Living in Shropshire it took us just over an hour and a half to get to Birmingham (dang roadworks!) but I found it easy to get to as it was very well signposted. To be honest I did have my Sister-in-Law with me who is brilliant with directions.
The Sea Life Centre is in a fantastic location, on the edge of the canal edge, right in the heart of Brindley Place which boasts a number of restaurants and cafés, perfect for a pit stop after your visit as the Sea Life Centre doesn't have a café. Parking is a 5 minute walk from Brindley Place and costs £3.50 for 3 hours which gave us plenty of time to have a mooch about and some lunch afterwards.
Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre provides a fun but educational day for the whole family, be it watching the Penguins being fed or reading about the Otter and Seahorse conservation, there is something for everyone.
My first impressions were very good! We walked into a huge, well lit entrance area and were immediately greeted by the friendly staff who ushered us onto the route.
First stop was the penguins much to Ava's delight. An educational talk was going on at the time, something which happens at various tanks throughout the day. I love the fact that there is a big viewing window where you can watch the penguins dive and swim.
We wandered through the many rooms, with Ava desperate to find Nemo! There are over 60 displays and some include some fishy facts which I really liked.
The displays were all beautifully done and well thought out, there was an area for different types of fish such as the Amazon for the tropical fish and Hawaii for the turtles.
We also found the activity centre where Ava could paint a picture and the 4D cinema which was showing a clip of Happy Feet (slightly scary I must admit, although she didn't seem that fazed). Ava was also given a log book at the beginning so that she could stamp her book in each area as we went round, something that she enjoyed.
Between 27th March & 19th April the Sea Life Centre is holding a Spongebob Spongehunt to celebrate the launch of The Spongebob Movie- Sponge out of Water, where you can help Spongebob find his friends throughout the displays,
Of course we were there to see the new Sea Stars attraction, I've always been fascinated with starfish so this was particularly exciting. Ava and I got to stroke a starfish in the rockpool area which was great. It really didn't feel like I'd expected. It was a lot harder and knobbly than I'd have thought.
The Sea Stars attraction offers some great facts about starfish, as well as showcasing some stunning starfish, particularly the Chocolate Knobbed and Red Knobbed starfish, so pretty!
Unfortunately we didn't see any Otters, unsurprising really seeing as they are notoriously shy creatures but the National Sea Life Centre does some fantastic conservation work in order to protect this rare animal.
The aquarium is pretty impressive, with it's underwater tunnel which allows the fish, sharks and turtle to swim above you. We were lucky enough to get extremely close to the turtle which was breathtaking. Turtles are my favourite sea creatures so this was very exciting for me, for Ava not so much, she was very nervous about being so close to the turtle, despite there being reinforced glass between us!
There was also a small soft play area which allowed Ava to let of some steam and the obligatory gift shop.
As a parent I loved the fun, educational feel of the Sea Life Centre. You can learn so much about Sea Life without feeling that you are. We enjoyed how interactive it was, being able to stroke a starfish was a definite highlight. The aquarium is also extremely impressive, and personally I loved seeing the turtle. Ava had a fantastic day out, although I think she is too young for the full educational experience yet, she enjoyed spotting the different sea life and got stuck in to the activities,
The only negative I could say is that there was no café on site. Being with my sister-in-law and newborn nephew there was no quiet corner for her to really sit and feed him, bar a few benches dotted here and there. It is however right in the centre of numerous restaurants and cafés so it is not a huge disadvantage.
All in all we had a fantastic day out! I'm so disappointed with my useless photographs but please see my vlog below which is of a much better quality.
If you would like to visit the National Sea Life Centre you can find more information on their website. You can save up to 40% on ticket prices if you book online so I'd recommend visiting the website first if you are interested. Children under 3 go free.
Huge thank you to the National Sea Life Centre for having us!
*Disclaimer- We were invited to the National Sea Life Centre for free in exchange for this review, however thoughts and opinions are 100% my own