We recently spent a family vacation – three generations of us – at Tenby in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. This is an amazing stretch of coastline and Tenby is one of my favourite towns for a break in the UK. I’ve stayed here about half a dozen times so far, from weekend breaks to a two week holiday. I’ve been camping, caravanning, stayed in a rental house and a boutique apartment and most recently, we stayed at the brand new Premiere Inn hotel in the town center. Despite having spent quite a bit of time here, there is always something new to do. This year was the first trip for our son at 14 months old and also the first trip for his grandparents who were accompanying us which made the whole vacation even more fun than usual and for the first time we headed to Folly Farm, which is a zoo and adventure park located about a 15 minute drive outside of Tenby.
The glorious North Beach at Tenby – about 15 minutes drive from Folly Farm
Folly Farm was very easy to find with a large parking area that was already filling up at 10am when we got there – opening time. Prices range from £5.50 up to £15.50 per ticket, with very competitively priced annual tickets for those planning on repeat visits. Makes me wish I lived local – well, let’s face it, there are a lot of reasons to want to live in amazing Pembrokeshire. Children under two are free, even though there’s still plenty for them to do and see.
Upon entering Folly Farm you walk through a brightly coloured gift shop that was actually quite reasonably priced and then out into the open. There’s a barn area straight ahead, which has a variety of farm animals that you can get up close and personal with as well as a few farm-shaped pieces of play equipment. A staff member was walking around with a barn owl whilst we were there, which was my 14 month old sons first experience with an owl. He seemed quite interested although when you’re 14 months old, I guess almost everything is a new experience. There’s a train outside the barn which takes you to the farmyard area of the park and I recommend you take it. I say train, but it’s actually a tractor and it’s free, saving you about 15-20 minutes of walking and adding that extra fun factor. Strollers don’t fit on though, but there is a place to leave them at your own risk. In the farmyard is one of the friendliest pigs I’ve ever met!
Playing in the Barn at Folly Farm
Back out the other side of the barn is a small section with birds and reptiles and then onto Folly Farm’s fairground area. As we were there early on a week day in the term time, most of the rides weren’t open and I can’t really blame them for that, as there really weren’t many people in the park at the time and those of us who were there were mostly with pre-school children. There were some small rides functioning, with staff members available to rotate to a different ride if needed. There was also a character dressed as some sort of large dog mascot walking around, which my son seemed to find interesting, although another little boy burst into tears!
The vintage Fairground at Folly Farm.
Not sure who enjoyed the play area at Folly Farm more!
Through the fairground gets you to an extensive soft play. This really is quite big and we had it all to ourselves! So if you want a really peaceful time then head here on a weekday with little ones because it was amazing to have this massive place to ourselves. My husband went down the slide with our son half a dozen times, I think more for his benefit than the baby’s. There’s also a soft play area for under 5s which had a pretty cool rope swing basket as well as a small slide and we spent an enjoyable 40 minutes sitting on the chairs right next to it whilst the baby burned off some energy. I was quite pleased to see things to do for the very little ones.
There are two main places to eat in Folly Farm, a cafeteria style restaurant and a fast food place. Neither was exactly gourmet eating, but it was basic and did the job. We each had sandwiches in the restaurant and shared a plate of chips. Simple and not horrifically priced considering they have a captive market, costing £28 for lunch for 4 adults and a children’s meal including drinks. If you’re on a budget or have a large family or fussy children, packing your own sandwiches would be best and there are plenty of places to eat outside. We would usually do this to be honest, but since we were staying in a hotel didn’t have any opportunity for food preparation.
Exploring the sand pit in the play area at Folly Farm
Lunch done, we headed to the zoo part of the park. It was extremely hot – we went during the heatwave in June, but we trundled around slowly after slathering on sun tan lotion and repeatedly affixing the hat to the baby’s head whilst he threw it off. There are lions, penguins, giraffes, rhino, zebra, emu, primates, birds, deer and reptiles. I didn’t count, but the website says they have around 500 animals and I believe it. As someone who has worked with exotic animals for over a decade, I’m quite critical of animal attractions where necessary. Folly Farm gives animals plenty of space and enrichment and all seemed to be in good health.
Getting up close and personal with the birds in the aviary at Folly Farm.
A bit exhausted from walking around in the heat, there was still even more to do as the play area included a massive outdoor pirate ship climbing place, outdoor fairground rides such as go-karts and a big wheel, diggers and more. I retired to Coffee Cwtch for a cheeky slice of cake and a refreshing elderflower cordial, whilst my husband and his father (in his 70s!) raced each other on the go-karts. Not just for kids you know!
Damn right! Cwtch Coffee at Folly Farm
My initial thought was that it was a bit pricey, costing more than quite a few zoos in the UK, but I quickly realized that this isn’t just a zoo and when you combine the cost of a fairground, a massive soft play, a farm experience and a zoo, it comes across as much better value for money. A thoroughly enjoyable day out where you’ll find things to do from opening time until closing. Can’t wait to go back again when my son is a bit older!
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Note that Folly Farm provided us with tickets for two adults in order to visit and asked us to share our thoughts, but we paid for my parents-in-law and the baby was free due to his age.