5 of the best free family-friendly attractions in North Wales
Dominated by Snowdonia National Park, North Wales is often regarded as the UK’s adventure playground. People flock from all over the country to hike to the top of the famous summit of Mount Snowdon, which stands at 1,085m tall. It’s a great achievement to reach the summit, but probably not quite suitable for families, especially those with younger children. If you are staying in North Wales for a few days and need to find some slightly less taxing ways to enjoy yourself, then look no further. Here are five of the best free family-friendly things to do in North Wales.
1. Explore Shell Island
Shell Island is a tidal island, located just up the coast from Llanaber. At low tide, you can walk across to the beach, renowned for the shells and other treasures which are thrown up by winter storms in the area. This makes it an incredibly attractive destination for families in summer, when the weather is better. Strolling along the beach and combing the sand for all manner of fascinating shells is a great way for younger children to familiarise themselves with the beach. There are also rolling sand dunes to climb, but make sure you shake your kids off before they climb back into the car otherwise you'll be finding sand in there for months.
2. Wrap up warm and throw your eyes to the skies in Snowdonia National Park
Just because you may not want to hike Snowdon with the little ones, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of fun to be had within Snowdonia National Park itself. As well as being a great place to embrace some wild nature for the whole family, the national park is a designated dark skies reserve. So much of the UK is blighted with light pollution, meaning the night sky often keeps many of its best secrets hidden away from the naked eye. But in Snowdonia, the dark skies unveil their full majesty. If you’re camping or staying in the area and want a free way to entertain the kids after dark then simply wrap up warm, grab a few blankets (and some snacks) and head outside on a clear night. You may be able to spot shooting stars, the Milky Way and the planets of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn if you time things right.
3. Walk the Conwy town walls
On Wales’ northern coast, the town of Conwy is crowned by the magnificent Conwy Castle, a well-preserved, 13th century castle overlooking the Conwy River. It is a fabulous place to explore, but you do need to pay an entry fee. If you’re operating on a budget however, there is another option which is almost as good. Part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as the castle itself, the Conwy town walls snake for more than three quarters of a mile around the town’s medieval centre. There are 21 towers and three original gateways along the length of the walls. And it is completely free to walk along the top of them! You can gaze down at the town below your feet, or enjoy marvellous views of Conwy Castle, Snowdonia and the Conwy Estuary.
4. See the bird life at South Stacks Reserve in Anglesey
If your family is nature mad, then you’re in luck. North Wales is home to some of the best bird life in the UK, with the RSPB alone operating 11 reserves in the area. One of these is South Stacks Cliffs, located on Holy Island off the coast of Anglesey. All manner of species can be seen at the reserve, including rare choughs, iconic puffins and fast-flying peregrine falcons. The reserve has a visitor centre and café, as well as a picnic area and nature trails to help visitors spot some of the resident species. Entry to the reserve is free, although of course any donations you can make to the RSPB are most welcome! You may also want to visit the South Stack Lighthouse, and a fee does apply if you’d like to make this trip.
5. Visit the National Slate Museum
The Welsh weather can never be relied upon completely, so we’ll throw in one indoor attraction, just in case. The National Slate Museum is located in Llanberis, a few miles inland from Caernarfon. The museum charts the story of the Welsh slate industry and is housed in a Victorian workshop in the shadow of Eildir Mountain. This living museum has largely been designed to look exactly as it did in the mid-1900s when this industry was still booming. Visitors to the museum can see all manner of exhibits, including the Chief Engineer’s House and a row of Quarrymen houses, where the quarry workers once lived. Watch the in-house blacksmith at work and see an authentic slate-splitting demonstration.
North Wales is packed full of family activities and adventures that you can enjoy without spending a fortune. Taking advantage of the area’s rural environment and exploring the great outdoors is a brilliant way to have some family fun, though there is plenty to keep you busy inside if the weather isn’t favourable.