Summer’s finally here, and that means pencil cases can get packed away and the school run put on hold for six weeks.
It’s great news, especially if you’re little and can’t wait to get out and play, but it can be tricky to manage for parents trying to keep children entertained every day.
But the school holidays don’t have to be a money pit for mums and dads, because Liverpool has lots of free or low-price options to keep them busy and happy for hours.
Here are a few suggestions which should make the holiday budget stretch that bit further …
Best for … beach boys (and girls):
Pack your frisbee and your beach games and enjoy a National Trust day out at Formby Beach (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby) with long stretches of golden sand and dramatic dunes, perfect for running and playing and costing nothing. Search for prehistoric footprints, preserved in the mud along the coastline, dating back as far as 6000BC, go rock pooling or into the woods to try and spot Formby’s famous red squirrels.
Best for … arty types:
Liverpool’s lucky to have some fabulous museums and galleries with plenty of free activities for children. Tate Liverpool at the Albert Dock has free summer workshops, great for little ones to make their own artwork, on dates throughout July and August. (www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool/visit-tate-liverpool-family) or get creative at Big Art for Little Artists gallery at the Walker (www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/visit/kids.aspx)
Best for … Instagram fans
There are so many photo opportunities in and around Liverpool, it’s hard to know where to begin. But if you want an icon to get in your pic, why not head to Crosby Beach and snap a selfie with one of Anthony Gormley’s world famous Iron Men? There are 100 to choose from so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the perfect partner – see who can take the best selfie, and maybe bring along a couple of props (just take them home afterwards!)
Best for … rainy mornings
It might be summer, but there’s no guarantee that every day will be filled with blazing sunshine, so it’s always good to have an indoor back-up plan. The Planetarium at World Museum Liverpool is the ultimate escape … into space! Tickets are cheap – it’s £2.50 for adults or £1.50 for children – but the universe’s best bargain is the 10-minute Sky At Night show, at 10.30am every day in the holidays and free. (www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/visit/floor-plans/planetarium.aspx)
Best for … days out with grandparents
Get little ones into the kitchen and get them hands-on making sandwiches and maybe even baking a few fairy cakes for a picnic. Nothing tastes quite so delicious as something you’ve made yourself! Then pack it all into a bag, with a picnic rug or blanket, and head to Sefton Park or Calderstones Park. In Sevvie Park you can add in a visit to the Palm House, or in Caldies explore the gorgeous Japanese garden, then feed the ducks your leftovers (they like lettuce, not bread remember!)
Best for … animal lovers
No need to get out into the countryside to see farm animals in their natural environment. Croxteth Park farm is in the grounds of Croxteth Hall and Country Park with rare breed animals including cows, pigs, goats and sheep – and their little offspring. It’s £2.70 for children/£3.50 for adults or £7 for a family. (www.croxtethparkfarm.co.uk). Want free instead of cheap? Try the Rice Lane City Farm where children (toddlers upwards) can meet their farmyard favourites. The City Farm is also a part of a fantastic local charity (Rice Lane Community Association) who accept donations from visitors.
Best for … sporty families
Or maybe just those who fancy picking up a table tennis bat and giving it a go – here at St Johns we’ve got our own Ping Pong Parlour which is great for all ages. The ping pong tables and paddles are free to use, and they’re on the lower level of the centre on Dawson’s Way so they’re perfectly placed to have a game in between shopping. Why not split the family into teams and have a challenge match?