As one of Britain’s most popular destinations for a family holiday, there are certainly a lot of things to do with kids in Dorset, even on a rainy day.
There are some fascinating museums, adventurous soft play centres, indoor waterparks, art galleries and more. But how will you know which ones are worth a visit?
Dorset is famous for its stunning Jurassic Coast – a World Heritage Site. Its string of seaside towns like Lyme Regis, Poole, Bournemouth or Bridport. Its rolling, lush green countryside dotted with dairy farms, ancient castles and pretty villages.
There is so much opportunity for outdoor family adventure, from fun-filled waterparks to dog-friendly hikes and beaches galore.
We’ve done some research left and right and found these great things to do with your kids in Dorset.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- Holiday Homes and Family Friendly Hotels in Dorset
- Family Restaurants & Cafes in Dorset
- What to do in Bournemouth with Kids
- Kids Friendly Restaurants in Bournemouth
- Where to stay in Bournemouth with Family
- Things to Do in Jersey with Kids
1. The Blue Pool
✓ Tried & Tested
Weather permitted, the Blue Pool Nature Reserve is a great place to explore with your kids on your visit in Dorset. This hidden gem has an interesting trail for children where they can walk from A to Z posts but also spot some fairies doors hidden at the bottom of some trees. The walk would take you about 1 hour but there are lots of places where you will stop by to admire the beautiful nature surrounded by you.
This natural reserve site must have different flavours depending on which season you are visiting. We were lucky to spend some time during Autumn with lovely colours on the trees.
If you need some snacks or icecream, the Blue Pool Tearooms is the place to go to with your kids too.
Address: Furzebrook Rd, Wareham BH20 5AR
2. Brownsea Island
✓ Tried & Tested
Brownsea Island must be on your to do list things to do in Dorset with kids. You will take a boat from Poole and will arrive 20 minutes later at Brownsea Island which is owned by National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust. On the island, you will be greeted by a small introduction museum explaining the origins of scouts founded by Robert Baden-Powell.
I would advise to spend at least half a day at the island if your children enjoy walking different trails. There is a natural playground too where your kids will have lots of fun and a cafe where you can have lunch too.
If you are interested in birds, the section owned by Dorset Wildlife Trust is a lovely place where you can hide in different cabins and spot different species.
Last but not least, Brownsea Island is lucky to have more than 200 red squirrels wandering around the woods. Why not challenge your children by counting how many red squirrels they will see on your visit.
3. Moors Valley Country Park
Located in the North of Bournemouth near Ringwood, Moors Valley Country Park is a fantastic park for families visiting Dorset. You will find sand pits with lots of playground activities for your kids such as a castle, a train or a house.
There are also lots of walking trails for every age group and you can even try some zip wires and let your children go wild.
With more than 10 playgrounds, a coffee shop and GoApe, Moors Valley Country Park is a great outdoor thing to do in Dorset for the whole family.
Address: Horton Rd, Ashley Heath, Ringwood BH24 2ET
4. Poole Park
✓ Tried & Tested
If you are looking for a great park in Poole while visiting or staying in Dorset with the kids on holiday, Poole Park is a great option with different play areas, a mini golf and a boating lake where you hire pedal boats or paddle boards.
Your kids will enjoy tirelessly the big playground where they will probably socialise with other children too. No wonder why this park is so popular with the locals especially in the summer where you will see lots of picnics going around.
Address: Poole Park, Poole BH15 2FR
5. Wareham Forest
✓ Tried & Tested
Here is another forest where you can enjoy a nice family walk and spot all the different mushrooms appearing in the Autumn season (don’t let your children touch them though, especially the fly agaric. If you have a dog, even better as there is lots of space for him/her to explore.
If you are quiet and look around, you might be able to spot some deers enjoying the wildlife of the forest. Overall, Wareham Forest is a great woodland to visit all year round with different colours depending on the season.
6. Tower Park Entertainment
Boasting a cinema, tenpin bowling, soft play and a range of restaurants. Tower Park is the perfect rainy day attraction for young families visiting Poole in Dorset. Start at Lemur Landings Soft Play to help the little ones burn off some energy.
After that refuel with a lunch, then relax in the afternoon with a movie! There’s something for everyone and every age here.
Address: Tower Park Leisure Complex, Tower Park, Poole BH12 4NY
Opening Hours: Open daily, 9:30am – 6pm
7. Splashdown Waterpark
An indoor water park in Poole offers fantastic fun for all the family, and this is one of the UK’s best. Offering 13 indoor and outdoor rides for older kids and three ‘splash zones’ for young ones (under five yrs).
Chill out with the kids as you glide down the lazy river, or choose the Infinity flume, which is accompanied by dance music and laser beams. Don’t forget your camera for some great action snaps!
Address: Tower Park, Poole BH12 4NY
Opening Hours: Opening times vary, check the website for more info.
8. Sea Life
This is one of the most popular indoor attractions in Dorset. Sea Life is a beautiful aquarium with lots of species to explore inside the venue in the seaside town of Weymouth. There is a huge and fun playground to check out outside too with slides, boats, sand pits and so much more.
Expect to see lots of vivid colourful fishes among other sea creatures. And don’t forget to play a the Pirate Adventure mini golf which is part of Sea Life too.
Address: Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth DT4 7SX
9. The Tank Museum
A must visit for any children who love history or tanks! This museum in Bovington is home to the largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles from around the world. From the world’s first tank, the German Tiger to the ultra modern Challenger 2. That is to say, there are a huge amount of models on display. Also a unique interactive experiences where you can delve into their engineering and escapades around the world. And poignant accounts from the veterans who fought in them.
Don’t miss the ‘Tanks in Action’ Displays during the School Holidays. Your kids will watch in awe as tanks roll into action in the arena, with thundering engines and life-like explosions!
Address: Bovington, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 6JG
Opening Hours: Open daily, 10am – 5pm
10. Wild Thing at Adventure Wonderland
A family theme park for children under 12. Adventure Wonderland in Christchurch has loads to keep your little ones entertained all day, even if it’s wet! Wild Thing is their popular Aztec themed adventure play centre that’s open all year round. It will keep your brood entertained for hours, with its rope bridges, canons, slides and ball pits.
If the weather brightens up you can head out to the park’s numerous other rides. Including a miniature railway, a maze and teacup rides with favourite childhood characters like Alice in Wonderland.
Address: Merritown Lane, Hurn, Christchurch BH23 6BA
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm
This all weather, undercover attraction is a really unique day out for the family in Weymouth. An art gallery like you’ve never seen before, here you will encounter huge lifelike sculptures crafted entirely from sand. There are different themes each year, but you are sure to meet some of the kids favourite characters.
You can even have a go at sand carving yourself, with helpful staff on hand to assist in your artistic creations!
Address: Preston Beach Road, Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth. DT4 7SX
Opening Hours: Open daily, 10:30am – 3:30pm from April to November.
Ready to discover more things to do in Dorset with your kids?
12. Day at the Beach
There are so many fantastic beaches along the Dorset Coast, which spans for over 100 miles. We’ve listed three of our favourites below.
West Bay: The iconic, looming cliffs at West Bay (used as the backdrop to the BBC’s award winning drama, Broadchurch) are an inspiring sight to behold. The beach is backed by the pretty town of Bridport that’s full of shops, cafes and restaurants. The wide, sandy beach is perfect for kids. Dogs are allowed on some areas.
Lulworth Cove: This much-photographed white pebble cove is small and sheltered, and at low tide there are rockpools teeming with marine life for the kids to discover. Walk up the steep path behind the cove and on towards Durdle Door (Dorset’s most iconic landmark) and Man O’ War Beach, for incredible views. The walk is only around 1 mile but some of it is very steep, so unsuitable for buggies.
✓ Tried & Tested
Sandbanks: Winner of the prestigious Blue Flag award for over 30 years, this stretch of sand is undoubtedly one of the best in the country. The facilities here are excellent, including watersports, showers, a beach cafe and even DIY Barbeque areas. Dogs are welcome at specified times only.
13. Walk the South West Coast Path
Covering four counties (Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall) and 630 miles, The South West Coast Path is the longest National Trail in the UK. Walkers from all over the world come here to witness it’s famous beauty, and the Dorset portion offers some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery.
Whether you fancy an afternoon stroll or a challenging hike, there’s a walk that will be suited to your family’s abilities and needs. If you’re travelling with a pram, check out the website below which lists easy access walks – a selection of routes free of stiles and steps along firm and level paths.
14. Corfe Castle
The kids will be enthralled by a visit to these one thousand year old castle ruins. Sitting majestically atop a hill with breathtaking views across Purbeck, the castle is one of the most iconic remnants of the English Civil War.
They can practise shooting their arrows through ancient lookout points, play hide and seek in shadowy corners and stand proudly on the walls of this fallen fortress. You can’t go wrong by visiting Corfe Castle as it is usually one of the favourite things to do in Dorset with kids.
Address: The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ
Opening Hours: Open daily 10-4pm / 6pm (Winter / Summer)
15. Dorset Adventure Park
Slip, slide, squeal and squelch your way around this amazing adventure course -rated one of the most popular family days out in Dorset. Choose from the Waterpark or the Mud Trail, and tackle a range of obstacles with your brood, surrounded by acres of woodland and two beautiful large lakes.
You can always choose to skip certain obstacles, so it’s suitable for the whole family. Reward yourselves at the Snack Shack at the end, or bring your own picnic to enjoy in the grounds. A really fun day out among our things to do in Dorset with kids, especially for energetic children!
Please note: Participants must be aged 6+ for the Waterpark and 3+ for the Mud Trail.
Address: Arfleet Mill Lakes, Studland Road, Corfe Castle BH20 5JG
16. Highcliffe Castle
A beautiful Grade 1 listed building which is arguably one of the most important representations of Romantic and Picturesque architecture. Look around the ornate rooms which have been restored to reflect the lavish style they would have sported in the18th century. On a sunny day, the beautiful grounds are perfect for a relaxing stroll or a family picnic on the lawns, and there is direct access to the sandy beach below and the nearby nature reserve, Steamer Point.
The castle is also just 3 miles from pretty Christchurch which is nice for a wander around in the afternoon, if you have more time to kill.
Address: Rothesay Drive, Highcliffe BH23 4LE
Opening hours: Castle open daily 10am – 5pm. Grounds open daily from 7am – dusk.
17. Monkey World
Set up as a rescue centre for apes in 1987, Monkey World has welcome many different primates such as chimpanzees, gibbons or orang-utons. Most of these monkeys come from illegal pet trade where they have travel to Europe from Africa or Asia by boat or plane. Monkey World is a great day out for families with a noble mission in mind. Don’t hesitate to pre-book your entries.
Address: Tout Hill, Longthorns, Wareham BH20 6HH
18. Dinosaurland Fossil Museum
Located in the ‘Pearl of Dorset’, Dinosaurland Fossil Museum is a great attraction for families to do in Lyme Regis on the West side of Dorset. The museums exhibits over 16,000 specimens including Jurassic fossils.
This little private museum is a great door opener for young explorers who are interested in the Jurassic World for sure.
Address: Coombe St, Lyme Regis DT7 3PY
19. Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park
If you are looking for a great activity for young children, Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park is a great choice for families. You will find plenty of activities to do such as bouncy castle, splash park, tractor rides and more.
There are indoor and outdoor fun things to do for everyone so make sure to plan at least half a day at your next visit. We’ve also heard they are running pigs races!
Address: Wareham Rd, Organford, Poole, Organford, Poole BH16 6EU
20. Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium
Here is another activity to do with your children in Lyme Regis. Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is an interactive attraction where you will be able to feed mullets and even hold a starfish. Open from February until October, Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is definitely worth a visit to keep the kids busy on your next holiday in Dorset.
Address: The Cobb, Lyme Regis DT7 3JJ
21. Kingston Lacy
✓ Tried & Tested
Kingston Lacy is a beautiful home that takes its inspiration from Venetian palaces. The family who owns the estate has a remarkable collection of Egyptian artefacts and a beautiful pristine Japanese garden.
There is also a play area on the Woodland trail and the lovely Stables café with hot drinks and snacks. Part of National Trust, Kingston Lacy is a true favourite day out in Dorset, don’t miss it!
Address: Kingston Lacy, Wimborne BH21 4EA
21 Things to Do in Dorset with Kids
- The Blue Pool
- Browsea Island
- Moors Valley Country Park
- Poole Park
- Wareham Forest
- Tower Park Entertainment
- Splashdown Waterpark
- The Tank Museum
- SeaLife Weymouth
- Wild Thing at Adventure Wonderland
- Day at the Beach
- Walk the South West Coast Path
- Corfe Castle
- Dorset Adventure Park
- Highcliffe Castle
- Monkey World
- Dinosaurland Fossil Museum
- Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park
- Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium
- Kingston Lacy
The post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.