Junction: M6 junction 17
Rough time to destination from junction: 15 minutes
Age of travellers: nearly 4 years, 2 1/2 years, 6 months
Cost: adult £8, under 4’s free
The main feature of the place is obviously the gigantic telescope, and older children can go on a ground level tour of this but there’s plenty of other things to explore too.
In addition to the displays (mostly interactive) there are reasonable sized grounds that can be run around in, with the added bonus of honey bees at the furthest point.
We also went to a, free, 30 minute performance about looking after planet earth. It was targeted at primary school age but our older two engaged with Earth’s doctors appointment and there was some humour for the parents too!
Lots even for toddlers to poke around with. The six month old was quite taken with the plasma ball!
The staff were helpful and unphased by toddlers being toddlers. The ubiquitous “Not suitable for under 3’s” sign at the craft table they didn’t worry about given we were doing it with them. There was even somewhere safe to hang our planets to dry so we could collect them later. When they were drier, slightly.
Toilets abound! Every building had a spacious diasbled/baby change; we got all 5 of us and the pushchair in!
Some of the interactive displays were missing bits, which going with older children who wanted to “have a go” would have been an issue.
The gardens have some made up paths but a large number of lawn paths. Our buggy went over happily but is more versatile than most. I suspect a wheelchair would struggle. After our long hot summer the ground was pretty solid though 😉
We got there slightly before official opening time and anticipated being able to park and unload (a 15 minute operation in itself) but found they don’t even raise the car park barrier until opening time.
There is a large ish summer house for indoor picnics, but even so it can only accommodate about three families. We didn’t venture in to the cafe.
Although there is a reasonable amount indoors, it’s better to go on a dry day.