Lockdown has many of us itching to get away as soon as it’s safe, and one of the easiest ways to have a mini-holiday, while avoiding the uncertainty of international travel, is to keep it domestic!
The UK is full to the brim of beautiful destinations, perfect for slipping away to for a much-needed break, including my home county of Dorset, which is set in the South West of England.
We have consistently had one of the lowest rates of COVID19 since records began, and with health at the forefront of people’s minds it is the perfect location for a relaxed break.
One of the reasons for this is that Dorset is a mostly rural location, without a single city in the county, however, don’t let that put you off visiting as what it does have is a huge Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers just over 40% of the county, stretching from Lyme Regis to Poole Harbour and inland as far as Shaftesbury, plus the heroic coastal landscapes that make up the Jurassic Coast.
If you are looking to enjoy a secluded, domestic holiday, here are my tips for finding the best locations to stay in Dorset.
Where to stay in Dorset
Bournemouth is possibly most famous for its 7 miles of glorious, Blue Flag winning sandy beaches that stretch between the coastal towns of Poole and Christchurch.
It is the perfect holiday destination for families, with plenty of family friendly hotels and apartments in and around Bournemouth to choose from and activities to keep everyone entertained come rain or shine.
For the adventurous, you have the Pier Zip – the world’s first pier to shore zip wire, boasting a 250 metre dual zip wire and Rockreef climbing centre.
For rainy days, Tower Park offer fun for all the family with Splashdown Water Park, Lemur Landings Soft Play, Cineworld and Hollywood Bowl, plus many fabulous restaurants to choose from.
You can also see how the rich and famous live and visit Sandbanks, the most most expensive stretch of coastal real estate in the world, or head to Mudeford Spit for its uninterrupted views of the Isle of Wight to the front and Christchurch Harbour behind and also home to the most expensive beach huts in the UK.
Situated on the Isle of Purbeck, Swanage is the first town at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, which begins at Old Harry Rocks.
Swanage is a quintessential seaside town with quaint shops, a working steam train line which takes you to Corfe Castle and back, plus some stunning walking trails, including Durlston Country Park which boasts the historic Great Globe.
You can also catch a boat from Poole Quay or Sandbanks and spend a magical day on Brownsea Island, home to red squirrels and a huge variety of birds.
Blue Flag winning Weymouth Beach is consistently recognised as one of the top ten beach destinations in Europe.
Like Bournemouth, you will never be short of things to do for a family day out in Weymouth, and as it is sat centrally along the coast of Dorset, it is a great base for exploring the county, with most attractions within an hours drive, including Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Portland, Chesil Beach and West Bay.
For those travelling without kids, Sculpture By the Lakes near Dorchester is an oasis for art lovers and collectors.
The carefully landscaped gardens and wild spaces which have been curated to ensure that each sculpture is positioned to enhance its aesthetic qualities as well as the visual surroundings.
For TV and film location hunters, West Bay was home to Broadchurch, Weymouth Port featured in the movie Dunkirk and Lulworth Cove was featured in Brad Pitt’s World War Z.
The historic seaside town of Lyme Regis boasts breathtaking scenery and its historic Cobb and harbour are iconic features, but this isn’t the only reason we love to pay a visit. It is also famous for its geology, fossils and the birth of palaeontology.
I highly recommend booking a guided fossil hunting walk at either the local beach of Lyme Regis or neighbouring Charmouth, as they talk you through what you are looking for and what you might find.
It is the perfect day out for all ages.
I am a beach lover, whatever the season but despite not being by the coast, North Dorset is rural England at its finest with unspoilt countryside, picturesque villages, quaint pubs, delicious food and plenty of fresh air.
As you can see, we are spoilt with beautiful locations to visit, whether you have a weekend or a couple of weeks, there is always something to do and see.
Have you visited Dorset before?
In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.