Five of the best things to do with kids in Birmingham this summer from just £10.25
COME July, Birmingham will be in the global spotlight when it hosts the Commonwealth Games.
But does our second city have enough action to keep a family entertained on a summer holiday city break?
We put it to the test.
(Oh and take note, Tory MP Heather Wheeler, Brum isn’t “God awful” – it’s awfully good…)
The Legoland Discovery Centre, west of the city centre, keeps things wonderfully simple with a main area that lets kids loose amid thousands of bricks.
My eight-year-old throws herself into building the best possible car to race down a ramp, while her younger sister experiments with switching clothes and hairstyles on Lego figures.
Around this, things get much more ambitious.
The Kingdom Quest ride has the girls shooting rocks out of trolls’ hands with lasers and then there’s Miniland, an impressive scaled-down city, with marvellous models of Edgbaston cricket ground and Warwick Castle.
Tickets cost from £22.95pp at legolanddiscoverycentre.com.
THE Science Garden at Thinktank is full of pulleys to tug, levers to yank and water fountains to balance plastic balls in.
But it’s the human hamster wheel that tires my youngest out most, spinning faster and faster.
For those with a little less energy, there’s also a mocked-up canal where visitors can help navigate a foam boat through a locks system.
Entry to the Science Garden is free, but you can add on the Thinktank science museum (birminghammuseums.org.uk) for £14 per adult and £10.25 per child.
The main event
A trip to Birmingham wouldn’t be complete without visiting Cadbury World (cadburyworld.co.uk), which is as close to a surefire success as you can get with kids in tow.
The main section is a high-tech, hologram-packed walk-through delve into the history of chocolate in an endlessly entertaining way.
Your children can enjoy touchscreen quizzes, choc-making demonstrations and writing on desks with squeezable molten chocolate.
They will be gripped by behind-the-scenes videos that show how a Creme Egg is made and thrillseekers can get their kicks on a sim- ulated rollercoaster ride on the 4D Chocolate Adventure.
Tickets cost £59.85 for a family of four.
One optional add-on is a choc-heavy afternoon tea with appearances from Cadbury characters.
Under the sea
THE National Sea Life Centre has much more than just fish in tanks.
The gentoo penguins and sea otters ramp up the cute factor, but my girls are more interested in the aquatic nasties, piranhas and swaying jellyfish.
The centre’s real strong point, though, is the ambience and wow factor, with lots of hidey-holes where you can observe ocean oddities from underneath, and an eerie underwater tunnel where you’ll walk among sharks, rays and turtles.
Entry costs £20.65pp at visitsealife.com.
The family feast
THE Canal House Bar & Restaurant (thecanalhouse.uk.com), in the centre of the action and close to the New Street train station, looks undeniably cool, with historic wooden beams, a glass roof and chandeliers made of old bottles.
But it’s not all about the interior.
This showmanship extends to the sausage and mash on the kids’ menu where curly Cumberland sausages are presented dangling from a skewer.
The adult food menu is a step above standard pub fare, too.
Make sure you try the Hot Board, featuring tater tot poutine and lamb koftas, both rich and indulgent.
Somewhere to stay
THE Novotel Birmingham Centre (Novotel.accor.com) is within handy walking distance of several key attractions mentioned here, such as Legoland and Sea Life Centre.
Standard rooms cost from £110, room-only, and fit a family of four with fold-out sofa beds.
But for adults wanting their own space, there’s 50 per cent off an interconnecting second room.
Other child-friendly bonuses are the corner with toys and games by reception, and free breakfast for the children.
Maybe next time . . .
Birmingham has many canals and these water paths are a great way of soaking up the city.
If you’ve got the time, hire a self-drive GoBoat.
Each vessel seats up to eight people and costs from £135 for two hours at goboat.com.