I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. Living on the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website www.sarahsays.com.au or follow on Twitter @WENGoldCoast
Published August 8th 2015
Fantastic Fun Under The Sea
I have been to a number if these places and I think it's always a success when entertaining children. There is something mesmerising for children of all ages about sea creatures and the ocean, plus the message of safety and conservation is a good one to learn from an early age.
The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham is very cute and based in the heart of Birmingham City Centre in Brindleyplace. Brindleyplace is jam packed full of bars, restaurants, cafés, entertainment and canal walks - so there is plenty to do before or after.
It will take about an hour to walk around the Sea Life Centre if you are happy just having a quick look in each zone and not doing the shows or talks. If you want you could spend two to three hours, but probably no longer than that.
There is a 4D cinema show, fun talks and feeding demonstrations if you want to fully get involved - if planning to visit just once then it's worth seeing everything in one go. You could get a stamp and head out for lunch and return in the afternoon to break up the day.
They have loads of sea creatures on display from the large to the small - in fact a massive 2000 in total including favourites such as penguins, sharks, turtles, sea horses, otters, coral fish and so much more. You can also touch starfish, crabs and other creatures in the interactive rock pool.
I took my 20 month year old daughter and although she had been to places like this before she was really engaged and interested on this visit - possibly her age but also I think it's because of the low pools, walkways, layout, lights and scenery. She especially loved the penguins and it was great that you started and ended with them on different levels - she clapped and laughed every time they swam close to us.
It's £20.95 for an adult entry but if you book online it saves 40% and becomes £12.50, so it's certainly worth it. You book a 30 minute entry slot and with that you enter through a special pre-booked queue, which is useful when it is busy.
There are other tickets offers too, such as the parent and toddler ticket which is £13.50 entry online for an adult and child from 3-5 years, at the door it's £35. They have combo, family and group tickets also so really worth getting online before you go.
If you wanted to do something special you could book a behind the scenes tour and feeding encounter with either Penguins, Sharks or a Giant Green Sea Turtle.
It does get crowded and there are lots of small walkways, so if you can manage it I would avoid taking a pram or pushchair - it's a bit of a challenge to navigate around and see everything with lots of people, kids, bags and prams.
It's open seven days a week, 10am - 5pm in the week and 10am - 6pm on weekends and holidays. You can park in the next door multi story car park which is £3.50 for three hours.
Although this is smaller than some aquariums I have been to it is still good, especially for a kids first time. They will love the different creatures and all the colours and walkways - they can fill out a booklet as they walk around so they can explore and learn whilst enjoying the visit.