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15 brilliant, family-friendly attractions you can visit in Wales this summer

With the summer holidays finally upon us and 460,000 children across Wales on holiday from school, there are plenty of parents wondering how to keep the kids entertained for the next six weeks.

But we’re lucky to live in a country packed full of wonderful attractions and destinations right on our doorstep.

While your holiday activity list might already be packed to the brim with activities and adventures, make sure you also pay a visit to the local ‘social enterprises’ across the country this summer.

Social enterprises operate like private businesses, but with one big difference, all profits are invested back into good causes and the local community.

So when you take your kids to visit a social enterprise, not only will you have a brilliant day out, but your money will be going towards projects that benefit local people and the environment. Your trip to the zoo could help save animals, the bikes you hire could help disabled people join in the family cycling trip and the coffee you drink to get you through the day could help somebody get back into the world of work.

So, if you are looking for activities and places to visit will give you lasting memories and benefit your community, consider visiting these family-friendly social enterprises in Wales.

1. Welsh Mountain Zoo (Colwyn Bay)

Welsh Mountain Zoo

Have you ever fancied feeding fish to a penguin, making mischief with a meerkat or having lunch with a big cat? Then make your way to the Welsh Mountain Zoo this summer. This social enterprise is the oldest zoo in Wales and attracts over 160,000 visitors each year.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy, including a children’s adventure play area, a ‘summer birds of prey’ display, a sea lion pool with aquatic displays, and you can also go hang out with the lemurs in their walkthrough enclosure.

By visiting the Welsh Mountain Zoo you’ll be helping to support local nature projects and animal conservation and breeding programmes, which protect endangered animal species, around the world.

If you’re looking to add some wildlife to your summer, make sure the Welsh Mountain Zoo is on your summer holiday bucket list. 

2. Colwyn Bay Watersports

From sailing to windsurfing, from power boating to kayaking, take the plunge this summer and head to Colwyn Bay Watersports’ exciting new facilities at Porth Eirias.

Whether you are looking for an adrenaline rush or a relaxed evening sail in calm conditions, Colwyn Bay Watersports has something to offer everyone.

Opening in 2012, Colwyn Bay Watersports is a social enterprise that encourages people to get out in the water safely and enjoy the benefit of watersports.

The multi-activity ‘summer holidays club’ is the perfect way for young people to get involved in watersports for the first time and make new friends in a fun and safe environment. There are also taster sessions if you’re looking to get on the water for the first time or try a new sport, and most equipment can be hired without any previous experience.

Whether you are an experienced watersport enthusiast, looking for a different activity to get up to, or just keen to enjoy the beautiful north Wales coastline, Colwyn Bay Watersports is a great summer day out for the family.

3. Amelia Trust Farm (Vale of Glamorgan)

Amelia Trust Farm

The Amelia Trust Farm is a registered charity and social enterprise with a long and proud history of providing therapeutic support to disadvantaged and vulnerable people in a ‘Care Farm’ setting.

During term-time the charity runs programmes for vulnerable young people who are struggling in mainstream education, whether it’s due to abuse and neglect or neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD or autism. The charity also supports adults with learning disabilities.

Alongside it’s amazing work, in the summer the Amelia Trust Farm also has a whole host of family-friendly and inclusive activities to enjoy. There are woodland walks, animals to see, family events, play areas and a café.

If you’re looking for a place for the kids to have fun and enjoy nature while supporting a wonderful community cause, make sure you pay a visit to the Amelia Trust Farm.

4. Antur Stiniog (Snowdonia)

Antur Stiniog

If you’re looking for guaranteed excitement with family this summer, why not give mountain biking a go? Based in the heart of the Snowdonia national park, Antur Stiniog, offers eight fantastic mountain bike trails.

With trails for all abilities, anyone who can ride a bike can get involved and give it a try. They also offer bike hire services, where you can pick up all of the equipment you need to enjoy the experience safely.

Because Antur Stiniog is a social enterprise, all profits are invested back into developing the outdoor sector in the Ffestiniog area.

Antur Stiniog also has a centre in the middle of Blaenau Ffestiniog which houses a café (making the best coffee in town), shop, and provides tourist information and the local historical society exhibition.

The centre’s goal is to develop a healthy kind of tourism which at the same time encourages confidence and pride in the local community.

5. Awen Cultural Trust (Bridgend)

Bryngarw Country Park

Awen Cultural Trust was established in October 2015, with one simple goal; to make people’s lives better. The Trust manages a range of venues and facilities and attracts over one million visitors every year by delivering inspirational cultural events, activities and programmes across the county borough of Bridgend and beyond.

There is plenty going on over the summer for families, from art classes to nature walks and children’s film screenings. If you’re looking for something to do with the family, make sure you add the Awen Cultural Trust to your activity list.

6. The British Bird of Prey Centre (Carmarthenshire)

The British Bird of Prey Centre

The British Bird of Prey Centre is a must visit attraction during the summer holidays. Situated in one of Wales’ most beautiful destinations, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, there is a lot of fun for the family to get up to.

You can see falcons, owls, eagles and plenty of other exquisite birds at the centre and it’s also the perfect place for children (and parents) to learn about the role of birds of prey. There are regular flying displays throughout the day too for you to see the birds in action. If you’d like to get even closer you can pre-book a private flying experience to experience first-hand the thrill of flying birds of prey.

Entrance to the centre is paid for when entering the Botanic Gardens and there are special family deals available. By visiting the centre, you’ll be helping to support conservation efforts of wild birds around the world and you’ll also be playing your part in supporting the local community too.

*please note that dogs are not allowed in The British Bird of Prey Centre.

7. Down to Earth (Swansea)

Down to Earth

Down to Earth offers outdoors adventures on the stunning Gower peninsula. If a relaxing walk along the coast isn’t your preferred way of exploring the Gower, why not take part in some hair-raising activities from coasteering to abseiling and climbing?

By visiting Down to Earth you’ll also be helping them to deliver their training and development programmes to disadvantaged people in Wales.

Every year, the social enterprise upskills 500 people from disadvantaged backgrounds on its Murton site and it also has a partnership project with Valleys Kids, a charity that helps young people in Rhondda Cynon Taff, at its Little Bryn Gwyn site in the Gower Peninsula.

If you and the family are up for a physical challenge and looking to explore the Gower in style, there’s no better way than with Down to Earth.

8. Xcel Bowl (Carmarthenshire)

Xcel Bowl

Part of the ‘Xcel Project’ which was created to help Carmarthen thrive, the Xcel Bowl brings jobs, investment and fun activities to the Carmarthen area, making it a crucial community hub.

For families visiting Carmarthen the Xcel Bowl, which boasts the latest touch screen tech and animated scoring, is a great place to visit for a game of bowling when the kids need to be entertained. The café also has a wide range of locally supplied options and the trained baristas can provide your favourite caffeine fix.  There is also a multi-level play area for children aged 0-3 and 4-7, if bowling isn’t for them.

The Xcel Project – which includes a furniture recycling and community shop project and the Carmarthen Foodbank – partners with the Trussell Trust and other local charities to support local people in crisis by giving away emergency food parcels, clothing, furniture, and other household essentials.

Every penny of profit from Xcel Bowl is reinvested in the Xcel Project, so you’ll be making a direct difference to the community by visiting over the summer.

9. Aura Leisure and Libraries (Flintshire)

Aura Leisure and Libraries

Aura manages leisure centres and libraries in the Flintshire area. Employing 260 people, Aura’s goal is to benefit the community by providing culture, sport and leisure opportunities that improve mental health and physical well-being.

Aura has a whole host of family activities on offer over the summer holidays through its four leisure centres in Buckley, Deeside, Flint and Mold. Each of them cater to all ages, abilities and fitness levels, including disabled customers.

Deeside Leisure Centre is also a national centre for ice sports in Wales and boasts an Olympic-sized ice pad, catering for a variety of sports and activities such as ice hockey, curling and disco nights. If you’re looking to stay cool in the summer heat, this is a great way to do it.

In addition to the ice rink, Deeside also has a skate park that was the first indoor extreme sports arena in Wales, and one of the largest of its type in Europe.

If you’re a parent wishing to restore some calm to your holiday break, Deeside Leisure Centre’s Spa provides the perfect destination for you to escape stress and discover tranquillity. Aura also manages seven libraries across Flintshire, which together provide reading resources, learning spaces and heritage displays. So, if you’re looking for peace and quiet or a space to read and learn, why not visit your nearest Aura library this summer?

There are a whole host of activities available through Aura Leisure and Libraries and by visiting their facilities across Flintshire you’ll be supporting a wide community network that helps people of all ages and backgrounds.

10. Antur Waunfawr (Caernarfon)

What could be better this summer than hiring a bike and exploring the spectacular countryside and coasts of north Wales? Beics Antur Bikes is part of the social enterprise Antur Waunfawr and offers the perfect opportunity for families to combine cycling, nature and exploration together.

They offer a wide selection of bikes to hire alongside a fleet of adaptive bikes, to ensure an inclusive experience for everyone to enjoy. Conveniently located close to Caernarfon Castle, there are plenty of picturesque sites to discover for families visiting the area.

Families can follow the Lôn Las Menai cycle path which takes you along the idyllic Menai Straits and you can also explore the countryside around Caernarfon using the Lôn Gwyrfai cycle routes.

With so much natural beauty surrounding Caernarfon, there’s no better way to explore the sights than by bicycle.

Antur Waunfawr is a leading social enterprise providing employment and training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities in the community. The social enterprise now employs more than 100 staff and supports 67 adults with learning difficulties and intertwines its community projects with a sustainable focus to protect the natural environment.

If you want to see Caernarfon in style, pay a visit to Antur Waunfawr and hire yourself a bike.

11. Fourteen Locks Canal Centre (Newport)

Go Wild, Fourteen Locks Canal Centre

The Fourteen Locks Canal Centre in Newport is the perfect space for the family to stretch the legs and be immersed in the beautiful outdoors.

Set-up in 1984, the charity and social enterprise aims to restore the canal network around south east Wales and promotes educational activities on canal history and heritage, wildlife and conservation, mental health and wellbeing.

There’s plenty to explore at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, with nature walks, including the beautiful Sirhowy valley walk, and the canal towpath is part of the national cycle route 47, which makes the area cycle friendly.

Over the summer it’s also running various workshops aimed at increasing connectivity within the community and providing a place for people to combat loneliness and to improve the physical, social, mental health and wellbeing.

They will also be hosting various nature educational events so your child can learn more about the beautiful nature world surrounding them.

12. Pedal Power (Cardiff)

Pedal Power. Photo credit: John Goodwin

Pedal Power is a social enterprise and charity, based in Cardiff, that encourages and enables children and adults of all ages and abilities to experience the benefits of cycling.

You can hire bikes (including adaptable bikes) and equipment from them in the Cardiff Bay and Pontcanna sites if you want to explore the wonderful Taff Trail or different parts of the city. If you or your child has never ridden a bike before, they also offer training courses to teach you how to ride a bike.

If you’re looking for an active way to see the sites around Cardiff and its surrounding areas, make sure you head over to Pedal Power and hire the family some bikes.

13. Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary (Powys)

The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary

Located in the idyllic Brecon Beacons National Park, on the Powys border next to Neath Port Talbot, you can find the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary.

The sanctuary rescues and provides a home for many types of unwanted animals, especially primates, such as chimpanzees, baboons, mandrills, spider monkeys, vervets, capuchins, mangabeys and marmosets. There are also donkeys, horses, pigs and wolves at the site too.

The social enterprise is open every day for families looking to visit over the summer holidays, which makes it a perfect destination to include in your summer plans. 

14. Porter’s Coffee Shops (Rhyl & Colwyn Bay)

Porter’s Cafe, Colwyn Bay. L-R: Gareth Spillane and Craig Floy

Porter’s Coffee Shops serves tasty treats and freshly made coffee at its five locations across Wales, and each order comes with a generous side of social benefit. Porter’s Coffee Shops are part of the award-winning CAIS social enterprises and are one of the few organisations across the country that have been recognised by Social Enterprise UK for commitments to community work.

Any profit generated by the five coffee shops is reinvested in the valuable work of CAIS; a registered charity and third sector service provider which helps people with addiction, adverse mental health, unemployment, offending and other life challenges to make positive lifestyle changes.

Porter’s five branches span across the whole of Wales, from the Station Road and Parc Eirias cafés in Colwyn Bay, to the Rhyl Library and One Stop Shop café, all the way to the Ely and Caerau and Llandaff North and Gabalfa cafés in Cardiff. So, wherever you are in Wales this summer, why not pop into a Porter’s and grab a drink or have a tasty bite to eat!

The cafés serve sumptuous cakes, speciality teas, and a range of home cooked meals, using locally sourced ingredients and suppliers wherever possible.

They regularly pick up five-star reviews for their outstanding food and service, so don’t just take our word for it – head to a Porter’s Coffee Shop this summer and try it for yourself. 

15. Holywell Leisure Centre (Flintshire)

Holywell Leisure. Pictured: Gaynor Davies, Aqua Fit Instructor.

Holywell Leisure Centre is a social enterprise that has one simple goal – to provide affordable health and leisure facilities for the local community.

If you’re a parent looking to keep the kids entertained, there are swimming pools, a sports hall, gym, community studio, a soft play area, squash courts, a café and even a library on site.

Over the summer, the centre also has a programme of events planned and will be extending its opening times to offer more public swimming across its three different pools.

Alongside activities for the kids, parents can also keep themselves active, whether they decide to visit the gym or enjoy a slightly more relaxed session in the sauna.

Holywell Leisure Centre was run by the local council until 2017, when it was marked for closure. A group of volunteers worked together to take over the centre and now all profits are reinvested to ensure facilities are not just maintained, but also improved.

By visiting the centre over the summer holidays, not only will you be able to stay active and keep fit, you will also be supporting a wider community project that brings local people together.

Be Part of Social Summer 2019

Social businesses are created by the local community for the local community. They provide crucial services, create jobs and bring people closer together. You’re part of that too and by visiting the wonderful social enterprises near you, you can support the projects that matter most in your area.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has been helping social enterprises thrive since 1984 to create a better, fairer, more co-operative Wales and if you want to let us know that you’re visiting or supporting a social enterprise over the summer holiday, make sure you tag us on social media using the #SocialSummerCym hashtag or find us @socialbizwales Let’s spread the word about all of the great work social enterprises do.