There's no time like the present to get outside in the fresh air and green hills with your family. And our glorious green spaces and award-winning activity centres mean there's no excuse not to ride, climb, walk or even kayak your way to happiness – there's something for everyone, no matter your age or ability level! Go on… get out with the kids and get active in the valleys.
Dare Valley Country Park, Aberdare
Developed out of two former collieries 35 years ago, this part of coal country is as close as you'll get in the great outdoors to the way life used to be in industrial Wales. Peat bogs, old coal tips and classic mine villages are all part of the sensitive restoration at Dare Valley Country Park.
The park offers a full list of family events, guided walks, talks and fun days throughout the year. The Bwllfa Trail, which is signposted from the interactive visitor centre, is a good choice for those with younger children. The circular walk offers stunning views of the lake and the chance to see a wealth of wildlife, and is approximately two miles/3.5km long, though the route splits into two at the lake with a shorter accessible route for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Summit Centre, Merthyr Tydfil
On the site of an old drift mine and developed into an international climbing centre in the 1990s, the climbing walls at the Summit Centre are up to 18m, with 180 different ways to get to the top. Featuring a bouldering area, high-ropes course, and a purpose-built caving system with waterfall, there's also accommodation for group residential trips.
Reflecting the site's history, the outdoor play area for younger children has been designed with a mining theme. It has a mining dressing up box, slides, pulleys, buckets and cargo nets. And as it's situated in the cafe garden, you can keep an eye on the kids while you enjoy a coffee! The centre also runs a programme of weekend and holiday activities for all the family.
Taff Valley Quad Bike and Activity Centre, Pontypridd
Trekking through a countryside trail on an all-terrain quad bike may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll enjoy some lovely views of the surrounding Taff and Rhymney valleys from the Taff Valley Activity Centre’s 340 acre farm, with plenty of bumpy tracks, fields and woodlands to explore, too.
The activity centre has a dedicated 150m children's circuit for juniors aged from seven to 11 years, with automatic Yamaha quad bikes approved for that particular age range.
Valleys Cycle Network
Dust those bikes down and set off in pursuit of fresh air and some of the best scenery the area has to offer. Whatever the size of your clan, or their respective cycling abilities, dozens of glorious cycle routes slope along this beautiful part of the world.
The Three Parks Trail is a largely traffic-free family ride on the Celtic Trail, taking in three of Wales’ picturesque parks. Be sure to look out for the eight-metre high 'Wheel o Drams' artwork in Maesycwmmer and try to catch a glimpse of Sultan the Pit Pony, the UK’s largest figurative earth sculpture; the 200 metre horse was carved on the site of a former coal tip.
Parc Cwm Darran, Caerphilly
A wonderfully accessible day out, this haven-style country park of Parc Cwm Darran offers loads of scenic adventures on bike and foot across former colliery grounds. The restored lake is part of a major wildlife wetland and, if you find enough plants and creatures along the special trail, you'll be rewarded with special collector cards.
The visitor centre, open during the spring and summer months, has a coffee shop, exhibition area and information point. There are picnic benches and BBQ facilities throughout the park together with an obstacle course for older children and smaller playground for the little ones.
Parc Bryn Bach, Tredegar
Parc Bryn Bach is a lakeside countryside park that has much to offer for a family day out in all of its 340 acres. Explore a nature trail around the lake, let the kids burn off some energy in the adventure playground or jump on bikes to enjoy the extensive cycling facilities. (Adult adrenalin junkies can sample soaring through the sky, crawling through caves, coasteering, archery, orienteering and a range of watersports.)
After all that, you may need to stop and refuel in the centre’s bar and restaurant… or have a quick lie down.
Pontypool Ski Centre
Not the most obvious of locations, but Pontypool's ski centre is a little gem. Home to its own ski club, the ski centre boasts a 230m main slope, beginner’s area and mogul run. Children aged three and upwards can get involved, and even if your skiing ability resembles Bambi on ice, you’ll definitely find your feet here.
The ski slope is open for the autumn and winter season from October to March and summer season from April to September.
Cwmbran Boating Lake
On the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, this part of the valleys offers excellent facilities if you're after a relaxing day out. There's plenty of variety on offer at Cwmbran Boating Lake, with play areas, cafes, boating, watersports and abundant opportunities for plant and wildlife spotting.
Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer, Pontsticill
For an action-packed time to the south of the Brecon Beacons, head to Parkwood Outdoors Activity Centre. It has so many activities for you to choose from, all of which make the most of the dramatic landscape that surrounds it. Popular choices include bush craft, caving, abseiling, hiking, archery, rock climbing, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding.
Nant Moel Reservoir, Aberdare
Ever fancied giving fly fishing a go? Nant Moel reservoir is dedicated to the pastime, having everything you need whether you're a beginner or an advanced fisher. The waters are regularly stocked with rainbow trout and blue trout, some of which measure up to a whopping 7lb! The facility spans 12 acres of Cynon Valley countryside. Buy your annual or day tickets from Gareth Rees Newsagents on Canon Street in Aberdare town centre.
Less than an hour from the Severn Bridge, Cwmcarn is a must for serious mountain bikers. Yet there's plenty for younger visitors here too.
There are two easier walking trails that should suit little legs: Nant Carn Walk (0.9 miles/1.5km) offers sights and sounds of the stream and lake, while Bluebell Walk (1.2 miles/1.8 km) takes in woodlands, ponds and streams with views of the valley and the pit wheel monument. Do note that there are some uneven surfaces, and kissing gates might make these walks difficult for families with pushchairs. An extensive events programme runs throughout the year for children, think craft workshops and themed woodland walks.