9 fun things to do in Cardiff Bay during the holidays
With the Easter school holidays in full swing and May bank holiday just around the corner, you are no doubt wondering what to do with your little ones? Keeping the children entertained is a familiar challenge for most parents. Plus finding activities and attractions that don’t cost the earth can often be an even bigger headache.
If you are looking for a fun day out or just a few hours away from the house, then Cardiff Bay has everything you need. Whether you are looking for free or purse-friendly activities to something a little bit different, there are plenty of options to occupy you and your children without breaking the bank.
We have rounded up nine things to do that will guarantee to put smiles on faces. So, no matter what the weather’s doing outside, there’s no excuse for staying away from the bay this Easter.
1. Go on a family white water rafting adventure
For all the adventure seekers out there, enjoy the thrills of white water rafting at the Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) centre located in the heart of Cardiff Bay’s International Sports Village. Enjoy the thrills and spills as you ride the rapids on a family white water rafting ride. The special family ride sees the speed and level of the water lowered, so children as young as six can enjoy the fun.
As well as white water rafting, there is a wide range of activities on offer for all children who love getting wet, including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. There is expert training as well as all the equipment you need, so all you need to bring is your sense of adventure. There is also expert training as well as all the equipment you need, so all you need to bring is your sense of adventure.
Where: Watkiss Way, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0SY
2. Take a trip to a remote island
Be an adventurer for a few hours and journey to the remote island of Flat Holm. Just five miles away from Cardiff Bay, the island, which can only be reached by boat, is the perfect place for your little explorers to experience nature and history.
Get your packed lunches ready as there is plenty to see and discover from the moment you step aboard to when you arrive at the heritage site. During the hour sail, spot all the sites from the sea and look out for all the birds and passing boats along the way. Check out the remaining World World Two gun pits along with the foundations of several cabins, which would have been occupied by British forces in the 1940s. There is also the cholera hospital and the foghorn station which are both still intact and can be seen during a visit.
Flat Holm also has lots of natural beauty. The island is filled with plenty of bird species from gulls to shelducks, so this is the perfect destination for every little bird watcher.
Where: Cardiff Harbour Authority, Queen Alexandra House, Cargo Road, CF10 4LY
3. Have lunch with a giant crocodile
Yes, you heard right! A giant crocodile on the Cardiff coastline. Head to Cardiff Bay Barrage and burn off all those Easter eggs and hot cross buns with a walk along the barrage embankment or take the bikes or scooters in the car and let the children tire themselves out. It’s nice and flat and accessible for all visitors and boasts spectacular views across the bay and Severn Estuary. And best of all. It is free!
Get interactive, by downloading the bilingual Tiger Bay Trail app, in which little explorers can discover the area’s fascinating history from the animals you will meet along the way. Take a picnic along and enjoy your lunch on top of the giant crocodile, which can be found on the barrage embankment near the large white sails. But remember this cheeky chappy, who is inspired by the popular children’s book by Roald Dahl, the Enormous Crocodile, is partial to a sandwich. So make sure you eat your lunch quickly, otherwise, the croc will snap it all up.
Where: Queen Alexandra House, Cargo Rd, Cardiff Bay CF10 4LY
4. Get close to nature and go wildlife spotting
Embrace the great outdoors, and journey around eight hectares of the former saltmarsh at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. Located on the northern shore of the bay between St David’s Hotel and the River Taff, it is easily accessible via a gravel walkway and boardwalk. Here you can download the Wetlands Wildlife Explorer and take the children on a fun tour of the reserve. Follow the map to find marker posts in and around the reserve, whether it is a toad, kestrel or wildflower, you can have fun and learn about the reserve’s special residents. You can even do some colouring and take photographs along the way.
The site is dedicated to nature conservation and is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals, including invertebrates, fish and other wildlife. Go bird watching and see how many different types of birds you can spot on your adventure.
Where: Havannah Street car park, CF10 5SG
5. Be a gym bunny at the outdoor fitness centre
Forget the Easter bunny, your little ones will be able to be gym bunnies at Cardiff Bay Barrage’s outdoor fitness area. Walk along the embankment and you will find a number of fun leisure activities along the way as well as a children’s play area and free skate plaza with ramps, half-pipes and rails.
There is also the AdiZone open-air gym, which is designed in the shape of the London 2012 Olympic logo. The sports facility comprises a modern 18 station outdoor gym as well as a basketball area, football goals, tennis wall, climbing wall and an open area for aerobics, dance, martial arts, gymnastics and play. So whatever your children are into and whatever their ages, there is plenty on offer which will be guaranteed to tire them out.
Where: Queen Alexandra House, Cargo Rd, Cardiff Bay CF10 4LY
6. Swing like a monkey on the high ropes
Challenge your little monkeys to swing the high ropes on the Air Trail at Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) centre. Tackle the fun-filled obstacles including the Burma Bridge, Monkey Swing, Barrel Crawl and Zip Wire, which towers above the CIWW white water course and doesn’t fail to impress.
No equipment or experience is required, all you need to come with is an adventurous spirit and a thirst for fun. Height and weight restrictions limit this activity to a minimum height of 132cm (but 107cm plus can take part if accompanied by an adult), and a maximum weight of 18 stone.
Where : Watkiss Way, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0SY
7. Try being a sailor (or a pirate!)
Ship ahoy! Jump aboard and discover the picturesque Cardiff coastline by boat. Your little sailors or pirates will love the experience of being on a boat and spotting all their favourite landmarks along the way. Head to the waterfront, near Roald Dahl Plass, and explore the historic docklands area of Cardiff, now Cardiff Bay.
Take in the sights including the Millennium Stadium, The Pierhead, the Wetlands nature reserve, the Senedd, Norwegian Church and so much more – depending on which boat ride you decide to go on. Plus you can learn a little bit about the history of the area, which is truly fascinating. To avoid disappointment check the services are running on the operators’ websites prior to setting off. More information can be found on Visit Cardiff’s website.
Where : Mermaid Quay, CF10 5BZ
8. Be a superhero for the day
The kids will love channelling their inner superheroes at Techniquest this Easter. Throughout the school holidays, there are special Superhero-themed events at the science centre where your mini heroes can learn the secret to creating webs for slinging around the neighbourhood just like Spiderman himself, discover how to make ice suddenly appear and learn what happens when we use laser vision. Be warned there will be loud bangs, pows and wows!
As well as the superhero event, children will discover two floors of mesmerising models, marvellous machines and mind-boggling interactive displays. Attempt to launch a rocket, try virtual surgery, experience a real-life earthquake and even feel the force of a hurricane.
There is something for all ages to learn about and enjoy, with over 100 exhibits linked to five key themes: space, the environment, chemistry, biomedical science and world issues. You can even take your Techniquest experience home with you by using an XTAG while you’re there.
Where: Stuart St, Cardiff CF10 5BW
9. Enjoy a drink or a bite to eat
After taking part in all the activities Cardiff Bay has to offer, reward yourself and your boisterous brood with something to eat or drink down the bay. There is so much to choose from you will be spoilt for choice. Cardiff Bay’s has some of the best places to eat and drink in the city. With its beautiful waterfront backdrop, Mermaid Quay boasts a variety of restaurants and bars to suit many different tastes and occasions.
Nearby, The Red Dragon Centre also offers a fine choice of food outlets and a pub alongside its quality indoor entertainment. When something more casual is called for, you’ll find no shortage of cafes or coffee houses and there’s even a Portuguese bakery. What will tickle your tastebuds?
Where: Mermaid Quay, CF10 5BZ
How do I get to Cardiff Bay?
Follow the signs for Cardiff Bay. From outside of Cardiff, on the M4 leave at Junction 33 and follow the A4232. From the East leave at Junction 29, take the 3rd exit off the A48.
There are several car parks in the Cardiff Bay area, including Penarth side of Cardiff Bay Barrage (CF64 1TQ), Havannah Street (CF10 5SG) near Techniquest and St David’s Hotel, Stuart Street in Mermaid Quay (CF10 5BZ), Harbour Drive (CF10 4PA) near the Norwegian Church and Pierhead Street (CF10 4PH) near Wales Millennium Centre and The Red Dragon Centre.
By Public Transport
Don’t forget, if you are travelling by public transport then it’s important to plan your journey in advance. Ensure you check the transport provider’s website and double-check the timetable for any changes before setting off.
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