lounge in our family suite

The children’s room with large twin beds could be closed off with sliding doors, which they loved.

The children's room with twin beds in a family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Children’s room

There were kitchen facilities too including a sink and fridge and a lounge area, plus desks/dressing tables.

The main bedroom in the family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The main bedroom

I’ve never seen so many lights and lamps – we spent a while searching for some of the switches, eventually asking at reception to discover the room had its own lighting control panel!

A light control panel at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Lighting control panel

From the balcony we could see both the pool, the sea and the hills that surround the site.

View from a balcont=y at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The view from our balcony

Food and drink

The food was divine and beautifully cooked and presented. There are a choice of restaurants and we tried all three.

A crab salad starter

A crab salad starter

We were half-board and had breakfast in – and on the terrace of – the Bacchus restaurant. The restaurant is a nice size and never felt overly busy or with the cafeteria feel of some breakfast areas in larger hotels. It was buffet style but you can order freshly prepared pancakes, waffles and eggs etc.

We tried this restaurant for dinner one night too and it was the most elegant of all. We asked for a table outside where we could relax with the children while still enjoying the first-class food and service.

The other two restaurants we tried were the Apollo Taverna which offers a traditional Cypriot dining experience.

And the stunning Cape Aspro with a fabulous terrace overlooking the sea.

Cape Aspro restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Cape Aspro restaurant

All of the adult menus were different with the children’s menu the same at Cape Aspro and Apollo Taverna. Prices were around 10 euros for children’s main courses, 20-30 euros for adults mains depending on what you ordered. The portions were very generous, sometimes our starters would have been enough.

For dessert there is a special menu with lots of ice cream sundaes and other children’s favourites.

A sea view from a restaurant T Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Dinner with.a view

Our highlights

*The outdoor pool nearest to the main hotel is beautiful and a fabulous size.

An outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Our favourite outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort

*The indoor pool is slightly warmer as it’s heated so we had a lot of fun in it.

The indoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The indoor pool

*The food – I had some fabulous meals including a delicious prawn risotto and a gorgeous crab salad plus some fantastic desserts.

*The layout of the resort is pleasing and the views on to the sea are gorgeous.

Sunbeds next to the beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A sunbathing area next to the beach

*Its location on the beach.

Top tips

*While we were there, children could only use the indoor pool until 2pm.

*I am rubbish at getting into cold water – so acclimatized in the indoor pool first before plunging into the outdoor pool and it’s really worth it.

Another outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The other outdoor pool

*There is live music in some restaurants some of the time which really adds to the atmosphere, so you can ask when booking to secure the evenings when this is on – or not on if you prefer. We enjoyed a saxophonist on one night and a guitar duo on another.

*If you walk one way from the hotel, you can do the Cape Aspro hiking trail, be careful of the steep drops though with children – the other way leads to the village with restaurants, bars and a small store.

Nearby

There are lots of lovely places to take children nearby including a zoo, waterpark, historical sites and beaches: The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

More information

Address: Columbia Beach Resort
P.O. Box 54042
Limassol 3779
CyprusHow to book: https://www.columbiaresort.com