Considering its location, perched at the edge of the blustery Irish Sea, Liverpool fares pretty well on the sunshine league table. The mountains to the north (Lake District) and south (Snowdonia) snag a lot of those miserable rain clouds. And, sorry Manchester, but we enjoy over 100 hours more blue sky days than you. There, I’ve said it. Liverpool is officially sunnier than Manchester. And don’t take my word for it – take the Manchester Evening News for example.
Still, Liverpool isn’t without inclement bursts – especially at this time of year. So it’s good to know the city region harbours plenty of places to shake off the brolly, stay dry, and keep everyone entertained. Here are five to get you started:
You haven’t got far to fall at the Climbing Hangar – instead, you circumnavigate the walls from a (relatively) safe distance above comfortingly bouncy crash pads, all of which makes this family friendly attraction perfect for families with energy to spare. In thirty minutes they’ll have you climbing the walls. Literally. Sessions start from £10. The centre is five minutes north of the centre – get the train to Sandhills, or hail a taxi for about £4.
Rain keeps the world turning. Try telling yourself that, as you watch it pelt down from the heavens. Then take a trip to the Blue Planet to see all that lovely water transformed into walkthrough shark tanks, steamy rainforest and mysterious mangrove swamp. The best ‘if wet’ experience? We’d say so. There’s more than fish here too, check out the tiny but deadly tree frogs, or the crowd-pleasingly playful otters. But, really, it’s all about the sharks – so don’t miss feeding time! Family ticket £52. Take the train to Ellesmere Port, or drive to Jct 10, M53: both just 20 minutes from Liverpool centre.
Might seem odd, as this is technically an outdoor attraction (just north of the centre, in Ormskirk) – but most of the viewing is done in the bird hides, and they’re perfectly dry. Now’s the time to see the reserve at its most active (and noisy) as thousands of geese arrive from the chilly north, to overwinter in this avian five-star holiday resort. There’s a smashing restaurant and gift shop here too. Come during the weekend of November 23-24th for the Northwest Bird Watching Festival for talks, workshops and family fun. Family ticket £27. Get the train to Burscough Junction (on the Liverpool to Preston line via Ormskirk), or head north on the A59 for 40 minutes.
Got fidgety, tiny kids in tow? You could do worse than head to Underwater Street, a well established, imaginative discovery centre in the city. Kids are encouraged to get hands on and find out about all manner of different arts and science stuff – it’s basically fun, interactive learning, but obviously don’t tell them that. And it’s better than another rainy day necking Coke in front of the Xbox in your hotel room. The centre’s less than five minutes’ walk away from either Exchange Street’s new Travelodge, or The Strand’s Travelodge, overlooking the Albert Dock. Prices from £5.95 per child (with one adult free per child).
The kid’s gallery at the Walker isn’t some hastily tacked on afterthought, but a really fun, interactive space that’s part Art Attack and part soft play zone – totally lifesaving for crafty kids caught short in a downpour. The gallery’s also home to a great cafe and always has something worth seeing whatever the weather. Currently, David Hockney’s colourful and passionate early work is the city’s ‘must visit’ exhibition (alert: pert bottoms on show. Kids sniggering a certainty). Head up to William Brown Street where you’ll also find the city’s excellent World Museum, and its snazzy new Central Library, complete with computer gaming zone and snug little cafe with free wifi.