Recently, we were invited to go to Longleat Safari Park to celebrate #Longleat50, the fiftieth anniversary of the park as a tourist attraction.
We were absolutely blown away by the place. I don’t think we’ve had such a fun family day out in a very long time. So, I thought I’d pass on our reasons to visit and top tips.
Why you should go to Longleat
- It’s closer than you think – if you’re in the South West, you’re within day trip zone.
- Make the most of it, and it is 110% value for money. Buy a season ticket pass (which we are going to now!) and it’s astonishing value for money. It’s around the same price as your Bristol Zoo season pass, if you have one.
- It might sound obvious, but the animals. You will see actual tigers. In 50 years time, there may not be any tigers left, who knows? Go and see tigers. And lions.
- On the subject of animals, they appear pretty well cared for and healthy to me. Lots of space, lots of food, lots of specialist keepers.
- There are also some wonderfully different creatures. We fell in love with giant anteaters. Gorgeous! And wolves!
- Because the staff were really great. Not just the keepers, who really seemed pleased to answer questions from both me and Tibbs, but, the people behind the counters, the ticket staff, everyone was really helpful and approachable.
- For the surprises – the house and grounds. I was NOT expecting this. I have no idea why. If you like your stately homes and unique British history, Longleat is unmissable.
- You’ll love the up-close experiences – feeding the lorikeets, walking amongst the meerkats, meeting penguins. Yes, you might have to queue a tiny bit, but to see your child conversing with a penguin? Worth it.
- If you like playing – Longleat has a brand new playground aimed at under fives, called the little explorers garden, which is loaded with great sensory activity from water to music
- Because there’s an amazing hedge maze, which families were loving during our visit, so fun to get lost and challenge yourself like that
- Maybe, if you have transport keen kids, part of the fun is a train, and a boat experience, both of which lead you to seeing even more animals
- If you like picnicking with the family – there’s so much space, the best value way to eat at Longleat is to take a picnic lunch and enjoy your surroundings
Longleat isn’t for you if:
- I’ll be honest, if you’re looking for ways to entertain a one year old, Longleat isn’t worth the money. But if you’re the sort of parent of a one year old who wants entertaining yourself whilst you’re with a one year old, it absolutely is worth it. It’s the National Trust, the Zoo and @Bristol all on one ticket.
- You don’t like animals in captivity, for whatever reason. There are lots of animals. They are all in some sort of enclosure. You do feel like you are in their habitat. If that makes you sad, or you can’t explain it to your kids, it’s not for you.
- You have to be near a toilet at all times, or are a frequent visitor to them. There aren’t huge amounts of them, and, there’s no stopping in the safari park. You’d be nuts to even try to be honest!
- You can’t deal with the general public for any reason. It’s a busy place. It’s a global tourist attraction. It’s a place full of excited children. Grumpy people should probably stay away.
Bristol Parent truthful tips:
- I think if you only have a 2yr old, I’d probably wait till they are 3-4 for your first visit. We wouldn’t have got as much out of it this time last year.
- There’s something to do, whatever the weather. It absolutely heaved it down whilst we were there, and we still had a blast!
- I’m not a very mobile heavily pregnant woman, and, although there was plenty of places to stop and rest, I was tired. Make sure you take it easy if you are pregnant too!
- I think the safari part of your trip can wait till end of the day. Allow about 1.5hrs for it, avoid the morning queues for it, and go straight into the rest of the park first
- The house will not hold the attention of pre-schoolers, and if you want to truly enjoy it, I would honestly recommend touring it without an under five in tow. It’s stunning.
- The carousel was (at least when we were there) free. So for once you don’t have to make up reasons why you can’t go on it!
- Look out for the seasonal stuff at Longleat and maybe plan your trip around them. The Festival of Light, for example, is meant to be unreal.
- You can avoid the monkeys. We did, company car and all that, because we didn’t want to risk it and, actually, monkeys freak me out a bit.
- Despite it being busy, there are areas of the park where you really can relax and see very few people. The formal gardens, for example
- Food and drink is on the expensive side. There is a giant Costa on site though, which is great for pre-fuelling before you go in
- Car parks aren’t as far away as you think they’re going to be, but tired legs at the end of the day might mean you should prepare for some child-carrying!
For even more top tips from locals, have a read of this brilliant thread on The Bristol Parent’s Facebook page.