4 Day Short Break in Swansea Bay, Wales with Kids
We love Wales here at Mini Travellers and over Easter we were excited to be invited to visit Gower , the Mumbles, and Swansea itself, by the team at Visit Swansea Bay.
We drove down to South Wales through the valleys from Wirral to Mumbles on Monday morning, avoiding any of the hassle of the M6 and arriving by lunchtime at the seaside. In this post I’ll give you a brief summary of the places we visited and what a trip to Swansea Bay could look like if you’re planning your own trip and then I’ll link to this post, some more detailed reviews on some of the places we visited too. We had really good weather for Easter whilst we were there but this trip would have been just as fun if the weather hadn’t been so kind as there were plenty of inside/under cover options too!
You can also read here Claire at Tin Box Traveller‘s post on her wonderful trip visiting slightly different places in the same area. Claire’s post is more beach focused and they travelled in February with their pre-schoolers and their dog.
So what did we do!
- 1pm: We visited Café Play Mumbles, a soft play frame in a converted old cinema. The day we visited they had an exciting interactive session by EduPets featuring rabbits, guinea pigs, 9 day old chicks and even a snake. We all enjoyed lunch here and were impressed by the quality of the food, our salads were healthy and filling (not limp and uninteresting which can be a feature of soft play centres I find) and even the kids ham sandwiches were made with ‘proper’ home cooked ham. The soft play centre itself was probably a little too young for mine at 5 and 6, but the preschoolers there looked to be having a ball. You can find out more about the additional events that Cafe Play Mumbles is putting on, on their facebook page.
- 3pm: After our fun visit to Cafe Play Mumbles we wandered down the front (wishing we had packed scooters or bikes – do if you are going – as it is very flat and safe) notionally towards Mumbles Pier however we had underestimated how long it would take to get from one end to the other and we hadn’t put enough money on the parking meter! We also hadn’t counted on the kids running up and down the pipes heading into the seaeither, but when they had that much fun making up games we couldn’t rush them!
- Following the wander down the front and the inevitable play on the park we drove to Parc le Breos, where we were to stay for 3 nights (on a B&B basis). Parc le Breos is a old Victorian hunting lodge and set in beautiful grounds. We were lucky that the weather was so kind as within minutes of arriving the kids were playing in the garden and on the rope swing with their 3 year old tour guide. The place is family run and little Fern knows how to entertain her guests. Parc le Breos is apparently only a 20 minute walk from Three Cliffs Bay but unfortunately we didn’t make it!
- 6pm: That evening we had a wonderful dinner at The King Arthur Hotel, in Reynoldston, which was only a 5 minute drive from the B&B. It is an incredibly popular place for drinks and we saw lots of people popping in after walking their dogs on the hills around. I wish the kids had bene less tired so we could have found the famous Arthur’s Stone and seen the 360 degree views across Gower from Cefn, as it was we had some wonderful food and an early night.
- 10am: We went to the LC (Wales’ biggest indoor waterpark) for an hour of soft play followed by swimming at 11am. The waterpark wasn’t that busy the day we visited so our time wasn’t limited specifically, albeit on busy days they call out your coloured wristbands to tell you your time is up. We managed to tackle the Masterblaster – which goes upwards as well and down! It was a little tricky to manage with our age group as only Lily could go on the slides leaving my mum with the twins in the pool itself. At 5 they can just swim but need careful watching. We could have done with another pair of hands. They were so close to being able to go on the slides as they are 1.1m in shoes (so pass the theme park test) but not in bare feet! For the little ones there is an interactive pool with mini slide, tipping buckets and fountains which they did enjoy but they were itching to get on the slides!
- 1pm: By the time we left the LC at around 12.30 it was time to head to Coast Café for lunch. Coast Cafe is a new independent coffee shop and wine bar and offers stunning views over an area of the Marina not normally seen. It really was in a pretty spot, although a little tricky to find as there is a lot of development going on in the area. We had dressed crab for two as recommended by the waiting staff and thoroughly enjoyed it. The kids enjoyed their lunch but mainly loved the ice creams! Joes – a local speciality!
— minitravellers (@minitravellers) April 11, 2017
- After Coast we wandered back towards the LC and the Marina and visited the National Waterfront Museum, which is an interactive and high tech approach to Wales’ history. The kids had a great couple of hours as they had an Easter craft activity on, creating little plant pots with seed bombs in, and then they also went on an Easter Egg hunt around the museum which meant we, as adults, saw some of the museum too.
- After that we made our way to the Swansea Museum (the oldest museum in Wales), notionally this was to see the 17th Century Flemish masterpiece (worth around £3m and recently discovered in the Swansea Museum storeroom). It’s an “important and beautiful” painting by artist Jacob Jordaens – a pupil of Peter Paul Rubens – was previously unknown to art historians and was identified by Bendor Grosvenor, for the new BBC Four series, Britain’s Lost Masterpieces. This was lost on the kids, but the WW1 room was a surprising hit with the kids who have just started to learn about it, and we wished we had left more time to explore this quirky museum. I found it funny that they loved the ‘old’ museum more than the ‘new’ one but my kids continually surprise me!
- 6pm: Our trip to Grape and Olive was one of the highlights of the week for me and my Mum. Grape and Olive is at the top of Wales’ tallest building with 360 degree views across the five mile sweep of Swansea Bay, towards Mumbles. We actually couldn’t believe we had been in Swansea all day and this was the first time we had seen the beach. If you are spending the day there, make sure you make time to head down to the beach it is vast! The Grape and Olive is less than a ten minute walk from the car park next to the LC where we had parked that morning, you just head around the marina and you can’t miss it. When we got to the top we literally couldn’t believe the view it was stunning. My photos from the top are terrible and simply don’t do the view justice as the windows reflected everything back at us. You can maybe get a little feel for the view though in the photo below. The food was fantastic and the service very good! Definitely worth a visit.
- On Wednesday morning we were going to head to Langland Bay for some rock pooling but we didn’t get started very quickly (preferring to linger over another fab breakfast from Park le Breos) so changed our minds and decided to visit Mumbles Pier instead. Mumbles Pier was first built in 1898 and since has become one of Swansea Bay’s most defining features. The weather had taken a little turn for the worse so we found ourselves in hats, gloves scarves and coats for a walk out to the end of the pier and the new lifeboat station that opens soon. The kids were fascinated at the difference between the two buildings and we enjoyed a mooch in the arcades!
- 11am: What we all particularly loved this day was our visit to Oystermouth Castle. Full review to follow. Oystermouth Castle sits on the hill in Mumbles and doesn’t look like much from the sea front, it does however go back a very long way. Oystermouth Castle has ancient graffiti, a maze of deep vaults and secret staircases too. The kids enjoyed the Crafty Fun workshop in the castle which are usually on in the holidays and the tour we had was captivating and had them marching across the walls to the turrets!
- 1pm: We couldn’t leave Mumbles without a trip to Verdi’s, a family run Café, Ice Cream Parlour and Licensed Restaurant. If you speak to the locals in this area they all have a favourite ice cream parlour with Joes and Verdi’s quite high up the list. Being right on the sea front, Verdi’s has a fabulous view over Swansea Bay and I decided we could abandon lunch per se for the day and just have ice cream! This was mine! Whilst we were in Swansea I was lucky enough to meet up with Becky from Munchies & Munchkins who I had met in Germany last year for the launch of an outdoor projector and we spent an hour or so gossiping whilst the kids played on the park once again.
Now that’s what you call lunch! Decided to order a knickerbocker glory at #verdisicecream parlour instead of a sandwich! Amazing! Lovely to meet up here with @munchiesandmunchkins and her family too! We are having such a nice time in @visitswanseabay now for @gowerheritagecentre #ukexplore #livethelegend
- 3pm: Later in the afternoon we made our way to the Gower Heritage Centre for Easter Fun. I have mixed feelings about this place and whether I’d suggest you include it in your trip to Swansea Bay should you go. We were there for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the kids did have fun, however I’d say this was definitely due to the Easter activities they had on. I’ll do a full review in due course but I think without the enthusiastic Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit (the special Easter Bunny) there wouldn’t have been enough to keep the kids busy for the majority of the day, which I think you need to spend there to justify the price. This seems to be the view of most people I mentioned it to as well!
- 6pm: Finally we finished off our day at the Oxwich Bay Hotel, which is basically on Oxwich Bay beach. It is in a stunning location and the food was fantastic. The Oxwich Bay Hotel has expanded and now not only has rooms in the hotel, but cottages, glamping pods and very luxurious caravans too!
We had to head home on Thursday morning and wish we had had longer to explore. For more posts in our time in this wonderful area do check back soon.
NB: We were invited to stay in Swasea Bay as guests of Visit Swansea but all views and opinions are my own.
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