The Mumbles is often referred to as the gateway to the Gower as it marks the beginning of the Gower peninsula coastline. A sleepy seaside town it is not, as it is very popular with tourists and locals alike. It’s a little tired in some areas, but somehow it still manages to retain its charm, perhaps due to a good selection of independent shops, restaurants and cafes. I like the way the Rough Guide referred to Mumbles as ‘pleasantly old-fashioned’, which I think sums it up perfectly.
The Mumbles brings back fond memories for me of days out with the family when I was little.We’d head off in my grandparents lime green car down to the pier, driving over the sleeping policemen (screaming with excitement at every bump).
We’d have a few goes at the penny arcades, scoff down our takeaway chips, go for a game of crazy golf and finish off with a Joes ice-cream before heading home shattered from all the sea air. I always feel nostalgic taking my children there as it has changed very little since I was small.
A typical winters day at Mumbles
When the tide is in, the sea can look like one big mill pond as the water is so calm and when it’s like that, I wonder if there is anywhere better in the world to have on your doorstep (even if it does have the distant views of smokey Port Talbot in the horizon).
So here’s my list of 5 things to do in the Mumbles, in no particular order….
Have some Italian ice-cream
Sample probably the best ice-cream in the world at Joes ice-cream parlour – Ok, so whilst I said in no particular order, this place would always feature top. Established in 1922, Joes ice-cream parlour is a true slice of Swansea’s history, and you simply should not visit Mumbles, or Swansea without sampling a Joes ice-cream. You will see people queuing outside in all weather and even Catherine Zeta Jones is reported to be a huge fan. The chocolate sundae just happens to be my favourite.
Take in the stunning panoramic views at Verdis – which is an Italian family run café, ice-cream parlour and restaurant situated on the sea front. With its glass front, the seating inside and out is awarded with panoramic views across Swansea bay. It also serves up delicious ice-cream in various flavours and with lots of toppings.
It’s also a great spot for lunch, serving up a good cup of coffee and tasty lunches, particularly the pizzas and generous child pizzas. It is always busy, no matter the weather, but that never affects the service which is always efficient and friendly. Although be warned, sometimes the queue for a table can reach outside the door!
Take a leisurely stroll down the Promenade
The mumbles promenade – stretches from the pier all the way back into Swansea, and beyond. It’s a great place to walk along with your pram or to take the bikes or scooters with little ones as its all flat all the way back into Swansea (note the mumbles end gets much busier so if you want more space head back in the direction of Swansea), just watch the pedestrians.
Stop for a while in the parks – Also for the kids, just off the promenade, is a great park for little ones. It has the usual swings and slides and also has great section for toddlers. T
he park is clean, well maintained and is fenced in so there’s no risk of running onto the road. It’s a great place to stop mid-way through your promenade walk or scooter. There is also a park just past the pier by Castellamare restaurant.
Or cheat and take the Mumbles train – In the summer months there is also a land train, which runs along the promenade from the lido at Blackpill to Southend gardens in Mumbles. You can purchase an all day hopper ticket which allows you to hop on and off throughout the day (a family ticket is £12) and the kids love it.
Have some traditional seaside fun at the pier
Spend a few of your pennies at the arcade – There’s the usual slot machines, ping ball machines and arcade games here for all ages to have some fun. There are even a couple of novel rides for toddlers, mine loves the rocket. You can also have a go at the bowling which is just upstairs.
Visit the newly refurbished mumbles lifeboat station – The pier is currently receiving a refurbishment, and whilst the walkway is still undergoing work, the lifeboat station refurbishment was completed in 2014 and is open to visitors.
Children will love seeing the lifeboat, and if you time your visit right you can even see the impressive lifeboat launch. Staff there are very friendly and passionate about the good work they do and are more than happy to share information on the vessel itself.
Sample some seriously good food
Patricks with Rooms – is a family run business; two sisters with their chef husbands. The menu is changed each month according to what is in season and in addition to the al a carte menu there are always specials on offer.
The setting, and the food, is quite formal and with their pristine white table cloths could give the impression that they are not family friendly, but this is not the case, in fact they pride themselves on welcoming children to both their restaurant and hotel.
They have changing facilities and high chairs and a box of toys for little ones. The lounge area is more informal and is a charming place to call in for coffee or have afternoon tea.
The Kitchen Table – with its shabby chic decor, delicious vegetarian options and healthy foods which are so moorish, once you’ve been once you’ll be heading back to try their unique flavours again and again.
Its quirky design really makes you feel at home, with its small size and tables almost on top of each other, makes for a very cosy and enjoyable lunch. Good news is that they are also open on Friday and Saturday evenings, but be sure to book ahead.
Walk across to the Mumbles Lighthouse
The Mumbles lighthouse island – can be reached by foot and when reached, awards you with the most spectacular views across Swansea bay. Just be careful to coincide your walk with low tide, as you don’t want to get stranded there and have to call on the RNIL.
Whilst currently unmanned, the island had been occupied and it still has the old foundations where the homes once stood. The walk across takes about 30 minutes and is well worth the effort.
So that’s my list of top 5 things to do in the Mumbles – what would be on your list?