The appliance of science

Family Outings: Techniquest, Cardiff

The venue

Techniquest, the UK's most visited science discovery centre, aims to instil its guests with a sense of curiosity and delight about scientific phenomena. The planetarium and the 150 or so hands-on exhibits do a pretty good job of engaging juvenile punters. You can trek through the solar system or go planet-hopping with Stella the space robot.

Something for children

In the Discovery Room, children can delve into Curiosity Boxes crammed with paraphernalia relating to topics ranging from fossils to forensic science, mirrors and magnets. There is also a selection of Busy Boxes containing items suitable for under-fives. An ever-changing series of workshops allows young visitors, for example, to find out if it's possible to make a square bubble (Bubbles and Bangs) or, if they are over 11 and aspire to be DJs, to spin some discs (Mix & Scratch).

Something for adults

Navigating your way through the mirror maze is a gas. Reflective distortions provide a hallucinogenic excursion, but minus any potentially hazardous side-effects. You can also fire a rocket, play a giant keyboard, race an electric car and launch a hot-air balloon. The Sporty Science show explains how science can improve sporting skills.

Refreshments

The café serves child-friendly fodder on child-proof tables. Neighbouring Harry Ramsden's offers hearty portions of fish and chips. For something more sophisticated, try Woods Brasserie in the listed Pilotage Building, or the cheerful Japanese tavern, Izakaya. For a cake and a coffee, head for the Norwegian Church Café.

Souvenirs

The shop stocks intriguing science-related gizmos and experiment sets. Keepsakes often relate to exhibitions running at the centre.

Admission and access

You shouldn't have to queue to get in, but you might have to wait your turn for a go on the more popular exhibits. The museum is open daily, 9.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday; 10.30am-5pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays. Adults £6.76, children aged 4-16 years £4.65, family ticket (two adults and up to three children) £18.50. Planetarium shows cost £1.10; the Discovery Room and roster of workshops cost 80p each.

Disabled access: Disabled badge holders can park on the forecourt. All exhibits are accessible by wheelchair, with a lift to the second floor. A hearing loop is provided in the Science Theatre and the Planetarium. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are welcome.

How to get there

Techniquest, Stuart Street, Cardiff Bay CF10 5BW (029 2047 5475; www.techniquest.org). By car: leave the M4 at Junction 33 and follow the signs for Techniquest on the A4232. By bus: take the No 8 from Cardiff Central Bus Station (0870 608 2608; www.cardiffbus.com). By train: trains depart Cardiff Queen St for Cardiff Bay four times per hour.

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