Our kids are very lucky, their grandparents live in very interesting places, so they get to see a lot of the country just by visiting them. During the Easter holidays in 2014 we took the kids to visit “Grandad in Belfast”(that’s what they always call him, rejecting his first or surname for his geographical location, we’re OK with it). We’d done many daytrips over the years but very little exploration of Belfast apart from Grandad’s local soft play area and the nearby supermarkets to stock up on paracetamol (19p a packet, I can’t believe that they don’t use that on their touristing advertising south of the border) and Calpol, so we were all looking forward spending a bit more time in the area. (Apologies for the lack of photos, I can’t find them anywhere and I took LOADS, waaahhhh)
Where did we stay?
We chose a hotel based on value for money and family friendliness-(the kids were really only concerned with the pool at the hotel and who got the best bed.) Hotels in central Belfast are expensive, and parking is often extra, and the sterling exchange rate is a force to be reckoned with, making everything even more expensive.
We stayed at the Ramada Plaza at Shaws Bridge which is outside the city in a country area, off a main road and on the edge of an enormous park. The hotel was perfect for us, it had free parking, it was easy to find, the staff were without exception friendly and helpful, they had a small playroom which we had to ourselves a couple of times which was full of toys for younger kids. Our Family Room had a king-sized bed, a double bed and a travel cot. I prefer family rooms with single beds rather than a double as it is nearly impossible to get the boys to stop kicking each other and to settle to sleep so one adult gets the short straw of sharing the smaller bed with a cross between a starfish and an octopus. We found that the best prices were on the hotel’s own website.
We spent an hour one of the mornings in the pool (Laoise’s first time at 10 months) and we had fun in the playroom after dinner. There’s no playground but the hotel is located at the edge of a forest park that we just didn’t get the chance to check out. We ate one night
What’s to do in Belfast with kids?
Titanic deserves a blogpost of its own so I wrote one- read it HERE.
This was the best museum I have ever been to, anywhere in the world. It was interactive, had something to amuse everyone, the kids loved it, we loved it. Yes, it’s expensive, but go there, you won’t regret it.
We went to Belfast Zoo a few years ago and I was very unimpressed. You see, Belfast Zoo is located on the side of a mountain. Which means it’s impossible to get around with a buggy. The kids fell over lots, and there was no food when we got to the top of the mountain except ice-cream. We hadn’t planned a return visit but Ciaran begged us. “There are no bears in Fota or Dublin Zoo” he reminded us. He needed to see bears. So we went, this time with full knowledge of the very, very steep hill, and the fact that the place is a bit more scruffy than Dublin Zoo, and a picnic. AND WE LOVED IT. The sun shone (this is vital when you are on the exposed side of a mountain). The bears performed. The boys played in the great playground for ages. Fun was had by all. Go, filled with knowledge of the big hill and enjoy. Bring a picnic, food options on site are way at the top of that hill.
“With over 250 amazing interactive exhibits in four incredible exhibition areas, W5 provides a unique experience as well as fantastic fun for visitors of all ages.” the website advises. “In addition to permanent exhibits, W5 also presents a changing programme of large and small scale temporary exhibitions and events. We have a daily programme of live science demonstrations and shows throughout the day.” (from W5 website)
Everyone told us to go. But we didn’t, it just didn’t work out with children and babies and sleeps and the amount of time that we spent in Titanic . It sounds very, very cool.
We did however stop in at the shopping outlet in Banbridge for cut-price GAP hoodies and a burger and found “W5 lite” which made us regret not having had the time to go to the real thing. We will definitely go next time.
We had to visit our old favourite playcentre, Funky Monkeys. It’s a playcentre, it does nice toasties, what more do you need to know? (there are places to buy cheap paracetamol and an O’Neills store and Sainsburys downstairs).
We really enjoyed our break in Belfast, and because it’s so long ago we definitely intend on going back and spending more time enjoying all that Belfast has to offer soon, with the kids 10 months, 3 and 5 last time we really only scratched the surface.
Disclosure: This post is my honest opinion, I wasn’t asked to write this post and didn’t receive any payment, and we paid for all services mentioned ourselves. If someone does want to send us on a return trip to Northern Ireland we’d happily go. Or anywhere really.