Monday, 16 July 2012 7:36 AM
Summer is meant to be a time when we flock outdoors and enjoy some fresh air, but the unpredictable UK weather can put paid to the best laid plans. Read our guide to find out how to keep the kids entertained when the sun refuses to shine during your holiday in Wales.
If the weather is really awful, spending the day discovering some of the country's wonderful caves is a fantastic way to avoid the rain and keep the kids entertained. The National Showcaves Centre for Wales, which is situated between Swansea and Brecon, is one of the best options.
Home to three fascinating caves, this centre is where you'll find the Cathedral Cave, which is well known for its delicate features, as well as the Dan-yr-Ogof Showcave and its stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Kids who are fascinated by somewhat grizzly tales of the past are bound to love the Bone Cave, where skeletons of both animals and humans were found.
It is well worth exploring all three caves if you have time and, if you enjoy doing so, you might also like to head to Big Pit: National Coal Museum. This comprises a series of excellent attractions, which are both educational and entertaining. So, it is somewhere the whole family should enjoy.
Situated in Torfaen, this attraction allows visitors to discover what life was like working in the mines in a number of ways, including by taking an informative tour of the Big Pit mine itself. Doing so, you will travel some 300 ft down the mine shaft, where a real miner will give you a 50-minute guided tour around the engine houses, coal faces and more. Children are certain to get excited about exploring underground, especially as they will be kitted out with real mining equipment, including a helmet and cap lamp.
Back above ground, you can head to the Big Pit Mining Galleries to see simulated workings of the mine, in addition to a multimedia presentation that will introduce you to the country's part in the UK mining industry. So, this is a fantastic place to learn a little more about the nation's past - and the role which mining has played in it.
When it comes to family days out in Wales, educational activities are a great option for rainy afternoons. Techniquest in Cardiff Bay - there is also one in Wrexham - is a particularly enjoyable place to go.
Defining itself as a science and discovery centre, it has a fantastic array of interactive displays, in addition to a planetarium and a science theatre. Its programme of events is varied, so it is a good idea to check exactly what will be on during the day you plan to visit. On weekends and bank holidays it is open from 10:00 to 17:00, while it also welcomes visitors seven days a week during the school holidays.
Nearly all children love discovering animals, whether they're into creepy crawlies, fluffy bunnies or scaly reptiles. Take them to Pili Palas Nature World on Anglesey and they can spend a whole day meeting all sorts of wonderful creatures, while keeping out of the rain.
Among the key attractions here is the butterfly house, which has a humid atmosphere, verdant vegetation and beautiful waterfalls to give them an ideal environment. As well as spotting the colourful insects, your little ones will have the chance to explore the Bug Zone, where they'll find giant snails, millipedes, locusts and more.
Fearless children are bound to be fascinated by the tarantulas, while they might also be keen to touch a snake or a lizard during the handling sessions. If, however, your kids prefer seeing cute animals, never fear - you can take them to pets' corner to meet guinea pigs and rabbits.
Another good thing about coming to Pili Palas is that there are plenty of facilities to help children burn any excess energy, including a bouncy castle and adventure playground.
While your family may not be keen on getting wet in the rain, they may well be very happy to soak themselves at a water park. Located in Narbeth in Pembrokeshire, Blue Lagoon Waterpark is a brilliant place to spend the day.
Its combination of high-speed flumes, pools, wave machines and even spa pools for adults hoping to relax means that people of any age can have a great time here. It is worth bearing in mind that the flumes have a height restriction of 1.1 m, so really young children will need to play in the pools.