If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed our little adventure to Belfast last March. Chris woke us up bright and early on a Thursday morning with Top Secret file filled with our plans for the day. We took the 9am train up (a train! Is there anything better when you’re a toddler!) and returned the following evening. In total, our trip included 2 trains, 2 busses, 2 taxis. We could have done just that and the kids would have been thrilled.
What to do
W5 – Interactive Discovery Centre
The ‘Play Museum’ (as the boys call it), also known as W5 is an amazing place for all ages to explore and learn in hands-on exhibits. We arrived about 2pm on a weekday and it was really quiet. The incredibly friendly staff told us that mornings are usually busiest with school tours, so if you want the run of the place with little people, go off peak like us. We explored around the main exhibits, learning about wind and tides and sound and air pressure. Chris built an electric car and Nate got to help out with a presentation about the world’s most dangerous creatures. He is now an expert on the difference between venomous and poisonous animals. Spoiler alert: the most dangerous creature is the mosquito. Most of the museum is great for all ages (including grown ups) but our little guys most enjoyed the under 8s Discovery area. We played trains, danced to the best mix of toddler show tunes (we’re talking Jake and the Neverland theme tune, Everything is Awesome, ZingZillas, Olaf’s song from Frozen and more!), played shop and cafe, built a car and got completely soaked in the awesome water play area. While there are smocks, if your kids are anything like mine around water, bring a change of clothes. It’s a huge facility with lots of space to explore and so many things to learn. There are tons of toilets and changing facilities, as well as lockers so that you don’t have to drag your gear all over the museum. And very conveniently, there’s a cafe inside the museum so you can spend all your time there!
There’s actually quite a lot to do in Belfast for kids and we’ll need to go back again to actually do them because all the boys wanted to was hang out at W5 (and as this was a holiday just for them, we obliged). We went Thursday afternoon AND Friday morning and have been asked over and over when we’re going back.
Where to stay
I’ve seen the adverts for Premier Inn (where everything is premier but the price) and always thought it was a marketing gimmick. I’ve stayed at my fair share of budget hotels and motels in the US, so I was pretty sceptical at what we’d get for the price. Boy was I wrong! The Premier Inn in the Cathedral Quarter was outstanding. The family room was a great size with room for a double bed and two single beds and it was exceptionally clean. The staff were friendly and helpful and even made my kids laugh, which always sets you off in a good mood. There’s a quiet time policy in place, so guests are reminded to keep it down after 11pm. If you have ever stayed in a hotel with a stag party and a baby, you’ll appreciate how fantastic this is!
But the absolute show stopper was the breakfast–hands down the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had! Kids eat free when adults purchase a full breakfast, and my kids totally made the most of it. Though they are tiny, my boys can pack it in. It was your usual fare–hot breakfast foods like eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes and continental style porridge, pastries, cereal and fruit, but it was all really good quality, fresh and delicious. I think we spent well over an hour eating breakfast!
Where to eat
We pigged out at Alley Cat, a super delicious modern greasy spoon where we introduced the kids to mozzarella cheese sticks. It was a proud moment for me. I had a trio of sliders special (McKitty, Pig Out and Posh Burger) and I found out, after 30 something years of eating burgers, that I like pickles on them! The kids had hot dogs and now that’s all they want from a restaurant. I’m still pretty disappointed I was too stuffed after my meal to get a salted caramel thick shake. What’s wrong with my priorities? Definitely time to book another trip back!
Little Wing Pizzaria
I am a total pizza snob and it takes a lot to impress me, but this was seriously good pizza and a really fun atmosphere. Little Wing is home to Ireland’s largest pizza, coming in at 24 cheesy inches. That’s some pizza! For lunch, you can get a giant slice or a 6 inch pizza and salad for £4.75. Kids get starter, main and dessert for £5.95 (Although don’t tell my kids! We were running late for the train, so we skipped dessert. There was much desert regret on this trip)