TraffordCity, Manchester is a “city within a city” – a shopping and entertainment destination built up around the Trafford Centre (which incidentally is currently celebrating it’s 20th birthday . . . I couldn’t quite believe it when I read that recently but then realised that it’s over 15 years since I stopped working there myself!) There’s so much to do at TraffordCity – from retail therapy and a whole host of dining options in the Trafford Centre itself to a variety of sports opportunities. When it comes to entertaining the kids there’s something for everyone – from snow fun at Chill Factore to Legoland Discovery Centre or SEA LIFE.
This week, I set off up to Trafford City with the kids for a day out. It was a fairly grey and miserable day in the summer holidays so I knew that TraffordCity had the potential to be quite busy. I decided it was best to just get up and out meaning that we were at our first destination by 9.30am!
Dinofalls Adventure Golf is situated just off the M60 and is part of the Trafford Golf Centre. Featuring 18 holes of dinosaur themed crazy golf, and costing £24 for a family ticket (2 adults, 2 childen) – Dinofalls Adventure Golf is good fun for all ages and my little gang were super excited to be able to finally go to “the dinosaur place” they had seen from the motorway every time we went to the Trafford Centre!
We arrived at Dinofallls Adventure Golf at 9.30am, knowing that it had been busy during the holidays and hoping that being there first thing would combat this. (Now when I say first thing, Dinofalls golf is actually open from 7.30am . . . I’m not sure I would ever feel the need to play crazy golf before breakfast but you never know). As it turned out, we timed it really well – we arrived at the first hole at the same time as another family but they were clearly much quicker than us as after the first hole we never really caught them up again meaning we were free to play at our own pace without waiting around. By the time we had finished the course there was quite a queue behind us – I’d like to think this was more because Dinofalls was getting much busier as the day went on rather than that we were so rubbish that we were holding everyone up . . .
To make life easier, everyone gets to choose their own golf ball at the start – make sure you all pick different ones so that you don’t get confused about whose is whose. You each get your own golf club too. Amy just couldn’t get a grip on how to hold her club properly no matter how many times I showed her but the other two seemed to be able to do it fairly naturally. You can pick up a score card and pencil at the start but we decided not to bother counting and to just see who could win each hole – I think with the kids being a bit younger, this was the easiest way to do it and meant they all got to feel like they’d “won” rather than there being an over all winner for the game – herding three kids around crazy golf and trying to take photos at the same time was enough of a challenge without trying to keep track of a score too!
Each of the 18 holes gets progressively more tricky with slopes, tunnels and even water based obstacles – some we got in a couple of shots (or even a hole in one for Chloe, Amy and I!) others seemed to take forever. Chloe doesn’t like not being good at things so this was a real test of her perseverance and resilience at times. I had to to remind her that it really didn’t matter and it was all for fun, that nobody expected her to be a golf master!
The game took us just over an hour in total but obviously this depends very much on how quickly you play each of the holes yourselves but also how much of a queue there is in front of you. Ben, Chloe and Amy loved Dinofalls Adventure Golf and are keen to return with Dave!
After our round of golf, we drove over to The Trafford Centre to park the car, had a quick snack and walked through to Barton Square (you can park at Barton Square itself but as we were planning to have lunch in the Trafford Centre later it made sense to park there and use the covered walk way which connects the Trafford Centre to Barton Square).
We’ve not been to SEA LIFE Centre for years – so long in fact that none of the kids really remembered going before. The Manchester SEA LIFE Centre feels quite small and dark, which can feel quite overwhelming when it’s busy – it’s easy to lose little ones who are excitedly running off to look at the next thing and you can feel a bit rushed along if there’s quite a few people behind you. I think it can be difficult to really take the time to stop and look at the things around you – which is a shame as the more you look into the tanks, the more you see! A particular favourite for us is the Ocean Tunnel which allows you to feel as though you are literally walking under the sea to get a really different view of all the creatures including sharks, sting ray and turtles. Ben, Chloe and Amy found this absolutely fascinating. I’d really like for there to be more places to just sit and watch what’s going on.
As you make your way around the SEA LIFE Centre, there are lots of interactive screens to learn more about the creatures in the tanks which Ben really enjoyed. He liked being able to spot things in the tank, work out what they were and find out facts to share with this sisters. There are stations to collect stamps on your “passport” on your journey through the centre and also sea-themed LEGO models in some of the tanks for you to spot. If you manage to collect all the stamps and find all the LEGO models, you will be rewarded at the end of your trip. Ben was thrilled to pick up a LEGO mini figure.
Towards the end of the SEA LIFE Centre experience there is a soft play area – this is quite small and was very busy so we decided not to stop there for long before moving onto the final stages where you can actually touch a star fish – Amy was absolutely fascinated!
We spent around an hour and a half in the SEA LIFE Centre – I would have liked to have stayed longer but it just felt too busy and the kids were really excited about what they could see which I found made them rush a bit. They’ve all said they’d like to go back again another day though. I recommend buying tickets for SEA LIFE Centre on line ahead of your visit for the best prices.
By the time we had finished at SEA LIFE Centre it was getting on a bit and we were all pretty hungry so we took ourselves back through the covered walk way to The Trafford Centre, making a beeline for The Orient. The Orient is the Trafford Centre’s food court where you can get anything from a quick McDonalds to a full three course dinner in Bill’s (our personal favourite). Normally if I was eating with the kids on my own I’d have taken them downstairs to get a McDonalds or Subway but this time we decided to go to Las Iguanas. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat down to a proper lunch with table service and menus with the kids on my own like that! Because we were having quite a late lunch the restaurant wasn’t too busy meaning we we were seated and served fairly quickly. We had a really nice lunch – my burrito was delicious, I think I could have eaten it twice over. The children had dessert included in their meal but I decided to swerve having a pud at Las Iguanas in favour of a Nutella Salted Caramel shake at The Shake Lab.
Now you can well imagine that shopping with three kids isn’t exactly fun but I did make a sneaky trip into Selfridges to treat myself to a new Charlotte Tilbury lipstick on the way back to the car . . . I think I deserved it!
*We were invited to visited TraffordCity for the purposes of review and as such our lunch, Dinofalls and SEA LIFE experiences were complimentary. All thoughts and opinions remain our own*