The North East is full of many great places to visit with lots to see and do, one of the most popular being the huge shopping mall in Gateshead, the intu Metrocentre. It is the largest shopping mall in Europe at 2,093,000sq ft and if you walked past every shop front you would have walked 3.5 miles (who would have thought that shopping could be such a good work out!). So save the money you would spend on a gym membership a month and go shopping instead!
The Intu Metrocentre has everything from an IMAX Odeon Cinema to a variety of popular reataurants such as Nandos, Zizzi, Pizza Express and of course a huge amount of shops. No matter what you are looking for, or whether you just want a browse, this mall has everything you could ever need when shopping. Just a very small selection of shops include Boots, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Disney store, Ann Summers, Primark, Topshop and H&M. As well as the large choice of restaurants it has many coffee shops and cafes where you can stop for a break when having a busy day of shopping. All of these things are just a small part of what makes the Metrocentre so great!
One of the best things about the Mall is how child/family friendly it is. Being a mum myself I know just how much of a struggle it can be going out for the day with a baby/toddler and how much you need to plan ahead. I decided on my most recent visit to really investigate just what the Metrocentre does for parents and little ones. Taking in to account everything from parking to shopping and eating out with my toddler.
The Metrocentre has different sections, all different colours (Blue, Green, Yellow, Red and Grey). This also applies to parking and there is dedicated parking for each section of the Metro Centre meaning you can park as close to the area that you want to be near to. Plus the parking is completely free!! So no carrying your toddler to some far away parking ticket machine whilst fumbling around in your handbag looking for change. You can also choose areas to park that are in multi-stories so if there is bad weather you and your little one won’t get wet. The space I had parked in was in the yellow multi-storey which is where the cinema and the Qube was (with lots of the restaurants). The parking spaces are all a good size which makes life easier when trying to get my toddler out of his car seat. I managed to park right near the main entrance which was great as I didn’t have to cut through a busy car park with my little one.
When we arrived we had a big choice of restaurants to go to in the yellow section (with plenty more spread out in the rest of the mall too). However we only wanted a light lunch so ended up choosing a cafe inside BHS as we needed to pop in there anyway. I hadn’t eaten there before but was so pleasantly suprised at what a lovely cafe it was and just how perfect it was for people with children. There were so many options for my son food-wise from a snack pack with sandwiches (that you made up yourself so you could pick and choose) to hot food like sausages and chips. The prices were very reasonable and for a meal deal plus a bottle of water it was only£3 and it was a huge portion,more than enough for an adult never min a child
Once we were ready to begin shopping I was just about to head back to the car to get my toddler his pushchair when I noticed a parent pushing their little one around in a cosy coupe style car with a trolly attached (called a Boobaloo). I was instantly excited because this was going to make my life so so much easier! Trying to do a load of shopping when you have a pushcair isn’t ideal as you don’t have enough space on the buggy to put stuff and not enough hands. This was brilliant and of couse it kept my little guy entertained and was a lot more fun for him than being strapped in his push chair. I had seen them before but had never tried them and couldn’t believe what a simple but genius thing it was for parents with wriggly kids. It required a £10 deposit which you got back at the end once returning the trolley and was £3 an hour to rent the Boobaloo. So we got it for an hour whilst we did the bulk of the shopping and had a very happy, content little toddler whilst we focused on spending money!
I wanted to get some clothes for my son and didn’t want to spend too much since he has a birthday coming up and he will be bound to get lots of nice clothes then. So I just wanted some bargain clothing for some occasions we had coming up. I had a look on the map to see what shops were available with children’s clothes, there were shops to suit every price range from more expensive shops like Mamas and Papas to the cheaper shops like H&M and Primark. I decided to have a look in Primark and found a full floor just for children’s clothes with a huge range of boys clothing. The clothing was brilliant and they had some lovely smart clothing and lots of items featuring popular tv/movie characters such as Avengers and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. All the clothes were very fashionable and were just adorable and the prices are brilliant. I could get so much for such a small amount of money. I definitely had no problem getting what I came for and even bought other extras and could have done shopping for the entire family and home in the one store. This definitely made life easier having such a big primark as I got most of my shopping done in that one shop rather than having to walk around all of the different shops in the mall.
Soon after finishing in Primark we noticed something else exciting pass by us which was a mini train taking you around the mall. The train only cost £2 per person and it was great to sit down for the 10 minute ride. We waved at everyone we passed and it was great entertainment for my toddler that we could also enjoy (giving our feet a break!). Once finished we spent a good few minutes convincing my little monkey to leave the train who was quite confident he was staying on it for the rest of the day but a promise of a cookie from Millie’s cookies seemed to do the trick. At only £1.99 for a cookie on a stick and a drink we were all sold. It was starting to get late and my little guy needed a nap and although there was still so much more to see and do we had to call it a day. I did however speak to someone at an information desk to find out some more info on what the Metrocentre had to offer.
I was informed that they had lots more to see and do with more than a full day’s worth of entertainent for children. Including the Namco funscape which includes 18 tenpin bowling lanes, an extensive arcade games area with all the latest and greatest machines, children’s soft play, a comfortable bar and pool lounge showing Sky Sports, delicious food and drink options, including Costa Coffee and Europe’s fastest dodgems! They also had a big outdoor play area outside the yellow section/Qube and of course there is the Odeon Imax showing all the latest films with special screenings for children and for new parents with babies. There is bungee jump trampolining in the centre which I had passed whilst shopping. I was also reminded about the Metrognomes who are intu Metrocentre’s
very own cuddly characters Herbert, Sherbet, Maggot and Rusty, who live and work here at the Centre. The Metrognomes entertain children (and parents!) on the malls with free shows during school holidays. You can visit the Metrognomes Kid’s club website and become a Kid’s Club member to find out more about the Metrognomes, play games and be the first to hear about forthcoming free shows and exclusive events. The mall also does so much more to help out families including loaning the use of a pushchair for free (with a £10 deposit which is given back once the pushchair is returned). They also offer free wristbands which you can request from any information desk to write contact details on and put on your child’s wrist incase they get lost.
As you can see from my recent visit and the information given above, the intu Metrocentre really has been designed with families in mind. It is very rare as a parent, that you could go out for the day and not have to worry if you forget anything. Whether it’s nappies, baby food, pushchair, spare change of clothes or toys you have everything you could need and more within the one mall. I had a very grumpy toddler when arriving at the Metrocentre and we managed to go from a tantrum throwing little person to a happy, dancing cutie within minutes (who wouldn’t stop dancing in the Disney store!). We got what we needed from the shops without so much of a whimper from my toddler and having him strapped in safe to a Boobaloo was just a God send. We didn’t even get to see or do everything there and we had already had a busy, fun filled day. The Metrocentre has changed a lot since I was little and has been developed to add more and more shops and entertainment. I already loved the centre but the more recent developments over the years has really made it an outstanding mall that really cares about families. With my son not even being 2 yet and me being fairly new to the parenting world, it is only more recently I have noticed exactly what the Metrocentre offers for parents and children and it is safe to say I am very impressed.
Find out more about the intu Metrocentre HERE