Bournemouth Attractions for Families
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Bournemouth Attractions For Families | Parenthood4ever

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The fact is that the UK offers a huge variety of absolutely gorgeous beaches with stunning views. Not only that, but every place is very well-thought-through providing a number of outdoor and indoor activities for both kids and adults.

This time we were searching for the best beach for us in the UK, and we found it. Bournemouth was not only the right choice, but it appeared to offer the best golden sandy beaches stretching out for kilometers and one of the best selection of Bournemouth attractions for families in the entire south of England, including water sports, water parks, go ape wild Bournemouth activities, crazy golf, islands visit, and miraculous hidden gems.

Check the Ultimate Guide of Beaches in Bournemouth + free things to do in Bournemouth with kids, including transportation, Bournemouth family holidays, and safety!

Oh, and if we didn’t convince you enough, take a look at 24 best beaches across the UK first.

Bournemouth Attractions For Families | What’s on in Bournemouth

Here we share the list of unusual things to do in Bournemouth for families, including popular family attractions in the UK. Whether you are planning on one weekend trip or a week family holiday, your days out with kids in Bournemouth are guaranteed to be an absolute success!

Don’t forget about the main attractions in Bournemouth – golden sandy beaches. Bournemouth seafront is spectacular!

Bournemouth Observation Wheel

Well, this is one of the top Bournemouth beach attractions. Located right in front of the Bournemouth beach and pier, Bournemouth Big Wheel gives you 360 degrees of stunning seaside and town views.

All ages are welcome to visit the attraction. Operating from 11 am to 6 pm on weekends, it costs £6 for adults and £5 for a child of any age. You can get a family ticket that includes two children for £20.

This attraction will last around 10 minutes making two rounds.

Bournemouth Parks – Lower Gardens

Among all other activities, there are lots of things to do in Bournemouth for free. Lower Gardens is one of them, and it is perfect to take the rest from the burning sun on the beach.

Lower Gardens is located right across the road from Bournemouth Beach. It has the nicest park in the town where you can enjoy the sun, have a picnic, or grab a cup of coffee in between the planned outdoor activities.

This place also features a mini-golf course.

West Cliff Lift/ Funicular Railway

Famous West Cliff Lift in Bournemouth operates every day from 10 am to 5 pm (subject to changes) starting from April to the end of October. The rest of the non-seasonal time lift works only during the weekend (also subject to changes).

West Cliff Lift is mainly designed for people to be able to get to the cliff tops for faster and easier access to their houses. But over time it also became a very popular attraction for tourists to admire outstanding coastal views.

It is free for babies under the age of five. The cost for an adult is £1.75 and £1.25 for a child under 16 years of age. However, oddly enough you can get only a single ticket.

Bournemouth Land Train

Image by Lets Go Out Bournemouth and Poole

As explained in the section about Durley Chine Beach, there is a tiny and very colorful land train that drives all along the promenade, so this is the easiest and most entertaining way of getting from Bournemouth Pier to Sandbanks, because if not it will take a little bit more than an hour to reach the other end. However, traveling with our 2-year old turned into a never-ending promenade walk (those who have kids will understand me).

A ticket per adult (16+) costs £3.30, and £2.30 for a child between 5 and 16 years of age. You can get a family ticket for £20 which includes two adults and three children, but if you travel with children under five, your baby and you as a carer take a ride for free (same if you are a carer of a disabled person). If you are planning on making a lot of stops in between checking out different beaches on the way, it is recommended to get an unlimited ticket of £6.20 per adult.

This land train operates from April to November every day from 10 am to 4 pm (the hours subject to change depending on the weather and other conditions).

Image by Ethan Doyle White

Russel-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is located on the left side of the Bournemouth Pier on the East Cliff. It is a very beautiful structure with a spacious front garden full of statues, plants, and even a cave.

In short, this lavishly decorated house was given as a gift by Merton Russell-Cotes in 1901 to his precious wife Annie. Throughout their lives, they were collecting different antiques and things they used to bring from their travels. So, it became a home, art gallery, and museum in time containing one of the finest British Art.

Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks in Studland is an incredible must-visit site on one of your days out in Dorset. It is only a 13-minutes’ drive from the castle and an amazing way to finish your day walking around these massive natural structures that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The structures are actually three chalk formations, including a stack and a stump.

Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is the largest island in Poole Harbour. It is absolutely gorgeous and tiny. This island is purely to enjoy your days out in Poole wandering around, exploring hidden places, making a splash with the Brownsea Island swim, and play golf.

Brownsea Island is accessible only via boat with ferries leaving from Poole Quay and Sandbanks Jetty. No private cars or dogs allowed on the island.

The entrance is free for National Trust members, as this place belongs to the National Trust. For non-members, the transport will cost you anything from £11 to £13 for an adult depending on a cruise you choose. Children under 5 years of age get to try a ferry free of charge.

If you are about to visit this island and its surroundings, you may as well check our complete guide with all the free things to do in Dorset.

Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre

Knowing how many places there are in the whole England rescuing and protecting animals, sealife, birds, plants, and everything that concerns nature, we couldn’t miss this place. Also, Cornwall is full of sanctuaries and great rescue centers.

Ape Rescue Centre is only under half an hour’s drive from Bournemouth. Here primates get full-recovery, care, and rehabilitation support. The rescue center has assisted 28 governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates since 1987. You are very welcome to adopt these creatures and help in any way.

What made me feel a bit odd is that here people also can throw birthday parties and weddings. You are offered a place for conferences, meetings, and even accommodation in the Monkey World. I guess, there is always room for new business.

Special things to do in Bournemouth for toddlers, babies, and kids

Bournemouth is a surprisingly family-friendly town with loads to offer to babies, toddlers, and kids. Take a look at this list and pick whatever fits your family leisure type.  


Oceanarium is located right next to the Bournemouth Observation Wheel near Bournemouth Pier. It has different themes and environments showcasing penguins, iguanas, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and jellyfish.

Important that there is a kids’ play zone in case if they get tired of watching creatures swim.

This oceanarium also has a schedule with different topics about the underwater world, including animal feeding time. You would like to check the schedule prior.

Splashdown and best Bournemouth soft play

Among all the beach activities, one of the best things to do in Bournemouth with toddlers is visiting Splashdown. It is a water park located only 15 minutes away from the Bournemouth Pier.

It has something to cover every age group, including a splash pool, play area, and flumes of all levels. Also, this place offers one of the best things to do in Bournemouth indoors, because Splashdown has 13 indoor and outdoor flumes ranging from gentle slides to high-speed shoots, tire rides with whirlpools and black holes.

However, it is more recommended for children age 6+. All children must be over one meter tall and be able to visit flumes without parents. For toddlers, there are several splash zones. If you visit the Splashdown before 10:30 am, you will get two hours of swimming and then you may spend the rest of the day in nearby Lemur Landings Soft Play Centre.

The coolest thing about this family fun activity that Splashdown is located in the Tower Park entertainment complex, so right after the rides you can grab some food at one of the restaurants nearby, watch your favorite movie at the cinema or keep enjoying your day at soft play!

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

One of the best Bournemouth attractions for families to visit is Moors Valley Country Park and Forest. It is a 20-minute drive, but trust me, it will make your family’s holiday. You can choose how much time you would like to spend there, but something tells me you would wish to dedicate the entire day to this adventure.

You can get an absolutely free experience meeting the ranger near the visitor center who will tell you all about Moors Valley’s nature and wildlife. There are four kids’ play areas: Play Trail, Tree Top Trail, Adventure Play Area, and Castle and Sand Area. A cute miniature steam-train ride is available too!

The Moors Valley has a lot of cycle paths, orienteering courses, and a series of high-ropes courses suitable for your child or you. Children must be over one meter tall and in some cases, children over 6 years of age are allowed to do certain climbing activities.

Go Ape Bournemouth includes 1km of crossings, a unique double Tarzan swing, and a gulp-inducing 166m-long zip wire.

  • Tree Top Adventure – kids of any age with the height over 1m tall
  • Tree Top Adventure + – kids aged 6+ and height of 1.2m
  • Tree Top Challenge – adults and kids aged 10+

Adventure Wonderland, Bournemouth

Another amazing Bournemouth attractions for kids are situated 15 minutes away from Bournemouth pier. A family-friendly theme park is a brilliant choice for your children up to 12 years of age.

The park offers over 30 rides and attractions, including meeting some of the most popular characters, such as Alice in Wonderland. It also has an amazing solution for the bad weather offering a huge indoor soft play area.

Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park

Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park has it all to make your family day perfect!

Meet farm animals, feed the deer, cuddle the fluffy little rodents, enjoy tractor rides and pig races. This park also offers a splash zone area with a sand playground.

The Hen House is a nice restaurant where you can try out delicious meals, including the kids’ menu. No problem if you need to warm up baby food or milk too.

Wimborne Model Town

Image by Chris Downer

Quite similar to the Model Village Godshill on the Isle of Wight, this award-winning Wimborne’s Model Town with a sensory garden and miniature river is a great option to spend time in Bournemouth.

Feel like a giant wandering around the center of Wimborne as it was in the 1950s at 1/10th scale. There’s also an intricate model railway and a collection of dolls’ houses.

All Fired Up Pottery Cafe

An absolutely brilliant idea of opening the café serving coffee and sandwiches with a quite unique twist of painting your own ceramic mugs, plates, and tiles in the meantime.

This is one of the best ways to spend time with your children and get very creative in designing something unique for your own home.

Airy, bright cafe to buy and paint ceramic mugs, plates, and tiles, serving coffee and sandwiches.

Hengistbury Head

Image by Hut 8.5

Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre is a jewel of Bournemouth. Whatever you are planning on doing, it has it all. The best thing to do is to take a look at their website, otherwise, we shall dedicate the whole article on things that you can enjoy at this spot.

Take a land train or walk to Southbourne Beach and access to Mudeford Sandspit. Enjoy the views and grab a cup of coffee with a slice of cake. Hengistbury Head offers a variety of educational resources including archaeology and conservation. Kids will love the wildlife cameras! Here you can also pick up maps and routes for your trip. There’s plenty of paths and trails which are bike, scooter, and buggy friendly.

But the best thing among them all is a variety of water sports activities. Here you can learn sailing, paddling, powerboating and much more!

Mr. Mulligans Crazy Golf

Mr. Mulligans is a crazy golf course that is located in the BH2 complex, meaning that you can enjoy the cinema and loads of restaurants nearby.

Apart from numerous things to do in Bournemouth on a rainy day, this place is perfect for such weather conditions and it is considered to be one of the most unique venues in Bournemouth. There are three golf courses spread across two levels and supported by two bars and a restaurant.

Science Zone UK

Science Zone is a real hidden gem and a great place to visit for a few hours. The coolest thing about this place is the staff that is so passionate about sharing their love for Science in a stimulating, educational, and fun way.

Sports activities in Bournemouth

Bournemouth is filled with active indoor and outdoor activities, including a variety of water sports. But this town not only offers to enjoy doing sports, but it also provides incredibly fun and interactive training courses and educational resources for all ages.

Rock Reef Activity Centre

Rock Reef Activity Centre is located right on the Bournemouth Pier and offers a variety of interesting sports you can try on a spot. You can spend there a few hours or you can get a combo ticket and spend the whole day there.

Four main attractions include:

  • Clip n Climb. There are 28 climbing challenges with no prior experience and full training on a spot. Children are allowed starting from four years of age.
  • PierZip. It is a dual zip line built at 25 meters above the sea, allowing two people to ride at the same time and race to the shore.
  • Pier Cave. The activity offers three caving tunnels at different difficulty levels including all sorts of climbing and crawling challenges. This activity is suitable for children aged 4+.
  • Highline. It is a thrilling aerial obstacle course with a mix of challenges, including slope walk, swing logs, and cardo net. Minimum height requirements: 1.1m tall.

Surfing in Bournemouth

Surf Steps is the only Surfing England Centre of Excellence based on the South Coast. It provides surf and SUP (Standup paddleboarding) classes of all levels.

Hengistbury Head

As mentioned above, this place is perfect to learn how to sail, paddle, powerboat, or kayak.

Crazy Golf, Bournemouth

Bournemouth has a lot of regular and mini-golf courses for you to play. One of the craziest golf experiences you can get is at Mr. Mulligans. There are gold courses on both beach ends, at Southbourne Beach, Sandbanks Beach, and on Brownsea Island. The very nearest and cute mini-golf right in the center of Bournemouth is located at Lower Gardens, just across the Bournemouth Pier.

What to do in Bournemouth at night

Bournemouth is very rich in nightlife. And the reason is that this city has one of the nicest language schools and exchange programs in the UK. Foreign students come here from all over the world to study English and prepare for exams. So, after a long activity day with your child, to have a fancy cocktail in one of the pubs or restaurants seems like the best thing to do in Bournemouth for adults.

This is exactly why Bournemouth is a city full of live energy and a positive vibe. You can hear a lot of different languages walking on the beach, Spanish and Portuguese prevailed when we were there. Indeed, the town is charged with cultural diversity and a relaxing pace of life.

Festivals in Bournemouth

Bournemouth Air Festival

Time: Beginning of September

Next: check details here


Watch the world’s most impressive planes during the Air Festival in Bournemouth. You will visit and participate in loads of activities in the air, on land and at sea. Not to mention this experience is free of charge.

The festival lasts for four days where you can watch planes flying, fireworks exploding, Britain’s Armed Forces dazzling crowds, dancing and participating in training courses. There are pop concerts and rides that you can enjoy too.

Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea Festival

Time: End of September

Next: check details here


Arts by Sea Festival is a great way to have fun and challenge your creativity. You and your kids will participate in thousands of outdoor fun activities built all-around art.

Apart from unstoppable crowds walking in amazing costumes playing different instruments, you will immerse yourself into the atmosphere of carnival singing and dancing the whole time.

The schedule and activities differ from year to year, but some include illusions, magic, and plays.

Christmas Tree Wonderland

Time: Mid-November to January

Next: check details here


There are numerous things to do in Bournemouth at Christmas too. Christmas Tree Wonderland is one of them. This is a brilliant way to prepare for Christmas and enjoy the holiday in full. You will find loads of activities for the whole family, including tons of rides for kids, live music, skating in Victorian Lower Gardens.

The whole town is covered with hundreds of glittering trees and illuminations. Right in the city center, you will enjoy the famous Bournemouth Christmas market filled up with unique souvenirs and gourmet from all over the world.

Important to know! Tips and Tricks to Travel in Bournemouth

  1. If you plan to spend only one night in Bournemouth and you come from London, try to depart as early as possible to avoid traffic and enjoy the rest of the day. We recommend leaving home by 6:30 am, especially when you travel with kids.
  2. There are paid parking spaces everywhere and they are quite expensive. Prepare in advance and book the parking space through JustPark, it will save you a lot of stress.
  3. Pretty much everything closes by 5 pm, so try to start your day early.
  4. All beaches in Bournemouth are golden sandy offering a variety of water sports from kite surfing to paddleboarding.

Enjoy Your Stay in Bournemouth!

IMPORTANT: We created the Family Store especially for you. By clicking on the image below you can find anything from Newborn’s First Kit, Baby & Family Essentials, Kids Travel to Travel Gear. We hope you will find something valuable for your own adventures!

Our shop contains products from other companies that we love and use! Everything is based on our values of quality over quantity.

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  1. […] to do in Dorset, we recommended starting your journey in Bournemouth. Not only there are tons of things to do in Bournemouth with toddlers, but also there is a huge variety of things to do in Bournemouth for […]

  2. Thanks for the awesome and detailed guide. I look forward to visiting Bournemouth one day.

    1. Hi Rick, I am sure your family will have an amazing weekend at the beach in Bournemouth and Poole!

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