At the beginning of the year, we set out our rough draft for our family travels for the year. March was the month we had earmarked for our first road trip of the year, a family weekend in North Wales.
We booked our accommodation a few months ago, and as we had never really been to Wales before we randomly picked a B&B in Llandudno. From there we were able to plan our activities. It wasn’t until I started investigating distances and how long it would take us to get from A to B that I realised how close we were to Snowdonia National Park. If you didn’t already know, Wales has some amazing outdoor adventure experiences, and historically significant attractions, all literally oozing out of the mountains.
There was no way we would be able to do half the stuff we wanted in just weekend, but we gave it a good go! The rest will have to wait until next time. In the meantime, here is what we did get up to.
Day 1: I Don’t Waste Time!
When we go on a road trip, I love early starts. I feel like we only have so many hours to get out and explore and I don’t want to waste a single minute. Every hour spent packing, or eating breakfast, or searching for someone’s shoes when we could already be on our way, just infuriates me. So I end up operating on some kind of super-organised, military style precision planning mode. Do check out my 10 Tips of What To Pack for a Family Road Trip!
By 06.30 we were all in the car, the kids were set up with their tablets and books etc, and off we went.
Breaking In The New Wheels
This trip had the added excitement of being our first road trip in our new family car. At the end of last year, we made the decision that we would need to invest in a more practical and comfortable family car that would not only suit the size of our family and our family dynamic, but also one that would be our family road trip adventure car.
We ordered a Ford Tourneo Custom, and it literally arrived about a week before our Wales trip. We were actually starting to stress that it wouldn’t arrive in time, but luckily it all fell into place. With two kids still in car seats, and a 15 year old teenager, this car really does serve all our needs. More on that at a later stage, but for now … look how pretty!
We affectionately call it, “The Bus”. So when I shout up the stairs, “The bus is leaving in 5 minutes” the kids know to move their butts and get in the damn car! My family know how much I love travelling so they don’t argue with me when I give them a time to leave. And I’ve done this often enough that it’s not often our departure time is later than what I plan.
Mount Snowdon, Snowdon Mountain Railway
First on our list was Mount Snowdon. I remember visiting Ben Nevis in Scotland about 12 years ago, and back then we took a cable car up the mountain. I might have an adventurous spirit, but there was no way I was going to WALK up Mount Snowdon! So I started investigating to see if there was something similar that we could do with the girls. That’s when I discovered the Snowdon Mountain Railway. We booked for the 11.00 train which meant an early start for everyone. I literally declared that “The bus leaves at 06.30, either be ready, or get left behind.”
In case you missed it (which of course you didn’t), please check out the full review I did of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. We had the best time, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. This is a must when planning your family weekend in North Wales. The kids and us loved it.
Driving through the Welsh countryside you pass a castle every few miles. There seem to be endless castles everywhere and they all look exactly like you imagine they did ‘back in the day’. It’s almost like a fairy tale.
Next on our list was Caernarfon Castle which is located in Caernarfon, Gwynedd in North West Wales. This medieval castle is … immense. There has been a castle on that site since the 11th Century. In 1283 King Edward I of England replaced the original structure with the huge stone castle that still stands today.
The castle itself is amazing. When you drive up to it, it’s sheer size and the height of the walls makes you wonder just how they managed to build something to large and so solid. I could be wrong but I often wonder if it’s even possible to build structures like that these days.
In case you missed it, I have a thing about castles! And history. But I won’t bore you anymore with that.
This is a great place to take kids. CADW (The Welsh equivalent of the English Heritage, maintain Caernarfon Castle, although it is still owned by Her Majesty The Queen. You can check out my full review here to add it to your list of things to do in Wales. It was so good it got its own post too.
Gin O’Clock – Why Not!
When we left the castle we decided to have an ice-cream at the pub just opposite the castle. I had a gin. Because … why not. When on holiday and all that.
After (just) the one drink, we headed up to Llandudno where we had pre-booked our accommodation.
Where to Stay in Llandudno
I had left this to my husband which is not something I normally do. [Read: Control Freak! Yup!] But since I had basically planned everything else for the holiday, and he offered, I “let” him book the accommodation.
Now, if you’re looking for a lovely, quaint and homely B&B you really should consider staying at Agar House.
The kids room took all three girls in comfort – the teenager got the double, and the younger two had singles. We had the room next door which was a double with an en-suite bathroom. As we were the only guests on that floor, the communal bathroom was just for our family which was perfect really. It gave us a sense of privacy.
From Agar House it was a short walk into town, about 10 minutes. It is ideally located if you want to take a wander into town and find a nice place to have dinner, which is exactly what we did.
We had an early morning booking so we didn’t take advantage of the breakfast but they packed us a snack for the road and even dropped the price of the room. All in all, our stay there was so comfortable and accommodating that we have recommended them over and over again to friends. Thanks again to our lovely hosts!
Dinner at WildWood
After wandering around town a bit, taking in the sights, we decided to eat at WildWood Restaurant.
You know how when you have kids, and you start eating out, you end up lowering your standards a little because it’s really not cool to dress up only to have to go to the loo 25 times during one meal. Or to pay for a really nice child friendly fish & chips, only for it to arrive with peas on and destroy your child’s entire day/night/week/year! Well this place was perfect. The layout, decor and menu had something for everyone! They had fancy lights hanging stylishly from the ceiling, and colouring in pages for the kids. They had sausage & chips on the menu, as well as pizza, burgers and seafood. And wine! Win Win!
We enjoyed a lovely meal seated in one of their family tables right by the window. Not only did we get to watch the world go by on our family weekend in North Wales, but we had a delicious classy meal too. And everyone ate everything … really!!
After dinner we took a walk down to the beach front/promenade. It was a lovely warm evening and after spotting a few Alice In Wonderland statues, we headed back to the Agar House for an early night.
Day 1 of our family weekend In North Wales was a brilliant day for everyone.
Day 2 in Wales: Up Early!
Zip World Fforest Coaster
I saw a video on Facebook about 6 months earlier, of a forest coaster. It was only when I was researching things to do on a family weekend in north wales that I realise that video was made at Zip World in North Wales. Zip World have a number of different sites, and whilst they have many activities at each of their different sites, not all are suitable for a 5 year old.
After a bit of digging I discovered that the Fforest Coaster in the Zip World site based in the Snowdonia National Park IS suitable for 5 year olds, I booked us in immediately. Unfortunately I had left it really late and the only available slot was at 08.00 so this meant we had to set off from Llandudno at around 06.30 / 07.00 to be able to get there in time. Which we did actually manage. Hurrah!
What is a Fforest Coaster?
It’s basically a monorail coaster that weaves in and around the forest trees for about 1 kilometer. If you need more details check it out here. All I can say is wow! This is a must do. Please do check out their website for the latest prices and availability. Children under age 9 must be accompanied by an adult and every booking gets 3 rides. Trust me, you will want to do more than 3.
I can’t recommend this activity for a family weekend in north wales highly enough. It is sheer safe hair raising, fun adrenaline. The kids had an absolute ball.
From there we headed to the next item on my list, Swallow Falls.
Swallow Falls was on my list of things to see whilst in Wales. We parked in the car park of the hotel opposite, and paid for that – £2. No problem.
Then when we got to the falls on the other side of the road, access was via turnstile – £2.00 per person. Apparently there is supposed to be someone there to man the gate, but there wasn’t so I went back to the hotel to ask if they could change my notes for coins. The lady was quite irritated by this simple request which apparently wiped out all her change for the day (10.00am), but she did change it for me so I was grateful.
The falls themselves were beautiful. I kept thinking to myself, wow, that’s beautiful and then a few steps later there was another view, and then another. Honestly, it was stunning. I would recommend comfortable non-slip shoes. The steps down are quite steep too so don’t go down if you’re not able to get back up.
The whole thing took us no more than 30 minutes though so for a family of 5 it cost us £12.00 for 30 minutes. When you compare that to a lot of other activities, it’s a bit costly.
Driving from Zip World to Swallow Falls takes you through the Betws-y-Coed area. This is a stunning corner of the world. All within the Snowdonia National Park, I am still in awe of the unique beauty of the landscape. It’s an almost untouched part of the world. I can definitely see why this is a hot spot for adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts.
Just driving around this area there was always another attraction or another river, or another tea room. It’s a truly beautiful part of the world.
From flowing rivers to ancient castles, from quaint villages to sporting adventure tour companies, North Wales seems to have something to offer everyone in the family. I can’t wait to go back.
Our next family weekend in North Wales will include:
- More adventures at Zip World – I’m not sure yet what I want to do most, either the fastest zip line in the world, or the underground bounce playground. So many choices!
- Fairy Glen
- Harlech Castle
- Bodnant Gardens
- Exploring Llanberis Area.
I’d love to know if you have any suggestions on what to do when visiting Wales. I can’t wait to go back. Don’t forget to pin this post to follow our route.