Family Days Out: Bath, Avon

Tips and tricks to make your trip to Bath stress free

Britain is jam packed with beautiful cities, but few compare to glory of Bath. It is home to some of the nation’s grandest Georgian architecture – not to mention one of the world’s best-preserved Roman bathhouses. This sophisticated city, which was founded on top of natural hot springs, has been a tourist draw for around 2000 years. Aside from the famous landmarks, this charming city buzzes from the hum of lively shops, museums and cafes. But if you are planning on visiting with little ones in tow, sightseeing is never as easy as it may seem. You have to factor in family-friends destination, ease of travel, toilet breaks, and restaurants that serve food your little ones won’t turn their noses at. So, if you want to avoid travel stress, then use our handy hints to ensure you make the most of your trip without suffering from tantrums, or constant demands for ice cream – and that’s just the husband!

Where to get in free – Bath Abbey: Looming above the city centre, Bath’s huge abbey church is one of its most striking landmarks. It’s iconic west façade is its most famous feature as it boasts statues of angels climbing up and down stone ladders. Don’t just admire it from the outside, pop in and be dazzled by its stunning interiors – especially as entry into the Abbey is totally free. Although, visitors can make a donation, there is no obligation to do so, which is a massive bonus if you are travelling with a big family. As you wander inside, gaze up and be wowed by the epic arches and colourful stain glass windows. You can learn how the Abbey is steeped in history as it was built between 1499 and 1616 – making it the last great medieval church in England. If you don’t mind walking up a few steps, well 212 to be precise, then a tower tour is worth a try. The fully guided tour takes around 50 minutes. On your way up, you will visit the ringing chamber and bell chamber, stand on top of the Abbey’s fan vaulted ceiling, and even sit behind the clock face. Once up on the roof you will have the best vantage point to enjoy spectacular views of the beautiful city and countryside. The Tower tours cost £6 for adults and £3 for 5 to 15-year-olds. Visit Bath Abbey or call 01225 422462 for more information. Top Tip – Be sure to pick up a free children’s quiz from the entrance to help youngsters discover fascinating parts of the Abbey.

How to get around – Hop on Hop off Bath Bus Tour: Sightseeing in this amazing city is an enjoyable experience and the best way to explore is to sit back, relax and let City Sightseeing show you the sights on their hop-on and hop-off buses. Simply jump on any of its distinctive red buses, which have over 38 stops, to get your bearings around the city. It allows you to visit many of the major sights in a relatively short time period, so it is great if you are only visiting for a few days.  There are two routes that run every 15 during peak season. The City Tour incorporates Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre, the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Bath Abbey, while the Skyline Tour includes the Railway Station, Pulteney Bridge, Prior Park Landscape Gardens and the American Museum. You can get off the bus, during any of the stops to explore the landmarks so it is also a great way to get around the city. Best of all – the tours offer entertaining and informative commentary in 10 languages. Or you can choose to listen to the live guides, who are full of interesting facts. One of the most fascinating tidbits I learned was that residents of Bath were once taxed on the number of windows inside their homes, which is the origins of the phrase ‘daylight robbery’. You will also learn why Queen Victoria hated Bath, and why the acorn symbol is so important to the city.The City Route runs every 15-30 minutes from 10am to 5.30 pm. The Skyline Route, run every 15 to 60 minutes from 10.30 am to 5pm. Tickets cost £14.50 for adults, £9 for 5 to  15-year-olds. Students or Senior tickets cost £12, but a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) costs £37. For more information on the tours  call 0 1789 299 123. Top Tip- Hop back on the bus with your lunch whenever you need to feed the kids. It is a great way to sit down and enjoy the sights as your little ones refuel their energy.

For a history lesson – Roman Bath & Museum: Be sure to take your little ones to this landmark so they can discover how the Romans constructed a complex of bathhouses above Bath’s three natural hot springs. The baths now form one of the best-preserved ancient Roman spas in the world, and are encircled by 18th and 19th-century buildings. Parents visiting this historic landmark will be reassured to learn that it is a family-friendly venue, and there are also lifts and ramps to enable wheelchair users to get around easily.A special children’s audio guide, narrated by Michael Rosen, is also included free of charge in your visit. Be sure to also pick up family activity trails at the reception desk to help youngsters make the most of their visit. Children can also meet lively Roman costumed characters and enjoy a chat with them or  hear about life in Roman Britain. There is a lot to see, so allow at least two hours to get the most from your visit. This attraction can get very busy. So, to dodge the worst crowds, avoid weekends, July and August. Tickets cost £15.50 for adult, £13.75 for seniors and students, £9.80 for children between 6 to 16-years-old. Or a family tickets for  2 adults and up to 4 children costs £46. Visit Roman Baths, or call 01225 477785 for more information. Top Tip – To get your kids excited about the visit before they arrive, log onto the children’s page on the official website. This is jam-packed with fun games and information about the history of the Roman Baths. They will adore playing the interactive game, Roman Rush, where they pretend to be the Aquae Sulis tax collector and have to collect the money bags from five merchants before they spend their denari.

For book worms- The Jane Austen Centre: Visitors can teach their kids about the woman who penned many classic novels that are still read and cherished today.The Jane Austen Centre tells the story of the author’s time in Bath, including the effect that living here had on her writing. Children will adore following the guides, who are dressed in Regency costumes, and take visitors through memorabilia relating to the writer’s life. Although Jane lived in Bath for only five years, from 1801 to 1806, she remained a regular visitor and a keen student of the city’s social scene.  It had such an impact on her that she based two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey in Bath. Families will adore visiting the museum where they can also dress up in period clothing, and take an obligatory holiday selfie. And if you post it to the Centre’s social media account, then chances are that they may even share it on their website. The Centre also now features a specially commissioned waxwork of Jane – which took two years to complete. It was constructed with the assistance of an internationally-renowned sculptor, an FBI-trained forensic artist and a Bafta award-winning costume designer. The attention to detail is simply amazing. The Centre is a must for fans of the author as you learn so much about her life, such as the fact that she wasn’t only a talented writer, but also brewed her own beer and orange wine. And that is not all. Towards the end of her life, when she was very weak but still wanted to write, Jane would use a pencil rather than a pen and ink. Visitors also discover that much of her own experiences seeped into her writing. Just as the author moved to Bath from a small country village, her novel Northanger Abbey depicts a young girl who is enthralled by the excitement of moving to a fashionable city.  There’s also a period cafe which serves crumpets and cream teas in suitably frilly surroundings, which is a great pitstop after the tour. Tickets range from £4.50 to £26. Visit the Jane Austen Centre or call 01225 443000 for more information. Top Tip – The centre’s  website is full of fun games and craft ideas, that you can enjoy with your little one either before or after your trip. Activites include learning how to use a wax seal to add Georgian flair to your letters or making your own Jane Austen soap bars.

Where to play – Bath sky line: Explore the Bath Skyline, which boasts six miles of marked footpaths. Discover hidden valleys, rich in limestone flowers and tranquil beech woodlands, interspersed with extensive views over Bath and out towards the Blackdown Hills. The Iron Age fort on Little Solsbury Hill offers the perfect vantage point for spectacular views over Bath. The limestone grassland slopes support a variety of plants and attract a number of butterflies. The skylark has also made its home here. Best of all, you can also listen out for their distinctive song, a warbling of short trills, in late spring. Top tip – Come here when you little ones need to burn off a bit of energy. The wide-open space overlooking Bath, is a great spot to let them run around while you take in some stunning views.

Where to eat – Sally Lunn’s: No visit to Bath is complete without enjoying afternoon tea, so be sure to check-out the quaintness of Sally Lunn’s. The teahouse is famous throughout the city for its famous buns that taste like a mix between a brioche and croissant. The café oozes charm, with a rustic staircase that leads visitors to charming tearooms. Be sure to opt for the café’s unique afternoon tea, where you can tuck into a savoury and sweet version of the bun. The savoury version is served with the finest salmon. But staff are accommodating and can switch the topping to suite dietary requirements. The sweet version is a delicious way to end a meal. It is severed with clotted cream and jam, but again, staff are happy to switch the topping to chocolate butter if you are eating with children. After, you are done munching away, be sure to learn more about Sally Lunn, who was a Huguenot refugee that came to the bake-house in 1680. It is here that she started to make a rich, and round bun that was big but incredibly light and delicious. She made her buns with fresh eggs, local butter and warm milk together with the skill she had learned making French brioche. Sally Lunn’s buns became so famous that the house began to be called after her. The recipe, which was found in a secret cupboard, is now passed on with the deeds of the house. Top Tip – Give your kids a history lesson when you visit the old bakery museum in the cellar of Sally Lunn’s. Entry is free to all guests who eat here. You will see evidence of early Medieval & Roman dwellings on this site and the oven that is believed to be used by Sally Lunn back in 1680. Best of all, you can also see how the floor levels of Bath have been raised throughout the years to help prevent flooding. Take a look at the exhibition window in the basement, which shows the raising floor levels from the Roman period, to Saxon, Medieval and Tutor times. Visit Sally Lunn’s or call 01225461634 for more information.

Aamina Zafar

Aamina Zafar

Aamina has been a roving reporter for more than 10 years – penning stories for local and national newspapers. After living a fast paced life for a decade, she has now settled for a life in the suburbs with her husband and baby boy. She loves writing about beauty, babies and hard earned bucks. Aamina also enjoys writing articles that do not begin with the letter ‘B’ such as travel and food.

 

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