Travelling Times: Our Top Places to visit in 2014

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On holiday in Tenerife
On holiday in Tenerife

Welcome to the second annual Family Travel Times Travel Awards! Once again, we have been lucky enough to visit some brilliant places, but which ones were our favourites? Welcome to the 2014 award ceremony and our top places to visit…

Best Day Out

Art of the Brick Lego Exhibition by Nathan SawayaJess says: I definitely think that the “Art of the Brick” LEGO exhibition was our best day out this year. The exhibition, which is travelling worldwide, is composed of over 85 LEGO sculptures and all of them are fantastic. These sculptures ranged from 3D paintings such as The Kiss and The Scream to a giant dinosaur, and from the solar system to the Venus de Milo! We had a brilliant time looking at the sculptures, watching videos and even had a chance to create our own sculptures at the end!

Alternatively, Burghley house in Lincolnshire is a brilliant place to visit – we visited it over the summer and had a wonderful time. The house, which was built by William Cecil (Lord Burghley) is extremely impressive both inside and outside, as we found out when following the Beastly Boring Burghley tour. This tour was probably the best tour aimed at kids I’ve been to, and it was full of interesting facts. Afterwards, we loads of fun exploring the gardens, which consisted of a maze, Poseidon’s Grotto, sculptures and lots of fountains to run into.

Robert holding an alligator in FloridaRobert says:  The alligator tours in Florida was my favourite day out in 2014. It’s not every day you get to see real life alligators and hold one too! It was a brilliant experience and I learnt many things like how to tell a crocodile from an alligator or how to spot if it is a male or female. I absolutely loved it and could do it again and again.

Brian (dad) says: I loved my visit to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I particularly enjoyed the Rocket Garden, seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis up close, hearing a veteran astronaut giving a talk, and walking underneath the enormous Saturn V rocket.
Best Overall Holiday
Robert says: My favourite holiday of the year was when dad and I went to Florida as I won a competition to go to Space Camp. Everything was great, from the inventive and exciting activities of space camp to the wonderful warm weather – not mentioning the cups and cups of free drinks. I loved learning all about space at Kennedy Space Center and the rides at Universal Studios were brilliant too.

Cycling in Austria was Sarah's favourite holiday
Sarah says:
For me, Austria was a perfect holiday. We all tried something different – cycling – and enjoyed the food, the scenery and the many things to do. I was genuinely overwhelmed by how beautiful it was and don’t think it gets better than riding alongside Lake Wolfgang with the wind in my hair. It was magnificent.

Best in London

Robert says: We have been to some truly amazing things in London this year and my favourite has got to be ClueQuest. We had one hour to find a way to get out of a locked room. Everything was a clue from books to bottles, playing cards to tables. It was so fun and exciting but a bit stressful when we only had a few minutes left. It was an amazing day out that really pushed our minds to the limit.

Best View 

Austria 085

Jess says: The views at the top of the Schafbergbahn in Saint Wolfgang, Austria have to be the best I’ve ever seen. The summit of the mountain was 1,783m high and there were 360º beautiful views over the lakes Wolfgangsee, Irrsee, Mondsee and Fuschlsee. It truly was phenomenal.

The waves in Tenerife were captivating
The waves in Tenerife were captivating

Sarah says: Obviously I loved the views in Austria, but I could also have watched the waves crashing onto the shore near our apartment in San Miguel, Tenerife, for hours. There were hardly any people around and we just sat and enjoyed the spectacle. They were just so dramatic, such an illustration of nature, that they were incredibly special. We have just come back from Tenerife – posts to come…

Best Place to Stay

Outside the House of Correction
Outside the House of Correction

Jess says: The House of Correction in Folkingham, Lincolnshire was probably my favourite place to have ever stayed, and I would love to go back. The house belongs to the Landmark Trust and is built on the site of a big medieval castle. The house was a small prison for minor offenders and was initially built in 1611, but replaced in 1808 and enlarged in 1825. It was then closed in 1878. It is absolutely magnificent and only one family can stay at a time, making the experience even more special.

Best Ride

Robert says: I have been to two amazing parks this year which have both been full to the top with amazing attractions, so it was very hard to pick the winner for best ride. Instead I decided to pick three! The first is from Universal Studios in Florida and is the fast paced, scary indoor roller coaster Return of the Mummy. Most of the ride is in pitch black so it added extra suspense as you didn’t know when there was going to be a drop. The first time I went on it I was scared out of my skin when we plummeted down into the red steaming smoke.

Florida 049

The next two winners of this category are from Siam Park, the Water Kingdom in Tenerife (post coming soon). Everything there was wonderful but I decided my first pick would be the Mekong Rapids that dad and I went on four times throughout the day. After a long tiring walk up hundreds of stairs we got to a small pool of water where inside we climbed into a yellow dinghy and then zoomed off down the tunnel. It was so fast and very wet. Dad was screaming like a baby the first time as there were so many drops. I loved the next ride, the Kinnaree the scariest ride we went on, but dad definitely didn’t. However, it was still loads of fun. Of all the rides we went on this had the biggest drops and at some points we felt like we were going to go upside down. The ride was so cleverly made and I loved it but I don’t think the guy next to me who was swearing the whole time did though.

Best Beach

Beach Collage

Jess says: We travelled to Tenerife over Christmas, and the weather was lovely and the beaches superb. Although we had a lovely time at Los Cristianos, my favourite was the Playa del Bobo in Adeje. Not only was the sand lovely and soft, but the waves were brilliant and it was perfect for swimming and paddling. It wasn’t too busy and was the perfect spot for a walk. There was also a delicious ice cream store nearby!

Best Educational Day Out

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The actors at the Drake Fun Day

Robert says: As we have been learning about World War II at school as a class we went to the Churchill War Cabinets and Churchill Museum. The audio tours were very detailed and informative. I learnt a lot about where the prime Minister of England stayed during WWII. I preferred the Churchill museum to the war cabinets as it was much more interactive. There was a table that told you what event happened on your birthday during the war, I got to hold Winston Churchill’s teddy bears from when he was younger (they were so cute) and I even got to use a typewriter. It was a very interesting and fun day out.

Jess says: We also thought that the Drake Fun Day atop the Golden Hinde II (a replica of the ship which Sir Francis Drake used to sail all round the world) was fantastic. We played games and learned facts from the Captain and his strange assistant, Fart – this was lots of fun and very interesting! The event was two hours long and consisted of firing guns, learning a code and exploring the ship. I would recommend it to children aged 6+.

Best Hidden Gem

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Robert at Groombridge Place’s Mystic Pool

Sarah says: Groombridge was gorgeous – and a surprise! We had gone to Kent for the weekend to visit Hever Castle where Anne Bolyen had lived, and as a Tudor aficionado, that was intended to be the main event. However, we decided we should visit another “attraction” too and that turned out to be Groombridge. We were so pleased we went as it was perfect for families, with gorgeous grounds and in particular many hidden treasures inside the woods. We’d highly recommend it.

Best Food

Robert says: For me the best food in 2014 came from VegFest, the big market where all the food was vegan. I had so many tasters of all the sweets, crackers, dips and drinks and I even had a go at using an electrical massage machine. I ate stuff that I had never seen before like bread crisps and I had salt and vinegar flavoured bread. Everyone was so nice and insisted that I should have more – how could I resist? It was a delicious day and I’ll be coming back for more next year.
Thanks for reading Family Travel Times this year and enjoy 2015!

 

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46 Responses

  1. Tiny Tang

    This is a great post! I haven’t been to any of these places actually and this post has made me want to go! That lego sculpture is incredible!! x

  2. Sonya Cisco

    Wow what a lot you have packed into a year! Love the look of Cluequest and we are planning a family break in London so will be adding that to our list of stuff to do!

    • Sarah Ebner

      We really loved it – as you can see! Such great fun (though I was completely useless. The children were much better at cracking the clues!)

    • Jess

      Yes – we spent a long time deciding what was going to go in this piece, as everything was fabulous 😀

  3. Trish

    What great memories you have made this year: such a great mix of places and attractions. Wonder what 2015 has in store?

  4. Hannah Staveley

    Wow oh wow could only ever dream of going to all of these place dont have enough money or time too 🙁

  5. ann e

    The lego model is amazing,I’m sure lots of people will want to go
    What a variety of experiences—-was there a top one you all agreed on ?

    • Jess

      The LEGO was amazing, and the exhibition has been extended until the 12th of April…
      We couldn’t really decide on a top place we all agreed on, especially as we have all been to different places and attractions.
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Elaine J. Masters

    So much fun. Makes me wish my college aged son were into traveling with us once again. Guess I’ll have to wait for grand kids (not really as I look forward to visiting some of the places on this list myself!)

  7. JR

    Hi Sarah. It’s fun to review your year in travel. Funny, I went to Universal Studios again this summer, too. We love the rides, and the Mummy is a fave. A friend of mine chickened out and didn’t go on it after walking all the way up to it in line with us. Cheers! — JR

    • Sarah Ebner

      Hi John, I’m not a rides person, but Robert is. I would probably have been like your friend!! But he really loved it and I think he could have gone on it again and again.

  8. Mums do travel

    What a great year you’ve had! Space Camp sounds amazing. We love Groombridge and Hever Castle too, they’re both lovely places for a family day out.

  9. Christine

    Ah ClueQuest sounds great. There seem to be quite a few of these type of attractions popping up, I saw one advertised in Oxford. Glad you had a fantastic 2014, best wishes to you all for 2015!

  10. Mari

    What a fun year and so many great ideas, I’ve added a few to our 2015 bucket list. It’s lovely to sit back and wonder where this year will take us.

  11. jit

    Hi Sarah your mum sent me the link to your blog when she came to my hair salon .Love the blog ! We are definitely going to the lego exhibition now that I’ve read about it on here. My sons are 9 (on the 18th Jan ) and three so I think the ClueQuest might be good for the elder one in the summer .Thanks for the great ideas .

    • Sarah Ebner

      Hi! Well done my mum! So glad you liked it and hope you enjoy the Lego exhibition (am sure you will). Please come and visit us again. Thanks so much, Sarah

  12. Helloitsgemma

    What a great selection of travels. Definitely some great top tips. Some things we’ve enjoyed – family cycling, always a winner. Visited Tenerife at Xmas a few years ago, loved the empty beaches and so relaxing. Enjoy 2015 – wishing you more great travels.

  13. Mélanie

    Wow, you certainly had quite a time of it in 2014!!! What amazing experiences! I learned so much by reading your article… For instance, I didn’t know about the LEGO exhibition. I really hope that I will get to see it one day in Canada.

    My partner, myself and our two children (aged 5 and 4) will soon be leaving for an RV trip to Florida and I was wondering if you recommend visiting the Kennedy Space Center with young children? And by the way, we will definitely follow Robert’s good advice and take the “alligator tour”!

    Thanks again for all of these discoveries =)

    • Jess

      Thank you for your comment! The LEGO exhibition was incredible, and I highly recommend a visit 🙂
      Dad says that he would recommend the Kennedy Space Center for children aged 5+ as, although the machines and spaceships will appeal to any age, there is a lot of fascinating information to take in.
      Robert loved the alligator tours!

      • Mélanie

        Thank you Jess! I think we will try the Kennedy Space Center, since our little Lily-Rose will turn 5 next October. Greetings from Canada =)

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