Living in East Dorset, the county of Hampshire is a stones throw from us, so in 2015 we vowed to explore more of this area.
Hampshire is a beautiful county with miles of coastline, the New Forest and the South Downs to explore plus much more. We have only seen a fraction of it, but here are some of our favourite places, so far.
1. Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth.
Soaring 170 metres above Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Big Ben. Take the express lift to the first of the three viewing decks which wows you with stunning panoramic views, but are you brave enough to stand on the glass sky walk?
The second viewing deck contains a small cafe serving hot and cold drinks and cakes and the third and final viewing deck sees you heading outside in the fresh air.
2. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Situated within a working Naval Base, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to a collection of fantastic attractions, there’s so much to see and do for all ages. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past, present and future and is a must see for anyone visiting Hampshire. Our highlights include the ships HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and HMS M.33 plus Action Stations, an interactive playground that is perfect for kids of all ages.
3. New Forest Wildlife Park
The New Forest Wildlife Park is home to a collection of indigenous species in their natural surroundings and is a great day out for all the family. We visited back in August and some of our highlights include being in touching distance of some magnificent deer, meeting some wild boar piglets and the giant play parks for the kids to run off their excess energy.
4. Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World
If you have children under the age of 5, chances are they adore Peppa Pig and this Peppa Pig World has been a favourite day out for my kids since is opened in 2011.
If you are not Peppa fans then the park has much more to offer with child friendly rollercoasters, a 4D cinema, a stunning Victorian Carousel and beautiful gardens with animals and birds to see as you walk through.
5. Mid-Hants Railway (Watercress Line)
The Mid Hants Railway is affectionately known as the ‘Watercress Line’ due to their connection with transporting watercress from the beds in Alresford all the way in to London and this heritage railway was saved from total extinction by a band of enthusiastic volunteers in 1973. The railway currently runs the full 10 miles between the market towns of Alresford and Alton, preserving an important piece of the UK’s 1940’s – 70’s railway heritage for this generation and many more to follow.
We spent a full days hopping on and off trains, exploring what each station had to offer and even got to walk across one of the bridges used in the filming of Harry Potter.
6. Marwell Wildlife Park
From endangered Amur tigers to majestic giraffes, Marwell is a 140-acre zoo which is home to an incredible range of exotic and endangered species including; Giraffes, Penguins, Tigers, Snow Leopards, Meerkats, Hippo’s and Rhino’s. It is not a traditional zoo as it has plenty of room for the kids to run (or scoot) between exhibits. They have pop-up interactive stands too where you can feel pelts and skin from various animals and even meet cockroaches and spiders if you are brave enough.
8. Furzey Gardens
Set in the heart of the New Forest at Minstead in Hampshire, this delightful informal garden was established in 1922 and is renowned for its all year round beauty. Will you find all the fairy doors?
Set next door to New Forest Wildlife Park, Longdown Farm is the perfect activity farm to take the kids to. They can bottle-feed the kid goats and the calves, feed the ducks, meet the pigs, donkeys and ponies…… and cuddle the baby rabbits, chicks or maybe even a piglet!
There are also lots of brilliant farmyard buildings to explore and loads of fabulous indoor and outdoor play areas including the trampoline barn, a soft play area and The Farmer’s Straw Den. Beware of the bumpy tractor ride!
Beaulieu Motor Museum
The Beaulieu estate is magnificent and not only for car lovers. Not only does it hold the world-famous National Motor Museum, but the tickets also give you access to Palace House, home to the Montagu family and historic Beaulieu Abbey which was founded in 1201 by Cistercian Monks.
It is a wonderful day out, especially when it is warm and sunny as most of the estate is in open air.
So that is my current top 10 of places to visit in Hampshire and now need to find some more – where do you recommend?