Portsmouth in the Rain with Kids: If you are regular readers of Mudpie Fridays then you will know that I am planning a weekend away each month, so far we have visited Cambridge and Warwick. However there are places we want to visit which are closer to home that do not require us to stay away. One of these is Portsmouth. I tried a couple of years ago to take Monkey up the Spinika Tower only to discover that the lift was broken and the only way up was the stairs with a two year old. Needless to say there was a huge tantrum and we didn’t make it to the top. However now he is heading towards five I had decided it was worth another go, and you never know the lift maybe working.
The day I had planned to take him the weather was awful. Kipper had not been well so I did not want him out in the bad weather. Knowing the tower would be enough for the morning or afternoon, it seemed a long way to drive not to have the whole day out. So that then posed the question what do you do in Portsmouth in the rain with kids? I’m not a fan of soft play generally. They have their place but I don’t really want to spend a whole day at one. So we opted to visit the Blue Reef Aquarium, it had mixed reviews on Trip Advisor so we were not sure what to expect.
Based on the seafront with on street paid parking right outside it was the perfect location for what we were after. Now its not large, in fact it probably only took us about an hour to walk round. Monkey loves to jump from one exhibit to the next so if you have more patient kids then it may take you a little longer. The buggy went round without any problems. When you pay you get a stamp which will allow you to come and go as much as you would like. Since they have a large number of activities and feeding times so if the weather was nice you could play on the beach in-between the ones you want to see.
It is a little tired but it does do some great conservation work and I also really like that they have beach clean up walks as well. As the tanks are pretty old it does mean you can get up close to a number of the species, perfect for Kipper. In addition to the normal, they also have some otters and also small reptiles and amphibians. Monkey was particularly taken with this turtle that liked to follow his finger along the tank. There is a cafe on site but we didn’t visit instead we planned to eat by the tower, there is also a couple of restaurants along the sea front.
I think we probably would visit again if we were local and needed an inside activity. The problem with Portsmouth is that there is so much to get up to that we probably wouldn’t go again by choice. Unless we had exhausted all the other options. This is not a direct reflection on the place more that I would want to see something new.
Things you need to know:
- You can buy discounted tickets online up to one hour before you visit which makes an adult £9.68 and a child £7.43 and under 3s are free. All you need is your email confirmation to enter
- Open everyday apart from Christmas Day 10am – 5pm or 6pm in school holidays
- Address: Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, Portsmouth, PO5 3PB
We left the aquarium and headed towards Gunwharf Quays, it gets busy so it is worth bearing this in mind. We had to queue to get into one of the main car parks but there was was plenty of parking. There are lots of places to eat so even though by the time we had parked, unpacked the car got the buggy up and the kids in tow it was the height of the lunch trade we still found a table easily. Of course being in amongst the shops its easy to get side tracked. It is worth checking out their website as they have a number of offers on for food.
Our next stop was the Spinnaker Tower. I had picked up a leaflet on Hampshire Top Attractions which meant that I had a free ticket for Monkey. Some discounts are available online too so its worth checking out their website before visiting. As we are visiting outside of the busy period we managed to walk straight in and did not have to worry about booking a viewing time or waiting for a time slot. There are three levels, the first which is the main viewing area, second which has a cafe and the third which is outside. It was not a problem taking the buggy up to levels one and two, level three can only be accessed by stairs.
Monkey loved it from the moment he walked into the viewing area, typically the weather had improved substantially but at least it meant the views were good. There is a small glass floor Monkey was a little nervous about sitting or walking on it. Which shows just how they change as when we visited the CN Tower he was pretending to swim across the glass floor there, and it was a lot higher up. There was a also a boat simulator where the player had to follow a series of buoys, he really enjoyed having a go sticking his tongue out in concentration.
It was really interesting for our point of view as we could see all the old ships and the Historic Dockyard which is on our list to visit one day. We actually stayed a lot longer than I thought we would as the staff were really friendly and happy to talk and point things out which. Monkey and Hubby went up onto the outside platform to have a look but it was very windy so they didn’t stay up there long at all. The cafe (Clouds) on the second floor is quite small so if you are planning on having afternoon tea then you may want to enquire into booking. We will definitely be visiting again.
Things you need to know:
- Booking online will save money and have a look at the attraction website to see if you can get other discounts, online an adult ticket is £8.93 and a child £7.23 under 4s are free.
- Opening throughout the year from 10am to 5.30pm/6pm
- Address: Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3TT
We had a great day out despite the fact that the weather had been pretty rubbish which goes to show it doesn’t all need to be soft play when the weathers bad. As I write this we are fresh back from a weekend in London, so expect another 24 hours in… series shortly.
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This is not a collaborative post, we paid for our own entry to the attractions mentioned in this post.