So the M5 is a pretty long motorway and I’m familiar with it because I drive up and down it most days for work. In fact I’ve been driving between Junction 21 and Junction 16 for ten years now. Ten years of my life sat on that bloody motorway.
Today on the blog I thought I’d share with you some of my hidden motorway gems. Yep, that’s right. Places to visit which are just off the M5 motorway. They make the perfect stop off if you’re on a long journey and fed up of the same old service station.
Now don’t be fooled, I’m not doing the whole flipping motorway but the bit I am most familiar with. So from Junction 16 down to Bridgwater at Junction 24.
Junction 16 – M5 Almondsbury interchange
So first up, Junction 16. Now junction 16 is the Almondsbury interchange. Anyone local to the area knows that this junction gets incredibly busy at peak times. If you need to take a break from the motorway, hop off and head along the A38 towards Bristol and Filton.
Head into the Aztec West Business Park complex where you’ll find the Aztec Hotel and Spa and a small Starbucks. There is also a duck pond and lake to have a walk around. Now don’t quote me and please use your common sense but I am pretty sure you can park in the main Aztec West car park for free for a set amount of time. Check though!
This is perfect for a quick stop off and refuel before heading back on to the M5 or M4. It gives you a chance to let the kids stretch their legs and have a run around.
Junction 17 – M5 Cribbs Causeway
Just off Junction 17 is Cribbs Causeway. Basically Bristol’s shopping mall. Now here you have the mall as well as other outlet shops and a huge ASDA. There are loads of fast food restaurants and places to stop for a bite to eat. Basically if you need to stop for food and a wee then Cribbs is ideal. Beware though that it can get busy at the weekend. I typically avoid the place like the plague.
Parking at the mall is free.
Junction 18 – Avonmouth
Yes, yes, I have technically missed out Junction 18a but unless you’re heading to Wales, you don’t need to worry about this one.
If you want to spend a little longer off the motorway and enjoy one of my most favourite outdoor spaces in Bristol then get off at Junction 18 and head towards Blaise Castle Estate.
Blaise is awesome for a number of reasons. There is a free car park, epic playground, free toilets and a café. What more could you need from a break from driving?!
Junction 19 – The services and Portishead
Now technically you do have the services right here so if that’s all you’re after then head to those. If you want to spend a bit longer, then Portishead is nice for a break. There are a few things you can do here too.
If you want to stretch your legs then the Marina area is nice for a walk. You can park for free in a number of car parks opposite and head for a spot of lunch in Waitrose, Subway or the Weatherspoons pub. If you fancy something else, AQUA and Bottelinos are across the road.
I love the lake ground in Portishead. It has ample parking, a fun playground, duck seed and a café. You can walk along the river estuary too and take in the views of Wales and Avonmouth Docks…My boy loves watching the ships sail past!
But it’s raining?
If it’s tipping it down and you’re looking for a soft play then head to the “Playport” softplay. It isn’t huge but big enough for kids to have a run around before getting back into the car. They have an onsite café and free parking. The car park is small though so if you can’t get in then use the one in the retail park which you’ll drive past to get to the Playport. I was going to include the link but it seems their website is down…sorry!
Junction 20 – Clevedon
Ah Clevedon. We love Clevedon and often go up there on a weekend for a walk and a play. I’ve written a few posts on Clevedon and you can find a full write up and photos here!
I have fond memories of potty training and the little man sat on the potty having a poo along the front. Nice!
If the sun is shining and you want a break from the motorway then head towards the Salthouse Fields. There is a car park or park along the street for free if you can find a space.
There is a lovely playground for babies, toddlers and older children. We really love the sand pit there. You’ll also find a miniature railway. I’m not sure if it runs all the time but whenever we’ve been on a Saturday, little b has been on it!
Junction 21 – Weston-super-Mare
My home town! When we first moved to Weston, I wasn’t fussed. Since having B, I really love it here. You can read my reasons why here. You could spend a whole day here but if you want a quick stop off from the M5 then you’ll find so many things to do.
Head towards the seafront and enjoy a walk along the front. Head towards the quieter end of the beach for off street parking. Beware though that during peak times, weekends and any hint of the sun, the route in to Weston from the M5 can get VERY busy. If you want a “quick” stop off then maybe don’t drive in to town!
Closer to the motorway and perfect for a rainy stop is Fuzzy Eds soft play. This is attached to the Harvester restaurant literally minutes from Junction 21. It isn’t huge and it’s quite dark but off peak means it is usually quiet and I like that because I can keep an eye on where B is. He sometimes gets a little overwhelmed at soft play and ends up stuck three floors up in a tube, crying.
It’s really cheap, has free parking and toilets, and serves food and drink. If it’s raining and you want a quick stop off then this is ideal.
Junction 22 – Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge
The distance between junction 21 and 22 is actually longer than I always think it is. You have the Sedgemoor services between these junctions but if you want something different and don’t want to pay the overinflated prices then hop off at junction 22 and head in to Burnham.
The seafront is really quaint and boasts a fab ice cream parlour. You can read more about our ice cream fun here!
If you don’t fancy the sea front then head over to the Apex Park in Highbridge. There’s free parking, a toilet (I think there really is just one and it’s a bit gross), a duck pond and a fab children’s playground. In fact Apex is so lovely it is probably worthy of it’s own blog post.
If you don’t want to drive for too long off the M5 and just want a quick stop off then Sanders Garden Centre might be a better choice. It’s five minutes from the motorway junction and has a café, outdoor play area, toilets and free parking. Perfect!
Junction 23 – Puriton and Bridgwater
Now I know junction 23 really well because that’s where the in-laws live. Just hop off the motorway and pop in and see them haha. Junction 23 will take you either to Bridgwater or heading towards Glastonbury and Street. You have a couple of options.
Option 1, head towards Glastonbury and Street and turn the first left into a little village called Puriton. immediately on the left another turn takes you to the Puriton Inn, a local village pub, serving food and a selection of ales. Literally just down from the pub (before you take a left) there is a children’s playground with toddler area. You can park along the road or walk down from the pub. It would make a perfect stop off if you want a chance from the services.
Alternatively, option 2 would be to head towards Bridgwater on the A38. Immediately on the left is another pub called the Admirals Table. It’s a Marston pub, offers 2 for 1 at certain times on food and there’s loads of parking. Perfect for a quick stop. We used to meet up with friends here often when we were younger. I haven’t been for years but it served regular pub food when we went in the past!
Junction 24 – Bridgwater
Junction 24 is still a Bridgwater junction and there are services off the motorway here too. We’ve often stopped for a Burger King here! One place that is near the junction and ideal if it is a typical British weather type of day (peeing it down), is the soft play, Jolly Jumpers. Now I haven’t been myself but B LOVES Jolly Jumpers. Grandma takes him often and he non-stop talks about it. if you have little ones, you can’t go wrong with a bit of soft play for burning off energy, and praying for sleep for the rest of the drive down to Cornwall ey 😉
So there you have it, a complete run down of junction fun. You’re welcome 😉 Junction 25 is the Taunton junction so you could get off here and have a mooch round. I’m not so familiar with it though which is why I’ve stopped at 24!
What motorway hidden gems would you recommend? Do you travel anywhere regularly and know the perfect place to stop with little ones?! Be sure to share with me in the comments or on social media!