Tell us about your Family Friendly moments and win £100 Matalan vouchers NOW CLOSED

(115 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 16-Jul-13 14:14:36

We now have more than 20 companies signed up for Mumsnet's Family Friendly programme and we'd love to hear about any Family Friendly moments you have this summer - this could be great service from a company, store, family attraction, travel company etc or something in your workplace that's made family life better or easier for you.

Everyone who posts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win £100 Matalan vouchers. (Thanks to Family Friendly members Matalan). Closing date August 18th 2013.

Thanks and good luck,
Family Friendly Team

We go there every summer, but we had great service at Portavadie Marina Restaurant last month.

We have stayed at the marina regularly since DD was 6 months old because the facilities are so child friendly.

They have nice child changing rooms, clean and spacious play areas and the rooms in the lodge are a great size so it means there's no travel cot squished in that you are constantly tripping over.

The restaurant in particular is lovely though as it's great quality food and the chef will arrange anything for you if you have any dietary requirements or just plain old fussy eaters .(I do.)
The staff were also very friendly without it being fussy and good at interacting with the kids- handing out crayons and colouring etc
They even made a picnic for us to have at the beach on a sunny day.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend away, so peaceful and beautiful, and DD loved it too.

threepiecesuite Tue 16-Jul-13 21:08:49

Bents garden centre in Glazebury, Warrington ( super family-friendly. It has the best children's equipment in the café - so much more than just a gesture to younger visitors. Their outdoor play area is outstanding, I had to drag DD away after 4 hours!
The toilets are child-friendly and the staff are genuinely keen to assist. I love going there as a family.

sharond101 Tue 16-Jul-13 22:09:30

I think the Hamilton Townhouse Bookbug is amazing and they had a Summer Teddy Bear's Picnic which made a Summer memory for us to treasure.

snowymum12 Wed 17-Jul-13 14:25:02

If anyone in the West Midlands is looking for a decent day out then I would wholeheartedly recommend Everything Wild near Evesham. I went as I was looking for somewhere local to take my little girl but was anxious as TripAdvisor had some less than favourable reviews. It was great. There are lots of animals, both domestic birds and more exotic creatures. I really liked the indoor play rooms, with facilities for babies as well as craft and soft play for older children. It really is a lovely day out.

peacockdawn Wed 17-Jul-13 15:16:20

The Deep in Hull is a brilliant day out with a 4 year old and an 11 month year old. Lots to see - many aquariums, lots of interesting facts to share with the children, lots of interactive games and an ice wall to touch and a soft play area for the 11 month old too. Space for the 4 year old to be independent and a little area where there is an interactive floor with projections on (sorry dont know technical term!). Great staff and layout is really simple - guess queues an issue on a busy day but we choose carefully. There is a picnic area (where you can still get a coffee) and a cafe for afterwards and we usually have a walk along the river before getting back into the car. Wonderful day out with very tired children afterwards! BEst bit is, you buy a ticket and can go free for a year - brilliant, lots of days to remember - and always something different!

manfalou Wed 17-Jul-13 18:24:59

Our local family owned pub the Tellemere Lodge is THE most kid friendly (privately owned) pub ever. They have books, paper, colours etc for the kids to use, there kids menu is lovely, they have a playground outside as well as a couple of donkeys, rabbits, goats and guinea pigs. When DS1 was a baby we went there on a saturday night meal as he usually slept in the car seat but this day he cried cried and cried some more once dinner had arrives. I overheard a lady saying that it was wrong to bring babies out at this time of night (it was only 7:30?) and was going to leave DH to eat his dinner and take DC into the car. The owner of the pub must have seen how flustered/upset I was and came over to me. All she said was 'this is a family pub, you are a family, babies cry. You stay here, they can leave if they have a problem'

It made my day and I was so grateful to her for saying that!

superbagpuss Wed 17-Jul-13 18:28:14

wyevale garden centre in little Marlow.

they have a car washing service with friendly men, a nice coffee shop and small soft play area. the perfect place to meet a friend for a coffee and catch up and the staff are always friendly and helpful

maximum4 Thu 18-Jul-13 00:07:29

For us it's Thomson Al Fresco - have holidayed with them twice now. Booking staff on phone line really friendly and helpful. Reps bend over backwards onsite to assist. Caravans clean and well equiped. A1 service.

Maggietess Thu 18-Jul-13 19:40:22

I'm sure it's a common one but Pizza Express are for me the most family friendly restaurant in our area. Not somewhere I'd choose for a quiet romantic meal as half the restaurant is always under 8, but a perfect background level of noise that masks your own kids playing up!!
Add to that the easy and good value children's menu and a couple of the waiters in our local branch who know that we're there to get in, get the food, keep it coming and head home! There's one in particular who knows that we like the kids desserts to arrive half way through our adult meals as with a baby and 2 other kids under 6 we are on a short timer for a dinner that works for everyone!!

sealight123 Thu 18-Jul-13 20:02:01

Cannon Hall Farm!!!
Not only is it a wonderful place for your children to learn about animals and get to stroke and hold them, but the staff are all perfectly fitted for their jobs in the way that they are great with the kids. It has a large (and i mean large) adventure playground, loads of picnic areas, outdoor cafes, ice cream stalls and of course lots and lots of animals. We went for my daughters 2nd birthday and we will definitely be going back smile

majjsu Thu 18-Jul-13 20:58:21

The Zoo softplay at Concordia Cramlington is fab with bouncy castles, slides, building blocks, so clean, great staff and a cheap friendly cafe. It is such a shame it is only open April to August.

There is a local cafe called Coffee Plus at Backworth, nothing is too much trouble, everyone is so friendly and there is a section partitioned off for young children, with lots of toys. Eating here is a treat.

The botanic gardens in Edinburgh is great, lots of lovely gardens to wander in with big wide paths ideal for pushchairs and prams, and the cafes have great changing facilities for babies.

AllThatGlistens Fri 19-Jul-13 10:00:16

The Cheshire Ice Cream Farm is outstanding!

A brilliant dairy farm with the best ice cream ever, huge safe, spotlessly clean play areas, gift shop, lovely cafe, soft play indoor area, big games room, farm animals, mini golf, a treasure hunt and under 3s fenced off play area.

My DCs love it there. The one downside is that they don't allow picnics because they rely on their cafe for profit but its well worth it, the staff are always lovely and there's so much that's free to do it doesn't have to cost the earth.

Did I mention the ice cream is amazing?? grin

My all time favourite place in terms of family friendliness, is the White House Hotel on Herm Island. Herm is one of the smallest of the Channel Islands, and going there is like stepping back in time. No cars/traffic/noises, just beautiful coastal paths and beaches. The small hotel is amazingly family friendly, with children staying absolutely free most of the year on a half board basis. They have a special children's high tea so that the adults can eat in the restaurant later in the evening. They have baby listening in all the rooms, and can also arrange babysitters.

There is a very well priced children's menu for lunches, a well stocked games room with lego, jigsaws and puzzles as well as board games, and an outdoor pool which is safe and warm and has the most amazing views from it. The staff adore children, and possibly the best time to visit is Easter Sunday, when the Easter bunny himself visits, and there is a huge (free) Easter egg hunt throughout the hotel gardens. The staff love children and are so welcoming. It really is a lovely place to stay with children.

Without going so far afield, I think that Morwellham Quay is one of the loveliest places to visit with children. I took my DCs there aged 6 and 8, and we all enjoyed ourselves so much. Learning is very much disguised, so as the children have fun exploring the site (and the fun of the narrow gauge railway), they are also being exposed to a huge amount of history. There is the opportunity to dress up which is always a hit. The cafe serves delicious, healthy, home cooked food and is clean and comfortable.

If I wasn't due DC3 any day, we would be heading back there asap!

hermancakedestroyer Fri 19-Jul-13 17:27:05

I always find cafe rouge very child friendly. Talking to my children as individuals and making sure they have a colouring pack to keep them amused. As a family we always feel very welcome there.

Doogle2 Sat 20-Jul-13 09:45:38

The Trattotoria Italiana restaurant in Bexhill gave us brilliant family service.
There is a waiter there that does a bird whistle every time he sees children. My boys cheekily requested to see the chef and they went in the kitchen and came out with a handful of goodies.
It is run by a family and gave a feeling that children were very welcome and valued there.

My dcs love Bents in Warrington too. Also Whythenshaw Park. Great play area, loads of open space, green house trails, gardens, a cafe and a city farm. There's free parking too.

SisterMatic Sat 20-Jul-13 09:53:23

We really enjoy going to tam oshanters farm in bidston, wirral. Lovely day out, beautiful surroundings..lots of animals. It is free to get in but we leave a donation. Can't wait to go again.

Lyme park is great for families, especially the Crow Wood Playscape. Lots to climb on and through, great for all ages.
Dunham Massey have a new play area called the Logpile. That's enormous fun to play on.

IceNoSlice Sat 20-Jul-13 12:17:47

Umberslade Farm Park near Redditch. It's in a lovely setting with lots for various ages kids to do and see - small animals to hold, sheep and goats to feed, ducks, hens, horses etc. there is an indoor play barn with various sized John Deere tractor toys to play on an a soft ball area (hard to describe, not a ball pool but good for little ones).

And the cafe is lovely. Lots of space for pushchairs, lots of high chairs and yummy reasonably priced food (and cakes!)

Only minor criticism is the baby change could do with an upgrade.

IMST where exactly in Dunham is the Logpile? When did it open? I must have missed it.

sunnyshine Sat 20-Jul-13 13:34:27

My family love Finkley Down Farm in Andover. I have been going there since I was a child and I have fantastic memories of family days out there. My own dd's love it as do there cousins. Fantastic play park , animals, indoor play and animal touching sessions. We could spends days there smile

The m shed in Bristol. The cafe was very toddler friendly with healthy lunchbox choices at eye level and less healthy at more of an adult level.
They said it would be fine to take toddler and settle her before choosing what I wanted and they'd come over and take my order rather than me having to go backto the counter again.
V friendly staff

aristocat Sat 20-Jul-13 14:55:59

We love Amerton Farm & Craft Centre in Stafford. It is definitely a great day out for everyone, with lots to see and do for all ages.

The staff are always friendly and genuine, with extra activities during school holidays ~ last year it was a race to see who could make the best scarecrow with a prize for the winning team.

You can visit the Playbarn, see the Wildlife rescue centre, go on fairground rides, see Farm animals, there is also a Tea Room/Bakery, Garden centre and lots more. It really is a full day out ..... good job it opens at 9.30 smile

CMOTDibbler Sat 20-Jul-13 16:26:48

288 Bar and Wok in Cheltenham - they are so family friendly, without making it a childrens restaurant. Plenty of clean high chairs that fit over the benches so children can be sat anywhere, placemats that double as colouring and activity sheets (same for everyone), big jars of crayons brought over immediatly as standard, the offer of a plastic bowl and childrens cutlery for the very little to just share off parents plates, trainer chopsticks, and no childrens menu just the offer of small portions of anything.
But most of all, genuinely lovely staff who are happy to have children eating there, and an owner who has 3 little girls of his own and gives the children real attention. Last week he was giving out free icecream, and has previously played my son at 'Hey thats my fish' during lunch service for free drinks.

Yonilovesboni Sat 20-Jul-13 18:23:54

Heeley (sheffield) city farm is fab! Family friendly and all staff very helpful. Free entry and there's a wonderful cafe with homemade and organic

ballstoit Sat 20-Jul-13 18:49:50

We enjoyed an extended family day out at Bewilderwood in Norfolk today. We had 9 children aged 15 months - 10 with us. It is the only place we visited on holiday that catered for everyone and had activities that all the children (and adults!) could be involved in and enjoy.

DoodleAlley Sat 20-Jul-13 20:35:21

Anglesey Sea Zoo are consistently fantastic. They may not have the scale of places like the Deep or Blue Planet but there is plenty to entertain and is more than made up by the enthusiasm and expertise of the staff who are generous with their time for visitors.

The lobster nursery with its inch long lobsters has to be seen to be believed and a free sea themed bouncy castle in the play area tops the day off.

blondieminx Sat 20-Jul-13 21:04:46

Another vote for Pizza Express here: every branch, every visit the staff are consistently very child friendly and DD loves it there!

CheeryCherry Sat 20-Jul-13 22:58:13

Cannon Hall Farm near Barnsley is so child friendly. There's a lovely play/picnic area, tons of animals to see, many to feed and plenty to pet. Very friendly staff. Good Facebook page for updates on new arrivals in the farm. Really recommend it.
Also we love the farm and park at Chatsworth, the cafe is splendid grin

MrsShrek3 Sat 20-Jul-13 23:27:45

Tatton Park, Cheshire. we have visited many times but the most recent visit was with two.friends an between us nine children aged 5 to 19. Every single one of them was happy. Awesome play area to finish...after visiting all of the grounds, walled garden etc. it has good (toilet and cafe) facilities too.

firawla Sat 20-Jul-13 23:36:19

was very happy with legoland when we went recently, and the access pass given for sn children. had heard lot of people say they make it hard to get etc but they didnt, it was very simple and very helpful and all staff made the whole day v easy. overall v good
also ask restaurant, good with kids

MrsYamada Sun 21-Jul-13 00:28:18

Crealy Adventure Park (Devon & Cornwall). Brilliant theme parks, playgrounds, soft play, animals and more. All my children love both parks. My eldest child has ASD and loves rides, these parks are big enough to meet his requirements, but not too big for queues and crowds to be a big issue.

polosareverynice Sun 21-Jul-13 00:28:59

My vote is for paradise wildlife park in Broxbourne Hertfordshire tickets are a bit on the expensive side but no more than most other attractions, plus they accept clubcard vouchers from tesco. But there's loads of things for children to do there's softplay a petting zoo, other animals and birds a park area woodland walk areas for food a picnic area (great if you want to take your own food) they do talks on the animals as well good for when you want a sit down ;) and all in all a great day out in fact there's such a lot of things to actually do I didn't actually manage to get around to everything in a day and the only other downside is things like ice cream and tea and coffee can be expensive so it pays to be prepared!

stealthsquiggle Sun 21-Jul-13 01:10:51

Maybe it's just our local one, but I find café rouge a nightmare. We have walked out before now having been sat for 15 minutes without even a menu arriving and the service is always excruciatingly slow. That said, we haven't been for a few years precisely because of this.

ASK, OTOH, was fantastic until they closed our local branch. Great service, great children's menu, great staff, and the best colouring pencils anywhere. I coveted those pencils smile.

For small independents, I would nominate Eastnor Pottery in Herefordshire. Fantastic activity for all ages, and Jon (aka the flying potter) is an amazing teacher.

gerbilsarefun Sun 21-Jul-13 10:30:51

Wentworth Garden Centre, in Rotherham, South Yorks. is worth a visit. Not just a garden centre, there is a maze, a garden, a play area, a little farm as well as restaurants, pet shop, gift shop, cafes etc.

MalcolmTuckerSwearsBy Sun 21-Jul-13 11:38:44

I wentto Berny Riviere near Paris and stayed with Canvas in a three be caravan. It's the first time n several years that my oldest DC, aged 20, has holidayed with us.

Canvas now have a Family Extra club, which is open to any age.

Which means all activities in thas section are open to any age. Yep, six or 60 you can take part in the olympics, water fights, body zorbing, water walkers etc.

It's an excellent idea, and Ds might even come back with us next year.

Theimpossiblegirl Mon 22-Jul-13 22:59:17

Cafe Nero in Weston Super Mare- they don't charge for their Babycinos and treat my kids like paying customers when they go up and order their fifth one own. Makes them feel really special.

IncaAztec Tue 23-Jul-13 09:15:05

I went to Pizza Express in Norwich (The Forum) recently with my daughter (age 2) and massive baby bump.

The staff could not have been more accomodating. I was on my own (needing a quick bite with a hot toddler) and they sorted out a cold water for both of us and the dough balls were quickly on my table!

Staff were welcoming and friendly with my toddler (who isn't exactly the best eater) and came over to giggle with her when she was pointing and shouting.

Thanks Pizza Express!

Punkatheart Tue 23-Jul-13 19:31:57

The Alto Lounge in Caversham has got to be the friendliest, most welcoming places for parents. There was a crying baby in there recently and the father had two little ones. The owner came over to try and help and she was unbelievably sweet. My daughter has various phobias and one is eating in public. The Alto is the only one she can cope with - because they are kind.

ratbagcatbag Wed 24-Jul-13 07:34:57

Carsington water in the Peak District. One of the best baby change facilities I've attended, clean all the time. Staff in the cafe bend over backwards to accommodate the pushchair and downstairs the interactive area about water is fascinating for adults and children alike. One of the best play areas I've been too and amazing for walking, seeing wildlife, having picnics and bbqs too. smile

Clawdy Wed 24-Jul-13 10:32:10

Belle Vue Inn in Papcastle,near Cockermouth. Lovely little country pub,delicious lunches and very child-friendly.

Cherrygrape Wed 24-Jul-13 12:20:30

The first place that came to mind was the one snowymum21 mentioned.
We went on a day trip to all things wild, (nr evesham, west midlands)as it was cheaper than lots of other attractions around the area and I wasn't disappointed.
There's indoor and out door play areas, go karts, themed crafts, animal petting, educational areas etc. after 3 hours we were all still having fun and had lots to do.

lorisparkle Thu 25-Jul-13 15:11:18

We went to the Corinium museum in Cirencester. The museum had lots of hand on things for the children to do and was spacious and airy and not too busy. They also had a special children's activity which DS all enjoyed. A lovely afternoon especially on a hot day when you want to cool down!

mummyofcutetwo Fri 26-Jul-13 01:38:35

The Riverside Cafe in North Shields is great. The staff are lovely. If I go in with the two boys on my own they know I could do with a bit of a hand, and sort out a highchair etc for me.

They have sippy cups and little cutlery for the little ones and a great menu for the slightly bigger ones, with healthy food which actually appeals to them. The food there is delicious. I can highly recommend the breakfasts and the yummy healthy lunches.

The warm, friendly atmosphere of the cafe makes it a place you want to go with the children.

fudge65 Sat 27-Jul-13 16:45:47

Tropical World at Roundhay Park is a fantastic place to take little ones. Very reasonable admission price too. Lots of animals to see: meerkats, crocodiles, snakes, little monkeys etc. Don't go on a red hot day though - sweltering temperatures! Great gift shop too and lovely little cafe. Good playground opposite too.

Turnipvontrapp Sun 28-Jul-13 23:11:53

The swan hotel in Newby bridge is very child friendly as is the North Lakes hotel in Penrith. I would love to go back to the Swan but now we are a family of five we would need 2 rooms and it would work out a bit too expensive.

mummyofcutetwo Mon 29-Jul-13 07:16:28

I know that softplay places should be child/family friendly by their very nature, but I don't think that's always the case. Kiki's Kabin in North Shields is definitely one of the good uns.

The staff are great - they remember the children between visits and talk to them as customers (other softplay places just talk to the adults). They are friendly and helpful, and always cheery (but not falsely so!).

The play areas are great fun and toddlers have a really fun area to play in safely.

The whole centre is kept clean (the staff go around with little vacuum cleaners to keep everything spick and span).

The food is excellent and not overpriced (also different to many other softplay places who seem to see adults as a captive audience and charge the earth!).

I'd definitely recommend Kiki's Kabin to anyone in the area who is looking for a good value activity for the children. I just can't fault it.

AlphaBetaOoda Mon 29-Jul-13 07:54:33

Giraffe in Bath was v good service. Good kids food, waitress made a colouring picture for dd3.

Pizza express waiter cut up my pizza as I was bf ds and dh had taken dd3 to the toilet,

La tasca kids menu is really good mix of Spanish style food & familiar food

bamblolo Mon 29-Jul-13 10:40:11

every week I take my elderly father to Marks and Spencers café in Widnes. The staff are always friendly and happy to help. Whilst there last week a lady came in using a walking frame and sat down it was very hot and she didn't look well. The staff got her a drink and took her order so she she didn't have to queue. I thought this was lovely as even though they were busy they still made sure the lady was ok. I have also seen them doing this for young mums letting them sit down with young children and bringing their orders over to their table.

CMOTDibbler Mon 29-Jul-13 11:08:43

Bamblolo - you've reminded me that family friendly should be all age ranges, and not just children.

So, I'd like to give a huge acknowledgement to Waitrose in Wallingford, who look after my elderly, frail parents with care that goes above and beyond.

They volunteered the service of pushing dad round the shop in a wheelchair, getting the shopping down, then taking him back to the car and putting the shopping in. They deal with mum and her dementia with huge grace, especially when she still thought she could use her bank card but frequently forgot the pin.

Without the care of the staff there, they'd no longer be able to do their own shopping, and the tiny amount of independance for mum of going round on her mobility scooter somewhere that people keep an eye on her is immense.

Lucie1979 Mon 29-Jul-13 19:36:01

Tilgate Park, Crawley. A beautiful place, a gorgeous lake, a play park (great when not too busy for my Autistic son), nature reserve, Animals to go and see. Really is lovely and we are so lucky to have this on our doorstep! We have had many many wonderful family moments here and hope there will be many more to come! smile

lolancurly Tue 30-Jul-13 09:37:52

There is a super Malaysian restaurant locally called Eurasia that we have been going to since my daughter was a few days old. She is now 6, and when we told the lovely lady owner about the restaurant being my daughter's favourite, she promised her a free dessert every single time we visit The tables are big and widely spread, so easy for kids to wriggle and fidget without disturbing other guests and they are not fazed by spilt drinks etc The start serving food from 5.30 pm, so also good for children. We regularly meet with other family here for birthday celebrations as they so easily accommodate big family groups. On top of all this, the food is wonderful - my daughter adores it and runs in as if we live there.

CalamityJ Thu 01-Aug-13 18:53:27

Starbucks is very family friendly offering free child sized versions of adult drinks like the smoothie cooler thing my friend ordered. Her son was so proud having the same drink as mummy! Very impressed.

MadMonkeys Thu 01-Aug-13 20:08:18

Marks and Spencers in Ventura Park, Tamworth! The café is fab. Someone finds a table with enough room to park a buggy next to it when you're paying for food. They bring crayons and pictures for toddlers to colour. My friend took a bottle out of her bag to feed her baby and to her horror realised she'd picked up a dirty one instead of a clean one - a lady in M&S washed the bottle for her. There is a breastfeeding room with a lovely comfy chair. If I need a few things I choose to go to M&S as I know they will be friendly and kind and the facilities are there to cope with pretty much any baby/toddler based emergency! Fab.

CombineBananaFister Fri 02-Aug-13 10:01:47

CLIFTON PARK Roherham - huge park area for toddlers up to teens all in separate sections. sandpit with diggers. Mini theme park very reasonably priced (50p!! per ride) mini golf and free waterplay area. Also a museum. toilets clean. Lovely day out. Staff on the rides really friendly and helpful (let you help your kids on/off without seeming an inconvenience and stop ride for ones not enjoying it.) Can take a picnic so dosn't have to cost you a fortune.
also N.Railway museum York, again free (but recommend a donation) lots of stuff to see and do. they put lots of toys out during term-time for toddlers in main hall. outside park and picnic area, also inside picnic tables for your own food. Cafe has baby warming station and utensils and there are pushchair friendly toilets.

I'd like to join Peacockdawn in saying we find The Deep in Hull very family friendly.

The staff are always great with the kids. They often have an interactive session near the "rockpool" and sometimes a badge making area where the staff chat with the kids and get them interested.

The indoor picnic area is right near the loos and baby change and is great for sitting down half way around and having a packed lunch/rest little legs/do a toilet stop. I too think it's laid out well.

The annual pass is great for our family budget too. You pay for one day's entry and fill out a form when you pay, then next time you go you take a little photo of each of you and it gets stamped to use again and again for a year.

lougle Fri 02-Aug-13 17:30:22

IKEA's Smalland is fantastic (Southampton branch). Not only do they offer an hour's free play for the children, but they offer 1:1 support for my DD with SN, without being asked. They never sigh if we go there and they are always conscientious about ensuring that her needs haven't changed flowers

bigreddrum Fri 02-Aug-13 17:51:45

We had a great experience with Eurocamp this year. Our group stayed at two different sites in France with 4 children under 5. Nothing was too much trouble and there was no problem with us arriving a bit early on transfer days. The kids clubs were exceptional also. Both sites were laid out brilliantly for the little ones with plenty of loos, parks and picnic spots. The pre arrival bit was great with an online area dedicated to your booking where you could check details and make changes if necessary and there was no problem with our last minute decision to change from Flying to Driving.

We all loved it.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Fri 02-Aug-13 17:57:16

Sam's in Fowey - amazing seafood for kids and adults, and very friendly staff. DS1 is 6 and has a serious mussel-eating habit thanks to Sam's.

PurplePidjin Fri 02-Aug-13 18:30:47

I'm looking forward to taking my 8mo to this year. We've been in the past and been impressed at the kids area - bearing in mind Santa Pod is a drag racing track with a bar at most events! The organisers really go out of the way to make sure people don't have to give up going to car shows just because they've started a family smile

MrsGeologist Fri 02-Aug-13 18:51:55

We went to Lyme park a few days ago, and thy had a garden apprentice activity on for the children. It was fantastic, my DCs really enjoyed it, and the people were lovely (even with DS2, who was tantrumming about having to leave various things behind once he'd finished with them).

They have a few more apprentice days throughout the summer, and I'll be going to them.

poppy1973 Fri 02-Aug-13 19:34:29

I have found Techniquest in Cardiff Bay a pleasure to visit. Their prices are really reasonable for a family and offer hours of pleasure for all ages. I am a less stressed parent after visiting Techniquest. I find the children from baby age to older children are catered for and the staff go out of their way involving all the children in the activities and offer support for older children.

The staff in the cafe at the centre are really friendly and make fantastic drinks too.

I love the opportunity of the toddler days that they offer where the prices are even cheaper for an adult and makes a lovely morning activitiy to take the little ones to.

Changing facilities are good, well signposted and really clean. They have an area for buggies and coats and really support and welcome young families.

GetKnitted Fri 02-Aug-13 21:18:33

John Lewis shoe department in Nottingham has kids dvd's running throughout the summer, with a heap of bean bags for kids to sit in while waiting to be measured or while their brother/sister gets measured. theres a little table with colouring too. It kept the kids busy and happy

TiredFeet Fri 02-Aug-13 21:27:06

Marwell Zoo is great, it is a lovely safe environment for children and my son loves the 'tractor train' and the two different playgrounds. I love that there is plenty of indoor / outdoor picnic space so we can take our own food even if the weather is unpredictable, and also that their café and restaurant have also always been fine about me feeding ds his own food in there if I want to buy food or a drink for me (he has multiple severe allergies so purchasing isn't an option)

Hopefully3 Fri 02-Aug-13 21:44:23

Um, the local library is a treasure shrine of things to do!

Silverlace Fri 02-Aug-13 21:45:26

We spent a night in York and I was very impressed with the children's backpacks available to borrow in York Minster. They had a magnifying glass, torch, binoculars, compass, tape measure , mirror, pencils and notebook as well as 3 well designed activities. My 7 year old DS loved it and was very engaged with it and learned so much about the Minster. All the staff we met were brilliant with the children (most were volunteers). A great place to visit.

delegate203 Fri 02-Aug-13 21:59:50

We love Claremont NT gardens in Esher. They give the children big bags of bird seed for a small donation, which can be used to feed the ducks, geese or white doves that will even eat from your hand if you're patient.

Children can visit the summer house where Queen Victoria played as a child and try out hoops and sticks (DC loved them - why can't we get them anymore?) and hobby horses etc. there's a small children's playground with a wooden fort and bridges - perfect for playing knights or princesses. Great cafe with lots of cakes and genuinely pocket money priced souvenirs (DC collect the semi precious stones and dinosaurs teeth - all about £1.50)

There's a pretty walk around the lake, a hill to climb to tire the DC out, at the top of which is an old fashioned skittles game. Also a tower which is occasionally open. It's a great place to roam around, get lots of fresh air and exercise and for DC to let their imaginations run riot. Also now have rowing boats on the lake in high season.

delegate203 Fri 02-Aug-13 22:00:33

Forgot to say, they do paper quiz trails. Not my DC's cup of tea so we don't do them, but have seen lots of children running round answering clues.

GetKnitted Fri 02-Aug-13 22:09:31

Posted this in the ASDA thread and realised that Nottingham Contemporary totally need to be recognised in family friendly, is there a local category?

"Nottingham Contemporary art gallery run free activities for kids, they are just brilliant. They are every day in the summer and weekends all year round with a different theme every season to complement the proper art. this season is aqua topia with an enormous projection of an aquarium on one wall, and another projected on the floor, with fishing nets for the kids to go fishing, dress up like a pirate and have your picture taken, make fish to line the walls, or just play in tents, pretend a sandcastle and read books."

ataraxia Sat 03-Aug-13 09:12:17

I went to a cafe called Allans in Mayfair - very reasonably priced, especially for the area! There was a group of 8 in my family and even though we could have squeezed in, the owner asked some other diners to move so it would be more comfortable for all. He gave them free cake to compensate them so everyone was happy!

GetStuffezd Sat 03-Aug-13 09:16:23

There's a farm just outside Durham called Broom House Farm and it's just brilliant. I don't have children but am a teacher and I took my class there last month. It's totally free and the staff allowed us to pet the pigs and chickens, and they even put us all in a trailer and drove us round the fields.

There's a gorgeous picnic/decking area with hay bales for kids to play on, and a brilliant mini wood with zipwire, climbing acitivites, etc.

Would recommend it to anyone.

Dylanlovesbaez Sat 03-Aug-13 09:20:56

Bills in brighton is so family friendly. The staff are always so helpful and just lovely towards children. They never see them as a hassle as some places seem to. Lovely, friendly, helpful staff, great menu and even if its a squish they will accommodate you.

katiewalters Sat 03-Aug-13 10:45:19

we vistited heart park as a family, which is on meridan rd, warwickshire. we'd never been before, but knew it was going to be hot, and it sounded good. we had a fantastic day. there was myself, my partner, my 4 year old son and 5week old daughter. under 5s were free to get in, adults were £9 each. we were there from 10-3, took a picnic, weather was glorious. the main attraction was the man made beach with lake, which the kids can swim in. we had took my sons swim shorts and bucket and spade. there were deck chairs to sit on. there were 2 big marquees with table and chairs, to eat under, which i thought was great as we could get some shade as it was very hot. entry included free use of bouncing castle, trampoline, big slide, train ride. could pay to go on pedalos and tractor ride. staff were friendly, helpful. there was baby changing facilities. was a little shop which did drinks, snacks, ice creams. will definately be going back

MadMonkeys Sat 03-Aug-13 14:33:05

Marks and Spencers in Ventura Park, Tamworth! The café is fab. Someone finds a table with enough room to park a buggy next to it when you're paying for food. They bring crayons and pictures for toddlers to colour. My friend took a bottle out of her bag to feed her baby and to her horror realised she'd picked up a dirty one instead of a clean one - a lady in M&S washed the bottle for her. There is a breastfeeding room with a lovely comfy chair. If I need a few things I choose to go to M&S as I know they will be friendly and kind and the facilities are there to cope with pretty much any baby/toddler based emergency! Fab.

Blatherskite Sat 03-Aug-13 15:20:27

We had a really good time at the little cafe outside of Tunnels Beach in Ilfracombe last week. We'd had a great day on the beach and were looking for food. The cafe has a small menu but there was plent for children to choose from and everything we had was really tasty. What set it apart was the huge pirate ship play area though. It was in the centre of the benches so that all the parents could see their children and kept the children happy and amused for well over an hour - and we didn't even try the indoor play area!

beanandspud Sat 03-Aug-13 21:37:53

We love Yo Sushi! at Meadowhall when we go out with DS. The staff are fantastic, very friendly and the food is instant grin. We see loads of families there, it's one of those places where you can have a good meal but without needing a children's menu.

Hopezibah Sat 03-Aug-13 21:43:17

We had a stop for food at "The Wagtail" in Wincanton on our way to and back from holiday to Cornwall recently. They did a good selection of food and had a lovely outdoor play area for the children as well as a lovely little indoor play area for under 5's. They were so family friendly on our first visit there that we deliberately made it our stop-off point for the way home too!

For me our local Prezzo wins my award for family friendly. They have great high chairs with a tray that my 9 month old can sit in and eat safely (unlike many restaurants who offer a booster seat or high chair without a tray): the children's portion is so big that at least 3 small children could share it easily. The staff happily provide bottle warming and, best of all (for me that is) they have delicious gluten - free pizzas available so we can all eat happily as a family. Makes for a very happy family indeed.

unquietmind Sun 04-Aug-13 12:59:55

Giraffe is fab and has loads of great stuff for dd and always very respectful of her

Children's adventure farm trust in cheshire - excellent centre for children with additional needs. My dd loves it and can't wait to go back and stay for a week - they managed her needs superbly.

BeCool Mon 05-Aug-13 10:14:15

London Wetlands Centre - it's very family friendly.

Not just as an attraction in itself, but it's a sanctuary for city kids - no cars, bikes or dogs - which means as a parent I can relax more than in say one of London's parks (cyclists all over the parks paths and dogs galore means parents with young children can't really relax there).

Fantastic playground, loads of easy parking, plenty of changing areas, picnic areas, cafe, and lots to see and do whatever the season.

We've been so many times and yet there are still new delights on each visit.

FreelanceMama Mon 05-Aug-13 15:50:49

Last week we went to Squires Garden Centre near Storrington, West Sussex. I was really impressed with their cafe - reasonably priced healthy options for children, colouring materials and books - and they've just had a play area built with lovely soft play and outdoor play equipment. They're only asking for donations to a local charity at the moment but even when they start charging it will be one pound for an hour, which is a bargain.

lollypopsicle Mon 05-Aug-13 16:37:28

The staff at our local cafe Nero are always very accommodating when we go in with the kids. They help make room for the buggy, will bring my drink over if I'm on my own and will hold the door open to help me get in. usually I don't even ask, they just do it.

gazzalw Mon 05-Aug-13 18:36:14

Well we had a very good experience at Chessington. Due to combined dimwittery or a common-sense failure, we ended up locking all our belongings into a locker and weren't able to retrieve them. The staff (and it only took us a minute to find one) were very helpful, quick and really couldn't have been more accommodating - especially as I think we were entirely to blame for the mess-up....The whole problem was resolved in about ten minutes and they even offered us use of the locker for the rest of our stay! All of the staff were very friendly, efficient and professional.... Spot on!

whattodoo Mon 05-Aug-13 20:20:01

We've just been to the Lake District and we couldn't have had better service in the many cafes we stopped off at. all were child friendly, patient, great food and welcoming facilities.

SleeplessInBedfordshire Tue 06-Aug-13 10:13:03

Pizza Express are a great family friendly restaurant. Someone always offers to help with my pushchair if needed, and its one of the few places I feel comfortable taking the baby along for an evening meal (as most people there also have their kids with them).

FoxPass Tue 06-Aug-13 12:07:44

Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston is a great family day out. it has both indoor and outdoor activities, plenty of green space and well looked-after animals that you can pet. its clean, with plenty handwashing facilities and helpful, friendly staff. entry is good value for all day entry, but yearly membership is particularly good and we save loads using it as we go at least once a week smile

dahville Tue 06-Aug-13 13:23:57

Ask restaurant in Wells gave us very good service; even though a large group had ordered before us they got our meals out to us first, realising that we had a young toddler, I was pregnant, & we probably didn't want to wait!

The servers were all very helpful, friendly, & attentive to our son which made the meal go very smoothly.

That same day we had been at @Bristol where we also received very good service. We were supposed to be visiting @Bristol weeks earlier but our son had come down with the chicken pox - they rescheduled our visit without any trouble at all. The day we went was less expensive and they even gave us a refund on our tickets (which we had said we didn't expect or want but they insisted!)

CelticPromise Tue 06-Aug-13 14:18:21

We had a great weekend camping at Wellington Country Park. Camping is not cheap but you get free access to the park all day and after hours which is more than worth it. There is loads for kids to do there.

Without doubt, The Book Nook in Hove. Independent children's bookshop with cafe and a pirate ship! Regular NCT coffee mornings as well as fabulous story times. Can stay there for hours!

afromom Tue 06-Aug-13 16:56:20

Cattle county in Gloucestershire is a favourite with us. Great for children from toddler to teen and the adults can get involved too! Loads of soft play, death slides, canoe safari, biggest climbing net in the UK (built by DS's friends Dad!), lots of space for picnics and loads more. And what's even better is that pretty much everything is included in the entry price, which isn't bad value for a day out.

As a child one if my favourite holiday days out was the Dart Country Park in Devon! We went loads of times over the years and never got bored!

xalyssx Tue 06-Aug-13 17:24:07

Nasons department store in Canterbury is amazing for service, the staff are always willing to help but they don't go overboard. The man in the toy shop is always very friendly and jokes about with the children. It truly is a pleasure to purchase things from there and my son always looks forward to visiting.

Mandy21 Tue 06-Aug-13 18:15:48

We love Manchester Aquatic Centre. It caters for little ones with a very shallow pool, with slides, water shoots. Its right in the centre of town, very cheap, has a lovely café where you can take a picnic and was really welcome during the hot spell. For more competent swimmers the main pool is huge and its just a really family friendly place.

ineedtogetoutmore Tue 06-Aug-13 18:23:55

mines a slightly different family moment about how my husbands workplace have helped us so much over summer.

I'm pregnant and found out at 13 weeks pregnant I needed to have an operation this was booked in for 2 days later. my dh's employer is a small employer and have to plan holidays well in advance in order to meet deadlines.

despite having no notice his boss allowed him to take 2 weeks annual leave so he could be with me and care for our dd. even though this meant the company had to deal with custoners who were pretty upset at being delayed.

since my dh has gone back to work even though he has used up all his annual leave his company have allowed him to still attend any scans and appointments with me as I'm currently not able to drive allowing him to make up time by working from home in the evenings or weekends.

because of how great my husbands boss has been we have been able to attend scans etc as a family and as they've let him catch up on work from home we haven't missed out on any time together as a family.

Chopsypie Tue 06-Aug-13 19:40:12

Seven stories centre for children's books in Newcastle. I know it's aimed at kids anyway, but every thing was amazing. Artwork was low on the walls, baskets of books ad dressing up stuff at random points and exhibits which were engaging for all ages. Toilets came in 3 sizes and I was given a cushion and offered a glass of water whilst breast feeding in one of there dress up areas. Always an amazing day out, and the staff are always helpful and spoke to the children as well as the adults. I can't praise it highly enough

poachedeggs Tue 06-Aug-13 20:20:47

DH was in Carphone Warehouse last week with both DC in tow, and the assistant gave them a demo phone each. They came home 'texting and taking calls', delighted with themselves - I thought that was really nice and way beyond what I've come to expect from high street phone retailers who I now avoid due to terrible service. I've had a rethink about Carphone Warehouse though!

Family friendly and basic human kindness - my aunt and I went out for lunch to a family run Chinese restaurant in my home town. I'd had 6 weeks of DS1 crying with colic and having problems with breast feeding after labour complications.

The moment we sat down and ordered, DS woke up and started yelling for a feed. I fed him and then tried to wrangle baby and duck wraps.

The owner of the restaurant came over to us and told me I had a beautiful baby, and how much she missed her own grandchildren as they were in China. She said she had some accounts to do on the table next to us but that she would be honoured to hold DS and chat to him whilst we ate. I could have sobbed. She sat near enough to us that I felt DS was close, but o that we could still have a bit of privacy. She then ordered desserts for us on the house "to help with the breast feeding". It was the best customer service I have ever had, and just what I needed at the time.

Suffice to say it is still my restaurant of choice.

Mumtochops12 Tue 06-Aug-13 21:48:04

Creswell crags in between Mansfield and Worksop, Nottinghamshire is a brilliant place for kids! First visit there last week and thoroughly impressed. Lots of information on the crags and you can even go inside the caves on a guided tour. Lovely play area for children and throughout the holidays they seem to have activities going on. Also really nice little cafe, quite pricey as visitors centre cafes usually are but food looked nice, can only comment on the coffee we had there! It's a free day out, all they ask for is a £2 contribution to help maintain the area, well worth it. Brilliantly clean baby change facilities too, you can't say that about a lot of places these days!

fie181 Tue 06-Aug-13 22:19:18

Seven stories in Newcastle upon Tyne. Seven story building of fun, books, exhibitions, story time, craft sessions and not the greatest but ok .

rusmum Tue 06-Aug-13 23:32:25

Wheelgate Mansfield, always have great things for kids to do, staff are friendly and helpful. Annual passes so good value

BikeRunSki Wed 07-Aug-13 06:22:44

Absolutely Cannon Hall Farm, for all.the reasons * seslight123* has given. I live nearby and we go.often.

Also, the Barnsley Metrodome sports centre. Ok, so.I have not used Amy of the sports fa ilitues apart from the pool, but the amazing! There' s an interlinkied leisure pool and length pool and a seperate toddler pool. Big family changing rooms,fb with safety seats and playpens to put children in when adults are getting changed! Fabulous slides in the main pool, and some of the best, most patient swimming instructors ever. All sorts of swimming lessons. My DC have been going since they were a couple of months old each, and my 4 yo is just swimming confidently.without aids. OK food in the bar, lots of highchairs, staff will carry trays etc happily. The entry fee includes a swim nappy too. They do offers entry for swimming and bowling, so when tgevdc are older I fully intend to have whole days there doing that. And they let yoy take pushchairs to the pool side, handy when dd was tiny and DS had a lesson.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Wed 07-Aug-13 19:22:30

We love Seven Stories, too - amazing place, and staff are fabulous.

Premier Inn hotels deserve a vote too - best one with the kids has been Putney Bridge, where they were given free chocolate medals and colouring sheets.

Also Belton House - NT place - so many staff made time to talk to the kids about the puppets they made in the Discovery Centre, and the indoor play cafe is brilliant.

HannahLI Thu 08-Aug-13 13:59:06

We love the National Trusts wicken Fen, they always have lots going on for kids to participate in, the staff are always really friendly. Plus there is plenty to explore on the boardwalks and you can go back and do a different route time and time again!

BoysWillGrow Fri 09-Aug-13 20:40:43

As the prize is for matalan this is about them. I went shopping there brought a few bits, realised when we got home i'd left something in the trolley back at the carpark (25miles away) anyway...
3 weeks later when i was in the area popped in and mentioned to staff had it been handed in, manager came over and gave me a free one. Very nice of them and they didn't have to smile

SaltySeaBird Mon 12-Aug-13 07:47:58

The baby facilities at John Lewis are fab. We stopped at one of their home stores to break a long journey up and do an emergency nappy change. Was a lovely, large clean room, plenty of space with a nice changing area (not just a fold down plastic thing), comfy chairs for a private breast feed and a cold water machine with cups. Love John Lewis!

teabagpleb Tue 13-Aug-13 14:49:59

John Lewis are particularly good at asking if I need help with a tray etc, when I have a buggy and a walking child.

Some Pizza Express branches are great, depending on the staff - the Walton-on-Thames one deserved medals recently when my children and my parents dithered and fussed for hours. Others much less good - my nearest you have to ring a bell to get them to move a table aside and open the accessible door, and there's no baby change - though a while back the manager kindly offered DP his office to change ds on, on top of a pile of pizza boxes! Luckily it wasn't a nasty nappy. Staff since then have been dithery and unhelpful (taking half an hour to bring a kids' icecream and then causing meltdown as it was the wrong one) so haven't been for ages.

Actually one that really stands out is my local Carpet Direct, where the manager lent my 3yo his Iphone with an app that copied all noises made in a funny voice, so ds chatted to it for an hour while we debated measurements. Ds has also been encouraged to wheel trolleys of carpet from one end of the store to the other and back. The manager was still charming after I only bought carpet and arranged fitting elsewhere, and asks after the kids whenever I pass - sadly I don't need much carpet or I'd buy much more from them!

And local HSBC where staff have always been very happy for me to have business appts with a baby in tow and said I'm welcome to breastfeed or feed the baby there and to change a nappy on the floor if need be, and given me water.

A bit of thought from staff is more important than anything else - though facilities at places like the Horniman Museum are appreciated too.

poorbutrich Tue 13-Aug-13 17:21:45

We have a noisy DS who doesn’t like to sit still, so I was quite nervous when our friends booked a table in Strada. As predicted, he didn’t want to sit in his chair and escaped out of the door. However, the staff were great and extremely patient. One thoughtfully brought over some nibbles for him and a glass of milk and they also provided some paper for him to draw on.

It’s great when companies have all of the facilities to entertain little people, but it’s their manner and attitude to children that really matters and I am very grateful to Strada for making it a lovely, relaxing evening when with the wrong staff, it could have been extremely stressful.

skyeskyeskye Thu 15-Aug-13 12:30:48

The Red Deer at Crediton. It is a Marstons pub and it has an outside play area and a small indoor play area. The staff are fantastic, they put families at one end and couples at the other, and minimise any complaints that way. The staff are great, they are helpful and friendly and have given DD things to play with. A drink was accidentally knocked over and they replaced it free of charge.

lottietiger Thu 15-Aug-13 22:39:56

For family friendly it has to be The Flight Centre. I rang up to book a long haul flight for me, my husband & 7 month old son and without asking they called the airline and arranged a bassinet for the flight, a baby pack incl food & toys and a pushchair loan at our connecting airport. Absolutely fantastic service and they were cheaper than others smile

rachel19784 Fri 16-Aug-13 01:24:43

A fantastic Day and evening celebrating my Grandmothers 80th Birthday.
My auntie transformed her garden into a wonderland filled with about 40 tea lights and candles hung all around her magical looking garden.
The kids had a child friendly area to play in, the BBQ was on the go as well as every sort of food imaginable, Friends and family celebrated my grandmothers 80 years and it was so touching to see her reunited with old friends.When the music stopped playing( my Aunt's friend is a DJ, so we had a DJ in the garden) and we all sang 'Happy Birthday' it was very emotional and such a great day, her sick brother even came from his home 2 hours away as a surprise which really made her day.
My children met family members who hadn't seen them since they were babies.
This by far was the nicest, sweetest and most fun day we have had this

jimeyrose Fri 16-Aug-13 17:27:01

The Tavern in Tansley near Matlock are very child friendly. Never complain about the noise and mess and the staff are really friendly. Lots of highchairs available too.
Also Costa Coffee in Matlock were very helpful to my mother when she was babysitting my baby and toddler for me.

Raahh Fri 16-Aug-13 21:00:57

It's dd1's 7th birthday- she requested a trip to the Giraffe restaurant at the Trafford Centre, and it was great. They really bent over backwards to make it a really special meal, the usual colouring books etc, but staff who genuinely seemed to be interested. And children eat free til the 23rd August, (with an adult having a main course), so it was loads of fun, and great value too!

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 19-Aug-13 11:26:02

Hi all, thanks everyone for adding your thoughts to the thread. Congratulations to rusmum who has won the prize draw for £100 worth of Matalan vouchers.

lindsey3uk Mon 19-Aug-13 20:32:59

Had fantastic family friendly service in Starbucks in Braintree Freeport (Essex) unusual to find children's toys in a Starbucks but they were there and kept the kids amused whilst we had a quiet ten minutes. Starbucks offer free babychino for children and as we asked for cream to be added we expected to pay for it but wasn't charged. They were polite and friendly and we didn't feel in the way at all. lots of buggy space - always a bonus, especially in a Starbucks.

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