Theme park of extreme proportions that is well worth the price ($59). It's a day trip with loads of events and the famous train ride around the film lot.
On their website they actually write this:
"Located conveniently in Los Angeles, CA." Hilarious.
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608.
A picturesque fishing port on the border of Spain and Portugal, at the far western end of the Costa de la Luz. Great for seafood, golf, bowling, kitesurfing, sailing ... phew!
Nearby Isla Canela is where the Spaniards go for THEIR holidays, but the rest of Europe seems to have missed it!
The music festival held in the middle of September. This is the most relaxed festival of it's kind i have ever attented, everyone brings a chair and just sits around drinking wine and watching fantastic live music. Right in the middle of Austin the transport is organised with millitary precision. The grounds are clean, grassy and have plenty of shade - perfect for people of all ages.
Harrods, a magnet for the tourists. Whatever you think of the store itself, the Food Halls are a wonder in themselves and not to be missed! They are historically Listed in their own right, due to the wonderful decorative wall tiles.
The selection of food and wines are among the best in London, and not always as expensive as you might think. And make sure you visit the wet fish section, truly spectacular!
Harrods Ltd, SW1
Nearest tube, Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line).
Rani serves the most wonderful Gujarati vegetarian cuisine and prides itself on making all the items on the menu. The owner is invariably on hand to welcome you into the warm and friendly environment. Waiting staff are knowledgeable, attentive and, if needed, will help you work your way to making the difficult decision as to what to choose from such an extensive, well-priced menu. If this is too difficult, they have a yummy range of set menus, or go on Sunday when it is buffet lunch. They are child-friendly, too!
7 Long Lane, Finchley Central
Tel: 020 8349 4386/2636
Sited on that increasingly buzzing area, the South Bank, this reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is a refreshing change from the theatre district of the West End. It's an opportunity to see great plays performed by superb actors in the setting in which they are meant to be seen; oh, and the only way to see it is as a 'groundling' standing in the open area in front of the stage - where else can you get a good night's entertainment for a fiver?!!
Watch out for other events as well, as the Globe has been used in the past for musical events and the London venue for a certain Mr Billy Connolly on his 'World Tour'.
21 New Globe Walk
Two museums, right next door to each other, and a great way to occupy all of the family.
The Natural History Museum is wonderful before you enter it, a beautiful example of Victorian extravagance. Plenty to see and do, especially the dinosaurs; be warned though, the animatronic T Rex is very real and great for scaring small children! There's a decent little coffee shop, although it was a bit disturbing eating chocolate cake sat next to Chi Chi the Panda!
The Science Museum is more modern, although the exhibits go back some way. All kids will love the 'Launchpad' area in the basement, all hands on, noisy, messy and great fun. The Deep Blue Cafe does a decent lunch as well.
Both museums have regular exhibitions as well, although these will have an entry charge; usually well worth it though. There is also an Imax Cinema in the Science Museum, any of the underwater or outer space movies are good value.
The Spaghetti Factory is a quirky restaurant that is excellent value for money - a loaf of freshly baked sour dough bread, free refill soft drinks, starter, ice cream and tea and coffee, are included with the price of your main course. Fantastic for feeding a whole family!
The restaurant itself is a treasure trove of Tiffany glass panels and lights, mismatched furniture means you may be seated on a grand wooden throne or inside a reclaimed streetcar, and should you glance up check out the many artefacts and trinkets that adds to the family atmosphere.
#54 The Esplanade
Parking available; Meter & pay parking
The Seven Stories is an ongoing project that preserves original manuscripts and artwork from renowned childrens' authors such as Allan and Janet Alberg, JK Rowling, Tony Ross, Michael Bond. This is a fun, interactive environment for children and adults that subtley encourages reading and learning through play.
Also there are regular events where authors and illustrators will visit, give a reading of their work and sign books for visitors too. The ground floor is also host to an excellent bookstore dedicated to the very best in children's literature.
Workshops are regularly available throughout the summer and the cafe is well worth a visit for a quick refuelling and a nice view of the river! Or if a big lunch is required pop along to the Cluny, where they do a mean handmade beef burger, with handcut chips and salad.
See www.sevenstories.org.uk for information about events, and detailed directions.
Seven Stories 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ.
Close to Byker Metro Station, but if you are feeling energetic take a good walk along the Quayside or get off at the very last stop on the Q2 bus (Runs Haymarket-Quayside) and ask your driver for further directions.
The best mexican food in all of London. The restaurant has been here since 1982, so it must have something going for it!
I can recommend the chimichangas, especially washed down with a bottle (or two) of Dos Equis!
5 Langley Street, 2 minutes walk from Covent Garden tube
Tucked away next to The Barbican, this museum 'does what it says on the tin'; it's about the history of London, from prehistory to modern times. I've been coming here, on and off, since I was 13; my son is now that age, and loves it as much as I do!
All Londoners should visit here at least once, to help your understanding of what makes London the unique world city we live in. With lots of interactivity for the children, and well laid out exhibits for the rest of us!
Just one tip; the Museum Cafe is good for a cup of coffee and a sticky bun, but I wouldn't recommend it for lunch.
Nearest Tube, Barbican or St Pauls
Three room B&B (single, twin and family room for up to 4) in 1906 house in quiet street 10 mins walk from centre of Verona, so ideal for the opera. Also 5 mins from superb public playground at the end of the old brigde over the river. Manuela speaks fluent English and is very happy with children running about and playing with her toy cars. Breakfast is served out in the back garden terrace and she is very keen on organic/quality food. Rooms have ceiling fans with remote control, so expect your kids to enjoy playing with it. She is also the local World Wildlife Fund rep.
Close enough to Venice to allow a long day trip so you avoid the high prices. Family room for 4 plus breakfast was 100 Euros per night in August 2006.
Il Piccolo Principe B&B
Viale del Risorgimento 10
+39 045 914110
Nearest station Verona Porta Nuova and then 10 mins by bus (just off main core bus routes so very frequent).
A five room B&B situated in the historic - and picturesque - town of Burlats near Castres.
Okalani is ideal for families with small children. The large, toy-filled garden features a hugely popular trampoline and leads down to the river. The room we had was plain, to the point of being bare, but large with an ensuite bathroom.
Dinner was served outside on the terrace and was a delicious stew of Toulouse sausage and lentils. The children had potato wedges, sausages and pasta so no need to feel embarassed over their food fads.
The kids all played together and as we were outside chatting and eating together, it was easy to make friends with the other guests. All in all, a very friendly and relaxing stop.
Okalani Chambres d'hotes
15 Route de Castres
Tel: +33(0)563 516 401
This is a great value, B&B style, 19th century budget hotel. You can get rooms for less than $100, which is especially good value as it is short walking distance from Darling Harbour. Good option for families. Book in advance.
22 Allen Street
Tel: (02) 9552 4773
A coffee farm with nice traditional rooms (but with bathrooms, 2 pools, a bar and restaurant, and a number of activities on site including presentations on coffee growing and processing (including picking your own coffee berries, preparing and roasting them), horse riding through the coffee groves and the largest canopy in Colombia - 7 zip line rides over the trees.
Very friendly staff who are happy to organise outings to the National Coffee Park, a trip down the La Vieja river on a bamboo raft, or up to the mountains to go walking.
Near to Quimbaya, in Quindío province, 27km from Armenia.
A great place to get a cheap bite to eat. With a great selection of montaditos and a fair selection of cold tapas as well, it's a lively venue that always reminds me of an old municipal swimming pool. The main seating area is a series of tiled banks beyond the bar. It's very noisy but that's half the fun. If you're feeling greedy head down the road a few doors to the bar with the Chocolate y Churros sign hanging outside. The churros there are as good as you'll get in Seville and the background din of gossiping local senoras is the perfect accompaniment to the stodgy churros and thick, rich chocolate.
c/ San Eloy 9;
9 San Eloy
Yes, it's in all the guide books but the Alcazar is easily missed. From the outside it doesn't look anything special but inside it's magical and a lot less frantic than the Alhambra. If you visit make sure you spend some time in the gardens. If you only have an afternoon in Seville and have to choose between the Cathedral and the Alcazar then give the Cathedral a miss.
Plaza del Triunfo; tel: 954 502 323
An incredibly popular tapas bar on the edge of the Santa Cruz district, Las Coloniales is one of the best and cheapest places to eat in Seville. When you arrive you have to write your name and the number in your party on a small blackboard and your name is called when a table is free. It's located on the edge of the leafy (for Seville) Plaza Cristo de Burgos, which is handy as you have somewhere shady to sit whilst you wait. The food is uniformly good and the tapas sizes are exceptional for the price. Two people can have a decent meal with a couple of drinks for little over ten euros. One of the best things on the menu are the quail eggs and chorizo on fried bread, which is like a sausage and egg sarnie in the sun. You can't go wrong with the staples either. The Solomillo al Whisky is as good as you can get in Seville. On Sunday afternoons the plaza is full of Spanish families eating ice cream from the Heladeria across the road. Seville is full of Heladerias and though this one is probably the most expensive it's also the best.
Plaza Cristo de Burgos, 19 - east of the main El Corte Ingles, just past Plaze de Encarnacion.
Recently refurbished, this is one of London's best museums. It has huge displays on such topics as the history of cruising and interactive exhibits like the ferry piloting simulator. The cafe round the back is rather nice too. A walk across the road will take you into the old naval college, whose chapel has a superb painted ceiling.
Park Row, Greenwich; tel: 020 8858 4422;
It is a very small theatre - the smallest in the world apparently - located in an old public loo. It is beautifully decorated and run by enthusiastic volunteers.
Performances are on demand and last for five minutes. Apparently the runs of shows tend to last a long time as the theatre's founder has to make all the puppets etc from scratch.
I really recommend this as it is such an unusual way to spend five minutes and lets you get your breath back after trekking up the hills.
It's in Malvern town on Edith Walk (uphill on the street between Waitrose and Somerfield).
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