Top of Amy’s wish list for this summer holiday was a return visit to The Ice Cream Farm, Cheshire – we’d been twice last year and I was impressed that she had remembered. As it was, Michelle and I had already planned a trip over for one of our Butler / Burgess adventures during the summer!
One of the things I love most about The Ice Cream Farm is that it’s perfectly possible to visit on a tight budget – entry to the attraction itself is free and this gives you access to the “Daisy’s Garden” play area (a space in which our children aged between 3 and 8 could play happily all day long if the weather allowed) and Fudge Farm (a small area with a range of animals – pigs, donkeys, hens – to visit). Although picnics are not allowed in the venue itself, you could feasibly pop out to eat your lunch and then go back in – however with The Pantry offering such great value meals this isn’t something we’ve ever bothered to do! I think when The Ice Cream Farm is free to enter, you don’t mind so much paying out for you lunch – it’s swings and roundabouts as they say. Although a number of the attractions at The Ice Cream Farm carry an admission fee – it’s well worth investing in a Play Pass which essentially means you are buying play sessions in “bulk” and as such you benefit from a discount – the bigger Play Pass you buy, the more you save in the long run.
After carefully consulting the weather forecast, and knowing it wasn’t likely to be all that nice, we planned out our day. Now of course you can just turn up at The Ice Cream Farm and just pick and choose what you do as you’re going along – but we’ve learned from previous trips that it’s worth pre-booking things like Fun Factory or Honeycomb Canyon especially if it’s looking like the weather might be a bit dodgy as they can get really busy. The Honeycomb Canyon is a firm favourite with our little crew so we booked in to do that first thing with the intention of having an early-ish lunch and then spending the afternoon playing outside (keeping the Fun Factory in mind as an option if the weather took a turn for the worse!).
The fairly poor weather forecast seemed to work in our favour as The Ice Cream Farm wasn’t anywhere near as busy as we had anticipated for a school holiday – we were able to park in the main car park without hunting out a space for a start! (We have previously had to park in an overflow carpark on busy summer days and even seen people queuing to get in off the road!)
We made our way straight to Honeycomb Canyon where the kids got stuck in with the sand and water play. The indoor set up is great as it means that the sand and water can be enjoyed all year round – there’s so much to explore and investigate and it is certainly a highlight of our visits to The Ice Cream Farm. The only downside is that there isn’t all that much seating for adults, so if it does get busy you can find yourself hanging around the edges of the barn. This is another reason why we chose to visit Honeycomb Canyon earlier in the day whilst it was still fairly quiet! It’s worth bearing in mind that your children are unlikely to escape Honeycomb Canyon clean and dry . . . you really do need to take a towel and a change of clothes. (Or we even saw a number of children wearing swimming costumes which I thought was pretty sensible – though could be cold in the winter!)
After lots of fun in Honeycomb Canyon, we got everyone clean and dry and headed off to The Pantry for lunch. As is now traditional for our visits to The Ice Cream Farm, Mich and I ordered jacket spuds – these are always delicious and great value too. Although there is a children’s menu, we decided to go for bacon or sausage butties for the kids and some chips – these went down really well and filled them up nicely. Of course we never have our pudding in The Pantry as we have to save ourselves for the mandatory trip to The Ice Cream Parlour!
With full tummies, we took ourselves outside to Daisy’s Garden where Mich and I found somewhere to sit and the kids disappeared off to play. I’m sure I’ve said before that I wish there was a fence at the back of Daisy’s Garden to keep it a little more enclosed for the younger ones but our little gang are now pretty well trained and the chances of them running off to explore anywhere else are slim! Amy and Erin had a right old time up and down the (very fast) slide whilst the bigger kids enjoyed the little sunken trampolines and a raised roundabout (which, Chloe later decided to play under running it like a hamster and landing herself in A&E – silly girl!) The magical ice cream tree never fails to draw everyone’s attention as the music plays and the freezing mist and soapy bubbles are released. (Though the wind meant they were whisked away so quickly that if you blinked you would have missed it!)
After a quick wander around Fudge Farm we made our way back to The Ice Cream Parlour, just as it started to rain. With a menu of over 50 flavours of award-winning ice cream to choose from, putting in an order for the seven of us is a complex business! I was pleased to see that the queuing system from last year seemed to have been improved and service was really quick. As always the ice creams are absolutely delicious – the Cherry Crumble was a particular highlight – both Mich and I said we wished we could buy tubs of ice cream to take home but they’d have never survived the journey!
If you’re looking for a lovely family day out in the North West this summer then we would definitely recommend The Ice Cream Farm, it’s a firm favourite and Amy is already asking when we can go back!
You can see some clips from our day in our first #sixweeksofsummer vlog:
*We were invited to visit The Ice Cream Farm and given a Play Pass in exchange for writing this review. All thoughts and opinions remain our own*