It’s half term and that means having to find activities for the whole family. I thought I would write this blog to tell you about all my favourite family and dog friendly places in South Wales where you can spend an enjoyable day out. I’m sure there are loads more, but these are my personal picks. Do you have somewhere great to take the whole family and dog to? Please let me know!
The National Museum of History has been a fabulous family outing for generations. There is so much to learn and explore here, plus dogs are welcome on leads, just not inside the historical buildings. With half term here, there will be activities for the kids as well. I used to love roaming the castle grounds and eating the freshly baked cheesy baps from the bakery.
This National Trust gem was another day out with my family, this time of year the gardens will be just coming to life. The expansive 55 acres of grounds are great for exploring and getting the kids imagination flowing. There is also a half term Spotter Trail for the kids to discover some of the plants and animals found at Dyffryn. The house is a lovely example of Victorian design and currently being restored bit by bit. Take a picnic or eat at the tearoom on site, dogs are welcome on the grounds on a lead.
The sand dunes nature reserve at Merthyr Mawr is well worth a visit for the whole family. There are plenty of way marked walking trails to choose from or explore the dunes and enjoy extensive games of hide and seek. You can work your way down to Ogmore beach and take in the coastline as it extends down to Newtown. The whole area is a popular dog walking spot so your pooch can enjoy some play time too. There is even the Big Dipper dune that is popular for sledding down! In nearby Ogmore-by-Sea there are plenty of dog friendly pubs to enjoy such as The Pelican in her Piety and the Watermill.
This Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre has a lot to choose from with puzzle trails and different lengths of walks. There’s a playground on site and cafe with all the usual facilities, if you fancy you can bring a disposable BBQ as some of the panic benches have frames to house them. It’s even got some starter mountain biking routes for junior riders to kick up some dirt! Dogs are welcome and there is plenty of forestry to do some serious sniffing in.
This historic visitor attraction is on my door step so I get to enjoy it most days. You’ve get three beaches to choose from depending on the tide, a promenade full of rides, crazy golf and other attractions for the kids including a kids climbing wall! There are many dog friendly cafes and coffee shops to sit back and have a drink and something to eat. You can even rent one of the beach huts to set up base and keep all your gear. The main beach is dog friendly from 1st Oct to 30th April but Jackson’s and Watchtower bays are dog friendly all year round!
Another stunning bit of Welsh history are the grounds and castle at Margam. There are trails and walks to explore, adventure playgrounds, mini train, a fairytale village plus the chance to see the famous deer that roam the grounds. Due to the livestock, your dog will have to be under control around the deer, but there is so much ground to cover you will need to make repeated visits. The castle and orangery are beautiful bits of architecture surrounded by ornamental gardens. The courtyard at the castle host cafes and toilet facilities too.
Cardiff Bay has become a popular tourist destination since the barrage was constructed and it was flooded. Now a freshwater lake, you can take a boat ride around it or up into the city centre and Bute Park, all the water taxis are dog friendly! The nature reserve by the St David’s Hotel is great to let the dog off and explore with the kids. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in Mermaid Quay to eat, Cadwaladers, Coffi Co and World of Boats are all dog friendly. Then there is the barrage itself, with skate park and playground and a great walk over to Penarth.
If you have kids that love a good walk and exploring the outdoors, then a day at Waterfall Country is a must! There are walks of varying length and difficulty and you can start at either Pontneddfechan or Cwm Porth if you want to walk under the Sgwd yr Eira waterfall! Pontneddfachan is a great starting point for younger families with mostly stable paths and some lovely waterfalls to admire. There is a nice picnic ground at the end of the walk or a could of the pubs are dog friendly. There is the chance of livestock so you might have to lead your dog in places.
Amelia Trust Farm
Located in the Vale, this lovely care farm has 160 acre of farm and woodland and selection of animals. Dogs are welcome everywhere, including their cafe! There are woodland walks and a playground for the kids and a chance to meet the lovely animals that live there. This half term there is a Betty’s Bird Trail activity to educate the little ones on British bird life and you can even claim a prize at the end!
Another popular doggie friendly location, the 90 acre grounds at Tredegar are a variety of woodland, gardens and open space. There is a lovely circular walk that takes in the lake at Tredegar and the perimeter of the parkland. There are gift and craft shops and a cafe that has doggie ice cream! Half term activities at Tredegar include making your own bird box, paper crafts, a family trail and bird watching!