We can all relate as parents how difficult and expensive the 6 weeks summer holidays can be when trying to entertain our children.
So I have compiled a list of just some of the top free children’s places to visit in Cardiff and the Rhondda for family friendly days out in South Wales.
Forest Fawr Sculpture Walk
Located near the fairy tale Castell Coch in Tongwynlais is this beautiful woodland area complete with sculpture walk. Take in the scenery and see The sculpture trail which was created by the Cardiff Outdoor Learning Wales network group. They worked with local children to design and develop a trail linked to Welsh Government literacy and numeracy curriculums. The sculptures tell a story of a giant creature living in the woods. Although the creature is never seen, the sculptures give clues for children to use their imagination to create and share their own story. It starts and ends in the Fforest Fawr car park.
Aberdare Park, Boats and Cafe
Aberdare Park has a lake that you can take the paddle boats out onto as well as a café and park to enjoy.
Dare Valley Country Park
Parkland with lush countryside, marked trails and family quests, plus guided walks and fun days. As well as an interactive visitor centre, Walk our network of countryside walks and trails, Experience our birds, countryside and spectacular views, Stay on our camping and caravan site, Spend a relaxed night after a long walk in our refurbished hotel, Relax in the Country Park Café, ‘y Cwtch’,
Ynysangharad (Ponty) Park
Six-time recipient of the Green Flag Award Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, situated in the centre of Pontypridd is definitely worth a visit.
New to the park is Lido Ponty, a stunning restoration of the Grade II listed Lido which has stood in the park since the 1920s. Now the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty offers swimming, splash pool and water-based fun for all. The new adventure play area, Lido Play captures the imagination of our younger visitors as they explore the swings, slides and tunnels in this locally themed park celebrating our industrial past. As if this wasn’t enough, golf and tennis lessons, year-round fun and games for children, expansive open spaces and exercise classes for all ages are just a selection of the other services that make the historical location well worth a visit. The Park also offers a wide range of facilities, including pitch and putt golf course, bowling greens, football, cricket pitches and tennis courts, bandstand and refreshment kiosks.
Features 30 acre lake, paddle boats, the famous Scott memorial lighthouse as well as the Wild Garden, recreation grounds, café, children’s play area, botanic gardens and conservatory.
The stunning venue near Trehafod and is packed with trails to explore, as well as a popular BMX track, one of the best children’s playgrounds around, a duck pond and picnic/barbecue areas. A game of football or Frisbee on the large, open play area is always a must, before heading up to see the ducks or fishermen at the pond or hanging out in the playground, which is one of the best of its kind in the area, with a range of great play equipment. A quick drink, snack or ice cream in the new café.
Heritage Park Museum
Located in Trehafod, you can experience a tour of the mines going down in the lift with a guided tour, as well taking in the museum area in the main reception. The museum also has a fantastic sandy children’s park, café and gift shop.
St Fagans National History Museum
St Fagans National History Museum – See how people in Wales have lived, worked and spent their leisure time. The re-erected buildings include farmhouses, a row of ironworkers’ cottages, a medieval church, a Victorian school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute.
The gardens at St Fagans are among the best in Wales. You will walk through elegant formal gardens of St Fagans castle or see the cottage gardens that provided food for working families. Native breeds of livestock can be seen in the fields and farmyards, and demonstrations of farming tasks take place daily. There is also a children’s play area and shopping area selling local produce.
Cardiff Bay Barrage
Extends from Cardiff Docks to Penarth. The Barrage features locks and bridges, sluice gates and a fish pass. It also provides a landscaped embankment area – a public open space – where visitors can promenade and picnic, with excellent views out over the sea and Inner Bay. As well as children’s sand play area and café.
Parc Cefn Onn
It contains a truly magnificent collection of native and exotic trees set within an intimate valley. Visitors enjoy the stunning scenery and the calm, relaxing atmosphere. The streams, ponds, woodlands and other planting make this a rich haven for wildlife. Visitors regularly return to enjoy the park in different seasons. Features; Wildlife Explorer Trail for children, footpath links to Caerphilly Ridgeway walk, picnic field.
Garwnant Visitor Centre
Garwnant Visitor Centre sits in the heart of a beautiful forest. There’s a play area, low ropes course and two puzzle trails plus a café to relax in and enjoy fresh local produce and views. There are picnic tables around the main car park and along the walking trails – some have metal frames for holding disposable barbeques. Forest Frenzy is a low rope assault course. Recommended ages 7-15. There is also a new play area for under 7s. The long distance Taff Trail from Cardiff to Brecon passes through the centre, offering a diversity of splendid views.
Heath Park and Miniature Railway
Located in the Heath in Cardiff, open fields, Miniature train and tram rides in delightful parkland with children’s play area.
Thornhill Farm Shop
This quaint little farm shop is located on the way up towards Caerphilly mountain, just by Thornhill, free entry into the small farm and children’s play area. It may be small but you could easily spend 1-2 hours here. Café and shop selling local produce.
The Wenallt is an area of semi natural ancient woodland to the north of Cardiff. The land extends into other woodlands to the north west – Cwm Nofydd, designated as a Local Nature Reserve and Fforest Ganol – a Site of Special Scientific interest. The area is a well-known local beauty spot and a popular site for picnics in summer. In spring there are displays of bluebells and other spring flowers throughout the woodland.
Waterfall Country, Brecon Beacons
The sound of water rushing, gurgling and dripping over stone fills the ears. This is a place of movement, colour and sound, our Celtic rainforest. Nestled into the southern slopes of the Fforest Fawr massif, west of Merthyr Tydfil, Waterfall Country is one of the most beautiful and popular parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Fforest Fawr Geopark, with steep, tree-lined gorges and an abundance of tumbling water. Known in Welsh as Coed-y-Rhaeadr (Wood of the Water), Waterfall Country lies within the triangle formed by the villages of Hirwaun, Ystradfellte, and Pontneddfechan. Here, old red sandstone and a long belt of outcrop limestone have created a highly distinctive environment of wooded gorges, caves, swallow holes and waterfalls. Activities include gorge walking, caving, canoeing, walking and rick climbing.
Victoria Splash Pad
The Splashpad in Victoria Park has 33 exciting features for children to enjoy and is on the site of the park’s paddling pool which it upgrades. Features include sprays, jets, a tipping water bucket and a tunnel. These are spread across three zones designed for: toddlers, juniors, and families.
National Museum Cardiff
Situated in Cardiff City Centre, free entry to the many exhibits on display including art, history and the nature exhibition is fantastic! Often the museum has a featured exhibition which changes every so often (this may incur a fee). Facilities include gift shop and café.