Since my first visit in 2008, I have become a real fan of Birmingham, visiting for at least a day or two each year since. I am a Villa supporter, so I first visited for a game and have since become very fond of the city as a whole.
We are fortunate enough right now that in 2013 the entire family of us will be able to visit from Canada for several days over the Easter weekend, a surprise that will be revealed Christmas morning. I expect we will be in the city from March 29th through April 1st or 2nd.
We will be visiting with three children, aged 9, 7 and 4 at the time of the trip. A game at Villa Park is a certainty and we are fortunate to have a good contact who will arrange that for us. I am also assuming activities you might expect in Birmingham and environs with children: Warwick castle; Sea Life Centre; Cadbury World; some food in the Balti Triangle; and, with any luck, a lengthy canal boat ride. I've not done any of these before.
I would love some advice from those with more experience. We don't plan to rent a car but are happy to take taxis and trains as needed.
1) Train service: we're planning on coming to Birmingham from London on Good Friday - will train service be on a regular schedule or should we make alternative plans?
2) Easter dinner: any recommendations on locales for a memorable Easter meal?
3) Hotels: obviously, we'll need two rooms and we'd like to be in the city centre. Any recommendations (budget is very flexible, location is key) - or aversions?
4) Canal boats: in prior visits, I've walked the canals for hours but have never actually taken a boat ride. Any recommendations on the best family experience?
5) Activities with children: I know of a few but I would love to hear recommendations from others, especially attractions or experiences that may be lesser-known.