Borth y Gest (20min drive) On the tidal estuary of the River Glaslyn, follow the coastal path from the harbour (where there's free parking and icecreams) to discover beautiful sandy coves. The 3rd beach along is our favourite. On a clear day, the views over the estuary to the Rhinog Mountains to the south and the Moelwyn Mountains to the east are stunning, especially in the spring when there can still be snow on the summits.
Black Rock Sands (20min drive) A big expanse of flat sandy beach. Drive onto the beach and set yourself up for the day. £5 parking in peak season.
Criccieth (30min drive) A pebble beach with fish and chips and icecream shops between the beach and the castle. Parking £1 for 4 hours.
The narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world. It has run steam-hauled passenger services from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog since the 1860s. The railway is the only line in the world to still run "Double Fairlie" engines. The Llanberis Lake Railway runs along some of the track bed of the old 4ft gauge Padarn Railway, which carried slates from the Dinorwic quarry to Port Dinorwic on the Menai Strait from 1843 to 1961. The railway runs from the station on the edge of Llanberis to the Welsh Slate Museum, housed in the old quarry workshops. The railway then runs along the shores of Llyn Padarn to Penllyn at the southern end of the lake. The Snowdon Mountain Railway, opened in 1896, is the only public rack railway in Britain. It runs from Llanberis to 20 feet below the summit of Mount Snowdon.
Invade the nearby grand castles of Carnaerfon, Harlech and Criccieth, or venture further afield to the find the many others situated all over North Wales.
The Glaslyn Osprey site is located 15 minutes away. Since 2005, ospreys have come to nest and breed. Visitors are welcome between April and August to come and observe the birds but visits can be accommodated at other times of the year if notified in advance.
The Welsh Slate Mine in Llanberis is a unique modern day reminder of the 19th century methods of ore extraction and processing.
Children and Family Fun
A short drive away in Caernarfon is a large converted church called Yr Hwylfan or The Fun Centre! Inside it's an activity centre for the very young to around 12 years. There are ball pools, slides, ropeways, laser quest and even go-karts on one floor.
Greenwood Centre near Caernarfon/Llanrug is a wonderful outing for families. It is an adventure centre with excellent hands-on exhibitions on a variety of ecological themes.
PLACES TO VISIT
Portmerion: The colourful Italianate village built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis is most recognisable as the location of the 60s cult series 'The Prisoner'. There are a number of shops and cafes, among the colourful buildings and gardens. Regular Antiques Fairs are also held here, as well as the Portmeirion Factory china shop.
National Trust Properties: Nearby Trust properties include Wybrynant, near Betws-y-Coed, the birthplace of Bishop Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh. Farther afield but well worth a visit is Erddig, a large property given to the Trust by the Yorke family. On the Llyn peninsula at Rhiw, there is a small gem of a Trust house with 16-17 century origins called Plas yn Rhiw. In Conwy you will find Aberconwy House and also (but not owned by the Trust) Plas Mawr, a spectacularly restored 16th century Elizabethan property with wonderful ornate plaster ceilings.