Chester is a great place for any family to spend a day, or even a few days. It is easy to reach and there are many family activities in and around the city.
Chester Zoo is just five minutes drive from the city centre and makes for a great day out. It is one of the best zoo's I’ve visited in Europe with many large enclosures and a sky train that allows you to view many of the animals from a unique perspective. Tip: Arrive early - the zoo is pretty big and can easily fill the whole day to see everything.
Staying on the animal theme, the Blue Planet Aquarium is about 10 minutes drive from the city centre. This is one of the largest aquariums in the UK and has two amazing underwater tunnel experiences. This is a great idea for any ‘wet’ days as it is all inside!
The Aquarium is located along side the Cheshire Oaks retail park, with lots of restaurants and a huge cinema to keep you entertained well into the night. Tip: this is also a great place to get some credit-crunch retail therapy underway, with many designer brands and hugely discounted prices – stock up your summer wardrobe.
For a more historical day out, you can explore the roman side of Chester. You can take a walk around the original city walls, taking in many of the sights of the city and views across north Wales. Stop off at some of the small shops and restaurants on the two-mile round trip. There is also the cathedral, Roman amphitheatre and many historical buildings in the city centre, including the original two-level medieval high streets. If you looking for a more relaxing day, try a ‘Roman High-Tea’ cruise along the canals (pick up the boat from next to the Mill Hotel). Tip: you can get a great (free) map from the city tourist office in the centre of town which highlights many of the historical buildings in the city and walking routes to take.
For a more relaxed day you should head down the small hill to the banks of the river Dee (also on the wall walk), where you can sit in riverside pubs and cafes enjoying the views, or take a relaxing river cruise on one of the river boats.
Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH
Google map: bit.ly/dQCALy
Blue Planet Aquarium
Longlooms Road, Ellesmere Port CH65 9LF
+44(0)151 357 8804
Google map: bit.ly/h1Rheh
The Museum of Amusements, hidden in the Cheshire countryside, was under pressure to deliver when I visited it. There was no timely bus from Tattenhall to Burwardsley, so I ended up walking several miles in drumming rain. This doggedness was rewarded with an enchanting afternoon in the company of dozens of carefully restored vintage penny arcade amusements, many dating from Edwardian times. Bagatelle and pinball; laughing sailors and fortune tellers; haunted houses, shooting galleries and saucy peepshows...you can play them all, clutching a margarine tub of old English pennies. An unassuming jewel, this museum is a haunted portal into the funfairs and pier shows of an almost vanished Britain. Roll up, roll up!
Cheshire Workshops, Burwardsley, Tattenhall Cheshire CH3 9PF
I've visited Piccolino a number of times and have always found the food to be excellent.
The service is friendly, attentive and authentic and the waiting staff always make you feel like you're the only one there!
Having been a huge fan of Est Est Est - the previous Living Ventures restaurant to be located at Newgate House - I was expecting big things of The Blackhouse Grill and I was not disappointed.
Many diners will no doubt make a special trip for the Kobe beef; however in my opinion the lobster and chips takes some beating!
Cheshire has varied countryside and plenty of places to visit on a day's cycling route.
There are National Trust gardens, castles and plenty of cafes and country pubs.
www.explorecheshire.com has day cycle routes and lists events en route, such as fetes, open gardens and events of interest which can give an aim for the day out.
Outdoor theatre is fantastic anyway, because you can take a picnic and have a fabulous evening.
I recommend watching C'est Tous perform The Taming of The Shrew (this year on 21st and 28th July at 7pm). They are fabulous actors who really know their stuff as they've been doing it as a company for 22 glorious years. They always do a pre-show talk which really involves the audience.
Chester Amphitheatre, Beeston Castle and Brougham Hall.
The streets within the walls in the city centre are like double decker rows of shops. Walk along the upper rows for an alternative view of the streets and shops. Then take the steps up to the wall at Eastgate clock - great views of the streets and a good place to start your walking tour of the city as seen from the Roman walls.
You can pretty much circle the entire city centre by walking the wall and getting a different vantage point and contrasting views and points of interest on either side of the wall as you go round.
A small town nestled in the Vale of Clwyd in north Wales, just 30 minutes drive from Chester, 45 from Liverpool and an hour from Manchester. Beautiful countryside, stunning architecture spanning medieval through Georgian and Victorian with a healthy Tudor smattering. Not to mention a host of places to eat and stay from B&B to boutique hotels. A hidden gem in this picturesque landscape.
Morgan is my favourite clothes shop ever - it stocks fabulous quality, quirkily modern pieces by startlingly creative designers from across Europe. The softest wools, asymetric cuts, surprising shapes and all extremely wearable, if at times wincingly pricey. But don't worry about that, the plastic's for flexing - just go!
Westgate Street, Chester
Walk up to the Cross in the centre of Chester at noon and you'll see a jolly bloke wearing old fashioned clothes and ringing a bell. He's the town crier; Chester's the only place in the UK to have had a continuous tradition of town crying, and he and his wife share the job. He'll give all the latest news on Black Death, local hangings and news of the the Boston Tea Party that's filtering from across the pond - and on occasion he'll even read out council notices. Great interaction with the crowd and super for kids.
The Cross, where Eastgate St meets with Westgate St and Bridge St.
It might just look like a site full of muddy puddles, but it's worth checking out the archaeological dig down by the river. They've explored further down than the impressive remains of a big Roman amphitheatre (a semi circle is still visible) to find signs of much earlier habitation - there are guided tours, best to check when with Tourist information.
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