‘Fun? In Hanley?’ I hear you ask. Of course! Why not? Statistics show that many of the inhabitants of Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding areas do not take advantage of, or even realise, what Hanley has to offer right on their doorstep, and choose instead to jump in the car or on the train to venture further afield for their entertainment. In fact, there really is no need. Hanley has much to offer for all ages and group dynamics. To prove it, I am going to walk you through a step by step guide to a fun, family weekend in the city centre and immediate vicinity. You don’t have to do a thing, except enjoy it. You’re welcome!
Wheel or No Wheel?
So, unless you live in the city centre, the first job is to decide whether or not you want to drive into Hanley. If so, then your best bet parking-wise is John St car park (postcode ST1 3BP) at a cost of £4.70 for the day on Saturday (if arriving after 9:30am) and just £1.60 on Sunday. It is perfectly located for all of the activities I will outline for Saturday and there are options for Sunday. Free parking is available at Tesco, however only for two hours (perfectly suitable for Sunday morning though). intu Potteries car park is an alternative, although a little more expensive at £1.30 per hour and fixed at £1.50 after 4pm. Of course, if you don’t want the stress of finding somewhere to park the car, why not leave it at home? Catch the bus! The bus station is right in the heart of the city centre and you couldn’t be closer to the action on Saturday!
The Art Part
So we begin our fun weekend at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Located on Bethesda St (postcode ST1 3DW), right around the corner from whichever starting point you choose, it is completely free to enter, although they do welcome kind donations, and opens at 10am, facilitating a leisurely start to the weekend and allowing plenty of travel time. The museum boasts ‘diverse displays of art, local history, natural sciences and the world’s greatest collection of Staffordshire Hoard ceramics’. It has quiet spaces to sit and reflect, as well as a secret garden area. Alongside the more permanent collections, many temporary exhibitions make an appearance throughout the year, for example, the recent homage to the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, or Potters Lane, a tribute to the world of Harry Potter and the works of JK Rowling. The museum was shortlisted amongst only 15 finalists nationally for the Family Friendly Museum Award 2019, proving its worth as a great family attraction. There is also free wifi, a cafe and a gift shop; what more could you want? Find out more at http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag.
Our next stop is literally a minute’s walk, less than 20 metres across the road! Here you will find the Airspace Gallery (address 4 Broad St, ST1 4HL), a studio and exhibiting space that has been bringing high quality contemporary art to Stoke through an evolving programme of events, exhibitions and activities since 2006. Again free to enter, and open from 11am, pop in and have a look around. Find out more at https://www.airspacegallery.org/.
Lunch Munch Time
What with all that culture, you must have built up quite an appetite by now, so next up is our very own QUARTER cafe (address 65 Piccadilly, ST1 1HR) for some lunch. Only a 2 minute walk from the Airspace Gallery, and that is allowing time to cross the road, we have extensive menus from which you can choose some delicious refreshments, including lunch, brunch, kids and even a dedicated vegan menu (have a look at www.thequartercafe.co.uk). We pride ourselves on catering for all of our customers, so if you have any dietary requirements at all, please ask and we will do our very best to accommodate your request. If you time your visit right, you might even catch our live lunch with Rebecca Louise, who accompanies our diners on the piano between 12:30 and 2pm every Saturday! ‘eat, drink & listen @ the QUARTER’.
Future’s made of…Virtual Reality
Next up is XP-VR (address 62 Piccadilly, ST1 1HX), another teeny walk to a world of virtual reality games and activities. With something for everyone, from complete beginner level to more advanced players, kids to adults, this is bound to keep everyone happy. Pricing varies from £5 upwards and it is strongly recommended that you book in advance so that you are not left disappointed. There is an age restriction of 8 years for some activities and height restrictions for others, but there is also plenty to keep younger children entertained. Have a look at the website for more information, trailers, and to book, at www.xp-vr.co.uk.
A Hive of Activity
Here there is a bit more flexibility to follow your own schedule. A 10 minute walk will bring you to The Hive, the city centre’s newest entertainment and eatery complex. On offer here are Chiquito’s, Pizza Express, Coast to Coast, Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and the very popular, buffet-style Bon Pan Asian. There really is something for all tastes. If you are still full from lunch, however, why not fit in a film at Cineworld before you eat? Check out what’s on at www.cineworld.co.uk. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then of course you could always do a spot of shopping right next door at intu Potteries. Most shops will be open until 6pm so have a browse around before eating at one of the many tempting establishments available at The Hive.
Icing on the Cake
To really top off a great day, why not stop in at the Little Dessert Shop Stoke (address 53 Stafford St, ST1 1SA) on your way back to the car park/bus station? Open until midnight every day, they have on offer every kind of pudding you can think of, from waffles to pancakes, sundaes to cakes, and even milkshakes! Check out www.littledessertstoke.co.uk to see the full menu. What better way to finish off a fantastic day?
Here to Stay
If you’re travelling into Hanley from further afield and need somewhere to stay for the night, I can recommend the Smithfield Apartments (address Jasper St, ST1 3DE), which is close to the city centre activities, or the Moat House Hotel (address Festival Way, ST1 5BQ), which is closer to some of the Sunday activities. It is really easy to get the bus here from the city centre. You can catch the numbers 4, 4A and 4E, which are every 15 minutes on a Saturday and every 30 minutes on a Sunday.
Wake Up, Shake Up
Sunday begins and there is no need to be up at the crack of dawn. Enjoy a relaxing start to the day with some ‘RAWR-some’ food at RAWR Kitchen & Bar (address 31 Piccadilly, ST1 1EN). Opening at 11am on a Sunday (other days vary), the brunch menu looks amazing! There are also plenty of options for vegetarian or vegan guests. Have a look at https://www.bemorerawr.co.uk/. Enjoy!
Making a Splash
Our next stop is Waterworld, the UK’s number one tropical aqua park and fun for all the family. Walk off that brunch (a one mile walk, which should take approximately 20 minutes), or drive around to conserve some energy for the pool. Parking is available at £3.50 for 8 hours, not bad at all! Open from 10am until 5pm, a family ticket costs £16.50 per person and although spectators are charged at £17.50 per person, if you keep hold of your wristband, you will be refunded £7.50 on exit. There really is something for everyone, from toddlers to the really adventurous, from the fast paced rapids and racing slides to the calmer bubble pool and lazy river ride. There is even an assault course for those who fancy a workout! Check out www.waterworld.co.uk for more information.
A Taste of India
After building up an appetite in the water, hop onto the canal towpath for a relaxing stroll and head to Mirchi (address 60 Snow Hill, ST1 4LY) for some well deserved refreshment. It is only a mile, so again, approximately 20 minutes, or utilise the free parking if you don’t fancy the walk. Open from 5-10pm on a Sunday, Mirchi serve delicious Indian street food, for that ‘real taste of India’. They serve a ‘wide range of savoury Tandoor dishes, south Indian curries, dosas and exotic curries with a spice level of your choice’ and their mantra is ‘come as a guest and leave as a friend’, suggesting that once you have tried it, you will definitely be back for more! Check out the menu at www.mirchistoke.co.uk.
After a delicious meal at Mirchi, work it off with a short walk back to Festival Park (or drive if you came in the car) for a game of bowling at Tenpin Stoke (postcode ST1 5SP) to finish off a fab weekend. Open until 11:30pm on a Sunday, make the weekend last as long as you can with some great family deals (depending on the number of people and how many games you would like, etc. – see https://www.tenpin.co.uk/our-locations/stoke/). There is also a bar for refreshments and an arcade with a variety of games for even more family fun.
I hope you enjoyed your family weekend in Hanley. I bet you now need another weekend to rest! Did you even realise how much there was to offer right in the heart of the city in which you live? Why not get out there and tell everyone all about it? Be proud of our city and tell the world to come and visit! Let’s celebrate Hanley!
Look our for our next blog, which will outline a ‘No kids allowed’ weekend of fun! Watch this space…