The pretty market town of Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, is just 7 miles west of Cardiff and is a very family friendly place for a day out. Check out my top ten picks for a visit to the historic town with your family.
Shop Till you Drop
As many towns are losing their character with an influx of chains, Cowbridge is retaining its charm, with a number of independent shops, cafes and restaurants still gracing its high street.
Whilst it is now also scattered with a few chains, including the very popular Waitrose, there are a number of independent retailers still holding their own. Even kids will love looking in the Beehive and the Pencil Case for some cool toys and stationary.
If you’re lucky, perhaps you could persuade your other half to take the kids to the park for a while so you can make the most of browsing round Happy Vintage Homestore or No 39 for picks for the home or the numerous clothes shops such as Pebbles or Gibson and Bond for some real retail therapy.
Buy, Browse and Sample Local Produce at the Farmers Market and the Deli
If you want to sample great local produce, then a visit to the Vale Farmers market is a must. An opportunity to get really great meat from local farms, sample some welsh cakes while you shop and to pick up some tasty jams, preserves and chutneys. My little ones love the Welsh Cakes baked fresh in front of you.
There is also a loyalty card system where for every £5 spent you get your card stamped and could be in for a chance to win a hamper of local products. The market runs on every first and third Saturday of each month in Cowbridge.
There is also the Elephant and Bun Delicatessen a foodies heaven. It a family run business selling seasonal welsh produce cooked on their premises. Think smelly welsh cheeses, selection of fine hams, black pudding and freshly made quiches and cakes. I recommend the white chocolate and raspberry brownie – sooo good!
Pretend to be a Knight at St. Quentin’s Castle
The Llanblethian Castle, or more accurately the ruins of it, are set up on a steep slope above the River Thaw in Llanblethian. The castle is believed to have been established in around 1102.
Whilst there is little left of the castle, there’s enough to spark the imagination of little ones, and the views from the top over Cowbridge and Llanblethian are spectacular.
There are steps up to the top of the Castle so little ones can have a proper look out. It is open daily from 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. and entry is free.
Stop for Coffee and Cake at the Pleasantly Old Fashioned Bear
The origins of The Bear go back as far as the 12th Century and it’s a firm favourite with the residents of Cowbridge. Apparently during the 18th Century, Napoleon’s troops were held there en-route to London after a failed invasion at Fishguard!
Have coffee and cake in the lounge, with its cosy chairs and roaring fire on a winters day you won’t want to leave. They also happily refill your filter coffee here so you can take your time and relax. Little ones will enjoy the cakes and pastries they have on offer.
Smell the Lavender at Cowbridge Physic Gardens
Walk down Church Street and behind a high stone wall you will find the Cowbridge Physic Garden. Described as a small oasis of calm and tranquillity it has been lovingly restored and maintained by volunteers.
It is laid out in a formal style reminiscent of its heritage with a wide array of plants and herbs. If I’m lucky enough, on a fine day you may find me here with a book having a bit of peace and quiet while my little one has her nap in her buggy.
Little ones love to explore the gardens and the fish pond which sits just outside next to the library. The gardens are open every day, except Christmas day from 10am till 4pm in the winter and until 6 pm in the summer.
Have Lunch Alfresco and Watch the World Go By
Oscars happens to be on the sunny side of the street, and when the sun is shining it can be quite hard to get a table, but for the lucky ones you’ll have a great spot to watch the world go by. Try tucking into the mussels and skinny fries or try their signature duck wrap.
Even on crisper days you’ll see people sat outside with one of the bright orange throws over their legs and with the outdoor heaters on overhead keeping them snug. Oscars also openly welcomes children and it has a great children’s menu which is of good quality rather than just the usual boring fare serving up fish cakes, pasta and chicken burger in a brioche bun.
Learn about it’s History at the Cowbridge Museum
Cowbridge Museum is located in the Town Hall on the High Street. The Town Hall was once a prison and some of the original prison cells are now housing the exhibits of the museum which range from some archaeological finds to displays on the history of the town.
The museum is run by very friendly volunteers who are happy to share their knowledge and answer any questions you may have. Children are welcomed and are given a quiz to keep their interest sparked and are asked why all the doors are so small (most adults get this wrong apparently). The museum is open from 11 am – 4 pm on the first and third Saturday of the month.
Let the kids Blow off Some Steam
The park in Cowbridge is pretty well equipped with swings, slides and climbing frames. There is enough for the really little ones and for those aged up to about nine to play.
It’s very central to Cowbridge and is a great little park to let the little ones run about in, especially if you want them to burn off some energy before going for a nice lunch somewhere. There is also a stream just behind the park where you can feed the ducks.
If it’s raining, head to Bijou, an indoor soft play area which has a soft play for up to 8/9 year olds, a toddlers section and a play station corner so even older siblings can be entertained. It’s smaller than most soft play areas so it’s not usually as noisy. They also serve decent coffee and cakes.
Tuck into Tapas at Bar 44
If you like Tapas, you really should try some at Bar 44. Their selection of tapas dishes is very impressive and having visited there often I have never had a disappointing plate of food.
Our favourites are the breads topped with baked vegetables and cured manchego, gambas with garlic and chilli and braised ox cheek in red wine. The kids always devour the gambas and the crispy squid! They also serve a great range of reasonably priced wines, cocktails and beers.
On a weekend it becomes the place to go, but get there early if you’re hoping to grab a table. It’s great for introducing little ones to new flavours and a perfect spot for lunch or an early dinner with young ones.
Have a Chocolate Fix at Cocoa & Co
Cocoa & Co have a wonderful selection of tempting chocolates to tickle your tastebuds, and no one has to miss out as they offer chocolates that are dairy free, gluten free and vegan friendly.
Kids will love choosing some delicious treats to take home (if they can keep their fingers off them for that long) and if you’re brave enough you could try the chilli chocolate. There is almost as much fun in picking your selection as in the eating, well not quite
Please note all opinions are my own and all links provided are unaffiliated.