Free summer holiday fun
The long summer holidays are almost upon us and it’s time to have a family adventure in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales.
Located directly off of the M4 and less than an hour’s drive from Bristol, we have loads going on over the summer that's free or inexpensive to enjoy.
Here’s our top picks
Dare Valley Country Park and Gravity Family Bike Park, Aberdare
This place is huge, with an adventure playground, lakeside walks, toddler play area, bike trails, pump track and balance bike course. It’s dog-friendly, with wheelchair and pushchair friendly walks and facilities. Pack a picnic or get drinks and snacks from Black Rock Café or the Gravity snack hut.
The trails, pump track and balance bike course at Gravity Family Bike Park are free, as well as parking and entry If you want to use the uplift service or hire a bike, these incur a small additional cost.
Lido Play and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd
This free adventure playground is filled with slides, swings and tunnels. It also has a sandpit and zipwire. There’s seating scattered around so you can relax with a coffee from Caffe Lido while the children play. Pop into town for a sandwich or snack from Zucco to eat in the park or bring a picnic.
Stay a while in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park grounds, see the bandstand, the statue of Welsh National Anthem composers Evan and James James and discover the secret sunken garden. There are tennis courts, plenty of space for football and frisbee and you can walk along the Taff Trail.
A date for your diary
Another way to enjoy Ynysangharad War Memorial Park this summer is at the incredible Big Welsh Bite, which takes place on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7. Plans are underway for this two-day extravaganza which features live shows and entertainment, (previous years we have had duck driving, llamas, birds of prey and more), petting zoo, free activities, cookery demonstrations and lots of delicious food and treats. The Big Welsh Bite is just one of the events Rhondda Cynon Taf is hosting for free – find out more and get the fill list here.
Aberdare Park, Aberdare
Aberdare Park has an adventure playground and the free Aquadare Splash pad, which children kids will love. You can also feed the ducks and geese on the lake with feed available to purchase from the café (feed is a small charge from the café) or hire one of the swan or dragon paddle boats.
There’s plenty of space to have a picnic – you could try in front of the bandstand, the beautiful fountain or even the Gorsedd stones. Alternatively, Aberdare town centre with its cafes and takeaways is just a short walk away. Find out more
Barry Sidings Countryside Park, Trehafod, near Pontypridd.
Get ready for some wheely-great fun at Barry Sidings! It has lots of trails, a bike pump track and a BMX track which are all free to use.
Get active on the huge adventure playground or spot the heron on the lake. You can also take an adventure up into the mountains and woods that surround the park.
It has picnic spots and even BBQ stations, or you can grab a burger, shake or dirty fries from the amazing on-site café. Find out more
Clydach Vale Countryside Park, Clydach Vale (near Tonypandy)
There’s not one but two lakes and a secret pool to explore at this huge open space. The “bottom” lake has a lovely café and ducks and geese to feed. There are benches scatted around if you want to stop for your sandwiches!
Venture north and you reach the secluded “top” lake, where you may spot the illusive kingfisher and heron.. It’s perfect for pond-dipping and tadpole spotting and the fishing pontoons are a great spot for lunch. There’s also a waterfall and dipping pool.
Go just a little further to the top pool, which also has a waterfall if the rain has been heavy. Free parking is available. Find out more and download the walking trails
Wander through beautiful surroundings and see if you can spot the remains of the 13th Century Castell Nos. Travel on to the reservoir. Parking is free and why not stop in Maerdy for lunch or bring your own snacks. Find out more and get the route
A Picnic with a View
Pack the hamper and the basket and head off for a picnic with a view. Explore the summits of Rhigos or Bwlch mountain, both of which have lots of benches you can sit on and walking routes to . If you want a special treat, grab fish and chips from Penalunas Famous Fish and Chip shop– you know they taste better straight out of the wrapper in the fresh air!
Go Back in Time in Llantrisant
On arrival in Llantrisant, you are greeted by a statue of Dr William Price, the Victorian eccentric who inspired Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Dr Doolittle. Llantrisant has a rich history of captured kings, fearless warriors, and hilltop defences.
Download the Llantrisant audio trail and be guided through the cobbled streets and up to the church. Explore the castle ruins, try the stocks and visit the Guildhall. Children Kids will love the interactive displays.
Wander on Llantrisant Common and meet the horses, or hike up the hillsides to the Billy Wynt, with the Bunny Walks. If you want snacks, there are plenty of places in town to enjoy. Find out more