Clare Thomson, from Sandcastles and Suitcases, is back, this time with a post on how to entertain children in the English city of Bath.
Bath is, quite simply, one of the prettiest cities in England. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, it’s the only city in the UK to be classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s easy to see why when you first glimpse the gorgeous honey-coloured stone of the Georgian buildings and visit the spectacular Roman Baths.
There are delights on every corner, from the numerous museums and parks, to the wonderful independent shops and restaurants.
It’s a fantastic city to visit as a family. It’s small enough to explore on foot and there’s more than enough to entertain children and adults. What’s more, it makes an ideal base to visit the neighbouring cities of Bristol, Stonehenge, Longleat and the Cotswolds are all nearby.
Walk in the footsteps of the Romans at the Roman Baths
A visit to the Roman Baths is an absolute must – it’s one of the finest spas of the ancient world. Hot spring water has been rising up for thousands of years.
In the 1st century AD, the Romans built a magnificent temple and bathing complex where they came to bathe in the sacred waters, pray and seek healing.
You can still tread on the ancient stone pavements where the Romans walked, see the ruins of the temple to the Goddess Minerva and the various bathing rooms.
It’s a great place to find out more about the Ancient Romans as there are displays of all the items that have been excavated from the site.
They include thousands of coins, jewellery, writing tools, drinking cups, perfume pots and, best of all, the Roman Curse Tablets. These were the tools on which the Romans wrote messages to Minerva on lead and pewter, cursing people who wronged them.
The children’s audioguide is excellent and there are characters in costume at the Baths every day to help visitors learn more about Roman Britain. During the school holidays there are family activities that take place on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Don’t forget to taste the spa water at the end of your tour. You’ll probably find the warm water as revolting as we did!
The Roman Baths are open every day from 9am until 6pm. You can see them by torchlight in July and August when they remain open until 10pm. Check the website for the most up-to-date prices.
Try the Bath Bun at Sally Lunn’s
The original Bath Bun was created over 300 years ago by a French refugee. Part bun, part cake, part bread, Sally Lunn’s bun was really popular in Georgian England, where it was served for breakfast and afternoon tea.
Sally Lunn’s is located in one of the oldest houses in Bath. You can visit the original kitchen Sally herself used, with its faggot oven and Georgian range.
The buns themselves are delicious and served with a sweet or savoury topping. We had ours with lemon curd, ginger butter and the most incredible cinnamon butter we’ve ever tasted.
Sally Lunn’s, 4 North Parade Passage, is open every day from 10am until 9.30pm. Sundays, from 11am until 9pm and on Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm.
Have some dressing up fun at the Fashion Museum
Try on corsets, top hats, Victorian dresses, bonnets and wigs in the brilliant dressing-up room at the Fashion Museum. The museum’s probably one of the world’s best collections of historic and fashionable clothes.
Expect to find everything from Tudor shirts and 18th century French silk dresses, to the Roland Mouret Galaxy dress!
The Children’s Trail has 10 historical fashion looks for kids and there are family workshops in fashion design on Tuesdays during the Summer holidays.
The Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street is open every day from 10.30am until 5pm, until 4pm from November to February. Check the website for ticket prices.
Dance around the ballroom at the Assembly Rooms
My two boys couldn’t resist dancing around the ballroom in the Assembly Rooms. It’s where thousands of people used to gather for parties and balls, including a few of the characters in Jane Austen’s novels.
The ballroom is the grandest of the three rooms and contains the finest set of 18th century chandeliers in the world. They are more than 8ft high and in Georgian times they would have been lit with 200 candles. The Assembly Rooms are free to enter when there isn’t an event going on.
Afternoon tea at Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms
Afternoon tea’s a great British tradition and has always been popular in Bath. You could have your tea in the elegant surroundings of the 18th century Pump Room, but Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms is a far more fun and laidback setting for kids.
The entire restaurant is decorated in the style of 1930s and 1940s wartime Britain, so expect embroidered tablecloths, knitted tea cosies, wartime posters and mismatched china. The waitresses wear old-fashioned pinafores and headscarves and the afternoon tea is a real delight.
There’s a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and huge slices of homemade cake.
Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms is open every day from 10am until 5pm.
Take a boat out on the River Avon
The River Avon is good fun for hiring a punt, rowing boat or canoe from the Victorian boating station at Bath Boating Station. You can take one of the Pulteney Cruise motorboats there from the centre of Bath.
If you’ve got enough time, hire a narrowboat and spend the day cruising along the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal in a narrowboat.
Be a history detective at No 1 Royal Crescent
Find out what life was like for Bath’s richest and most fashionable residents by taking a tour around the first house to be built in Bath’s famous Royal Crescent.
The rooms at No 1 are exactly as they would have looked in the late 18th century. What’s more, children are given a history detective pack, that comes complete with a magnifying glass, worksheet and fun activities to do in every room.
We also visited the Gentleman’s Retreat and the Lady’s Bedroom, where we laughed at the wig scratcher which they needed because of all the head lice they had underneath their wigs. There are more craft activities that take place on Family Fridays.
No 1 Royal Crescent is open every day until 5.30pm. On Mondays it opens from 12pm; and Tuesdays to Sundays from 10.30am. Head to the website for information on ticket prices and directions.
Have a picnic in Royal Victoria Park
The large park in front of the Royal Crescent is a grand place for a picnic. It’s also great for watching all the hot air balloons on a summer’s evening. The 57-acre park was opened by Queen Victoria when she was only 11 (before she became queen).
It boasts a botanical garden, crazy golf, duck pond, bandstand with live music and a brilliant adventure playground with a zip wire and pyramid climbing frame. Bath really has something for everyone!
Photos 1,2,3,4,6 and 8 courtesy of Clare Thomson at Suitcasesandsandcastles