Take the kids to … The Ice Cream Farm, Chester | Travel
In a nutshell
The Ice Cream Farm near Chester is a mini theme park aimed at primary school-age children. It’s free to get in and there’s no charge for a great ice-cream-inspired playground and an underwhelming farm with donkeys, pigs, goats and llamas. However, you have to pay for all of the other attractions individually, including mini JCB diggers, go-karts, a near-vertical slide, soft-play areas for toddlers and older children, and Honeycomb Canyon, an indoor sand and water play park – which claims to be Europe’s largest. Do book online in advance if your children have their heart set on the diggers: there was a three-hour waiting list when we arrived at noon during the summer holidays. The site underwent a £4m redevelopment two years ago, which has left the original farm unrecognisable, dismaying as many regulars as it delights.
The Fell family have been creating award-winning ice-cream on site for nearly 30 years and now (reportedly) have the world’s largest purpose-built ice-cream parlour offering more than 50 flavours, including: raspberry and oreos, rhubarb and custard, cotton candy, and liquorice and blackcurrant (from £2.50 a scoop).
Best thing(s) about it?
There’s plenty to do, whatever the weather, and you don’t have to spend a lot to have fun. My eight-year-old companion loved panning for jewels and the whole family enjoyed the ice-cream-themed crazy golf – even the teenager. The queues were too big for Honeycomb Canyon but gazing through the window it looked great fun – and very wet (bring a cossie and a towel as they suggest). It’s all designed to be accessible to all and will appeal to most children under 11, even very small children, though five- to nine-year-olds are probably the perfect age to make the most of all of the attractions.
What about lunch?
Food was the big disappointment. We had ropey hotdogs from the Pieminister shack (£3.95), though we all enjoyed the ice-cream. Picnics are banned, which isn’t a surprise given the lack of entry fee.
Exit through the gift shop?
You can’t avoid the gift shop (toys, books, sweets) on the way out.
You really need a car. Follow the brown tourist board signs on the A41 Chester/Whitchurch Road. If you are coming by public transport, get the train to Chester and then catch the 41A bus from Stand F on Foregate Street (approximately a 10-minute walk from the railway station) to Tattenhall. It is then a 13-minute walk to The Ice Cream Farm.
Value for money
It’s definitely worth buying a Play Pass, which reduces the cost of each activity from £3.75 for anyone over three to £2.50 if you stump up £25 in advance. You can get the cost per play down to a pound if you pay £100 for the VIP pass, but that only really makes sense for huge groups or repeat visitors.
Open 9.30am to 5.30pm daily, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
We spent three hours at the Ice Cream Farm and paid for £25 worth of activities that we all took part in. Most children could spend a happy hour on the free playground. We went on an overcast, chilly summer’s day and it was still very busy. It must be overrun when the weather is nice. Don’t expect anything educational: if there’s any information about how ice-cream is made, we didn’t find it. No idea where the cows are.