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10 things to do on a Family day out in Birmingham (that won't break the bank) [AD]

*This post is in collaboration with Hotels.com* 

When it comes to days out in a city, the cost is often the first thing that comes up in a discussion. It's easy to spend lots of money in a short space of time on a family day out, or a family weekend in the city. We recently spent the day in Birmingham, exploring the different activities that are on offer, and that won't break the bank. We set ourselves a budget (which mostly went on food, and travel costs) and managed to enjoy a full day out without spending very much money. In fact, the activities part of the day, including a yummy treat in the afternoon, only set us back £30. 




We drove in to Birmingham to explore the city for the first time as a family (Our family consists of two adults and a three year old). We only live around a 40 minute drive away, and didn't fancy staying overnight with our daughter on this occasion. We will be returning to Birmingham child free again soon though, and will most probably stay in the city, as there are plenty of Hotels in Birmingham for any budget. However, that's a different type of trip for another day. Today I'm going to share 10 things that you can do in Birmingham, that are both family friendly, and that won't break the bank.


1. NATIONAL SEA LIFE CENTRE


If you are looking for an indoor activity that won't cost too much, and will take up a morning or an afternoon, I would highly recommend taking a visit to the National Sea Life Centre. We spent around 2 hours here, and our daughter was thoroughly entertained, as were we. Not only do they have fish, but they also have penguins and seals, along with a 4D film, which our three year old loved. You can walk through the ocean tunnel, and experience a Sea Turtle swim over you, and there are various other little tunnels that little ones can crawl through. There's even a viewing tunnel inside the seal enclosure! Save yourself some money by booking online, or even attending one of the toddler and parent sessions. You can also bag yourself a combi ticket to use at the Lego Discovery Centre, which is just opposite Sea Life.


2. THINKTANK SCIENCE GARDEN


Although the actual museum itself is not free, you can visit the science garden just outside of Think Tank for free after 3pm. Think Tank isn't far from the centre, and is within walking distance so could be the perfect option for running off a bit of steam before a journey home. We plan to visit Think Tank soon, but it is great to know that you can visit the garden for free. They also offer reduced entrance prices at different times.


3. BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY


With free entry, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is not to be missed. It is a short walk from New Street station, and is a great break from the hustle and bustle of the high street. Some of the exhibits do have a charge, but you can spend a few hours looking at the different artwork and relics that are on offer. There's also a nice Tea Room for those who want a little something to line their stomachs.



4. IKON GALLERY


Ikon Gallery is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue, which is a short walk from the centre of Birmingham. It is just round the corner from Sea Life, and also Birmingham Library. Ikon Gallery is over two floors, and has easy lift access and is pushchair friendly. Our daughter loved looking at the artwork, and she especially liked the little surprise sounds in the lift! It isn't a huge gallery, and also has a cafe and shop. It's worth checking out who is exhibiting before you go, and information about the artist is readily available. It also offers free entry.


5. THE LAPWORTH MUSEUM OF GEOLOGY


With free entry, The Lapworth Museum of Geology is another place to spend a few hours exploring. You can explore life over the past 3.5 billion years and explore fossils, volcanoes, and even dinosaurs. There is something for every member of the family.





6. BRINDLEY PLACE


If you fancy a nice walk with a view, that a stroll along the canal. It's a great way to see more of the city, and you can even take a boat tour or a water taxi. There's plenty of restaurants in Brindley Place, and this is where you will find Ikon Gallery and the Sea Life Centre. Although we didn't take a boat tour on this occasion, we did check out the prices, and you can take in a tour for around £8 per adult, and a little less per child. We decided that we would prefer to do this without a three year old in tow, and we also had a pushchair with us. We also grabbed some lovely vegan food at Wagamama, which we all enjoyed...especially the free green tea that we could order with our meal. 


7. BULLRING AND GRAND CENTRAL


If you fancy a bit of shopping, Bullring is the place to head. With the iconic bull outside (which is often dressed for different times of year), and its huge range of eateries and shops, there really is something for everyone. The new Grand Central is a must see, and the architecture of the buildings is stunning. The new Primark is just next door too, and somewhere that should be visited...it even has its very own Disney Cafe. We headed to Selfridges to grab something sweet. There are so many options, and plenty of places to sit. We ended up trying our first Krispy Kreme doughnuts and were not disappointed. Next time we will be trying out something from Lola's cupcakes. 



They also have mini trolleys in the children's section of Selfridges to keep the children entertained, and we rested our feet whilst watching a few minutes of Aladdin.


8. PEN MUSEUM


The Pen Museum, which can be found in the Jewellery Quarter, has over 5000 items from Birmingham's steel pen trade to explore. Birmingham once manufactured 75% of the world's pens, so a museum dedicated to the trade is a must see. The Pen Museum doesn't offer free entrance, but children under 5 can enter for free, and an adult pays just £6.60. 



9. LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM


With 2 million visitors a year, this isn't your typical library. In fact it is 31,000 square metres, making it one of the largest public libraries in the world. It even has a theatre attached to it! The library is spread over 10 floors and has various outdoor spaces and a cafe. It really is huge, and we spent time in the children's library when our daughter needed a bit of space from the main centre. You can also find the Shakespeare Memorial Room on the top floor of the library, along with views of the city.




10. THE SECRET GARDEN


The secret garden, is not actually that secret, but is worth a visit. You can find it on level seven at the Library of Birmingham. A beautiful outdoor space,with views of the city and plenty of flowers, it is a little retreat from the busy streets below. We enjoyed the view, and a walk around the gardens, and it would be the perfect spot to relax with a book in the summer. 

These are just a few of the amazing places that you can visit in Birmingham. We managed to visit a number of these in one day, and enjoyed relaxing in the different cafes and museums that Birmingham has to offer. We will be returning again soon to experience the city child free! 

What are your favourite places to visit in Birmingham?


A NOTE ON PARKING


Parking in a city centre can be super expensive, and we found that if we parked in a city centre car park, it would cost us around £16-£20. However, we parked in the NCP Horsefair car park, which is situated next to the O2 academy, and around a 15 minute walk from New Street/Museums. It was a great central base, and it costs just £6 per day to park there. 





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