As one of Britain’s most popular destinations for a family holiday, there are certainly a great selection 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 and 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.
Boasting a cinema, tenpin bowling, soft play and a range of restaurants. Tower Park is the perfect rainy day attraction for young families. 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.
An indoor water park 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!
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!
4. Wild Thing at Adventure Wonderland, Christchurch
A family theme park for children under 12. Adventure Wonderland 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.
This all weather, undercover attraction is a really unique day out for the family. 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. The 2019 season opened on April 6th and has some amazing huge sculptures from Toy Story, Dumbo and Marvel Superheroes. You can even have a go at sand carving yourself, with helpful staff on hand to assist in your artistic creations!
Ready to discover more things to do in Dorset with your kids?
6. 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.
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.
7. 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.
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.
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.
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.