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Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

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posts: 23
Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

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.

posts: 23
31. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

I'm grateful for all of the many great suggestions in this thread. Our trip will be much better for having come to TA for advice.

JVBKenilworth - the more we've looked at the options and the comments in this thread, the clearer it is to us that the Dudley Canal trip is a must. It looks like a great time, is an experience unlike anything here, and is priced reasonably.

I'd love to explore Aston Hall but I know they are closed on game days, so we're unlikely to get there on this visit.

EssexWanderer - the Family Pants is indeed excited as our departure date nears. Thank you for helping to get this thread started. I'd love some feedback on our itinerary when I post it.

Guilbert53 - we looked at ThinkTank after you posted the link and it looks terrific. What holds me back from adding it is the number of similar attractions we have here. We will be keeping this as a reserve option, however, in case we need it.

bhamclaire - as I've read the reviews, I admit to being less enthused about Cadbury World than I was at first. However, with three young children, it does seem like fun.

KingsHeathan - what an extraordinary first post! Welcome to TripAdvisor and thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply. The pub looks fantastic, the menu is promising, and the prices are very reasonable, too. I am always taken by how much more reasonable everything from accommodation to food is in Birmingham when compared to London.

Grameen Khana looks great. Our eldest likes his food spicy, as do my wife and I, and we'll have to order something else altogether for the two youngest children.

Speaking of my eldest, he has begun to devour the Tolkien books, so the recommendation of the reservoirs and the water mill is timely and appreciated.

I have no idea how we will fit in all that we'd like to do and narrowing down the agenda is going to be a challenge. A first-world challenge, to be sure, but a challenge nonetheless.

West Midlands
posts: 300
reviews: 79
32. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

Just come across this, and as a Brummie am thrilled to bits that you are so enthusiastic about Birmingham. It often gets such a bad press that I am really touched by your response.

Another suggestion for a visit would be to the Severn Valley Railway, a trip on old steam trains passing through the countryside, might be a bit far out though.

Do post a review of your trip when you get back home.

West Mids
posts: 218
reviews: 24
33. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

Great newish cafe in Birmingham city centre - Boston Tea Party on Corporation Street. Lovely food and nice place to eat. They do 'afternoon tea' which is a very British thing - sandwiches, cake and tea !

posts: 3
34. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

Check out sarehole mill, part of the BMAG group.

Also the nature centre by cannon hill park is worth a visit.

If you are going to the sealife centre make sure you get some vouchers for money off as it can be really expensive. Or it could be worth getting the combined cadburyworld and sealife ticket.

Cadbury world is not only about chocolate but also explores the history of bournville. The back to backs are brill.

posts: 23
35. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

WestMidlandsLizzy - I recall a telling moment from my first trip to the UK in 2008. The taxi driver taking my wife and I from our hotel in London to Euston actually tried, with some urgency, to talk us out of going to Birmingham. Additional feedback we'd received earlier in the trip had reinforced that impression. Canadian friends were curious because most hadn't heard of Birmingham but everyone we first met in the UK seemed concerned that we'd been misled, or something worse, as reasonable people simply wouldn't be heading to Brum.

At first, we thought people were just emphathizing with the pain that comes with being a Villa fan, though many tried to talk me out of that, too. No, this was all about negativity towards Birmingham. We were taken aback at first, without a doubt, wondering what we were in for on our visit.

Then, we arrived.

It was a cool, sunny April day and we spent our first afternoon exploring the canals and remarking on the unique beauty of what we were seeing. We also started to encounter some of the friendliest people we've ever met in a large city, including a taxi driver who made several restaurant recommendations in the Balti Triangle; restaurant staff everywhere; locals who could tell when we were lost; the local Villa team (hands down, the fan-friendliest sports experience); and, really, everyone else we encountered. My experience has been the same in every subsequent visit and the help we've received in this thread is just another example.

By the end of our first 24 hours in the city, my wife and I were already wondering: "wait...why don't we live here?" ;) Since that first visit, I've been a real advocate for Birmingham. You live in a great city.

The downside? I'll post our itinerary later today and we once again won't have anything like enough time.

posts: 23
36. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

LesaPink - great tip, thank you. From the looks of it, it's quite close to our apartment and very reasonable, too. It amazes me just how much cheaper it is to do almost anything in Birmingham versus London.

Danikm151 - Sarehole Mill looks great. Unfortunately, I suspect this will be a "next time" experience for us, unless I can get extremely creative in our planning. As read up on the history of Bournville, it looks very interesting indeed.

posts: 23
37. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

After much discussion in our household, here is a tentative itinerary. We found this quite difficult to narrow down, made more difficult by the lack of attractions open at night. We also haven't found anything at the theatres that would be suitable for the family.

Are the markets open at night?

Feedback is most welcome.

March 29th - arrive at New Street around noon, drop bags and head to Cadbury World for the afternoon. Return to Birmingham for dinner, location TBD. Evening walk around the canals, possibly a wander around the Mailbox and Bullring.

March 30th - Black Country Museum and Dudley Canal Ride. We're taking the advice here to heart and assuming that this will be a full day and one that will both exhaust and delight the family.

March 31st - Easter breakfast at JuJu's, then off to Villa Park for Villa v. Liverpool. I'm unbeaten in five visits to Villa Park, so I'm hoping to keep that streak alive. Tentatively, Easter dinner at the Lord Clifden.

April 1st - Warwick Castle. Yes, it's very programmed but, to put it mildly, there is nothing of the sort anywhere near us. We're also assuming a full day here but if that's not the case, we'll sneak in a visit to Sea Life near the apartment.

April 2nd - BMAG, Back-to-Backs, possibly J. Quarter museum. Depart for London around 4PM.

Somewhere in here we'll have dinner in the Balti Triangle as well.

There are several attractions we won't get to here, unfortunately, be it Sarehole Mill, Aston Hall, Baddesley Clinton (especially disappointed in this miss), ThinkTank, Severn Valley Rail and more.

posts: 64
reviews: 10
38. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

Warwick castle will be a full day...

if you are going to try and fit in the balti triangle, Saturday seems your only option

Have fun in your VERY busy days :-)

West Midlands
posts: 300
reviews: 79
39. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

Your itinerary sounds good, plenty left for another good few visits.

I'm sure you and your family will thoroughly enjoy your trip after all of your planning.

Do post a 'full' review when you get back.

posts: 2,660
reviews: 8
40. Re: Easter Visit to Birmingham with family of 5: advice sought

If you are going to Warwick Castle and dont see it lasting a day maybe also go to Kenilworth Castle which is very near (only 5 miles away).

This is a "proper" castle with few recent add ons (I am not saying Warwick castle is not a proper castle but it does have many recent add ons).

Owned by Robert Dudley, and much extened by him for the visit of Queen Elizabeth the first.

Much of it is ruined (it was destroyed during the English Civil War) but it is an great castle with an amazing atmosphere and lots of history.


Edited: 5:05 am, March 04, 2013