Snowdonia offers families a lot of variety! It is the home to Snowdonia National Park and the biggest mountain in all of Wales as well as glorious, sandy beaches so you can hike, climb or just relax. If you are looking for adventure, Snowdonia provides white water rafting, cycling and ziplining to just name a few activities. Do you have a family of foodies? The food scene in Snowdonia is abundant and the Bodnant Welsh Food Center will be right up your alley. Above all, there’s a spirit in Snowdonia…the people are warm and welcoming, the Welsh language is alive and spoken throughout the area, and Snowdonia is dotted with historic sites. You could easily spend your entire family vacation just in this northern region of Wales.
We visited several different attractions in Snowdonia and you will see many of them in the Wales episode of our show including a tour of Portmeirion Village, a ride on the Ffestiniog Railway, a visit to the Smallest House in Great Britain as well as to the railway station with the longest name. We also took a cooking class with Chef Dai Davies at Bodnant Welsh Food Center and screamed our way down the longest zipline in the northern hemisphere at Zip World. Let me share a little more here about these two experiences.
Zip World Snowdonia
Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, Bangor Gwynedd, LL57 4YG
Zip World Snowdonia is located at the breathtaking Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, Bangor, and offers different zip line adventures. Keep in mind, there are age, height and weight restrictions. After signing some paperwork, you get fitted in a flying suit, goggles and a helmet. We decided to try the Velocity which starts with a trip down the little zipline. It goes about 45 mph so the experience gives you confidence to tackle the long ride that is waiting for you! At the end of the little zipper, you take a jeep ride to the top of the big zipper. The jeep ride is through the quarry and is an experience within itself to see the industrial roots of Wales. The driver actually gives you a little history lesson…see learning can be a lot of fun!
Ziplining over a quarry is something you and your family definitely do not want to miss out on. Now I didn’t always feel this way, especially before I went down the zipline myself! I have to admit that I was pretty terrified. After all, I was about to go head first over a mile long quarry at up to 100 miles and hour! Was I insane to do this? It seemed so at the time, but my crew encouraged me and gave me the courage to go for it. “It will make great TV!” they said. Well, easy for them to say as they had their feet firmly planted on the ground! I did scream most of the way down, but I tried to enjoy the ride once I got going. This is for extreme adventurers, those who like to be involved in their surroundings so psych yourself up and just go for it!
If the weather isn’t cooperating, there may be cancellations for everyone’s safety. Though refunds are not given, you have up to 12 months to reschedule, but if you are on vacation watch the weather before you book this experience. Check their ride status page for daily updates.
Some Additional Tips
• Book your experience ahead of time, but keep in mind the weather as noted above
• Wear form-fitting clothing to make sure you have enough room to move around.
• Make sure that you are comfortable without any constrictions to your body position.
• Wear gym shoes fitted tightly around your feet so you don’t accidentally lose them forever on the journey.
• Hair should be tied back to avoid getting it caught in the cables.
• Kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
• Family pricing is available
• Maximum weight 264 lbs., minimum weight 66 lbs
• Maximum height for Velocity is 7 ft, minimum height is 4 ft
• Minimum age for Velocity is 10 years old, NO MAXIMUM AGE!
• Plan for at least two hours for the entire experience
One More Thing: If adventure is your thing, you may also like to take your family for a mountain walk. The popular areas located in Wales are Snowdon, which is the highest peak, Cader Idiris, and Pen y Fan. These spots are known for being the locations of the “Welsh Three Peaks Challenge” held every May and August.
BYWD CYMRU Bodnant Welsh Farm Food
Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, Conwy LL28 5RP, United Kingdom
Named by BBC’s Good Food Magazine as “UK’s no. 1 Farm Shop,” Bodnant Welsh Farm Food Centre items are delicious and grown in the area. Built in the 18th century, it houses a farm shop, tea room, restaurant, cookery school and farmhouse accommodations. We started our visit with a cooking lesson from Chef Dai Davies and his two wonderful sous chefs…his children! We made some fun treats with the kids and learned that kids can sign up to attend cooking classes offered throughout the year. Children can learn great skills when preparing food including measuring ingredients. Chef Dai’s daughter wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps and own her own place…a deli in New York City!
After my cooking class, I met with Gwyndaf Pritchard, the General Manager of the food center, who took me on a tour. We tasted cheese, my guilty pleasure, and checked out all of the beautiful local produce, cuts of meat and baked goods. What struck me was how gorgeous everything was presented in the market. Each display was so appealing to the senses and it was hard to resist buying some packaged treats to take home. Though produce and other fresh products are not permitted through customs, you can generally bring home condiments such as oils, vinegars, mustards, and jams as well as chocolate! The USDA provides a full list of acceptable items, but know that you will still be asked to declare items that you are bringing back into the States including food.
Since you can’t take fresh items home, make sure you and your family stop and taste the fresh foods from the area at the food center’s restaurant or tea room. I met with a wonderful mom and her daughter for a traditional Welsh breakfast complete with bread pudding. It was a great way to experience culture and visit with other families. Don’t leave the Bodnant Welsh Food Center without a visit to the bee keeper’s area, the ice cream shop and the wine cellar for the adults!
Additional Tip: If you wish to stay close to the delicious foods from the area, you and your family may like to stay at the Bed and Breakfast located on site. It includes rooms with fantastic views of the countryside. Also, among the pristine amenities, the Bed and Breakfast includes a common kitchen area perfect for cooking your own meals using ingredients from the farm’s market.
Fun Fact: Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall opened the Bodnant Welsh Food Center