20 of the best days out in Hampshire
- Credit: J.C.H.Faulkner
Whether for half term or just a weekend of fun, Eve Smallman shares her favourite attractions in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight
‘Aww’ at adorable animals
Where: Longdown Farm, Southampton
There’s farmyard fun for the whole family at Longdown Activity Farm in Ashurst. Join in with a daily schedule of hands-on activities that include bottle-feeding kid goats and calves, the Animal Encounter Experience, and duck feeding (social distancing rules will apply). There are lots of friendly animals to meet including donkeys, alpacas, cute chicks, Pygmy goats, Kunekune pigs, cows, and many more. Little ones and big ones alike can join in with lots of playtime fun around the farm from ride-on tractors and go-carts to a large outdoor play area, which includes four big trampolines. All this, as well as being able to try your hand at the Pitchfork & Putt crazy golf, or ‘Go Quackers’ with its duck game.
Tickets: Adult £10.25, child £9.95, senior £8.75, family saver £35.00
Live life on the edge
Where: Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
Abseil across the glorious glass of the 170m tall, iconic Spinnaker Tower. The view gives a wonderful view of Hampshire, and on sunnier days you can even see the Isle of Wight ahead. Experience pure adrenaline as you make your way down, making for a thrilling experience like no other. Group up with friends, raise money for charity or set yourself a personal challenge. Choose to simply abseil or opt for extras with the gold package that includes a medal, GoPro video and a photo, or the platinum package that includes all of that plus a t-shirt that you can flaunt to show off your brave achievement. Afterwards you can explore the tower, with its glass Sky Walk or even have a bite to eat in the Spinnaker Kitchen.
Abseiling £100, gold package £130, platinum £140, all per person
Marvel at kaleidoscopes of colour
Where: Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey
The magnificent Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is world famous for its arboretum and gardens set over 180 acres of rolling Hampshire countryside. Established by the distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier in 1953, it is now home to 14 National Collections, over 600 Champion Trees and 42,000 plants from temperate regions. In the summer its Centenary Border, measuring 250m long, has bountiful red hot pokers, echinacea and crocosmia. The gardens are a wonderful place for children to play, with tree house, bridge and tunnels all ready to explore. Foraging pigs can also be spotted in the woods and fish and ducks can be seen enjoying the water areas. During the school holidays it also provides a wide range of family activities and trails which are well worth embarking on.
Tickets: Adult £12.10, children 5-16 £3.30, families £28.10
Go on a ship shape journey
Where: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Salty sea dogs, head down to the premier dockyard for a fascinating insight into naval history. Whether you’re a fanatic or just keen to learn, you’re bound to be entertained. Step on board world-famous ships, explore heroic submarines and uncover some of the navy’s best-kept secrets with first-hand accounts from the Royal Navy’s finest, past and present. You'll see, hear and even smell how life was lived under the sea. Ships include The Mary Rose which stands in its own specially designed area, the HMS Victory which allows people to follow in the footsteps of Nelson, and the HMS M.33 which is the only surviving ship from the World War One Gallipoli campaign. You can also embark on a harbour tour.
Three explorer attraction ticket: Adult £34, child £24, any one attraction day adult: £24, child £19
Step into the shoes of a Tudor
Where: The Vyne, Basingstoke
The warm red-bricked Tudor mansion makes for a welcoming location for a leisurely summer stroll, giving you a splendid Bridgerton atmosphere. Visitors will encounter 500 year-old Majolica tiles, Renaissance stained glass, and exquisite wood carvings in the Tudor chapel and period linen-fold panelling in the oak gallery. Meander through and enjoy featureful rooms once enjoyed by notable guests like Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Horace Walpole, and Jane Austen. The house is also set in 13 acres of beautiful, relaxing gardens. From the formal summerhouse and stone gallery gardens with fine herbaceous borders, to the more natural wild garden and fruit trees of the orchard and walled garden, there’s plenty to discover.
Tickets: Adult £13, child £6.50, family £32.50
Take a trip through time
Where: Milestones Living History Museum, Basingstoke
Learn about all the wonderful things in the past that makes Hampshire so great today at the Milestones Living History Museum. The museum is home to over 20,000 objects that were either made or used in Hampshire, and is a record of the county's social, industrial and transport history. Enthusiasts will enjoy the collection of beautifully restored vintage vehicles, while if you prefer shopping you’ll be able to discover what shops used to be like before chain stores took over. The museum is suitable for all ages, with plenty to keep the whole family occupied. Younger visitors can explore the museum's specially created Play Space and explore through a range of I-Spy trails, while the older ones can relive buying penny sweets and listening to music on gramophones.
Tickets: Adult £16, child and concession £13.25, family £48.50
Wander through a wonderful Cathedral
Where: Winchester Cathedral
This glorious building in the heart of Winchester is one of the finest medieval cathedrals in Europe. It is the resting place of Saxon royalty, bishops and Jane Austen, the much-loved English novelist. Fifteen centuries of English history lie behind the impressive Cathedral you see today. Located on the site of an early Christian church, Winchester Cathedral’s foundations were laid in 1079 and it has been a place of worship ever since. Enjoy stunning architecture, beautiful stained glass windows and medieval woodwork as you explore this vast and ancient place of worship. Priceless treasures and great works of art can also be found at Winchester Cathedral, including the spectacular Winchester Bible, the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English Bibles.
Tickets: Adult £9.95, concession £8.00, student £6.50, children under 16 free
Walk in a writer’s footsteps
Where: Jane Austen’s House, Chawton
Discover the cosy world of one of England’s most treasured novelists. This charming cottage was home to Jane Austen as she wrote, revised, and had published numerous books, including Pride and Prejudice. Step back in time to 1816 and discover the home and garden that Jane used as inspiration and get up-close to objects from the museum’s superb collection, including Jane’s jewellery, letters and the iconic table at which she wrote her much loved novels. There is all this, as well as first editions of Pride and Prejudice, a devoted to Darcy fan club fan, and her red riding coat. In the gift shop there is a variety of Jane Austen themed wares unique to the house to take home too, including books, stationery and homewear.
Tickets: Adult £10, child £5, senior £8.00
Lunch like a Lord or Lady
Where: Highclere Castle, Newbury
The gorgeous and grand home of Downtown Abbey is a luxurious location for a spot of afternoon tea on the lawn, complete with champagne. Sumptuous sandwiches include smoked salmon and lemon mayonnaise, marinated cucumber with mint and lime and egg and mustard cress. For those whose sweet teeth yearn for indulgent baked goods, these include warm scones and jam. There are also gluten free and vegetarian options on offer. Those booking will need to have purchased a general admission ticket too as the picnic basket is an additional cost to this. Picnic tickets also allow you to have complimentary tea and coffee throughout the rest of your visit.
Picnic boxes £60 for two people. General admission: adult £17, child £11, senior £15.50
Go on a merry adventure
Where: Robin Hill Adventure Park, Newport
Discover the magnificent grounds of Robin Hill, where adventure awaits. Burn off some energy on the treetop canopy walkways, adrenalin-inducing Jungle Heights adventure nets, epic rides, 4D cinema, as well as enjoying outdoor play options for the whole family. As well as this, you can watch majestic birds soar at the daily falconry displays. To catch your breath, explore the open parkland and woodland trails that feature gardens, sculptures, tumbling water features, ponds, bridges and an extensive botanical collection. A tranquil stroll wouldn’t be complete without spotting one of the colourful tails of its resident peacocks. The park is also home to an 800 seat Woodland Amphitheatre which sits amidst towering trees in the heart of the woodland, which has a selection of events on this summer.
Tickets: £17, free for carers and children under 4
Where: The Garlic Farm, Sandown
For those who love all things to do with garlic, a trip to this farm is essential. Head to the restaurant to taste the beautiful fresh produce in dishes such as burgers, garlic bread, and whole roasted garlic bulbs if you aren’t planning on being near anyone afterwards. Shop its full range of goods, including chutneys, cheeses and even garlic beer for those who are feeling brave. You can find out how garlic came to the Isle of Wight, hear garlic folklore and learn how to grow the good stuff for yourself. The tractor tours also run until September, where you can learn all about the farm and its surroundings. Alternatively, you can stretch your legs and go on a walk around, where you can spot all the lovely birds, animals, insects and wildflowers which co-exist with the crops.
Free entry, additional costs for food and tractor rides
Walk on the wet and wild side
Where: Isle of Wight Aqua Park
The Isle of Wight’s bounciest and wettest attraction is ready for you to tackle. Team up with friends and families and take on the challenge of getting over, under and around a variety of fun obstacles. Hurdle down the giant free-fall slides, leap over the humungous balls and scale the wall, as well as exploring all the other elements. It’s great fun for confident swimmers aged seven and over, and all ages will enjoy the thrill of the slip and slide action. It’s also a wonderful way to cool off on a hot summer’s day while providing a lovely opportunity to bond with loved ones and build teamworking skills. The on-site facilities include showers and toilets located outside and there’s a spectator area for those watching the fun unfold.
£20 per person
Drink in the finest gin
Where: Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Whitchurch
Come one and come all gin lovers for this exciting, personal insight into one of the most renowned gin companies in Britain. Explore the Bombay Sapphire Distillery with a distillery host to guide you as you discover the ten exotic botanicals infused into every drop of Bombay Sapphire Gin in the glasshouses with an insight into Heatherwick Studios’ inspired design. Your host will then help you navigate the Botanical Dry Room, where you will put your senses to good use and find out what flavour profiles wet your whistle. You’ll also be given an interesting insight in to the rare vapour infusion distillation process that makes Bombay Sapphire gin so exquisite, before your host leaves you to enjoy a cocktail from the menu, selected using your preferences.
Tickets: Adult £17.50, concession £15.75, child 6-17 £10, under 5s free
Indulge in a guided tour and tasting
Where: The Grange, Alresford
This family run winery is a lovely location for a warm summer’s evening leisurely strolling around. Discover what makes the wine The Grange produces so special through the guided tour, led by managing director Zam Baring, who runs the winery with siblings Rose, Lucy and Mark. He will show you around the gorgeous grounds at Burge’s Fields, which has 52,000 vines in it to explore. They grow three different types of grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – which all can be made into beautiful different variations of wine. Following the tour you’ll be able to taste the wine for yourself. Then once you’re finished, why not treat yourself to a bottle or three to take home with you?
£20 per person
Treat yourself to a pamper
Where: Tylney Hall, Hook
Take some quality time to have a morning or afternoon of pure relaxation. This half day pamper break is ideal for when you'd like to relax, reinvigorate and just let someone else do all the work. Go in the morning and enjoy a full English breakfast or in the afternoon and have tea in the Lounges. Then, choose from a manicure, pedicure, facial or leg and foot treatment. All the days include full usage of the gymnasium, pool and bikes, as well as the woodland walk on the 66 acres of grounds. Book in with a friend, a partner, or even just have a day by yourself to utterly switch off. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have an exquisite day – just wrap yourself in your fluffy robe, slide on the slippers, and enjoy.
£80 per person
Cook with fiery passion
Where: Lainston House, Winchester
They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, so what better way to spend a romantic day with your partner than learning to cook a special meal? Woodfired experts will guide you through the experience of cooking in a traditional woodfired oven. After refreshments you’ll be given an insightful introduction to woodfired ovens, then you’ll be hands on throughout the day preparing and cooking dishes in the ovens. You will get the chance to savour your creations during the morning and afternoon as well as some "show and tell" baked breads and cheese cake to take home. All classes include detailed notes and recipes, as well as links to learning, videos and suppliers, as well as a keepsake Season cookery school apron.
£450 per couple
Train yourself on the Isle of Wight’s heritage
Where: Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Learn about the remarkable stories behind the historic Isle of Wight locomotives, with a selection of different trains all available to peruse. Discover how the Island railways provided daily transport and shaped lives, from taking people to work, school or shopping, to taking livestock and farm produce to market. Goods - including coal, which was the Island’s largest import - were distributed around the Island, after arriving from one of the Island’s ports. Both events feature the W24 Calbourne hauling the passenger trains and the W11 Newport pulling the heritage goods train. Be sure to check the timetable beforehand so you don’t miss the chance to go aboard.
Tickets: Adult £14.50, child £7.25
Have a sinking feeling
Where: Sea City Museum, Southampton
Nowhere was the tragedy of the Titanic disaster more felt than in Southampton, where more than 500 households lost a family member. Visitors to the museum will discover how many people worked onboard and the huge variety of jobs the crew carried out. The centrepiece of this gallery features an interactive model of the Titanic, showing the intricate layout of the vessel. Visitors will also be able to experience the sights and sounds of Southampton’s port in 1912. It was here the Titanic left Southampton on 10 April 1912. Additionally, through powerful oral testimony from survivors, the Disaster Room describes the sequence of events from the time the ship struck the iceberg to its sinking. It’s a powerful way to discover a crucial part of the city’s history.
Tickets: Adult £9.00, child £6.50, concession £7.00, family £27.00
Where: Southampton Scuba Diving
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to breathe underwater? Swimming with the lovely creatures that make our oceans so vibrant? If you want to find out, this beginners course will let you try out scuba to see if you like it. While not an actual scuba certification, during the Discover Scuba Diving experience you’ll learn how to use scuba equipment in shallow water and get a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world. Learn what wearing scuba equipment feels like and how easy it is to move around underwater while wearing it and learn whether you can be comfortable there. Instructors say the hardest part for everyone is getting out again as it’s so much fun.
£35 per person
Make sweet treats
Where: Chocolate Craft, Alresford
Play at being Willy Wonka for the day by discovering the joys of piping, shaping and tasting your very own hand-crafted chocolates with the guidance of Chocolate Craft. Bring a friend with you, and both of you can get busy working with both the professional chocolatiers and the sweet ingredients at hand. Join them by making your own chocolates by moulding, decorating and piping, until you’ve got a spread of cocoa-based works of art. You will also get to decorate your own chocolate lolly, with the best decoration winning a prize. Wrap all your chocolates up, and head home with loads of delicious newfound knowledge and treats to match. You’ll take home a minimum of 21 chocolates, which you can share with your friends and family or scoff yourself (…we know what we would choose).
£109 for two