Vast family-friendly centre featuring a host of underwater delights – the penguins should be top of everyone's list
Birmingham is among the most landlocked cities in England – but it seems no one has told this to the National Sea Life Centre. If its million-litre underwater tank isn’t impressive enough, it also features more than a thousand creatures – including giant turtles, otters and seahorses – to keep you transfixed.
And don’t forget the penguins. Who doesn’t love penguins? The cheeky gentoo variety are a huge draw at the centre, despite the punchy 8C temperature of the penguin viewing area, and those who want to learn more can attend one of three daily talks. Penguins continue to dominate in the 4D cinema experience, which shows hourly and includes a few surprises.
You’ll be in the minority if you attend childless (and it’s probably best to avoid half-term). Conversely, you’ll be ideally placed to enjoy a light lunch and one of Brum’s best cocktails at well-heeled neighbour Bank. And if you do have a modest tribe in tow, there are plenty of options for refuelling throughout Brindley Place. We like the simple yet perfectly formed all-day menu at Cafe Opus.
|Venue name:||National Sea Life Centre||Contact:|
The Waters Edge, Brindley Place
|Transport:||Rail: Birmingham New Street/Five Ways|
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It's a lot smaller than it looks in photos but the fish are easy to see and there are lots of them. A problem common with aquariums is that the fish in the tank and the signs do not correspond, and here is no exception. Small children like the odd little tunnel, the odd thing hanging from the roof, and one underfloor light, but generally are less than astonished by the fish. The gift shop is too crowded with easily destroyed displays. The "4D" film show means some rather rubbish "3D" and water flicked in your face and should be skipped. The terrific looking undersea tunnel in the photos is very short, so don't get all excited. All in all, the experience is worth an entrance fee of £8. Sadly, we paid £16.50 on a wet Saturday in November 2015. Oh, and the compulsory photograph they take at the start is not free at the end, as you might imagine from the vast entrance fee. They will later attempt to flog it to you in various guises and sizes for anything from £12 (a key fob) upwards to £20 or £30, I had stopped listening by then.