Stoke-on-Trent is a funny one as far as cities go! Made up of six towns, Hanley is known as the city centre locally, yet Stoke itself also has plenty to offer. But, for the purpose of this post I’m listing some great ideas to keep the kids happy while you’re ‘Up ‘Anley Duck’ as we say around these parts. We’ve all been there…trying to run errands or meeting a friend for lunch while wrestling whinging kids is no fun for anyone…so below you’ll find some kiddy friendly destinations within the city centre to inspire you. Whether you’re looking for a quick drop in, or a full day out there is something for you here:
Our Front Door Project
Either pick up a map from participating locations, or screenshot the one below…you can thank me later!
Give your kids the map, (ooooh they love a map don’t they, you can almost see the power rush to their little heads!) and set out to find some fab hidden street art. If you’re really
devious clever you could guide them around a route that takes in the shops you need to go to, ta da!
‘Our Front Doors’ is a project initiated by Stoke on Trent City Centre BID in partnership with Entrepreneurs Network, a gallery and printshop located on Hanley Piccadilly, and YMCA. The new and exciting venture endeavours to inject colour and vibrancy into the area via the provision of street art, and it also aims to provide a platform for the city’s creatives to showcase their stunning work. Interestingly, there are some countries in the world where painted doors are believed to bring luck, happiness and wealth but for Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID, improving the look and feel of the town is the name of the game.
I wouldn’t recommend something if we haven’t tried it ourselves so here are some of the photos I took when we spent an afternoon doing the trail.
We didn’t find them all, I think we discovered just over half which was plenty of walking for James (2 years) and it also leaves us another day to try and find the rest. The boys loved it though and their poses in front of the artwork got more creative with each discovery. If this is your thing, then there are some great pieces popping up all over the city from a giant snake in Longton to a Burleigh Blue Calico wall in Burslem – can you find them?
Intu Potteries: Free Soft Play
Generally, shopping with kids in tow is nearly as painful as giving birth to them but step up intu Potteries who have a kids zone to let them burn off a bit of energy between shops. Under 5’s can have a ball in the soft play area on the middle mall.
The purpose built 30 metre square soft play area has plenty of room for kids to jump, move equipment around and play games under the watchful eye of their parents before they head back to the shops and cafés.
Credit: intu Potteries
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
Free to enter but donations are welcomed, the museum has a host of exhibits and events to keep your little ones entertained, and the best bit is that they’ll be learning too! Each month the museum hosts a messy museum play session in the school room for £3 per child. We went along to a dinosaur themed one (I know, it’s a shocker) and had lots of messy fun. Plus as Eli managed to eat most of the baked bean volcano I didn’t have to feed him afterwards, I am of course joking *ahem*
The next one has a spooktacular theme to get you ready for Halloween and will run on 16th Oct 10.30am – 12.00pm. Call 01782 232323 to book your place.
We also took in the space exhibition, where James tried on an astronauts space helmet and I grabbed an astronaut selfie on the #mystokestory selfie spot. The confectionary garden was a hit too and we happily got our Wonka on!
You can find out what’s on at the museum throughout the year by checking out the website. There are also natural history displays to discover, plus plenty to find out about our area’s fabulous pottery heritage all with some great interactive play stations dotted around . We dressed up to look at the cow creamers and frog mugs and James served me tea from an Emma Bridgewater polka dot tea set.
Which brings me nicely onto…
Emma Bridgewater Factory
If you’re brave enough to take your little ones through the best shop you can access the factory garden which is a lovely little area planted out to attract insects and butterflies. They grow a mix of flowers fruit and vegetables and sometimes the chickens make an appearance too.
You can also ‘paint your own pot’ in the Pottery cafe while enjoying a lovely cuppa or spot of lunch. As Emma Bridgewater is famous for her spongeware, there are a variety of sponges available which you can use that appeal to both adults and children alike.
Let them unleash their creativity and design their own mug! Prices start from £15 (for a half pint mug) plus £2.95 decorating fee. Advanced booking is essential and details can be found on the website.
Awarded two of Visit England’s top accolades for “Best Told Story” and “Quality Food & Drink” in 2017, visitors can head on a fascinating factory tour, try your hand at decorating a piece of your very own unique piece of Emma Bridgewater pottery, relax for lunch in the beautiful kitchen sat beside the spotty Aga, or enjoy an afternoon in the delightful garden behind the factory.
There are also some spooky goings on planned for October half term:
- Meet the Owls! Admire these magnificent birds up close in the courtyard. Wednesday 23rd & 30th October from 1pm. FREE
- Follow the FREE Pumpkin Treasure Hunt and win a delicious treat!
- Discover how all Emma Bridgewater pottery is made and decorated by hand on a FREE behind the scenes tour.
Hopefully you’ve now got some great ideas in your diary ready for half term, good luck and don’t forget to tag your adventures ‘up ‘Anley’ with #mystokestory to share them.
I’m proud to be a My Stoke Story Ambassador.
All images are my own unless otherwise credited.
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