Hit the beaches, of which Wales offers an endless supply. There’s the faraway Caribbean feel of Barafundle Bay, surrounded by cliffs, near Pembrokeshire. The enormous expanse of Newgale Sands, just south of St David’s – a paradise for surfers and splashing children. Beautiful (but crowded) Mwnt near Cardigan. The magical dunes and shelly white sands of Ynyslas, across the river from Aberdovey. And peaceful Abersoch, up north on the Llyn Peninsula.
Visit Cardiff, both of them – the pretty city centre with the fairytale fantasy castle, Millennium Stadium, museums, indoor market and shops, and Cardiff Bay a mile away, with its regenerated docks with waterfront cafés, the bronze-domed Millennium Centre arts complex and many more attractions.
Go up Mount Snowdon (1085m). You can hike, but it’s not for amateurs – instead, take the century-old mountain railway to the top, where there's a gorgeous visitor centre. If you’ve got older children you can walk down, but it’s still a serious undertaking. See our guide to Snowdonia.
Venture into Portmeirion, the Italianate village that was the setting for the 1960s cult TV series The Prisoner, near Porthmadog. Its fanciful architecture is only part of the fun: there are also gardens, fountains, woodland and seafront walks, beaches and restaurants.
Dig deep at one of the mines that dot the country. The fabulous Big Pit National Coal Museum, at Blaenavon World Heritage Site north of Cardiff, lets you don a hard hat complete with lamp and follow a real miner down a warren of tunnels 90m underground. Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia has two underground railways. Sygun Copper Mine in Snowdonia is fun, with ladders to climb.
Sample the parklife. Oakwood, near Narbeth in Pembrokeshire, has rides for everyone from tots to diehards (the free-falling, spinning ‘Speed’). Folly Farm Adventure Park nearby combines animals (farm and zoo) with an indoor funfair and climbing equipment. GreenWood Forest Park in Snowdonia is as green as the trees that surround it, with towering log adventures and rides including a human-powered roller-coaster.
Ride with the whales off the west coast. A number of companies offer boat tours out to sea, where you might see whales, skirt around bird-covered islands and dart in close to cliffs. The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, in New Quay, monitors bottlenose dolphins, grey seals and porpoises and offers excursions on its Dolphin Survey boat.
Create a splash at two state-of-the-art waterparks. The indoor/outdoor Blue Lagoon at the eco-friendly Bluestone National Park Resort in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has a pool producing some of the UK’s biggest indoor waves, along with a lazy river, bubble pools and flumes surrounded by rocks and greenery with chunky wooden walkways. The LC sports complex in Swansea features The Edge with Surf Rider, the world’s first indoor surfboard experience, and Masterblaster, a roller-coaster-style ride. Both have plenty for younger children too. That said, for the maximum surfing thrills, head for the Adventure Park Snowdonia for fun on the world's first inland surfing lagoon in a marvellous mountain-fringed setting, as well as other indoor and outdoor activities such as climbing, caving and ninja assault.
Ride the rails on one of more than 20 historic rail lines, which take you from bleak mountaintops to pretty valleys, from still lakes to the crashing seashore. At some, youngsters can climb aboard gleaming steam engines, while most have fascinating museums and offer delightful picnic spots. Try Brecon Mountain Railway, meandering through the Brecon Beacons National Park along the Taf Fechan Reservoir, or the twin sections of the Welsh Highland Railway carving through Snowdonia. Great Little Trains of Wales coordinates 11 historic lines.