Monday 25 July 2016

Days out across the Midlands this summer holiday & our top three picks

School's out for summer and whilst my little one isn't yet at school, many of our friends are teachers and it's hard not to get carried away with all the excitement the next six weeks holds.

I've pulled together a quick post about my top three things to do in Birmingham / the Midlands right now, based on our own plans to go to some of our favourite places. I've also included a full past post below about top attractions in the Midlands that are well-worth checking out too, as we all know that the summer holidays can seem to go on forever and you need to make those pennies stretch as far as you can...

1) To the beach!

Ok, I know that living in Birmingham / the Midlands means we're pretty much in the most landlocked place we could be, but the beach I have in mind isn't a long drive away at all.

A day at the beach has never been so easy for Midlanders as Webbs of Wychbold has unveiled an artificial beach in time for the holidays - and the best thing is, it has a clear roof, to keep any sudden summer showers at bay, leaving plenty of time for play come rain or shine.

I really enjoy a trip to Webbs; I've loved garden centres since I was a little girl and I like how there's a lot to walk around. Webb of Wychbold also has a Hobbycraft and Lakeland on site, so there's plenty of shopping to be had, and the restaurant is nice too for a slice of cake and a cup of tea - or maybe an ice cream if the hot weather holds!

We were invited along to check out the #WebbsByTheBeach event for ourselves at the weekend (you need to book a ticket, in advance to avoid disappointment, and it's just £5 for children with adults going free, for a two hour sand session), but there was a huge queue of traffic from where we live all the way to the M6 when we left which took ages to get out of, and led to huge onward delays. Regardless, we will be sure to visit in a couple of weeks as Ethan's really excited about the idea of going to the beach, and I have to say I am too.

2) A date with the big screen

We've been taking Ethan to the cinema every so often for a year now. We're big film buffs in our house so it's great we can enjoy this together.

This summer, there's some great films to see as a family. There's the BFG, for Roald Dahl fans young and old, and of course there's a certain forgetful blue fish heading for the big screen this week; Finding Dori. We are so excited to go see this one in particular!

Odeon has a great family bundle deal, launched in time for this summer holiday, until 8th September 2016. For £30, a family of four can enjoy 2D film, food and a drink and families of three can also enjoy a 2D film, popcorn, a soft drink plus kids mix snack boxes for £26. But, us Brummies can enjoy an even lower rate - just £26 for a family of four and £21 for a family of three like us (plus free parking validation for three hours at Odeon Broadway Plaza).

There's also various films like Zootropolis (a bit hit with Ethan) for just £2.50.

Vue cinemas also have some great film deals to be had, with £1.60 entry for kids at cinemas across the country on Saturday and Sunday mornings, all year round - expect it to be packed though!

Find out more about all deals mentioned here.

3) Under the sea


Keeping with the distinct ocean theme of this post so far (!), to celebrate the launch of Finding Dori, Sea Life Centre Birmingham has a whole themed event running through the holidays.

Disney•PIXAR’s Finding Dory tells the story of Dory’s quest to find her own family, with the help of Nemo and Marlin and new characters like Hank that she meets at a Californian marine rehabilitation centre and aquarium.

At Sea Life Centre Birmingham, you get to interact with one of the new Disney•PIXAR movie’s star sea creatures Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill, or as I know and love him, Jay from Modern Family), a cantankerous octopus (who is actually a septopus, I'm told). When you complete the trail, you win a special reward, so plenty to keep you busy.

I'm fortunate to be one of their ambassadors for this year and we will be popping along to see Dori, Nemo and friends soon.

I've written about ideas on things to do as a family before but I've pulled together this list of ideas from places we have been and love as well as some suggestions from other mums in the area to hopefully give us all some inspiration and new 'must visit' places to add to the list. Some of these are free (always a bonus!) and others may involve a ticket or admission price, which I've linked to for ease.

So, here's my list of some great days out in the Midlands. I've added links to the official websites and also to posts I have written before if we have visited the places mentioned. Enjoy, share and add any of your own suggestions in the comment box too so I can add to this list to help make this a really useful guide for Midlands mamas everywhere!


I didn't know this park existed a couple of years ago but now it's one of the places we visit the most, just as there's a great park, a lovely lake and lots of greenery to enjoy. A great spot for a lazy Sunday walk.

There's also a farm, which we haven't visited before but I'd like to one day.

Sutton Park

Sutton Park - To Become Mum

This is right on my doorstep and was somewhere Ethan and I spent many summer days when I was on maternity leave. It's huge (over 2000 acres), with various entry points and car parks you can access it from and it's just a beautiful place to enjoy the great outdoors. 

You can walk for miles, take your bikes, walk the dog, pack a picnic, sit by one of the lakes or ponds, enjoy the swings and play area at the main entrance... whatever you like. For free.

I love woods and forests and know that my little Gruffalo would really enjoy a visit here as there's a trail in the deep dark woods where you might find the orange-eyed, knobbly-kneed fella yourself, along with a Superworm themed trail.

I've been told that this is a really great 'premier' park that has been recently invested in to now boast restored buildings, play areas and a splash pad too.


We visited this small, charming, working farm to see Santa last Christmas and would definitely recommend a visit. There's lots of farm animals to see and a nice coffee shop / restaurant, and the scenery is great too. It's not too commercial and affordable too, with admissions from £6.50 to £8.50, and the farm open daily.

National Forest Adventure Farm

This farm is full of fun things to do, from lots of farm animals and small animals you can handle through to a maize maze in the summer and indoor and outdoor play areas. The food served here is great but you can bring your own lunch too and it's such great value because there is so much to offer. A great way to wear your little ones out!

You can read about our day out to the farm last summer here and ticket information can be found here (prices are £10.75 per person over 2 years old in the summer).

I'd love to one day be a member of the National Trust, as I love the great outdoors and history too. We visited Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire a couple of months ago and it was just such a nice place to spend a lazy day (see all our pics here). It's a National Trust moated manor house that was built in the 1500's and it has acres of garden and land to explore and a nice tea room too (although , with plenty of exploring for little ones to do.

Prices are from £3.50 for children for garden only - see here for further details.

Be sure to check our the National Trust website too as there's so many historical buildings and sites well worth visiting in the region.

Chasewater Railway

I've never been but have been told that the steam railway in Burntwood, Staffordshire, is well worth checking out. There's steam and diesel days and the fares are all very reasonable too (starting at just 50p for children and £1 for adults for a narrow gauge journey), so it's an affordable way to spend an afternoon as a family.


West Midlands Safari Park

This is one of our favourite places to go and you can have a really great, and busy, day out. The safari is obviously the main part and great to do. It takes an hour and a half to drive around, although at busy times, it can take up to twice as long so arrive early or do this towards the end of your visit if it does look busy.

You'll see rhinos, elephants, lions and white lions, tigers and white tigers, giraffes and lots of other animals besides. Ethan loved it when we went a few weeks back and I'd suggest taking some snacks and drinks for the car to keep everyone happy.

When you get out of your car, you can go visit the penguins, watch the sealion show, expore the reptile house, walk around Lorikeet Landing and potentially have some parrot stowaways join you and then you can walk in the Land of the Living Dinosaurs - an obvious highlight for my dino loving toddler!

It's also great at Christmas too.

Tickets can cost around £13.49 for children and £17.99 for adults if booked online (under 3's are free) so it may cost a little for a day out BUT there's loads to do and you receive a free return ticket for your whole party within six months.

Do you have a Thomas the Tank Engine fan in your house? Like animals, even dinosaurs? Looking for a good play area for the children to wear themselves out in? Want somewhere you can easily spend a day and see lots of different things? Oh, and do you enjoy going on rides? Then Drayton Manor is a great day out, even for young ones.

We've been twice now (last summer and when the new Thomas Land extension opened earlier this year) and have had a great time both days. There's a lot to walk around, you can buy food there or take a packed lunch with you to enjoy at one of the many picnic benches. There's the big rides, Thomas Land, the zoo, the playground and a dinosaur park too... what more could your children want?

Tickets are around £5 for 2-3 year olds, £15 for up to 11 year olds then £20 for 12 year olds upwards if booked seven days in advance.

Cbeebies Land at Alton Towers

I've only been once and the day we went was rather busy, but for little ones, a trip to Cbeebies Land is filled with their favourite characters and is sure to put a smile on their faces.

There's plenty of things to do besides Cbeebies Land, of course, and all this is including in your ticket - which it should be because it's not a cheap day out. Under 4's are free then tickets start £32.85 per person if buying family tickets together and at least seven days in advance. Visit here to work out which ticket and deal is best for you (and keep an eye out for discount vouchers).

Sea Life Centre Birmingham

I love animals and so does Ethan, so we have been regular visitors to the Sea Life Centre. It seems that every new season, there's a new attraction, feature or event so there's always something new to enjoy and plenty to keep children entertained.

The penguins are a real highlight for me and we last went when the starfish attraction had been added.

Online prices start from £12 so well worth doing, with under 3's getting in for free.

Severn Valley Railway

We went on this old style steam train journey on Ethan's birthday and it was a lovely way to spend a few hours, taking in the sights and enjoying the whole experience. The Seven Valley Railway runs between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth and the journey takes around one and a half hours each way, with ticket prices starting around £12.50 for children and £19 for adults if paid for on the day.

Black Country Living Museum

We went to the BCLM a couple of Christmases ago for their Victorian themed Christmas evening (a lovely festive treat) and I'd like to go back again as I love history and there's plenty to enjoy, including authentic shops from the age of industry and an old fashioned fair. Tickets start from around £7.25 for children and £15.50 for adults.

Ironbridge Gorge and Museums

First of all, you can visit the impressive Ironbridge and surrounding cute shops for free, save for a car parking ticket, and this certainly makes for a nice day out (we went camping nearby six years ago and loved it).

However, there's plenty to explore too if you want to make more of a day of it, plus the tickets you buy are 'annual passports' (around £25 for adults when bought online), so you can return again and again, making it better value. There's 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums covering everything from fine china to a recreated Victorian town. I still remember visiting on a school trip when I was a young teen so it's definitely a memorable place to visit.

I'm sure that there's plenty other great places to visit in the Midlands so do share your thoughts and I can update this list!


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