Family days out: Birmingham is bursting with bright ideas
Have you visited Birmingham recently? The vibrant city with excellent transport links is the perfect place to base yourself or visit, with a wealth of fun family activities. Here, some of my top choices.
This is a working factory where the iconic Cadbury's chocolate is produced, yet it offers much more than just a factory tour. Cadbury's have a rich social history in Bournville and during the day you will learn about the amazing Quaker family, who introduced work practises that changed how factory workers were viewed and treated. The experience includes history that demonstrates how chocolate is produced. There are short video clips including a 4D cinema experience. Next you move on to a walk-through of the working factory and you can taste test the warm hot chocolate and add your own sweets to make your own favourite chocolate sensation. There is a short Cadbury ride for children showing how the adverts and characters have influenced our recognition of Cadbury as a brand.
Fans of the football team may not have had much to celebrate recently but the Villa Tour is still a highlight of the City. Fans will want to check out the first team dressing room and have their photos taken in the tunnel. The tours give access to areas that are only for officials and players most of the time. Our guide was really informative, revealing the club’s history and also sharing tales and exploits of past players and managers. My teen -- a lifelong supporter -- hung on every word and soaked up the experience.
It may not be everyone's first thought for a thrilling day out but these stunning gardens play host to a number of activities for children. Pack a picnic and enjoy the great outdoors. Our top tip is to hire a garden backpack, which is stuffed full of things for the children to hunt out and complete.
Children learn best when they are doing things and the Think Tank does exactly that. This is a hands-on science museum that allows young people to explore more than 200 displays. It’s the type of place you can stay all day -- there is always something new for children to touch and experience. It makes for a thought-provoking day and will allow your young person to not only ask questions but also discover the answers for themselves.
The Custard Factory is part of Birmingham's creative quarter. Regular exhibitions are held in the area that showcase art and creative talents, often with events aimed at young people. The shopping, from the skate shops to jewellery pop-ups, will also appeal to teenagers. The food here is delightful with 'Another Pop Up' being top of the bill. Their fresh and appealing breakfasts are a crowd puller!
Trampoline parks have become the playground of choice for tweens and teens alike. They’re springing up over all over the place and Birmingham is no different. The sessions vary from open sessions for all to trick sessions where skills are taught. Families can do it together, or the children can bounce whilst you watch from safety of the cafe.
The ocean kept its secrets hidden for centuries but now children can see the magic that lies beneath in this underwater journey that explores icy-cold waters and tropical wonderlands. At the Sea Life Centre you can see rare and beautiful sea creatures, and it’s ideal on a wet day as everything is inside. You can happily spend a morning or afternoon exploring the ocean, and with premium “VIP” experiences you can help feed the penguins or the sharks, get a behind-the-scenes tour or even sleep over. It’s also part of Merlin Attractions, so if you have Merlin Passes you can get unlimited visits to this and 31 other UK attractions.
This magnificent building has transformed how the people of Birmingham view libraries. It is far from a place where children should be seen and not heard. The library offers so much for families, including fun in the school holidays, teenage reading groups and author sessions. The inspiring Malala Yousafzai has been a past speaker.
Fancy some retail therapy with older children? This is a mecca of designer shopping. If you really want to impress them, the Marco Pierre White restaurant is situated at the top of The Cube and has amazing views. The food was delicious when I visited and taking selfies up there has to be done, with the stunning Birmingham skyline behind you!
This entertainment complex is home to an abundance of fun for all the family, but especially children and young people. With Europe's largest cinema, fair rides, adventure golf complex and 10-pin bowling it will keep the crew diverted for hours. It is just a case of deciding before you come how to please everyone! High-profile attractions such as the Moscow State Circus and Cirque De Soleil have also visited.