The Carson’s Liverpool NInja Adventure
We were delighted to go on a Holiday NInja trip to Liverpool over Easter to see all that this famous City had to offer for a local family. It ended up being a really fun family holiday/adventure that we will look back on with great love and affection.
We decided that as we wanted to see as many places as possible that we would take the car with us. So what better, or more convenient, way than to start our trip by taking the Stena Line Ferry from Belfast to Liverpool (Birkenhead). Boarding was simple and quick. No stress at all. It had been many years since we had travelled on a ferry and this was a real eye-opener for all the family at just how much the ferry had to offer. There were plenty of spacious areas to make your “base” and relax. A number of different places to eat, a couple of areas for children to play, a bar for the adults, 2 cinemas showing 3 films each and a duty-free type shop. All the recreational areas were split over 2 floors and made the sailing fly by.
We decided to pay extra (roughly £20 per person and for only ages 8 and above) to gain access to the Stena Plus Lounge. This was definitely worth the extra cost. We spent most of the time in the luxurious lounge that only allows limited numbers (book early) and provided those who had access, unlimited tea, coffee, various snacks, and newspapers. There are a number of TVs and plenty of plugs to charge those all-important devices. There are plenty of spacious seats and loungers to chill out, relax and take in the views. There is also table service for lunch/dinner if you wish to pay for extra food. The service in this lounge was first class and when we travel on the ferry again, this is how we will do it. All in all, the Stena Line was an excellent travel option and one we would recommend.
Upon arrival it was a quick and easy drive through the Birkenhead tunnel (tolled) to Liverpool. We stayed at the Quest Apartment Hotel right in the centre of Liverpool city. Location-wise this was perfect. But not only that, the rooms were spacious, clean, complete with cooker, microwave, washing machine, dish washer and tumble dryer. All the comforts of home in a city centre location! Awesome. The hotel is right beside the enormous Liverpool ONE shopping district, incredibly close to the train station and lots of food outlets and a few minutes dander to the Royal Albert Dock Area. So very central to base your activities. The Hotel also has a parking offer at the nearby Q-Park carpark which saved us a lot of money. Our stay at the Quest was pretty much perfect.
The first activity that we all wanted to do was to go to Knowsley Safari. This is a short drive outside of the main city but very easy to get to. Cost to get into the Safari starts from £48 for a family and there is so much to do here for everyone. Upon entry there are a number of fairground amusements (extra cost) and numerous food options. We started the day with a foot safari which takes you around a number of animal areas. We saw many animals including tigers, giraffes and very amusing meerkats! Whilst that was fun, the highlight of the day was the drive-through safari where you really do get up and close with some of the magnificent animals. Rhino, buffalo, yaks, lions (at a distance!) to name a few. There is also the baboon area which is optional to drive through. We elected to watch from outside and was probably just as well as they were climbing all over the cars and doing their best to pull at windscreen wipers and aeriels! It was very funny for us, not so much for the drivers! We sat there for ages watching the carnage. A great family time there.
To get your bearings around the city we would recommend the City Explorer Hop-on-Hop-off bus trip. You can catch this at various notable places around the city but the first stop was at the Royal Albert Dock. A family ticket cost £35. If you stay on the bus it is roughly a 50 minute round trip and takes you to all the notable and famous hotspots of Liverpool. It is led by a tour guide who was really interesting and humorous. You can jump off at the bus pick up point after you have explored the area. We went to see the World Museum (which is one of the stops). This is an incredible museum and must see. It is free entry (with a suggested donation). There is an aquarium, dinosaur and Egyptian exhibit, planetarium and much, much more. We actually came back here twice to get round it all and paid for one of the Space Films that was being shown (£10 for the family). Right beside the museum was another free entry (with suggested donation) art Gallery. The Walker Gallery had many paintings, sculptures and both modern and historic art. It was cool to walk around. And then right beside the gallery is the famous Liverpool Central Library. This is worth going even to see the enormous Picton reading rooms and getting a look around the city at the rooftop meeting place. Can you work out the hidden message in the entrance walk-way?
The dock area at Liverpool is a vibrant, fun and hugely popular area of the city and we soon found out why. With countless cafes, restaurants, local shops and attractions you can see why the area attracts so much tourism and people flock to see all that this area has to offer. From here you can catch the famous Mersey Ferry and get a quick photo alongside the “Fab Four” Beatles sculptures. Another museum to visit located here is the Museum of Liverpool which plots the history of the city. The famous Royal Albert Dock is here and you can dander around and sample the street vendors and take in the quite incredible architecture of the historic Cunard Building to name but one.
Whilst at the dock area we went to The Beatles Story which is an interactive exhibition which charts the rise of the world’s greatest ever band. This was quite simply brilliant. One of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. You have a head set which explains each of the exhibits to you and includes additional videos and of course music! The replicated “White Room” really is quite something. The exhibition has its own café and a fantastic gift shop for all the Beatles enthusiasts. Even if you are not a fan of the band The Beatles Story is something all will enjoy. Our daughter hasn’t stopped singing Beatles songs since going here. There is also an educational discovery zone for the little ones which includes a floor piano that we all had some fun on. The family ticket for the Beatles Story cost £47.
The RLB360 experience is also located at the waterfront. This can be found at the world famous Royal Liver Building and is an immersive, guide led, tour around the building which tells the story of its history and also the history of the city itself. You get up close with the famous Liver Birds Bertie and Bella way up at floor 15 of the building and get a view of the inner workings of those famous clock faces (bigger than Big Ben you know!!). The best part of the tour was a visual digital projection show inside the clock tower. This really was world class. Charting the history of the tower and the city. It was fantastic. The kids were captured by the images shown all around the clock tower. After that we went outside to get the panoramic 360 degree view of Liverpool and beyond. Make sure to plug your ears when the bell starts to ring! This was something different for the family and we were so glad we had the opportunity to do the tour. The guide was friendly and informative and I would certainly recommend. NInja Tip – there are a number of steep steps to get right to the top of the tour so please be mindful of that if you are thinking of booking. A family ticket costs £50
After all the touring around we needed a good place to have a relaxing family meal. We were absolutely amazed to see the amount of cafes, coffee shops, bars and restaurants that Liverpool has to offer. So much choice and variety that you will never be stuck for somewhere to go. We had a fantastic family meal at Wildwood Restaurant which was located right opposite the Quest Apartments. The restaurant has a really cool décor with a huge glass ceiling and open viewed kitchen so you can see all the food being made. The pizza oven was huge! There is a separate room to entertain the kids with a TV and a table-football game that our kids spent most of their time at. The menu is influenced by Italy but there are also other grill options and seasonal specials for all tastes. The service was excellent and we were warmly greeted and friendly assisted with our server providing some excellent suggestions. This was only topped by the quality of the food we received. Each course got better and better. From grilled prawns, to pasta, to chicken carbonara and finally the desserts! The family were well fed. Our daughter has a peanut allergy but she was taken well care of by the restaurant and had a delicious meal. The drinks menu is also extensive with wine, beer and cocktails all being offered. An awesome meal was had here. Bookings are recommended, especially at the weekend when it can become increasingly busy but the restaurant also offers a takeout service if you wish to avail of that.
How could you head to Liverpool and not take in the sights of Anfield, the stadium of Liverpool Football Club. We were lucky enough to have a tour around the stadium which cost £65 for the family. The tour is self-guided but you are provided with a multimedia audio handset to guide you around the huge stadium. The tour takes you into the workings of the stadium including Home and Away dressing rooms, the Press Room and takes in the top of the Main Stand with incredible views over the pitch. You get to walk through the same tunnel the players do on match day and of course you get to touch the famous “This Is Anfield” sign and walk along the side of the pitch (no walking on the actual pitch though!). And as if that is not enough you get the opportunity to sit in the same seat that the boss, Jürgen, does on match days. For me though the best part of the tour was hearing all about the History of the club and your handheld device has numerous videos for you to scroll through. The tour also gives you access to the Clubs Museum where you get to see the 6, yes 6! European Cups. The club shop is also there. The tour is an absolute must for any LFC fan, young or old – but if you are a football fan in general you will still enjoy it. Anfield is easily accessible from the city centre. We chose to drive and it was about 15 minutes away with free parking outside at Stanley Park. It is best to book the tour in advance as it can get VERY busy (especially holiday periods and when the team is doing so well …) and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
And after all that we were completely exhausted! So for our journey home we elected to pay extra for a cabin on the overnight Stena Line home. This gave us the opportunity to fall into the cabin and catch some sleep on the sea journey home. This was a great option and the cabin was large enough for the four of us and provided all we needed for the 1 night crossing. We were woken by the ship announcements and were fresh for our journey back home from the port of Belfast. It was another great service from Stena Line.
All in all, we would highly recommend Liverpool for an easily accessible, fun, budget friendly family holiday. Even with 4 full days we felt there was so much more to explore and will be looking forward to our next visit back to this fabulous city!
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