Bournemouth is a brilliant place for families to visit and holiday. Located just two hours from London, this coastal city hotspot is buzzing with activity for families to enjoy all year round.
As a family living locally, we’re very lucky to have experienced a lot of what’s on offer and I’d love to share this with you. This post pulls together a summary of our favourite things to do in Bournemouth with kids, giving you plenty of ideas for things to see and places to explore!
Top Ten family friendly things to do in Bournemouth with kids
1. Hit the Beach!
Having recently been voted the best beach in the UK (…and 14th in the whole world, in a TripAdvisor poll) visiting the 7 mile stretch is one of the best things to do in Bournemouth with kids!
Bournemouth has plenty of amazing family friendly beaches so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here are some of our favourites…
- Bournemouth Beach – this beach has everything you could want – golden sand, fish and chips, ice creams, amusements and surf! It’s a great, lively beach but does get very busy during summer months.
- Alum Chine – Home to beautiful tropical gardens, this blue flag beach is just a short distance from Bournemouth’s main beachfront. Alum Chine is great spot for families with its pirate play park, water play area, cafe and facilities all nearby. You can also hire a beach hut for the day (prices start from £40).
- Durley Chine – Another award winning blue flag beach which is popular with with families. There’s baby change facilities, lost children centres, RNLI lifeguard stations, ice creams and even a pub on the promenade!
In the summer months, you’ll find plenty of water sports on offer. Boscombe beach and pier is a great spot to relax and watch local surfers hit the waves!
The Oceanarium – situated adjacent to Bournemouth beach – is a fun, educational experience for the family.
The centre has 12 themed environments to explore bringing you face to face with penguins, stingrays, sharks, iguanas and otters (to name but a few). There’s also a kids play zone area to run off some steam.
Animal feeding and educational talks run daily – check the schedule when you arrive to make sure you don’t miss your favourite creatures.
Purchasing tickets in advance will save you a few pounds so worth pre-booking if you can.
3. Rock Reef Activity Centre
Located on Bournemouth Pier, this outdoor activity centre is one of OB’s favourite places to visit.
There’s a huge range of activities on offer, you could spend a few hours or most of the day here!
The 4 main attractions are…
- Clip n Climb – suitable for ages 4+, this course offers 28 climbing challenges! No climbing experience is necessary as full training is given beforehand.
- PierZip – experience the worlds first pier to shore zip wire! Launching from the Zip Tower 25 meters above the sea, the dual zip line allows two people to ride alongside each other and race to the shore! Minimum height: 1.3 meters.
- Pier Cave – a must do for avid explorers (aged 4+)! The three caving tunnels are set at different difficulty levels – the green ‘beginner’ cave allows visitors to get comfortable and learn how to move around the dark caves with their twists, turns and rocks. Once this is mastered, the two other caves provide great climbing and crawling challenges.
- HighLine – the indoor aerial obstacle course 20 foot in the air! A thrilling obstacle course with a mix of challenges including a cargo net, slope walk and swing logs! Minimum height: 1.1 meters.
You can buy tickets to do one of the experiences however the Clip n Climb combo tickets offer great value for money.
Splashdown Waterpark is a great family day out. Open year round, here you’ll find something for everyone.
For younger children theres a shallow splash pool, play area and starter flume. Older kids – and big adult kids! – will love the thrilling indoor and outdoor flume rides.
Splashdown is situated in the Tower Park entertainment complex where there’s also a cinema, huge soft play (Lemur Landings) and a range of restaurants. Everything you need a fun packed family day!
4. Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Moors Valley is one the best free things to do in Bournemouth with kids. I say free… you have to pay for parking but for whats on offer, it’s absolutely great value for money.
Play is that the heart of Moors Valley. There’s 4 areas dedicated to children’s play; The Play Trail, Tree Top Trail, Adventure Play Area and the Castle and Sand area. There’s also a brand new activity trail for 2019 based on Zog, the loveable dragon from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book. You can download activity sheets to complete during your visit here.
Head to the Ranger Den near the visitors centre where children can meet the Rangers and learn about Moors Valley nature and wildlife. It’s usually open weekends and school holidays 1pm – 4pm.
In addition (yep there’s more) the park has miles of cycle paths, a permanent orienteering course, a miniature railway and you can even go fishing on Moors Lake.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also a Go! Ape centre in the park where you enjoy some tree top climbing and swinging!
5. Adventure Wonderland
This kid friendly theme park is a fantastic day out for younger children.
You can enjoy over 30 rides and attractions whilst meeting some characters from Alice in Wonderland. The large indoor play area is a brilliant added bonus – especially if the good old British weather pays a visit!
The indoor soft play is open most of the year and the theme park opens March through to November.
6. Bournemouth Aviation Museum
This is a must visit spot for anyone interested in aviation.
My boys are obsessed with planes so this place is a firm favourite in our house. It’s open year round but is an outdoor exhibit so I’d recommend visiting in dry weather.
Alongside the range of aircraft you can see and sit in, there’s an old fire engine and bus as well as several viewing platforms which overlook the Bournemouth airport runway. These are great spots to watch aircraft landing and taking off.
The Aviation Museum is next door to Adventure Wonderland so its a good to team with the Adventure Wonderland activities.
7. Hengistbury Head
When family and friends visit (weather permitting) Hengistbury Head is our favourite thing to do in Bournemouth with kids. The stunning headland site has lots of things to see and do and is perfect for families to enjoy the great outdoors.
The Visitor Centre is packed full of interactive displays sharing the areas history, wildlife, archaeology and geology. Kids will love the wildlife cameras! Here you can also pick up maps and routes for your trip. There’s plenty of paths and trails which are bike, scooter and buggy friendly.
You can also take the land train across to Mudeford spit and enjoy some time on the beach. The Beach House cafe serves refreshments and meals with amazing panoramic views across to Christchurch.
The Hengistbury Head Outdoor Adventure Centre host a range of child friendly water based activities during school holidays and summer months.
8. Mr Mulligans
This indoor crazy golf course is a great spot for family friendly entertainment in the evening or on rainy days.
Suitable for all ages and golfing abilities, Mr Mulligans is great for a bit of lighthearted fun. There’s a choice three courses spread across two levels and live scoreboards keeping a team tally.
Located in the BH2 complex, there’s also plenty of restaurants and a cinema nearby.
9. Science Zone UK
Science Zone is a real hidden gem and a great place to visit for a few hours. The team here are super passionate about sharing their love for Science in a stimulating, educational and fun way.
The centre offers visitors access to difference ‘zones’ which inspire children to learn more about the world around them. There’s planetarium shows, a sensory zone and life size dinosaurs on offer.
It’s open Tuesday to Saturday 10am until 4pm and entry is only £2 per person, or a family ticket is £6 (two adults and two children)
10. City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus
What child (or adult!) doesn’t love riding top deck of an open double decker?!
This hop on hop off service is a great way to see the sights of Bournemouth but also explore the nearby town of Poole. The old town and Quay are brimming with history having been one of the main ports used in the Roman Empire. And today it is still a hive of maritime activity!
From here you can visit the Poole Museum, go crabbing in Poole Quay or take a boat ride across to the National Trust sight of Brownsea Island.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for things to do in Bournemouth with kids. If you visited, let us know what you thought in the comments below.
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