For our littlest Viking’s first birthday we wanted a day out that ticked a few boxes: we were after something we’d not done for a while and that would be fun for all five of us (but most of all the birthday girl). Ideally it would be somewhere warm and dry too, coming as it did at the end of a very soggy half term, and within an hour’s drive (if you’d ever travelled in a car with us you’d understand why we avoid long journeys). Presents ripped open and boxes played with, we headed off to The Deep in Hull for a birthday day out to remember.
The concept – The Deep is one of the UK’s biggest aquariums, with over 3500 fish (and a colony of penguins) to its name. If there’s something worth knowing about the underwater world, you’ll find out about it here. There are sea creatures galore, from minuscule molluscs to scary sharks and big old stingrays. It’s all been thoughtfully laid out so everything is accessible: buggy-pushers, wheelchair users and visitors little and large should all get a clear view of the displays. It was very busy when we visited but rarely felt crowded.
Things to do and see – Being an aquarium, there’s obviously an awful lot of fish. But The Deep is much more than a collection of marine life swimming around in circles. For a start there are the penguins, which are seriously cute and look as though they’re having a brilliant time. We all agreed that the coral was cool too. There’s also a lot to learn here, from the history of the seas to an entire section on slime. Everything is very hands-on, with plenty to engage even the youngest of visitor. There are often special activities especially during the holidays (there was a pirate theme when we were there, with hat-making and face painting among other things). Parents of under 5s (ish) will appreciate the small soft play area towards the end, perfect for letting off steam.
Eating and drinking – for the first time in ten issues of Little Vikings, we were organised and took our own food. Yep, it was ‘mum’s special cheese sandwiches’ all round. We ate in the dedicated picnic area about half way around, which is pretty big and well-stocked with high chairs (and normal ones, obviously). There’s also a cafe at this point where you can pick up anything you may have forgotten (I was not that organized after all, it turns out). The alternative is the big self-service restaurant near the main entrance which has a decent selection of hot and cold food and impressive views of the Humber.
Our verdict – this was pretty much the perfect birthday trip for a one year old. She could get close up to the tanks and press her face up to the jellyfish and penguins to really see what was going on. And there was plenty of space for practising her newly acquired walking skills too. The older two (5 and 3) enjoyed themselves as well, and might even have learnt a thing or two (they’re now experts on slime). It was a great day out, although the less said about the journey home the better…
The Deep, Tower Street, Hull, HU1 4DP – open daily from 10am until 6pm (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – from £10.57/£8.77 (under 3s free) – parking from £2
This article was first published in the Xmas 2015 issue of Little Vikings magazine.