Newspaper blog – THINGS TO DO: Making the most of Salisbury with your toddler.
Oh my, how differently you view the world with a toddler!
Gone are the days of nipping in here, quickly trying that outfit on there, happy to wait in a long queue for THAT coffee from my favourite cafe… Now it’s all about distraction, distraction and finding places where you can do two things at once: entertain your little one plus do something for yourself without chaos erupting! Like having a sip of your cappuccino whilst it’s still hot / replying to the trillion WhatsApp messages you never get to read or even answer / placing your online shopping order.
I know Salisbury well, but cocktails, bars, shopping just aren’t her thing! What I am missing is a simple list of ideas to do in Salisbury with a toddler. So, for all you time-poor parents, here are my top tips:
A windy walk up Old Sarum hill
The location and ruins of Salisbury’s original cathedral, with lots of grass to run around, throw twigs off the side of the drawbridge and view the city from above.
Budget: £5.40 and kids under 5yrs go free
Easy parking: Yes. £2 for the whole day, but a sweet lady gave me her ticket- bonus!
Food/drink: No cafe, so take a picnic.
Splash of Colour
Pottery painting and crafting. Get your wee one to stamp his/her footprints onto clay- the cutest memento ever!
Budget: A little pricey if you are still on mat leave (roughly £20pp) but great fun and worth doing on the odd occasion.
Easy parking: Park at the Maltings car park (SP1 1BD) and walk down (5-10mins).
Food/drink: None, but then you have cafes and shops just next door; you won’t starve.
Check the website for opening times, because some mid week days are shut.
Culture Coffee Cafe
(What tongue twister!).
Pretty much opposite Splash of Colour.
This cafe has the most epic cake! And friendliest staff. There is a cosy room at the back which my NCT buddies and I used to camp out in, drink lots of decaf tea and eat biscuits and cake. The babies would play around on the big sofas or on the ground. Oh, and space in the corridor out to the courtyard to park up multiple prams. Amazing.
Budget: Really reasonably priced.
Easy parking: Maltings car park (SP1 1BD)
Food/drink: Oh yes!
The Arts Centre
This is basically a cafe inside a church. There is a mini gallery of artwork as you walk in (for a brief moment you can feel like an adult again) but the best thing is the boxes of toys and books for kids to play with. There isn’t much but enough to keep a toddler engaged. Plus many high chairs, and lots of space around the tables, so if your child starts dropping food it’s not totally embarrassing or likely to get underfoot, giving you time to clean up afterwards.
Budget: Reasonably priced.
Easy parking: Salt Lane car park is close by and if you are lucky you might find a spot on the side of the road too.
They’ve done a fab job of making this fun for kids. There are trails and activity booklets for older children, but even toddlers are amazed at the high ceilings and big spaces. Outside there is a huge grassy spot to play on and have picnics.
Budget: £7.50 for adults, kids under 5yrs go free.
Easy parking: Yes.
Food/drink: There is a cafe, but it feels a little formal. It’s cheaper and more fun to eat on the grass outside, weather permitting.
Riverbourne Community Farm
A lovely small farm, with a huge array of animals- different types of rabbits, pigs, sheep, cattle; I’m sure there were even llamas when we last went.
Budget: Free! Just have some pocket money to pay for the £1 pots so your kids can hand feed the animals.
Easy parking: Yes, you can park right outside.
Food/drink: There is a cafe, and muddy boots are allowed.
5 Rivers Swimming Pool
With its two kiddie pools, and really shallow sections, you can happily play around with toddlers here too. The duck slide is a total favourite of my little girl, as is the jacuzzi/bubble pool.
Budget: £5.96 and take 20p for lockers
Easy parking: Yes.
Food/drink: There’s a basic cafe in the centre, and lots of seating areas, so you can take your own food along too.
Just south of Salisbury, off the A36 (SP5 3QL) by the village of Whiteparish. Get up onto the ridge for a blustery walk and amazing views of Salisbury Cathedral spire and south out to the Isle of Wight on a really good day.
Easy parking: Yes.
Food/drink: Pop down to The King’s Head in Whiteparish if you are hungry. A little pricey, but delicious.
Let me put a little extra section in here for our favourite playgrounds.
- Salisbury, by the Maltings car park (SP1 1BD): the rubber matting flooring makes it easier for you to close your eyes for 5 seconds as you wait on the bench, knowing it’s less likely that your little one will hurt themselves.
- Salisbury, Churchill Gardens (SP1 2HS): the playground is great, but the added bonus as a mum with a toddler were the little paths around the park we could practice walking on, play poo sticks in the stream and watch the ducks.
- East Tytherley, by St. Peter’s Church (SP5 1LG): comes with a flying fox, which if I sit on I can hold my girl and gently swing along, she loves it! Plus there are usually sheep in the field next door to admire.
All you have to do now is grab the nappy bag, throw in hats, coats and lots of snacks, jump in the car and off you go!