Bournemouth is one of the UK’s best-loved coastal resorts. With seven miles of golden sand beach, a mild south coast climate and beautiful sparkling sea, it is easy to see why.
Bournemouth pier is an enduring attraction and boat trips running from here even include the paddle steamer Waverley at certain times of the year. The town centre is close by where you can discover unique shops selling splendid clothing, jewellery and art. Bournemouth and nearby Poole both feature a thriving arts scene so it is a great place to see top class entertainment.
If you prefer to explore the natural environment, the picturesque woodland of the New Forest lies close by where you can enjoy wonderful walks, pleasant drives through quaint villages and spotting the famous wild ponies. The coastline offers more than just beautiful beaches and is great for exploring on foot or by boat. As well as Bournemouth and Poole, Southampton is just 20 miles away, with much to see and do on a day trip.
Famous for its red squirrel population and its stunning natural scenery, Brownsea Island is a top attraction for adventurers of all ages. Calm waters lap against pebble beaches, and further inland you’ll find grassy fields and sheltered woodland. Managed by the National Trust, the island is accessed by ferry and has various refreshment outlets including a café and coffee bar as well as a gift shop, a second-hand book shop and the Baden-Powell Outdoor Centre. Visit their website
The majestic ruins of Corfe Castle occupy a breathtakingly beautiful location by the Purbeck Hills, where you can see field and forest for miles around. Visitors can explore the ruins themselves, and the surrounding area where a wildlife walk details the birds and animals that you’re likely to see on your travels. A National Trust property, Corfe Castle includes tea rooms with views of the surrounding area, and well-stocked shops selling souvenirs, gifts and outdoor equipment. Visit their website
Kingston Lacy is an elegant mansion set in beautiful grounds including parkland and formal landscaped gardens. Elaborate carvings and historic artifacts can be viewed within the house, along with paintings by famous artists. The house has an Egyptian Room that houses the UK’s largest private collection of Egyptian artifacts, and outside you’ll find extensive lawns and a Japanese garden complete with an authentic tea house. This National Trust house also includes an on-site restaurant, waymarked trails and spaces in which you can enjoy fishing, geo-caching and picnicking.
This National Trust managed corn mill, still fitted with original wooden machinery, stands on a site that was marked in the Domesday Book. The mill was rebuilt in 1776, and went through extensive repair in 1994. Located next to the River Stour, the White Mill has is an interesting attraction to visit for an hour or two.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
Described by Alan Titchmarsh as ‘one of the finest gardens I’ve ever visited’, the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens cover 20 acres and are filled with exotic and rare plants from every corner of the globe. The gardens were first established in 1765 by the Countess of Ilchester, and have been developed and changed ever since. Various events are held throughout the year, and the gardens double up as a unique wedding venue. Enjoy al fresco dining at the Colonial Restaurant, in amongst the colourful tropical plants and native birds, or visit the gift shop and garden centre where you can buy handcrafted items, plants and garden accessories.
This 10-acre formal garden features five distinct areas; an Italian Garden, a Japanese Garden, a Wooded Valley, a Rock and Water Garden and a Heather Garden. It was built in 1929, and the on-site tea rooms and plant centre are as popular as the gardens themselves. Open for a majority of the year, and with free entry to RHS members, the garden also houses the Italian Villa which is a stunning venue for weddings and corporate events. Visit their website
Kingston Maurward Gardens
A top attraction for all ages, the Kingston Maurward Gardens include an on-site animal park home to a wide variety of farm and domestic animals. More than 30,000 people visit Kingston Maurward every year, to view the Grade II listed gardens tended with the help of students from Kingston Maurward College. Sights to see include a lake with lakeside temple, tree trails and the walled garden, as well as the croquet lawn and the Temple of the Four Winds. Visit their website