With the mercury rising and this summer expected to be a scorcher, we’ve brought together some of South’s top family attractions for those who want to escape the heat or bask in it.
With our world-famous maritime and naval history, it’s no surprise that many of the south coast’s top attractions are related to seafaring and our historical naval and military might.
In Portsmouth alone there’s the HMS Victory and Mary Rose Museum, the HMS Warrior and other attractions all within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. There’s plenty here to keep the whole family entertained for hours with lots of special events planned for this summer. These include Historic Harbour Rib rides and a chance to meet Captain Hardy on the HMS Victory to discover more about life on board for the officers and men who served on the famous vessel.
2. Historical highlights
If ships aren’t your thing but you fancy taking a trip back in time, then why not head down to Weald and Downland Living Museum or Southsea Castle?
At Weald and Downland, kids can explore the buildings and discover how people used to live and work. They can learn about the watermill, and even try their hand at milling. And then there’s the woodland playground, where kids run around and find Knucker the water dragon! There are also a number of special events planned for the coming months, including a performance of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang.
At Southsea Castle, a fort built for King Henry VIII, visitors can become immersed in Tudor history at the upcoming Totally Tudor Takeover, and perhaps the biggest draw for is a microbrewery on site, which produces great quality, small-batch brews, according to the company’s website. Interested parties can ‘like’ the Southsea Brewing Company Facebook page for up-to-date information.
3. Science and nature
At the nearby Cumberland House, there are a number of wildlife watching events scheduled for July and August, where nature fans can get up close with the flora and fauna in the gardens of the property, or check out the local sea life at the Beach Fun and Sea Creatures Wildlife Watch.
For those who can’t quite get their fishy fix from the Wildlife Watch, there is Bluereef Aquarium Portsmouth, which features black tip reef sharks, Southern stingray, all sorts of tropical and reef creatures, as well as otters and reptiles.
Meanwhile, at Portsmouth Museum, there’s a Meccano Activity Day and then later in the summer, a Scalextric Demonstration Day.
Also definitely worth a visit is the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. It offers family-friendly hands-on, interactive, science activities and features the largest standalone planetarium cinema in the UK, the centre’s website says.
4. Parks, gardens and beaches
For sun-seekers the South has loads to offer – parks, gardens and beautiful beaches from the South Downs to Bognor Regis to Bournemouth.
Perhaps one of the biggest and most impressive parks is the South Downs National Park which covers 1,600km2 of breath-taking views, including the white cliffs of Seven Sisters, rolling farmland, ancient woodland and lowland heaths.
There are lots of opportunities to get close to nature here, either at one of many Dawn Chorus walks, a Moth Morning, or at one of the excellent-sounding Dragonfly Safaris. Then you could end your day there with an evening Bat Walk.
If flowers are your thing, the Marine Park Gardens situated in the West of Bognor Regis in Aldwick, offers blooms full of colour, as well as an 18-hole putting green. It is also a stone’s throw from the beach at Marine Drive West.
Finally, those who fancy building sandcastles and perhaps taking a dip in the sea should head to East Head Beach in West Wittering or Bournemouth beaches and Pavillion. Both have Blue Flag status for their clean and blue waters, while at Bournemouth, the bay enjoys its own micro-climate and some of the warmest sea temperatures in the country, as well as stunning views of the Isle of Wight.
The South of England is a treasure trove jam-packed with excellent attractions for the whole family, so whatever you choose to do this summer holidays, have a great one!