I may have been born here and lived here most of my life (with a brief stint in the USA, but I came back home!) but there is still tons that Cardiff has to offer. Sometimes I get a bit wrapped up in travel and exotic destinations, that I forget to really enjoy what’s right in front of me. So, for 2018 I’m making a list of 10 new places I’d like to explore. I might not get to all of them, but when I’ve got an empty weekend and I’m wondering what to do, I hope I’ll be motivated to come back to this list!
If you’re visiting Cardiff you should check out my 8 Free Places to Visit in Cardiff – as there are some real must-visits there, but today I want to focus on my plans for 2018!
My 10 Things to do in Cardiff in 2018
Insole Court Mansion & Cafe – Llandaff, Cardiff
I have been to the gardens of Insole Court many times. I grew up just a 10 minute walk from here and my High School was a few minutes away – so we often used to walk here. Back in those days the house itself was closed and in need of serious repair. Well in 2017 they finished repairing the house and opened it up! Now you can look around the ground floor of the mansion as well as visit the brand new cafe called “The Potting Shed Cafe” which is getting great reviews. Since this is a little bit of everything I love – beautiful gardens, history and food – alongside a healthy dollop of nostalgia, this is right at the top of my list.
2. Escape Rooms
There are now a couple of companies offering the immersive “Escape Room” experience in Cardiff where you get locked into a room with your friends and have to solve the puzzle to get out. It’s all very Crystal Maze-esque, for those who remember that gameshow. I’ve never been to one but now there are a couple to choose from quite close to home. I need to gather some friends and get to one this year as they sound like a lot of fun! I’ll be sure to write up my experience to share with you after.
This is a fun free interactive museum set right in the heart of Cardiff. It has history for the adults and interactive displays, stories and playtime for the kids. It has free entry and is open 7 days a week from 10am to 4pm, so I have no excuse not to get here this year. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the city I was born in, and combining it with some shopping and good food too as it is surrounded by fantastic options.
I LOVE Mini Golf so ever since this opened I’ve wanted to head there. This is adventure golf on top of the St David’s Centre building in Cardiff – so you’re literally above the city. How cool is that? This would make a fun date night for just us adults especially as they serve cocktails and are open until 10 or 11pm, or it could be a fun family afternoon as well, with a bite of pizza from Pizza Pronto in the Clubhouse. I’m determined to give it a go in 2018!
Because we have Owner’s Passes at Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl (About 30 minutes from Cardiff) we tend to go swimming there as it’s free for us. That being said, I’ve heard amazing things about Ponty Lido (now being called the National Lido of Wales to big it up a bit I guess!), which is about the same driving distance for us and very inexpensive. I’ve never been to Ponty Lido, but with outdoor heated swimming pools and a recent major revamp, I’m definitely going to visit in the summer. It was a bit cold last year for William since he was only a few months old at the time, so we stuck to indoor pools – but this year he’ll be over a year and we can all share a new experience together.
Here’s a video to show you what’s available there now:
Cardiff Bay has a small host of different boat tours – and I’ve never been on any of them! I’m determined this year to take to the water and see the city from a different view. You can get an hour’s city cruise round trip from Cardiff Bay to the City Centre and back for just £4 (30 minutes one way) or £8 (one hour round trip). You can get off in the city centre, do some shopping or visit the Cardiff Story Museum and then hop back on if you want to later – it runs every hour!
I mentioned this on my top free days out in Cardiff because it’s an amazing national history museum that features outdoor Welsh life with free entry. I’ve visited it many times in the past – but have never had chance to go with my son yet. In 2017 they completely transformed their main building and now there is a new atrium, shop and a brand new cafe, as well as a lecture theatre and learning centre. They’ve also added a new sustainable building called Gweithdy, which is focused on showcasing traditional skills and has some hands-on opportunities to try crafts and skills out yourself. It was a £30 million project, funded by the Welsh Government and the Heritage Lottery, so it sounds like some pretty big changes have taken place. This all sounds so much fun and great additions that I’m determined to experience this year.
8. Thornhill Farm Shop
I’ve heard Thornhill Farm Shop mentioned so much – but I’ve never been there. So in 2018, I’m going! Hopefully a few times. They have a pets paddock for the kids, a cafe and a farm shop with bakery, butchery and deli counter. I’m very big on knowing where your food comes from and supporting local business, so I’m embarrassed that I haven’t made it there yet.
9. Take in a Show
The last show I went to was to see Lee Evans and that was years ago! With the New Theatre, St David’s Centre, Principality Stadium (or whatever it’s been renamed to this year) and more on my doorstep, I’m shocked that I haven’t been to see a show of any kind in about 4 years. Whether it’s a musical, concert, comedy or just about anything – I don’t care. 2018 is the year I’m going to check out some evening entertainment. Now, time to find a babysitter…
I had no idea there was a 6,000 year old Neolithic age burial chamber in Cardiff. Did you? I’m a little bit in awe of the fact that there is so much hidden history right on my doorstep. This Cadw site has one of the largest capstones in the UK and has largely been left untouched since it was restored over a century ago. It’s on my must-visit list for sure – and it’s free!