Some of you may remember that our Sweet Sculpture Activity won us a trip to Blackpool. Well last week we packed our bags and headed off. Blackpool isn’t somewhere that’s been on our radar of places to visit before now. We love UK holidays but tend to opt for quiet country locations or rugged coastlines. It was great fun though to step away from the norm and try something new and we found that Blackpool had so many things to keep us busy. Here’s a summary of what we got up to…
Monday, Enjoying The Sun, Sea, Sand And Air Show
We arrived on a beautifully sunny and very windy day. After a long car ride the children really enjoyed the feel of the wind…
…and were delighted to be able to race along the seafront and watch the large waves being whipped up.
We took a long walk along the sea front and they were very tickled by Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet and spent a lot of time going backwards and forwards reading all the quotes and jokes.
We loved the vast expanse of sand the beach had to offer and over the days made lots of different sand pictures. It was so lovely to have such a large flat canvas for the children to create their transient art. I love the natural creativity that often flows from them at the beach. It’s so nice to get away from piles of toys and the dreaded screen!
We arrived in Blackpool on a special day as it was their annual Free Air Show and we were treated to a variety of aeroplanes and helicopters doing acrobatics around the tower in such high winds. It was quite a spectacular show. We particularly loved the brave Breitling Wing Walkers, the world’s only formation wing walking team!
We finished the day with a lovely meal at Nando’s. I hadn’t taken the children there before and thought it might be a bit spicy for them but it went down a treat and Biscuit managed to devour half a chicken! I was a big fan of their toffee cheesecake, yummy!
Tuesday, A Super Day Out At Blackpool Zoo
On our second day in Blackpool we took a bus ride to Blackpool Zoo. They have a lovely prehistoric trail as well as the animals and some play areas too.
We saw some animals that we haven’t seen at our local zoo of which our favourite was the Porcupine. Did you know that porcupines climb trees? We didn’t and couldn’t quite believe our eyes. Don’t you think he’s quite the cutie?
They had a fun sea lion show where they talked about keeping these intelligent animals stimulated with tricks and performance challenges.
Blackpool Zoo had a wonderful enrichment program running for the lions and tigers where students had built cardboard animal shapes of giraffes, pigs and elephants and hidden meat inside. These cardboard shapes were then dotted around the enclosures for the lions and tigers ‘to hunt’. It was fantastic to see the lions and tigers tear out of their pens and prowl around looking for their dinner and then rip and claw into the cardboard structures to get their meat. It gave us a sense of the true nature and power of these magnificent creatures and it must offer them far more fulfillment than just giving them their food.
There’s also the chance to pay for an additional feed the giraffes experience where you can get right up close and hand feed these incredible creatures. We loved watching their agile and extremely long tongues! We found out that a giraffe’s tongue is black so that it doesn’t get burnt in the sun!
Wednesday, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Pleasure Beach and A Show
Our third day in Blackpool was very busy. We crammed in an awful lot and were absolutely shattered by the end of it, but pleasantly so!
In the morning we visited Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. The children are avid fans of the Ripley’s books and regularly devour them for hours on end. They were so excited to be able to go into the exhibition as we hadn’t realised there was one in Blackpool. We’d only heard about the London one, so this was a great surprise and entry is much cheaper than the London exhibition too. Needless to say the children loved it and marvelled at lots of curiosities such as giant balls of wool, a full-sized wax model of Lizard Man, shrunken heads, furry trout and vampire killing kits to name but a few!
One of their favourite finds at Ripley’s was this little gem. Isn’t it amazing?
That afternoon we headed round the corner to Pleasure Beach to test our daring on a number of rides. There was a good selection of rides for all different ages from gentle teacup rides to mammoth roller coasters not for the faint hearted.
The queues are quite long for the popular rides but that’s to be expected. I took drinks and snacks with us so we used the queueing time to recharge our batteries a bit. Our favourite rides were Wallace and Grommits Thrill-O-Matic and a horse racing one, that charged us along at break neck speed, whose name escapes me I’m afraid. We finished in an ‘Impossible’ house which we wished we’d discovered earlier as we would have loved to have gone in more than once. It was full of lots of optical illusions that really captured the children’s interest and it had a fantastic mirror maze too.
That evening we went to Pleasure Beach’s Horse Shoe Theatre to see High Jinx, a Magic and Illusion Show. It was very light-hearted and perfect for keeping the children on the edge of their seats spellbound and amazed. It was just the right length of time as well and the stars of the show said a personal goodbye to everyone on their way out which I thought was really lovely and made it very special.
Thursday, Madame Tussaud’s, Blackpool Dungeons and Blackpool Tower
Our fourth Day in Blackpool was jam packed again and we crammed in a star struck trip around Madame Tussaud’s, a terrifying and thrilling visit to Blackpool Dungeons and scaled the dizzy heights of Blackpool Tower.
Madame Tussaud’s was initially a strange experience for the children and they were shy with the models. It took them a while to really relax and get over their nerves coming face to face with some of their heroes even though they weren’t real! Particular favourites of Biscuit’s were Bear Grylls and David Attenborough. Wouldn’t they be fantstic people to meet in the flesh?
Crumb’s favourite was Susan Boyle. She has really inspired him to sing more. Because of his deafness and the limitations of his cochlear implants music and singing can be really difficult for him to access so I love that he’s encouraged by her.
We also met with some Royalty …
and Biscuit completely lost his head!
By the end little Crumb was quite worn out and happy to play a very bossy and grumpy monarch.
At Madame Tussauds I particularly liked the opportunity to make your own wax hand. It was a bit pricey at £9 but really helped the children think about the process involved in making such detailed models. You had to be over the age of 8 to take part because of the hot wax so Crumb couldn’t do it but he still enjoyed watching big brother dip his hand in and out of the wax at the different stages.
Next we moved on to Blackpool Tower Dungeons. Sadly we couldn’t take any pictures going around as it was too dark and would have spoilt the whole immersive theatre experience that it was.
We were led by costumed actors through gruesome periods of history. We visited a torture chamber where a lady visitor in our group was locked in a cage and an anxious gent was threatened with having his manliness chopped off! We visted a Doctor in the time of the plague only to find that the poor man had died before we got their and we were to witness the dead Dr’s innards being removed by his apprentice, complete with spurting blood and squeelching sound effects! Do you get the picture?
The children thought the Dungeons was an absolutely amazing experience and say it was one of the best things they did while in Blackpool. It was quite unlike anything else they have experienced before and had just enough scare value without totally terrifying them. Having said that my youngest is 7 and I wouldn’t recommend taking anyone any younger than that unless they are particulrly hardy. He loved it but gripped me very, very tightly all the way around.
After the depth and darkness of the dungeons we headed a few paces along the road to go up Blackpool Tower. I was left with a slight sense of sadness at the Tower experience. It was very obviously a beautiful structure and has an amazing theatre hall inside with stunning features but it is far from being at it’s best. One of the glass doors to the theatre was cracked and taped up and on peering through into the theatre we saw lots of beautiful but very tatty Victorian seating that again was taped up. In the main body of the building false ceilings had been put in hiding some of the beautiful architecture.
As part of the tower experience you get taken to view a short 4D film highlighting some of the sights of Blackpool. Personally this just added to the sense of sadness about it for me. I would much rather that the beauty of the time in which it was built was preserved rather than trying to bring it into the here and now. I would have much preferred the splendor of the Victorian era to have been embraced and fully preserved than the mismatch of modern and old that I saw. I guess that the time and cost of maintaining and restoring such a huge old building must be vast and never ending.
It obviously is a personal taste thing and with all that aside we still enjoyed going up the tower. The view was amazing and the children loved the glass floor which was quite frightening to first step out on.
Friday, Sea Life Centre and Blackpool’s Model Village
On the fifth and last day of our Blackpool break we squeezed in a trip to the Sea Life Centre and a walk around Blackpool Model Village before heading home exhausted!
The Sea Life Centre was super. I loved that some of the tanks had open tops so that you could look both through the glass and directly down at the sea life too. The open tank of rays was a particular highlight as they came right up to the surface to say hello to us!
The boys of course adored the sharks and the big glass front and walk through tunnel helped you gain a real sense of the scale and beauty of these incredible animals.
We loved finishing off our time in Blackpool Model Village. It was a beautifully sunny afternoon and it was lovely to amble around the quite little village and enjoy the delicious ice cream from the shop there
They give you a free question trail to do on your way round which ensures you get to see everything and don’t get lost on the winding paths. The children really enjoyed taking turns to listen to the clues and lead us to the right place and answer the question. A lovely peaceful way to spend the afternoon.
I hope this gives you a taste of what Blackpool has to offer. We crammed in so much in such a short time and there was still so much more to see and do! You really could spend a couple of weeks there and do something different every day and still not get everything done!
We benefitted from using Blackpool’s Resort Pass which is great value giving you big savings on lots of different attractions. We visited as much as we could in the time we had but sadly couldn’t go to the Water Park. It boasts to be the UK largest but sadly Biscuit had his appendix out a couple of weeks ago and is still not allowed to go swimming yet so we had to give that a miss. But if we ever get the opportunity to go back then it’ll be op of our list of places to go as we heard so many great things about it from other visitors.
The Strathdon Hotel
Blackpool proved to be a great place to visit with the children as there was just so much to see and do. Our days were absolutely jam-packed and we were very grateful to have stayed at the wonderful Strathdon Hotel. It’s a small hotel of just 10 rooms run by a wonderfully friendly couple Veronica and Ian. They had the perfect balance of being friendly and helpful but still allowing you enough privacy too. Not an easy balance to achieve but they do it fantastically.
I have to say an enormous thankyou to them for their fantastic full English breakfasts which really set us up for the day, I don’t think we’d have had the stamina we needed to cram in as much as we did without them.
You can read our Trip Advisor review of the hotel here and I really would recommend staying at the Strathdon if you’re ever in Blackpool. There are hundreds of guest houses and hotels to choose from in Blackpool but if ever we go back we’ll be heading straight back there. Thankyou Veronica and Ian for a fabulous home from home stay. The perfect base for all our Blackpool adventures.