Following a fantastic Saturday in Birmingham , where we discovered the climbing experience at 'Rock Up Birmingham' & 'Cadbury's World'.... We've decided to try and discover what's available for kids in the centre of Birmingham or on the outskirts of Birmingham. With two active, adventurous girls desperate for more adventures to add to those we've found on our UK Cities tour (especially in Lincoln & Exeter).... what else would Birmingham have to offer on a wintry, snowy Sunday in February?
Cannock Chase is rightly regarded as a site of natural beauty to the North of Birmingham (some 45mins from the city centre) and is the perfect place for a high ropes adventure with 'Go Ape'. The girls have loved their chance to try high ropes in places like Arcachon (France) or Voss (Norway) so how would Go Ape compare to their European counterparts?
Well, we can say it compares very favourably!! The first impression was how slick the operation is, with plenty of instructors present to help out at every point... but perhaps the best part was their obvious enthusiasm for climbing / outdoor adventure! Both girls were immediately at home and couldn't wait to 'release their inner monkeys' as they clambered up into the tree tops!
The safety features were excellent at both Voss & Arcachon and we were met with no different a system here. Libby (8yrs old) was fully clipped in for the duration of her high ropes course and Lottie (11yrs old) had to clip her self out and in. We feel this works well for their ages but where Go Ape really impressed was the variety of courses and the feeling that both girls were getting a similar experience despite their age difference.
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With snow lying on the sides of the forest, it was certainly slippy which provided much fun & laughter but both girls felt perfectly safe and loved the chance to suspend themselves voluntarily in the air some 30ft high! Whilst Lottie felt the long zip wires were equally as good as the amazing Sky Wire Experience at Bluestone Wales.
The 5 adult courses cover a huge distance into the forest due to the zip wires and allow brilliant overhead views of the fantastic mountain bike courses - so when we return (and we will!) we'll get on our bikes and add it to our bike adventures page!!! The two young explorers high ropes courses were great fun and you can see from the smiles above that it was certainly exhilarating enough! Enough to add this family adventure to our European Family Adventures Page (read more here)
Birmingham's Sea Life Experience back in the city centre provided a welcome relief from the cold, wintry weather. Situated in the very heart of Birmingham's City Centre, it's hard to get to via a motorhome but for anyone heading in via car (head for Brindley Place). Birmingham's canals surround this area but the site is enormous with plenty to keep both girls happily engaged for well over 2hrs.
Both girls love any visits to aquariums, but Libby is desperate to eventually become a marine biologist so she loves SeaLife trips. Ever since we visited the SeaLife Centre in Porto & Copenhagen's Den Blaa Planet, she has become increasingly interested in conservation and sustainable fishing. This was followed up with a visit to a brilliant MSC approved restaurant in Lincoln.
The need to conserve fish stocks by sustainable fishing is a crucial educational message that we fully endorse... In fact we'd go further and say that we're keen to support Libby in trying to drive up awareness for this issue.
We love the fact that Sea Life try to go further than simply showcase sharks, clownfish and turtles.. Every wall seems to have clear, easy to follow information boards that give a wealth of detail that our 8yr old can happily digest and ask questions about.
The quality of the viewing angles was particularly apparent at Birmingham's Sea Life centre with brilliant opportunities to see the smaller fish (like above) by crawling through purpose tunnels, be amazed by the impressive Oceanic Aquarium Tunnel or the small interactive rock pools that allow 'Touch'n'Feel' opportunities to learn.
But not only does it have these superb aquariums, it also has a 4D cinema experience that worked well and proved a welcome chance to sit down away from the crowds for 5mins... The Octonauts took us through their rainforest adventure before we left the cinema past further rainforest exhibits towards the end of the aquarium tour..
So all in all it's proved a busy weekend in Birmingham, but one that showed what was possible if you were happy to race around the city...
WHAT ELSE DID WE FIND IN BIRMINGHAM FOR KIDS?
If you missed yesterday's 'Birmingham with Kids - Part 1' post, then click on either of the below pictures to take you to our climbing adventures at 'Rock Up Birmingham' & our experiences at 'Cadbury's World'.
If we'd had more time, we would certainly have added some of these family-friendly activities that we'd spent time researching before we visited Birmingham.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery / Ikon Gallery
The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found and is displayed at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in a hands-on, interactive display. Explore the rest of this beautiful, Grade II listed building and view over 3000 pieces of Pre-Raphaelite art, Ancient Egyptian artefacts and learn about Birmingham and its inhabitants. Have afternoon tea at their Edwardian Tea Rooms as well.
If you prefer modern art then the Ikon Gallery is for you with thought-provoking art that the whole family can enjoy. Situated in the beautiful surroundings of Brindleyplace, once you’ve explored the gallery, you can wonder the canals and take a trip to the SEA LIFE Centre.
Black Country Living Museum
During the Industrial Revolution, the Black Country was one of the most industrialised parts of Britain thanks to its coal mines, coking, iron foundries and steel mills. Part of the region has been preserved in time at the Black Country Living Museum; one of the largest open-air museums in the UK.
Discover the exciting history of Warwick Castle and enjoy a fun day out with activities for all the family. View the beautiful castle ruins, explore the terrifying castle dungeons, and get lost in the Horrible Histories Maze.
Learn about the science of everyday life from our bodies to the smart ways to recycle, explore the depths of space, uncover extinct animals, mine for crystals, enjoy the science garden and shoot for the stars in the planetarium. There’s so much to explore at this science museum and in their industrial history room at the moment is the one and only Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car!
Alternative Tours in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter
Uncover Birmingham’s world-renowned jewellery-making history with a unique insight into a jeweller’s workshop in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. An estimated 40% of British jewellery is made in this area of the city and over 100 independent specialist retailers and craftspeople can be found here.
Birmingham Back to Backs
Back to back housing was typical of Industrial Revolution-era Britain, featuring two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs in each house, with the buildings surrounding a communal courtyard. These perfectly restored houses are a fine example of life during this time gaining a unique insight into to daily life of either a Victorian or 1930s family.
The Back to Backs are located next to the UK’s busiest single theatre - Birmingham Hippodrome - making for a nice day out, though make sure you stock up at the 1930s-style sweet shop before catching a show.
Sherborne Wharf Narrowboats
With more canals than Venice, Birmingham’s waterways are a gem waiting to be explored. Hire a canal boat and see the city from another angle, learning about the importance of these canals during the Industrial Revolution and how they shaped the city.
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