There’s a funny thing about living in the north west of the UK; it’s a lot colder than down south and it’s quite often pretty wet. Until we moved up here I hadn’t quite appreciated how much rain one place could get! Of course I say it’s ‘funny’ but it isn’t. Not when you have kids dying to get out and burn off some energy and you are watching the rain pelting the windows and wondering whether you can cope with fishing your six year old out of the mud for the 100th time…am I right?!
Perhaps just me then.
We are a family who love to get outdoors; it is certainly the space in which Eli comes the most alive (see comment above) but sometimes it just isn’t ideal so I thought I would throw together some ideas for great indoor activities which we have tried, tested, and given the thumbs up.
1. Imagine That!, Liverpool
Officially known as Imagine That! Underwater Street, this is a fun and creative day out for younger children. I think you can best see what sort of things are on offer in the vlog I made back in March but in short there are a number of different themed zones where children can play act, dress up, enjoy craft, complete science experiments and really get hands-on with the things around them. I think this is best aimed at children aged 8 years and under although I’m sure older children would also have a lot of fun in the science zone. Meg was perhaps just on the cusp of being too old for the dressing up areas but interested in the more creative and hands-on sections. There are different activities which take place throughout the day as well, led by the staff, and we found these to be engaging and well thought out with both Meg and Eli really enjoying themselves.
In peak times prices are £12.95 per child with one free adult per paying child. Children aged one year are £7.95 and babies under one are free. It’s worth noting that there are no picnic facilities but there is a cafe on-site.
2. Trampoline Park, Various
Trampoline Parks for children are a phenomenon which seem to have taken over the last couple of years but they are lots of fun and there seems to be one in almost every town and city which means you shouldn’t have to travel too far to get to one! They are probably one of the more expensive options as you only generally get an hour’s bouncing but kids can get really worn out in that time and it’s always worth seeing if there are any special discount vouchers available before you go.
Head to Google if you want to find your nearest one, although some worth mentioning include Energi Trampoline Park in Preston, Spring City in Liverpool and Jump Ninja in Manchester which is slightly smaller than your average trampoline park but has a fun ninja course to enjoy.
3. Chill Factore, Manchester
We only recently discovered the delights of Chill Factore in Manchester, having driven past it a number of times but never knowing whether the entry price would be worth it. When we spotted a handy voucher come up on Groupon in the autumn, we decided to give it a go and I’m really pleased that we did. I will say straight off that I am not a fan of being cold but I found the ski suits and boots we were given were more than adequate to keep us warm (check that the use of these is included with your entry price) and although there isn’t masses to do, and our session was limited to an hour, the kids really enjoyed themselves.
As a family of four, paying full price, it would have cost us £90 for an hour’s play plus £8 each for jacket and trouser hire (helmet and boots are supplied free of charge). With our discount voucher we paid around £70 for an hour with clothing hire included so it’s always worth keeping an eye out to see what is available. I’d say that an hour’s play was more than sufficient however, and seeing the kids faces when they entered, more than made up for the cost!
4. National Museums, Liverpool
If you fancy a free day out in a former city of culture, then you can’t go wrong with a trip to one (or more!) of the National Museums in Liverpool. We have so far explored five of the seven museums and have not been disappointed by any of them. There are usually lots of ways to get children involved in the exhibitions and displays, with the chance to be interactive and hands-on along the way and you have the rest of the city to explore, should you want to brave the elements and head outside. The Albert Docks in particular is a great space to enjoy on a brighter day.
I think our personal favourite was the Museum of Liverpool but I think any one of the National Museums makes for a great, family-friendly, free day out.
5. Legoland Discovery Centre and the SEA LIFE, Manchester
I have put these two attractions together simply because they are located right next door to one another and it made it easier! We’ve never done the two at once but we have visited both the Discovery Centre and the SEA LIFE Centre a number of times. We were quite lucky when we visited the Discovery Centre the first time, as our school holiday fell at a different point to the Manchester schools so we pretty much had the run of the place; the second time we went it was far busier and this definitely coloured our experience. If you have a child who loves Lego then they are really going to enjoy themselves here, from the minute you enter to the second you leave there are lots of opportunities to play and build with Lego bricks, a number of rides and a soft play area to enjoy too.
Likewise with SEA LIFE, there is plenty to see and do, and an opportunity to be interactive with some of the sea creatures housed here and if your little one is a fan of all things under the sea then you can’t go wrong.
It is possible to purchase a combi-ticket for both the Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE and I think this is a good call if you are looking for a full day out as a trip to just one is a half day at best, unless it’s very busy and you find yourself waiting a lot once inside. We’ve never found it that bad and have usually managed to do all we wanted to within two or three hours. Single tickets for children start at £9.50 with combi-ticket prices starting at £14.50.
6. Laser Quest, Bowling and/or Cinema Trips, Various
You might think I am being lazy bundling all these in together but the truth is that any one of them would be a great diversion on a rainy day. There are nearly always offers on at chain cinemas for children’s movies (Kids AM etc) which offer good value providing there isn’t a specific movie you want to see and bowling is a pretty standard hour’s activity. We only recently discovered laser quest as a family; James and I obviously played as kids and Meg and Eli have been to birthday parties but we’ve never before done it as a family activity. As a competitive family it was….intense…and I did feel sorry for the family playing with us but it was a lot of fun and something we would definitely repeat.
So there you have it, just six ideas of how to spend the day when you have to stay indoors. I hope you found this useful and if you have any of your own suggestions, feel free to let me know.