Wales is hosting the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain for the NATO summit Thursday and Friday (Sept. 4-5). The last summit in the UK was held in London almost 25 years ago.
President Obama will be in attendance, making him the first sitting US president to visit Wales. The assembled world leaders will focus on the crisis in Ukraine, Afghanistan’s future and new threats such as Islamic State. We’ll let them deal with those issues while we take a much lighter route. With the first family’s interests in mind, VisitBritain shared a few not-to-be-missed places to see and things to do if the president has some free time (not likely) or if the family makes a return trip to visit Wales.
Obama has been called the “first golfer” by some, so one recommendation would be for him to head to Royal Porthcawl Golf Club — host of the Senior Open Championship in July 2014 — for a round of golf to cap off a day of successful meetings. Although surrounded by the Secret Service, the president could opt for a relaxing 20-mile road trip from Celtic Manor to see Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Millennium Stadium served as a venue for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and it will host the 2015 Rugby World Cup next September.
The first lady may not be accompanying the president on this trip, but if she makes a trip to Wales, she might enjoy walking or jogging along the 870-mile Wales Coast Path or climbing to the highest peak in Southern Britain at Brecon Beacons National Park, one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks. To participate in her “Let’s Move” campaign, Mrs. Obama can stay active (or get moving) by walking, cycling or climbing throughout the park’s 520 square miles of green space, which include waterfalls, valleys and 4 mountain ranges.
After burning off a few calories, the Obamas could visit the Bodnant Food Centre in the Conwy Valley, North Wales. Here, visitors get to taste and buy local wines, cheeses, teas, fresh bread and more. And while they’re there, the family might want to visit the Bodnant Cookery School, where the country’s top chefs teach enthusiastic foodies the processes to make chocolates and farmhouse cheeses, the art of charcuterie, or how to prepare fresh meats.
For the Obama kids, a different set of activities is recommended. Malia Obama might enjoy visiting the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, especially after her recent summer internship on the set of the CBS TV show Extant. What’s so special about the Doctor Who Experience? Well, visitors are taken on an interactive journey through the popular TV series, which includes walking tours to see more than 30 filming locations across the area. And both Malia and Sasha might be excited to see Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which was home to Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.
All of these recommendations may fall on deaf ears, because Obama and the first family usually have their time scheduled down to the last minute, but that doesn’t mean that non-presidential travelers shouldn’t explore and experience Wales.