6 weeks off over summer is a long time to constantly be thinking up ideas of how to keep your little ones entertained, so I thought I’d come up with a list of 20 ideas that might give you some inspiration for the rest of the summer! These are things that we have already done, or have planned for the rest of J’s time off. These are based in the Hampshire and Dorset area where we live, but I’m sure you can tailor most to where you live as well.
1)The beach – one of our most obvious as we live only a 5 minute walk from Highcliffe Beach. Whether its a walk down to the sand to make a sandcastle, a BBQ at the beach or a full beach day with picnic, bucket, spade and lilo’s, followed by an ice cream from the nearby cafe. We try and make the most of having the beach so close, and when the sun is out try and go down as much as possible.
2)Longdown Dairy Farm – This is a farm based near Southampton which has been a firm favourite of ours for a while now! There’s a huge amount not only to see but do as well – they are a very hands on farm which allows you to feed the pigs, bottle feed the baby goats, and hold chicks and rabbits. As well as all the animals they also have go karts, mini golf, and a cafe with soft play!
3)New Forest Wildlife Park – If the farm isn’t your thing, or is a little too pricey – then continue down that road past the farm and you’ll find the New Forest Wildlife Park, We came across it by accident but had the best time. Little tip if you have an Ikea family card you’ll get discount off on your entry!! Here you can wonder round Otters, Wallaby’s, Deer, Wolves, Owls & more. Not only that but they have plenty of stop points for picnics and a play area with swings, climbing frames and zip wires.
4)Festival – We took J to his first ever festival this summer holiday – Camp Bestival and it was such a brilliant weekend! You can read about it fully HERE. You can find plenty of Festivals and fayre’s on throughout the summer, so why not pack up for the day or make a weekend of it!
5)Camping – This ties nicely from the previous point of going to a festival – whether or not festivals are your thing, you could always camp for a night or two and there are plenty of beautiful places in the New Forest and surrounding areas. There really is nothing better than sitting outside with a fire toasting marshmallows, or waking up to birds singing away in the trees. Just make sure you check the weather a couple of days before you go – Camping and wet weather do not go hand in hand!
6) Picnic – We like to pack up a picnic and head to one of our favourite spots called Mill Lawn in Burley. It has a big stream running through so the kids can get in and paddle, do some fishing or play some football on the lawn, before tucking into a yummy picnic! Last time we went we packed up some inflatables too and had some fun floating down the stream on them.
7)Bournemouth Oceanarium – The Oceanarium is a fab day to go if you get a rainy day – Just be prepared for it to get busy and book online before to save a little money! Its great to know the feeding times too as you can make more of a day of it, plus if you take a packed lunch there is a now a seating area to have some food and the kids can play whilst also being able to see the penguins diving in and out of the water! There is also a cafe downstairs, or after you’ve finished head out onto the Beach, there’s a GREAT fish and chippy called Harry Ramsdens that you can stop at after! Yum!
8)Crabbing – Grab a net, bucket and a crabbing line and head down to Mudeford Quay. You can buy bait from the fish shop or you can bring some bacon! They LOVE bacon, and get a competition running to see who can get the most. At the end let the crabs back into the sea, and go enjoy some chips at the haven! Or take the ferry over from Mudeford to Hengistbury Head!
9)Bowling – Hollywood bowl at tower Park Poole have just installed some VIP booths if you want to make your bowling trip a little bit different, not only have they got bowling there but plenty of arcade games, pool tables and food and drinks! To read more about the VIP areas you can read my recent bowling post HERE!
10) Paddling Pool – Not everything you do over the holidays needs to cost money – especially if you already have a paddling pool! We have a blow up pool we occasionally pop up – and whilst the heatwave was here we took full advantage and had a little pool party for Jacob and his cousin in the garden! We had pool inflatables, water guns, music on, pizza,a big fruit platter and juice! A great day for little cost! Failing that if you don’t have a pool or a garden and live by Christchurch – they have a splash park open for free to use on the quay filled with sprinklers and stepping stones and a paddling pool. Its brilliant, and definitely worth checking out!
11) Kayaking – If watersports and getting outside is your thing, then why not try kayaking with the kids, we’re lucky that we have some of our own, however there are plenty of places around to rent them for a few hours – a good place is Mudeford Quay as its quite shallow there for the smaller ones – you can also rent paddle boards too! We like to kayak around Christchurch, and recently ventured towards Hengistbury head. Jacob sits in Pete’s but we are looking into buying him his own.
12) Circus – We recently found a Circus that was travelling to our area, and we had such a brilliant time! Not only look for local Circus’s but fun fayre’s too as they are always popping up and a great way to keep the kids entertained for a few hours!
13) Fruit Picking – Depending on the month you go, as I think strawberries are best in June but raspberries are perfect to pick now! Its a great way to get outside, get some fruit in them, and enjoy filling your baskets up together!
14) Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – If you fancy a full day out, then this is your place ( plus once you buy tickets you can use them for a full year!) We took Jacob at the beginning of Summer and he had such a brilliant time exploring all the ships, we also got on the boat ride over towards the submarine and went in the activity centre which has climbing, simulators, ninja warrior courses and laser quest!
15) Weymouth Sealife Centre – Another big favourite in our family is the sea life centre in Weymouth, it is huge and is set out so well! Again it is interactive with staff at the rockpool area where you can touch the starfish (very carefully mind). They also have a huge play area, and when the suns out they have a great splash park! So definitely pack swimming gear with you!
16) Cinema – The new Bournemouth BH2 cinema is perfect for that rainy summer holiday day (which lets face it, we get plenty here in the UK), with plenty of places to eat before or after your film, and screens devoted to recliner chairs for the ultimate comfort or special kids screens where they have some soft play right in front of the screen, if you have one child wanting to see the film and the other more squirmy and wanting to get up, these screens are perfect for you!
17) Bike Ride – Another one if you don’t want to spend to much. A bike ride in the forest or along the beach – if you don’t have a bike again plenty of places to rent – one that comes to mind being Moors Valley, and the trails are beautiful! Plus a HUGE play trail there for after the bike ride if you still have some energy!
18) See a show! – We are taking Jacob to see Paw Patrol Live at the Pavillion at the end of the summer holidays (He doesn’t know, we’ve booked it as a going back to school surprise!) But head over to the Pavillion or Bic websites to see what is coming up, or if you’re Southampton way check out the mayflower, my family went and saw Shrek Live with the kids and had a brilliant time!
19) Feed the ducks – We usually like to head to Christchurch quay for this, as one of the shops sell a big bag of bird seed that they love! Or take some bread down, the swans always appreciate it too!
20) Arcade – Last but not least an arcade that we have been loving to go to recently is Fun Central in Bournemouth. They are full with old and new games for all ages. You buy either a time card or a card with credits on to play with and most of the machines give tickets after the game which you can cash in and choose prizes from the front desk!
I hope you’ve managed to take some inspiration from this post for the rest of the summer holidays! We’ve got some other places we’ll be visiting over the summer that I haven’t put on this list – So if you want to keep up to date follow my Instagram to find out what else we’ll be getting up to!