Days out in Dorset
Dorset is perhaps best known as a fossil hunters paradise, the home of the Jurassic Coast, and the setting of Thomas Hardy's novels where its spectacular natural scenery is celebrated. It’s a county where you can enjoy the peaceful and laid-back atmosphere of quaint villages, dotted with thatched cottages or attractive beaches. Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice to relax, but Dorset offers plenty more besides. There is a real wealth of entertainment and attractions in the county, making it a great place to visit as a family.
We're lucky enough to have four Haven holiday parks situated near two charming Dorset towns - Weymouth and Poole. So, not only are there plenty of restaurants, pubs and beaches nearby, but also thrilling activities to enjoy with your family. There are animals to meet, dinosaurs to discover, castles to explore, thrilling rides and sports of all sorts. Read on to find out our best days out in Dorset and discover some of the finest spots to enjoy with your kids.
1. Putlake Adventure Farm, Swanage
Address: High St, Swanage BH19 3EU
Perfect for the little ones, this cute little farm has enough to fill a morning on a sunny day. Putlake is a proper working farm with lambs and calves to feed and guinea pigs to cuddle. The tractor rides are a real novelty which your kids are bound to love. The farm also has a playground, go-karts, trampolines and if you get peckish, tearooms or picnic areas.
There's also a massive soft play area indoors, so your tiny tots can let off some steam going down the colourful slides and climbing through the tunnels while you keep an eye on them from the safety of the cafe!
2. Burngate Stone Carving Centre, Swanage
Address: Kingston Road, Swanage BH19 3BE
This is a great one for a wet afternoon! Why not try something a little different at Burngate Stone Carving Centre? They run two hour sessions for both adults and children where you can choose your own subject, sketch it out with encouraging words of help and advice from the expert, then execute the carving with as little or as much help as you need.
Try carving a flower, name, or your favourite animal – it makes for a great gift! In the hands of the lovely, friendly staff, you’re bound to have a pleasant experience with your loved ones to treasure for years to come.
3. Brownsea Island Dorset, Poole
Address: (Poole Ferry Terminal) Poole BH15 4BB
This fantastically unspoilt island in Poole Harbour is managed by the National Trust and provides one of only a very few chances in South West England to see a Red rather than a Grey Squirrel. The island can be found inside Poole Harbour – one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and makes for one of the best days out in Dorset. You can enjoy some lovely woodland walks in the nature reserve which is home to a variety of species and is often so quiet you can hear nothing but bird song.
4. Littledown Miniature Railway, Bournemouth
Address: Bournemouth BH7 7DA
Take a ride back in time in the beautiful setting of Littledown Park. Littledown Miniature Railway runs for 1/3 mile through the wooded area where eagle-eyed passengers may well spot both squirrels and rabbits. A variety of different vintage locomotives are used to haul the trains which will be sure to excite miniature train spotters!
There's no age limit on the trains but please be aware that there are limited hours and days, so make sure that you check in advance. Make sure to check out the nearby paddling pool and playground afterwards, as well as the duck pond to count the ducks.
5. Lemur Landings, Poole
Address: Tower Retail Park, Tower Park Leisure Complex, Poole BH12 4NY
If the kids need to burn off some excess energy, then your next stop should be Lemur Landings in Poole. This indoor play centre has a multi-level climbing frame, featuring slides, tunnels, and a ball pool.
There are ample tunnels to explore, bridges to cross, and plenty of clambering up, sliding down, and running around. The food at the cafe is a bargain too, so why not stay for lunch?
6. Tank Museum, Wareham
Address: Linsay Rd, Bovington, Wareham BH20 6JG
For days when the weather isn’t playing ball, there’s also plenty of indoor fun available in Dorset. Learn the story of tanks throughout history at this fantastic museum in Bovington and look around a massive display of armoured vehicles.
The museum does a great job of taking you right from the start of their introduction into warfare to their varied modern-day usage so you really can understand the decisions made and their impacts. There’s plenty of interactivity and you can even take part in a trench experience. It’s tons of fun for you and your little soldiers!
7. Adventure Wonderland, Christchurch
Address: Merritown Ln, Hurn, Christchurch BH23 6BA
If a family theme park is what the kids crave, then Adventure Wonderland will make for a super fun day out. It may not be as polished as larger theme parks but there are hardly any queues and the heart and character of this place really shines through.
With over 30 family rides and attractions, the park takes its inspiration from Lewis Carol's Victorian children’s book Alice in Wonderland. Your kids can participate in soft play and meet the likes of Alice, Mad Hatter, Mr Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Heart.