As soon as half-term kicks in, for many of us parents, the question of “where to go with the kids?” starts to be an issue.
That’s either because we haven’t planned anything yet or the budget is really tight.
During my few years spent in this country, I can tell you that the most expensive locations are not necessarily the best ones.
Let’s go with the free stuff!
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
I know many people born in Birmingham have never seen the Birmingham Museum&Art Gallery, situated in the heart of the city centre. It’s such a kid-friendly museum and full of interesting things. We’ve been so many times, especially in the cold days when you can’t really spend too much time outside. But the reason we visit often is that my son is really passionate about Ancient Egypt. This Museum has a wonderful Egyptian collection to admire. It includes daily life items, pottery and as well as illustrations pf Egyptian gods, amulets and mummies that attitudes to death and the afterlife.
Discover Birmingham Museum
Having the children with you will make your visit a bit longer, as they love to stop at the interactive bits and the museum is abundant in them (different puzzles, a model village with buttons waiting to be pressed and many more). So, I would say between 2 and 3 hours depending on the children’s age. If you want to keep them more engaged, try to put all you see in a story. It will make them curious to ask for more.
For children under 5, they’ve created a kids section called the Mini Museum. The place is filled with storybooks, games and dress up. What more can you ask for?! Get them out of the house. If you don’t drive, the public transport fare is usually cheaper around school holidays. Or you can buy a network ticket allowing you to use the same ticket for train, bus or/and tram. Westmidlands tickets
No lunch? No problem.
If you haven’t brought lunch with you, do not worry! Birmingham city centre is the place for multicultural taste. You might want to go to Chinatown, just five minutes away from the city centre. There are so many restaurants and cafés offering authentic menus from Northern China all the way to Malaysia. The food is delicious and you can try the noodle bar or have a go at an “all you can eat” restaurant, they are usually very cheap around lunch time. It can vary from £7 to £10 for an adult and is usually half or even less for children. The good part is that if you have fussy children they can try it all until they find something they like. After that, let them go crazy with the ice cream machine as almost all of these places have one of these and they’re self-service…yummy.
No budget for restaurants?! Try one of the nicest fresh baguettes for less than a pound! Or a panini for about £2 pounds. Have a look at this link as it will give you more options and ideas. Where to eat New Street Birmingham
Birmingham Canals – Bigger than Venice
Your family had a wonderful day by now and there is still light outside. You don’t want to go home and neither do the kids. What else? What’s next? There are many choices, I’ll tell you a few so you can give it a go.
Nothing is better than a good walk( or a nap) after lunch. More so if you’re taking in the spectacular scenery, nature and history to be found along Birmingham canals. Don’t forget to get some seeds with you as children love feeding the birds.
If walking is not your kind of activity but you love the beauty of the canals, try a water-bus. With a short route, you can keep your family excited. We enjoyed it so much, having a ride with Ariel. The maximum you would pay is £4 for the round trip or £1 per stop. Not bad, isn’t it? Waterbus Ariel
Walking with the children by the canals makes your blood boil? I’ve been there. Every time my son was getting closer to the water, my heart was beating out of my chest. In that case, a visit to the library of Birmingham will make you feel safe and keep your family entertained at the same time.
Take a tour of the Library of Birmingham – Europe’s largest public library
From simply visiting this impressive building to many different activities, you can easily spend another few hours here. On certain days they organise a playgroup for toddlers. Children activities half term
I love their space dedicated to children and young people, so welcoming and full of life. It makes you grab a book, curl with your little one and travel into a fairy tale. The Library has been described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’ and I find it to be true. It’s a good place for you and your children, to meet mates and join different activities.
Royal Air Force Museum Cosford – free entrance, just 30 min away from Birmingham
Placed next to an active airfield, this is the only place in the Midlands where you can get close to so many breathtaking aircraft for free. The museum site is vast and it is almost impossible to see everything in just one visit. You can easily make a day out of it, no matter if you have boys or girls. So have a go and visit the hangars, we found it fascinating.
If your kids want to spend some of their pocket money and want to discover what it takes to be a pilot, they have a flight simulator and it cost about £10 for the whole family. For more things to see do check below.
Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare
Welcome to a market town with more than 800 years of history, situated on the River Avon. Stratford is the birthplace of the most famous writer in the English language, William Shakespeare. He is known for his sonnets and plays such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Hamlet’. I can’t figure out why but this town is having a particular charm, so quaint, it’s like romance floats in the air. I’ve visited so many times and every time it has left me with this sweet-bitter taste. I wonder if Shakespeare was inspired by the beauty of this town.
Get ready for a wonderful day in Stratford, because there is so much to see and do. I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of things and if so feel free to let me know! Anyway, I’ll do my best to showcase some of them.
The Holy Trinity
Placed on the banks of the River Avon, which is probably England’s most visited parish church and home to the grave of William Shakespeare. Free entrance, they ask for a small donation when visiting Shakespeare’s grave. Holy Trinity Church
Famous for Shakespeare’s Birthplace (house) with a rich mix of gift shops, clothes shops and lifestyle shops, this street is a must for any shopper. I could spend hours here as I love looking at all those handcrafted items, from lavender to soap, toys, cakes to tea towels and all kinds of accessories. Once you are here please don’t miss The Nutcracker, a Christmas themed shop, open all year round. Nutcracker Christmas Shop
The Mechanical Art & Design Museum
You can find it on the same Henley Street and we thought it is quite cheap to get in. It’s around 20 pounds for the whole family.
If your child ever smashed a clock to see what’s inside and what makes it tick( pun intended), this is the place where you want to take them. MAD Museum
Stratford Canal Basin
Surrounded by beautiful riverside gardens, which are public open spaces to relax and enjoy. Walk around the canals or take a boat tour for less than £20 for a family. Winter or summer, this is a lovely place to stop for their famous ice cream and baguettes, have a picnic or maybe feed the birds. Canal Basin
Usually, late in spring, you can see Magnolia trees bloom. Making the view simply unforgettable.
The Butterfly Farm
Visiting this butterfly haven will be the cherry on top for the little ones and parents alike. Inside, they managed to simulate a tropical environment and hundreds of beautifully coloured butterflies will try to find a place to rest on your shoulders or your head! It’s quite random but lovely at the same time.
Awesome free playground for all ages – Climbing walls, ropes, zip wire, sandpit and more!
This playground has everything you and your children wish for. It’s next to a car park, so when the children get tired you’ll have them straight in the car. It has clean toilets with baby changing facilities. Also, if the weather allows they sell ice cream, drinks and coffee to keep you energized. I can’t stress enough, the playground is really well equipped. You’ll find sand pits and little plastic spades(my son loved it) and the best part is that it’s separated, toddlers from older children.
There are many more attractions in Stratford, worthy to visit but I hope I’ve made you a little bit curious to go and see for yourself. Also, if anyone has any other wonderful ideas about a day out in Stratford is welcomed to leave a comment with their suggestion.
Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses
As far as I know, these houses carved straight into the rock are unique in the UK. People lived here until the 1960s. The houses have been restored and they show a bit of what life was like in the Victorian era.
It’s free to get in for National Trust members, if you’re not a member it will be close to £13 for the whole family. The reason I like it so much as a day out is that ten minutes away(uphill) from the Rock Houses you can find the site of an impressive Iron Age Hill Fort. Up there you get spectacular views of the surrounding counties, and from there you can carry on the marked trails into the woodland down the lower slopes. It’s a wonderful place for picnics, to explore, take pictures and to tire down kids.
There are many other places around to go and see with the kids but not limited to. Considering the time of the year I find them to be great options.
Give them a try and let me know how it went. See you soon!