If you’re planning on visiting Bournemouth over the school holidays, or live in Bournemouth and the surrounding area and wondering what to do with the kids, then check out my top 5 days out suitable for toddlers.
I love planning days out. Which is very lucky for my husband who hates it. The main reason being because I like to have something to look forward to. I would love to be one of those spontaneous mums that comes up with the most awesome ideas on the spot, but alas that is not me. I spend hours on trip advisor, researching and looking for endorsement on the best places to go. This does mean I am a great person to tap up for recommendations – whether it be restaurants, family-friendly travel destinations, pushchairs, baby books and more.
And that is why I wanted to share with you my top 5 days out if you’re visiting or live locally in Bournemouth. My little boy is 20 months old and these have all been an absolute hit and don’t cost the earth either.
1. Wimborne Model Town & Gardens
If you are looking for somewhere to go for a few hours one morning or afternoon, then I highly recommend Wimborne Model Town & Gardens. It is a little person’s dream. The scale model village features over 100 shop fronts from the 1950s, along with beautifully manicured gardens. My boy Jack, loved peering in the little shop front windows – from bakeries and banks to cafes, car show rooms and even a church. The biggest hit was the model railway. So much so I couldn’t get my son to leave and had to bribe him with cake from the Tea Room (I highly recommend the Dorset Apple Cake). The railway features lots of trains chugging along, including Thomas the Tank Engine and even has a cliff railway and cable car. Tickets are £6 per adult and under 3’s are free. What’s more if you pay £10 you can buy a Season Ticket offering unlimited admission until the 1st November 2020.
2. Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park
Farmer Palmer’s is a fantastic place to visit and just over a 15 minute drive from Wimborne Model Village. So if you’re feeling adventurous you could visit one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Farmer Palmer’s features traditional farm animals (goats, horses, alpacas, pigs, chicken and ducks) together with popular pet animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs. It was so cute walking round the farm with Jack and hearing him make all the animal noises. His favourites currently being ‘neigh’ and ‘baaaa’. They also run pig racing (who doesn’t want to see that) and goat feeding, which my son loved. There is also a great play park, sand and splash zone, pedal tractors and pedal go-karts. If you fancy a sit-down the cafe serves reasonably priced food and delicious cakes. I was extremely impressed with all the measures Farmer Palmer’s have in place due to Covid-19, with hand sanitiser stations throughout the farm and lots of outdoor sinks for hand washing. They are also currently restricting numbers so you have to pre-book a morning or afternoon slot via their website.
3. Moors Valley Country Park
Moors Valley Country Park & Forest is top of my list for a family day out, so much so that we recently purchased a season ticket (£62 for one car), which I will definitely be making the most of. I absolutely love it there, as does my son and miniature dachshund. Being a dog owner, it’s great finding somewhere that is dog-friendly so we can enjoy a day out with all the family. It’s free to visit the park, you just have to pay for parking. Moors Valley has miles and miles of paths and tracks to explore, but the trail toddlers and kids will enjoy the most is the Play Trail – featuring amazing, large wooden carved play equipment, from ‘Bewildernest’ and ‘Giant Wood Ants Nest’, to ‘Hawk House’ and the ‘The Snake Pit’. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 only three play areas are currently open: ‘Spider’, ‘Crocodile Crossing’ and ‘Enchanted Woods’, but these still provide hours of fun for little ones. Half away along the Play Trail you will find the Tree Top Trail (try saying these three words quickly in succession… it’s hard isn’t it)! The 200 metre wooden walkway gives you a wonderful bird’s eye view of the forest. It’s worth noting it’s not suitable for pushchairs so your little one needs to be walking, or carried in a sling/baby carrier. The highlight for my little boy is The Moors Valley Railway. Starting from Kingsmere Station you can travel along the banks of the Moors Lake and follow a double loop around the play area incorporating three tunnels, and a bridge. When we are exploring other areas of the park, as soon as my son hears the train, he cries “Choo Choo” and frantically tries to find his way back to the station. There are also two play areas, one designed for older children featuring a zip line and giant space net and the other for younger children built on sand (so don’t forget your bucket and spade), with gentle slides, swings, wooden Wendy Houses and train. There is a lovely picnic area by the lake and train station with socially distanced benches. For the more adventurous you can also hire bikes, try your hand at Go Ape and explore the forest on Segways.
4. Poole Park
Poole Park surrounds Poole Harbour and is a lovely place to visit on a sunny day. There are three free car parks, which makes this day out completely free (unless you want to treat yourself to an ice cream or snack in the café). The park features perfectly manicured gardens and there are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a picnic. My little boy loves feeding the ducks and playing in the park – especially because it features a large wooden play train! You can also enjoy a variety of watersports, from windsurfing to kayaking and rowing. It’s dog-friendly too.
5. Bournemouth Beach
A trip to Bournemouth is not complete without a visit to its award-winning beaches. As a local I tend to keep my distance during the summer months as it can get very busy, but there is no denying that Bournemouth’s seven mile stretch of golden sands offer a fab day out for all the family. There are five different areas of beach to choose from (Bournemouth Central, Durley Chine, Alum Chine, Boscombe and Southbourne). If you want to be near the main restaurants and attractions then head to Bournemouth Central, but there are a number of cafés and kiosks along all of the different sections. Bournemouth Council have just released a BCP Beach Check App for Apple and Android devices so you can monitor which sections of the beach are busiest throughout the day. Perfect for planners like me who enjoy quieter beach days.
I hope you enjoy my recommendations. I’d love to hear what you think if you do visit.