Millions of British holidaymakers flock to the Dorset coast each year, and it’s easy to see why. Rolling landscapes, ancient coasts and some of the best museums in the South West can be found in this stunning coastal hotspot. Whether you’re in the mood for a serene beach walk or just want some ideas for family-friendly fun, we have you covered.
Here is a list of some of the great things to do in Dorset; all you need to do now is choose your favourite!
Take a trip back in time
If the idea of seeing a life-sized Stegosaurus close-up excites your little ones, we have the perfect place to visit: The Dinosaur Museum.
Located in Dorchester, the museum features dinosaur skeletons, fossils and interactive displays; perfect for both young and old. Whether you’re a family of history buffs looking to learn more about these prehistoric animals, or you just want to witness a whopping great dinosaur in the flesh, this is the place to visit.
Previously acclaimed as one of Britain’s Top 10 Family Museums, The Dinosaur Museum earns upROARiously good reviews from visiting tourists.
Explore the tombs and treasures of Tutankhamun
Calling all mummies: journey back to Ancient Egypt and visit the secret world of the pharaohs, with a trip to the Tutankhamun Exhibition in Dorchester.
Treasure, tombs and mysterious hieroglyphics: what could be more exciting?
The Tutankhamun Exhibition has wonderful displays of the king’s treasures, meticulously crafted by artists over several years. Children have the opportunity to discover Tutankhamun’s tomb for themselves, while learning about the mummification process and history of the young Pharaoh.
Travel in style
There aren’t many places where you can still ride a real-life steam train in idyllic surroundings, but the Swanage Railway is one of them. Within driving distance of Corfe Castle and unique coastal scenery, hop aboard one of these impressive engines for a tour like no other.
For those who want to combine fine dining with fine views, why not travel in style with lunch on the Wessex Belle? Taste local clotted cream and sip a cup of tea while you journey through miles of beautiful scenery: bliss!
A military masterpiece
It isn’t always easy to find a museum that caters for the whole family, so the Keep Military Museum is a popular destination for visitors to Dorset.
With uniforms, weapons, photographs, medals and fabulous panoramic views of the county, the Keep Military Museum has something for history buffs and children alike. The museum also hosts regular curator talks and houses a wide range of war memorabilia, including medals displays.
Experience what it was like to fight in the trenches, browse the First World War Officer’s Dug-Out and get a close-up view of a real military bunk-room.
Carefully laid-out, the museum aims to captivate and educate. It is also free for under 5s.
Pig racing, anyone?
Pig racing, pony grooming and pedal go-karts: there are farms, and then there is Farmer Palmer’s.
With a mixture of outdoor and indoor activities, there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained. Hop on the bumpy, bouncy Tractor-Trailer ride and explore the park’s deer safari, or take in fun-filled pig racing from January to October. There’s even the opportunity to play hide and seek in a giant maize maze, before it’s cut at the end of October.
Take a trip to the Hen House Restaurant and try some delicious local produce, or pack a picnic and eat at one of the many designated areas.
Keep an eye on the many events that run throughout the day, including the opportunity to bottle feed the keen lambs!
Shiver me timbers
Housed in two 17th-century thatched cottages, the Portland Museum is the perfect venue for anyone with an appetite for Dorset’s compelling history.
As well as providing exciting insights into the history of the Jurassic Coast and the pirates who once invaded Dorset (make sure you check out the shipwreck artefacts!) the Portland museum also focuses upon some of the most celebrated individuals who have graced this gorgeous landscape. One of these was Wessex author Thomas Hardy, who was said to have drawn inspiration from the cottages that house the museum.
Charming and quaint, a trip to the Portland Museum is perfect for when the British weather is, well, British.
Dorset’s coast is renowned for its spectacular beaches, so it should come as no surprise that we’ve added some sand and sea to our list. However, this isn’t your usual bucket and spade day out.
Sand World is a gigantic exhibition of sand sculptures, ranging from Harry Potter and Star Wars-themed creations to famous faces and towering animals – some of whom are as high as a double-decker bus!
Each structure is painstakingly crafted by world-class sand-sculpting masters, who transform thousands of tonnes of Weymouth beach sand to astound visitors.
Suitable for the whole family, this sandy art gallery is an unconventional day out at the beach.
Get back to nature with a family camping trip in Dorset! There are many campsites in Dorset to choose from and areas of natural beauty to explore. Dorset is home to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site and is a haven for fossil hunting, nature walks and wildlife spotting. Over half of Dorset is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so you can enjoy some magnificent views as you camp under the stars.
Take a trip to Monkey World and let your cheeky little monkeys meet their match. Home to more than 240 monkeys, from eleven different species, this mini jungle is a gigantic primate playground.
Monkey World was set up to ‘rehabilitate neglected and abused monkeys into natural living groups and environments.’ Growing considerably over recent years, the centre now takes care of chimps, gibbons, orangutans, marmosets and some unusual species, such as stump-tailed macaques.
With ample viewing spots, picnic benches and cafés, you can get a bite to eat while you watch the woolly monkeys clamber the canopies above. And if that’s not enough to keep you entertained, there is also a crazy golf course, so you can enjoy practising your monkey swing, too!
Sea Life Adventure Park and Tower
At Sea Life Adventure Park and Tower, families can swim and play in the Splash Zone, before discovering luminescent corals and anemones in the centre itself. Meet pipefish and seahorses in the Nursery, watch gliding rays in the lagoon and wonder at green sea turtles in the subtropical section.
With an array of rare marine life on offer, Sea Life Adventure Park is an exciting and memorable day out for both young and old. Want to make the day extra special? There are VIP packages available: visitors can enjoy ‘Breakfast with the Seals’ or get up close and personal with penguins.