30 things to do in Hampshire with kids

by Jan

With animal attractions, naval museums, historic houses, and outdoor activities, here are the best things to do in Hampshire with kids.

If you’re looking for the best family activities in Hampshire, we have some great ideas to entertain your little ones.  With its national parks, seaside towns and rich naval history, you’ll be spoilt for choice when planning your family day out in Hampshire.

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In this post, we’ll share all the best things to do in Hampshire with kids, so you can plan the perfect family day out.

Top 30 things to do in Hampshire with kids

Hampshire

Before I start, here’s a little background to the county of Hampshire.  Located in the south east of England, Hampshire offers its visitors the perfect mix of city, coast, and countryside.  And basically, this means that there are just so many things to do with kids!

Hampshire is home to historic cities such as Winchester, with its magnificent cathedral and Portsmouth, where you can see some of the world’s most famous ships.   For families, there are loads of historic attractions and places to learn about history.

Away from the towns, Hampshire is home to two National Parks, the New Forest and South Downs.  This provides endless opportunities for hiking, wildlife, and outdoor activities.  Whether you want to explore the woods or visit a wildlife park, you’ll find plenty of sporting and outdoor activities in Hampshire.  It’s also near to the coast, so families can enjoy the beach, watersports, and coastal walks.

As you can see, there are heaps of family attractions and things to do in Hampshire with kids.  Read on for our pick of the best.

Historic attractions in Hampshire for kids

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory, Portsmouth, Hampshire

With such a rich naval history in Portsmouth, it’s no surprise that one of the best family days out in Hampshire is to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  This is the part of the HM naval base that is open to the public.  It is the ultimate destination for anyone wanting to learn more about British naval history.

The star attraction of the dockyard is its historic ships.  Children will love climbing aboard HMS Warrior or Napoleon’s famous warship, HMS Victory.

Of course, one of the top things to see at Portsmouth Dockyard is the Mary Rose Museum.  It’s a unique experience which will help you understand the story of the famous Tudor ship, Mary Rose.

If you buy the ultimate explorer pass, you will have unlimited access to all the attractions, including a tour of the harbours.  This ticket is valid for 12 months.

Little Woodham Living History Village

One of the most unique attractions in Hampshire is Little Woodham in Gosport on the South Coast.

Hidden away in a woodland setting, Little Woodham is a replica 17th century village.  Here, families can discover what rural village life used to be like in Hampshire.

Children can immerse themselves in the lives of real villagers (played by volunteers) from centuries ago, to find out how people used to live.  It’s an informative visit, where kids can find out about the type of houses people had and the jobs they used to do.

Silchester Roman City Walls & Ampitheatre

Just 5 miles north of Basingstoke is an original Iron Age settlement, Silchester, which later became an important Roman town.

Today, Silchester is still one of the best preserved Roman towns in Britain.  A day trip to Silchester makes a good educational day out with children in Hampshire.  As well as the ruins of the city walls, you can still see the remains of the Roman ampitheatre.

Silchester is an ideal family attraction for any kids who are learning about the Romans. Even better, entrance is free, so it’s one of the many free things to do in Hampshire.

A treasure trail in Odiham

Odiham Castle, Odiham, Hampshire, UK

A treasure trail is a fantastic way for kids to explore the historic town of Odiham in Hampshire.  Children will have fun solving the clues, which lead you to the ancient pest house, stocks and Bridewell Prison.  Whilst you are there, you could walk along the canal to St John’s Castle, which is only a 5-minute drive from the High Street.

Read more: best things to do with children in Odiham.

Southsea Castle

Another important historic building in Hampshire is Southsea Castle, which guards the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.

Southsea Castle was one of a series of forts built by King Henry VIII to defend the coast of England. Unfortunately, shortly after completion in 1544, King Henry’s flagship, Mary Rose, sunk before his eyes in front of the castle.

Today, children can discover more about King Henry and the castle’s history at the exhibition in the keep.  Whilst you are there, take a wander round the ramparts for a chance to see the lighthouse and canons.  You can also get spectacular views of the Solent.

After a visit to the castle, remember to take a tour of the tunnels. Admission is free, so even better, if you are looking for a free family day out in Hampshire!

Portchester Castle

Now owned by English Heritage, the ruins of  Portchester Castle are another of the best historic attractions in Hampshire.  Strategically located on England’s South Coast, the Romans originally built a huge fort here, so Portchester Castle is a perfect place to learn about the Romans, Saxons and Normans.

You can also find out about its time as a Royal Castle and as a prison.

Families can also enjoy a visit to the church, a picnic and run about in the grounds. And, don’t forget to climb to the top of the keep for amazing views over Portsmouth Harbour.

Portchester Castle, Hampshire

Read on for the best animal attractions in Hampshire for families.

Animal Attractions in Hampshire

Marwell Zoo

For animal lovers, one of the best things to do in Hampshire with kids is a visit to Marwell Zoo.  

Set in 140-acres of beautiful parkland, the zoo is home to hundreds of animals, of all different sizes.  Whether it’s elegant giraffes, stealthy leopards, or cute two-toed sloths,  they’ll have something to melt your heart.   Marwell Zoo has a range of endangered species and exotic animals that the whole family will love.

Marwell is a very interactive wildlife park, which is perfect for learning about the animals.  As well as interactive exhibits, they have animal walk-throughs and a schedule of feeding sessions throughout the day.

If you’re planning a family day out in Hampshire, Marwell Zoo is a fantastic choice and it’s not just about animals.  Marwell also has 5 adventure playgrounds and a road train. so is a really fun place to to take kids.

Boys posing for Meetcat picture at Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

Finkley Down Farm

One of Hampshire’s top adventure farms is Finkley Down Farm in Andover.

This amazing all-weather family attraction has plenty to keep the kids entertained.  With indoor and outdoor activities, it’s a fantastic place to visit with children, whatever the weather.

If your children like wildlife, they can visit the farmyard animals, explore the reptile house or visit the meerkat mansion.  Afterwards, they can head to one of the fantastic play areas.

Finkley Down Farm has several indoor soft play zones for different age groups, so is a great place to visit with kids on a rainy day.  Outside, they have some amazing playground areas.  Kids will love climbing, swinging, and crawling through tunnels.  Children can also enjoy the farmyard mini-golf, jumping pillows, trampolines, sand play, and a musical village.

With so much going on, this is definitely one of the best family attractions in Hampshire.

Hawk Conservancy Trust

If it’s birds of prey you are after, the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover is a great family day out in Hampshire. This popular family attraction is a conservation centre, which looks after owls, vultures, eagles and kestrels.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust holds a programme of activities throughout the day, so families can enjoy keepers’ talks, feeding sessions and flying demonstrations. Children can also enjoy tractor rides round the site, a playground and a ferret race!

Blue Reef Aquarium

If you’re looking for family things to do on a rainy day in Hampshire, head to the Blue Reef Aquarium, Portsmouth.

Located on the seafront at the tip of Southsea, the Blue Reef Aquarium exhibits amazing underwater creatures from around the world.  Discover rays, lobsters and starfish from the local Solent Seas or exotic marine life from warmer tropical oceans.  Children will love seeing a whole host of underwater favourites, including clownfish, seahorses, sharks, and sting ray.

Liberty's Owl, Raptor & Reptile Centre

Another of the best attractions for animal lovers in Hampshire is Liberty’s Owl, Raptor & Reptile Centre., located near Ringwood.

As its name suggests, Liberty’s Owl, Raptor & Reptile Centre is home to a collection of owls, birds of prey and reptiles.   You can expect to see vultures, eagles, kestrels, kookaburra and more.  Make sure you are there for 12.00 or 2pm to see the flying displays.

After visiting the animals, small children can head to the play area, where they have a sandpit, fort, and balance trails.

Longdown Activity Farm

One of the best days out for toddlers and young children in Hampshire is the Longdown Activity Farm near Southampton.  Longdown is a really interactive farm, where children can get hands-on experience of feeding the animals.   In their animal encounter barn, they have all sorts of small, friendly animals, which the kids can hold and pet.

Outside at Longdown Farm, you’ll find a great choice of activities for kids.  Choose from the all-inclusive play area, trampolines, crazy gold, zip wire, and diggers.

And don’t worry, on a rainy day, you can let the kids play in the inside play barn.

New Forest Wildlife Park

With a variety of animals, including otters, owls, bison, polecats, and wallabies, the New Forest Wildlife Park is another popular family attraction in Hampshire.  Plus, as well as its collection of animals, this wildlife park has two fantastic adventure playgrounds.

For younger kids, the wildlife park has climbing frames, diggers and sand pits, whilst older children can enjoy climbing ropes, nets, and swings.  This all makes for a fun family day out in Hampshire.

Outdoor Fun in Hampshire

Hampshire is home to two National Parks and several fantastic country parks, all of which provide opportunities for outdoor fun.  There’s just so much beautiful countryside to enjoy.

New Forest National Park

One of the best outdoor places in Hampshire for kids is the New Forest National Park.

Whether it walking, horse riding, castles or the beach, there are just so many things to do for children

You’ll also find a network of fantastic flat,  traffic-free cycle routes that are perfect for family cycling.  If you don’t have your bikes, you can hire them for the day from a number of bike hubs around the forest.

The New Forest is also home to many species of wildlife, but is famous for the ponies who roam freely across this vast area of stunning heath land.

Read more:  30 unmissable things to do in the New Forest

The Old railway trail, New Forest, Hampshire, UK

The South Downs

Two boys walking on path through corn field on the the South Downs way

The second of the amazing national parks in Hampshire is the South Downs National Park, which stretches from Hampshire to East Sussex.

The South Downs National Park is a stunning range of hills and has one of the best choice of outdoor activities for families in Hampshire.  You can go walking, cycling, horse-riding or try some of the many water activities that are on offer.

If it’s hiking you are interested in, try some of the walks on the South Downs Way.  This  trail stretches for 100 miles across rolling hills, woodland and some of the pretty Hampshire villages.  It’s a exhilarating way to take in some of the spectacular views of the local countryside.

Click for some of the best things to do in the South Downs National Park.

Moors Valley Country Park

Large wooden play structure in shape of bird at Moors Valley country park

Moors Valley Country Park is in Ashley Heath, near Ringwood on the borders of Dorset and Hampshire.  Set in a beautiful woodland, it’s one of the best family attractions in Hampshire.

With woodland play trails, adventure playgrounds, and a steam railway, there is plenty for kids to do at Moors Valley.

In addition to all the free activities down below, families will love the adventures in the trees.

At Moors Valley Country Park they have several Go Ape courses, for different levels.  Alternatively, you could try Nets adventures, where kids can bounce their way around the tree tops.  My kids absolutely love this and it’s guaranteed to wear them out!  Click here for Go ape tickets.

Read more:  A visit to Moors Valley Country Park

Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Queen Elizabeth Country Park is just South of Petersfield and is easily accessible from the A3.  It lies on the South Downs and is a great place for a family day out in the great outdoors.

Covering 2000 acres of downland there are many things for families to do.  As well as plenty of space for walking and cycling, there is a great playground and assault course.  And don’t forget to climb Butser Hill for stunning views across Hampshire.

Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal stretches for 32 miles from Woodham in Surrey to Greywell Village in Hampshire. Originally built to connect Basingstoke with the River Thames in 1794 , it’s now ideal for a family walk or cycle in Hampshire.

There is plenty of wildlife for children to spot or they can look out for the house boats or some of the 29 locks.

If you are on the stretch of canal near North Warnborough, you can visit the unusual looking Odiham Castle. Often known as St John’s Castle, the remains of this castle are on a site just adjacent to the canal.

boats on Basingstoke Canal, Hampshire

Meon Valley Cycle Trail

Another family-friendly cycle route in Hampshire, is The Meon Valley Cycle Trail.  The route follows a disused railway and is absolutely perfect for a family cycle ride, as it is completely flat and traffic-free.

This picturesque ride is about 10 miles and goes from West Meon to Wickham.  Of course, you could start at the other end and shorten the route for younger children.  Alternatively, the Meon Valley Trail is also great for a walk, or even a horse ride.

Beaches in Hampshire

One of the best family days out is always a trip to the seaside and Hampshire’s location on the South Coast, means it has a good choice choice of family-friendly beaches.

Some of the best Hampshire beaches include Eastney Beach, Southsea Beach and  Calshot Beach.  Of course, you could always pop over to Beachlands at Hayling Island, which holds a European Blue Flag beach award.  The Hampshire beaches are mostly shingle or pebble, but are popular seaside resorts, with amazing views across the Solent.

If you are looking for somewhere to collect shells and fossils, head for Barton-on-Sea.  This small, cliff-top village is perfect for collecting the famous Barton fossils.

The best museums in Hampshire for kids.

Museums in Hampshire for kids

Winchester Science Museum & Planetarium

With over 100 interactive science exhibits, Winchester Science Centre is one of the best child-friendly museums in Hampshire.  Everything is hands-on, so even the youngest of children will have fun learning about the world of science and technology.

Winchester Science Centre is also home to the largest stand-alone planetarium in the UK.  Here, you can go on a tour of the universe without leaving your seat.  Kids will discover all they need to know about the stars and planets under this 360 degree domed-screen.

Beaulieu National Motor Museum

Boy in front of Gulf Porsche at Beaulieu Motor Museum, Hampshire

Another fabulous child-friendly museum in Hampshire is Beaulieu, Britain’s National Motor Museum.  Located on the south eastern edge of the National Forest. Beaulieu is a paradise for car lovers and one of the top family attractions in the UK.

As you would expect, Beaulieu is home to one of the finest car collections since the automobile was invented. Top Gear fans will also love an exhibition dedicated to the cars used on its classic motor programme.

However, Beaulieu has far more to offer than just cars.  History fans can enjoy a visit to the Beaulieu Palace House, with its Victorian kitchens and WWII spy school. The gardens at Beaulieu are splendid and keep an eye out for the ruins of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey.

Even better for children there is a monorail to get around and a new adventure playground, Little Beaulieu. We were even lucky enough to see an amazing falconry display on our last visit.

Milestones Museum of Living History

A great idea for things to do on a rainy day in Hampshire is a visit to the Milestone Museum of Living History in Basingstoke.  Children can step back in time to discover what life was like in the times of their grandparents.

As well as authentic street scenes, old shops and vintage cars, children can marvel at household items from earlier times.  Kids will also love the old penny arcade and traditional sweet shop at the museum.

It’s no surprise, that Milestones is one of the most popular museums in Hampshire.

Solent Sky Museum

If your kids are interested in aircraft, take a visit to the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton.  This little museum in the south of Hampshire provides an insight into the history of aviation in the Solent area.

With over 20 aircraft from the golden age of aviation, visitors can expect to see some of the world’s greatest fighting aircraft, including the world-famous spitfire and Tiger Moth.  You can even see a flying boat and the Hampshire Police and Fire Museum.

Butser Ancient Farm

Just South of Petersfield, in the South Downs National Park is an open air archaeology museum which covers 10,000 years of history.   Butser Ancient Farm is an active research centre, where they learn about the past by recreating it.

Children can visit the reconstructed houses to learn about the homes of their ancestors throughout the ages.  The collection of ancient buildings at Butser Farm include a Bronze Age roundhouse, Roman villa and Stone Age farm.  You can also see the ancient crops and some rare-breed animals.

Indoor fun in Hampshire

I Fly Indoor Skydiving

If you are looking for indoor activities for families in Hampshire, then the I-Fly Centre in Basingstoke is the perfect venue.

Indoor skydiving simulates the experience of free-falling, without having to jump out of a plane.  Flyers enter a giant wind tunnel, which generates wind and forces it upwards at approximately 120 mph.  This lets you experience the sensation of flight, without the danger or cost.

The actual experience in the wind tunnel only lasts about 2 minutes, but the kids loved it.  Anyone from the age of 3 can fly!

iFLY Indoor Skydiving, thumbs up, big smiles, Hampshire

If you don’t fancy skydiving, try the indoor ski centre, where you can practise on a giant rotating carpet.  A very odd sensation, if you are used to snow.

If you want to find out more about our indoor skydiving experience at I-fly, read:

Indoor skydiving

Flip Out

Another of the best indoor activities for kids in Hampshire is Flip Out.  Flip Out is a giant trampoline centre, where kids can wear themselves out bouncing and flipping around.

Flip out now has trampoline parks in Portsmouth, Southampton and Basingstoke and is a great option for a rainy day in Hampshire.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Spinaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire

For the best view in Portsmouth, head for the Emirates Spinnaker Tower on the waterfront at Gunwharf Quays.

At 170 metres tall, this iconic observation tower will give you impressive views across Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent. If your kids are feeling brave, they can venture across the Sky Walk.  This glass platform is in the middle of the viewing area and gives a direct view down to the harbour, 1,100 metres below!

More adventurous kids can also try the virtual reality “Altitude” experience or even have a go at abseiling down the side.

Click here for tickets to Spinnaker Tower.

Mid-Hants Railway "Watercress Line"

Another fun day out for toddlers in Hampshire is a ride on a steam train at the Mid-Hants railway.  It’s even better if you can go on one of their event days,  so that the kids can meet  with Thomas the Tank Engine or even Santa.

Theme Parks in Hampshire

Paultons Park

One of the most fun days out in Hampshire for families is Paultons Park. This popular theme park is set in 140 acres of parkland in Romsey, on the edge of the New Forest.

Paultons Park is fantastic day out for toddlers, as it is home to Peppa Pig World. Who wouldn’t love a balloon ride with the loveable TV pig or a dinosaur adventure with her little brother, George?

However, it also has plenty to offer older kids.  From animated dinosaurs to high-speed rollercoasters, there is something to suit all tastes.  It even has its own Little Africa animal area, with meerkats and porcupines.

Two young boys on a digger, one of the rides at Peppa Pig world, Paultons Park, New Forest, Hampshire

New Forest Water Park

Probably the best water attraction in Hampshire, is the New Forest Water Park. This giant aqua park has one of the UK’s biggest inflatable, obstacle courses on the water.  It even includes its own trampolines, flip boards and climbing wall.

Other water activities at the New Forest Water Park include kayaking and paddleboarding.  There is also a cable system for any kids wanting to learn to wakeboard.

What are your favourite things to do in Hampshire with kids?  We’d love to read your suggestions below.  

Pinterest: 30 things to do in Hampshire

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