Lying between Cardiff and Swansea in South Wales is the town of Bridgend. With the rivers Ogmore and Ewenny flowing through it, the town is well-named after its beautiful mediaeval bridge. Bridgend and the surrounding area is popular with holidaymakers and being easily accessed by rail, makes a good base to explore South Wales. However, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions in Bridgend itself.
1. Merthyr Mawr Warren
A nature reserve awarded Site of Special Scientific Interest protection, Merthyr Mawr Warren is a haven for wildlife and includes a variety of habitats throughout its 840 acres (340 ha). Saltmarsh, wooded glens, and grasslands provide a home to countless insects and plants, but it’s the giant dune system that dominates the reserve. Developed across a large limestone ridge, the tallest dune in Wales, and the second largest in Europe, can be found here. Known as the Big Dipper, it stands at an impressive 61 m or 200 ft, and the views from the top are awe inspiring.
Used as the location for the film Lawrence of Arabia, the nature reserve is home to the rare Southern Marsh Orchid, Petalwort, included in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and Sea Spurge. Lizards, rare Dune Tiger Beetles and the Cuckoo Bee can also be found amongst the dunes.
The perfect antidote to today’s busy lifestyle, Merthyr Mawr Warren is ideal for a gentle stroll, a day exploring with the family, or just getting away from it all.
- Location: 2 miles from Bridgend station
- Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Get back to nature
2. Rest Bay
Known as one of the best beginner surf beaches in Wales, Rest Bay is popular with those looking to try surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. The state-of-the-art Rest Bay Watersports Centre allows visitors to rent surf equipment and book lessons with expert guides. You can also choose from a wide variety of bikes to hire, including beach wheelchairs, e-bikes and California Cruisers, so that you can explore Porthcawl promenade and the wider Wales Coast Path.
Family fun day
Beautiful golden beach
Porthcawl is all about embracing traditional seaside activities. Coney Beach Pleasure Park offers funfair rides and slot machines for the little ones and those young at heart. The iconic 1930s Grand Pavilion always has plenty of shows while the promenade was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and has been a staple of countless seaside staycations for generations.
Bustling bars, an excellent selection of traditional fish and chip shops and an array of restaurants can be found on the promenade while the thriving John Street is home to many independent retailers and boutiques.
- Wonderful beaches
- Traditional food
- Great events at the Grand Pavillion
4. Bryngarw Country Park
Bryngarw Country Park has something for everyone with over 100 acres of glorious parklands, wildlife, adventure playparks and facilities for all the family. The park is open all year round and often has bushcraft activities on offer.
- Lots of nature to explore
- Wildlife watching
- Bryngarw Country Park website
5. McArthur Glenn Designer Outlet
A shopper’s paradise, McArthur Glen Designer Outlet features over 90 high-street and designer brands at discount prices. There are plenty of places for a coffee or lunch during your shopping trip along with a cinema and covered children’s play area. Free car parking, disabled access, wheelchair hire and relaxed outdoor areas make for a great day out (particularly if the weather isn’t too good).
- Shop until you drop
- Accessibility features
- McArthur Glenn Designer Outlet website