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Bournemouth beaches stretch for an astonishing seven miles, and the town’s keen to share every golden grain of sand; stunning sunset, surf-perfect wave, and historic pleasure pier, with families, right now.
So keen in fact that the new Bournemouth Beach Lodges have been designed on the seafront, just with you and the kids in mind – dogs are very welcome too.
Tempted by the idea of a family holiday on England’s lovely south coast? Have a look at some other irresistible reasons to go beachy and beyond in Bournemouth this year. All handpicked, for high-quality fun, by the local experts at Bournemouth Tourism.
Bournemouth is famous for free festivals, and they’re all family friendly, year round. Think four days of sky-high action from the annual Air Festival in August.
Try the week-long Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival every autumn. Or for winter – when you need magic and free stuff most – there’s Christmas Tree Wonderland, all December, and into the New Year too.
People have walked Hengistbury Head for over 12,000 years, and the thought of treading in their footsteps has nearly as much kid-appeal as the area’s dramatic combo of big beaches, and even bigger cliffs. Just 20 minutes from Bournemouth, it’s an easy day out and the local Visitor Centre is excellent. Young explorers will probably like nearby Kimmeridge Bay too: the local hotspot for fossil hunting.
The great seaside tradition of crazy golf is a lot greater, and much crazier, at Mighty Claws Adventure Golf. Not so much a refreshed classic, as a total reinvention of the entire concept; this dinosaur-drenched 18-hole course puts a whole new slant on the term, ‘fierce family competition’. Kids as young as four can play, parents find it strangely compelling, and the T-Rex selfie potential should keep teens happy too.
RockReef is the all-weather activity centre on Bournemouth Pier where no extreme, is too extreme. Test your nerves on the world’s first pier-to-shore zipline. Scale no less than 27 indoor climbing walls or brave the Highline aerial obstacle course: then do it again, blindfolded, if you dare. There are dozens of other activities here too, plenty just perfect for younger kids; and it’s all-weather, all year round.
Aquariums are always exciting, but aquariums with resident penguins and otters take the thrill to a whole new level. Oceanarium has all that cuteness covered, and comes good on plenty of weird and wonderful underwater creatures too.
Plus, kids can encounter some true monsters in the Interactive Dive Cage. Or try friendlier experiences like feeding sea turtles and being an aquarist for the day.
Plan for some serious overexcitement at Splashdown in Poole. Just 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth, it’s one of the most flume-filled waterparks on the South Coast (13 at the last count) and the wildest of wild adventures for kids over six. Ricky’s Reef scales down the splashing, but none of the fun, for younger water babies; and tiny little fish love the 3D effect toddler pool.
Treetop treks, Hawk Walks, cycle trails, buggy-friendly paths, and a miniature steam railway, pack plenty into a family day out at Moors Valley Country Park. Kids can even fly through the forest at Go Ape Junior or follow Julia Davidson’s latest creation on The Highway Rat activity trail. And if you can’t fit everything into one visit, go again: it’s only 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth.
Balance Bournemouth’s outdoorsy spirit with a little soulful creativity at All Fired Up Ceramics Café. Kids have the pick of pottery from teacups to teapots, and the rest is down to their imagination.
As much, or little, help as they want is on hand, and parents can join in too; although the café makes a tempting alternative. ‘Paint and Go’ is the instant-gratification option that gets creations ready to leave when you are: good for impatient younger artists.
Pavilion South West Dance believe any kid can dance, they just need to find the right moves, and that’s what it’s all about at their exciting half-term activity courses.
The teachers are fantastic, and even nervous beginners learn in leaps and bounds, but at their own pace, naturally. Ideal for five to 13 year olds, there’s a choice of three day courses and morning drop-in sessions too.
True to the surfing spirit, Surf Steps think it’s a privilege to teach; love what they do, and get almost as much of a thrill out of seeing kids stand up on a board for the first time, as kids do themselves. They’re also the only GB Surfing Centre of Excellence, and you’ll find them on Bournemouth Beach close to Boscombe Pier. Group surfing and SUP lessons are available all year round, whatever the weather, as long as red flags aren’t flying.
On the big long list of things kids love, waking up to a beach every morning is right at the top. It’s an iconic childhood experience and if you think you’ve grown out of it; spend a few nights in a Bournemouth Beach Lodge, and think again.
Every lodge looks like a charming, traditional beach hut, only much roomier inside, and loaded with luxuries like family showers, well-designed kitchens, and super-cosy beds; so you can comfortably rediscover the joys of winter beach breaks too.
And, like just about everything else in Bournemouth, Beach Lodges are great value, with a four night stay for six from as little as £275 per lodge.