Family Days Out: 10 places to visit in the Isle of Wight
Fantastic family days out in the Isle of Wight
I spent many a fun week on the Isle of Wight as a child and still love returning to this day.
Living in East Dorset, the Isle of Wight isn't too far away and is the perfect destination for a day trip, or a short break.
The day starts with a trip over the Solent from either Lymington, Southampton or Portsmouth, which makes it even more of an adventure for the kids. You can choose to take your car aboard a ferry which takes under an hour from all destinations, or you can travel aboard a hovercraft and then use public transport on the island, for an exciting journey with a difference.
The Isle of Wight might only measure 150 sq miles but don't let that put you off visiting – there is so much to do on the island with kids in tow.
For younger kids, my first port of call is always Blackgang Chine, which turns 174 years old this year and is still home to its first exhibit – the magnificent skeleton of a Fin Whale. (Read my full review!)
This year saw the opening of their new Underwater Kingdom which takes you on a hour journey underwater through the colourful coral reef where we discovered an abandoned sunken shipwreck to explore, the most amazing array of colourful, larger than life animatronic sea creatures which includes a huge whale floating above our heads, moving its tail as if it were swimming.
There is also the infamous dinosaur exhibits which have been brought right up to date with some new animatronic models, including the fearsome T-Rex which makes the floor shakes when it roars. It really lives up to its motto of "the land of imagination"
My next destination is one we only discovered last month – Robin Hill Country Park, which is the sister site of Blackgang Chine and you can buy discounted joint tickets to visit both.
Robin Hill is an award winning park set in 88 acres of land, with views over to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower. It offers a great mix of rides and adventure play for fun-loving families and children, alongside relaxing woodland gardens, ponds and sculpture walks, with our favourites being the squirrel run and the toboggans.
Over the school holidays, they run their Squawk Olympics which gives the children the opportunity to try the inflatable obstacle course, take part in some hopper racing or join their friends for some zorb football.
No visit to the Isle of Wight would be without a visit to the Needles and taking the chairlift from the top of the cliff to Alum Bay below.
There are also several visitor attractions at the Needles and we still have my older kids unique sand souvenirs that they made with coloured sand when we visited with them a few years ago. Jurassic crazy golf is also lots of fun as is the Victorian Carousel and teacup ride.
Next up is the Isle of Wight Zoo which specialises in Tigers and Lemurs and incorporates the National Museum of Poo – yes really!!
It is also home to Lions, Jaguars, Monkey's, Meerkats, Reptiles and Farm Animals.
If the weather is a bit hit and miss then Tapnell Farm Park is half petting farm, with farm animals, wallabies, meerkats whilst the other half is adventure play and soft play or why not try Islejump, an indoor trampoline park which is home to trampolines, an air bag, dodgeball and basketball areas.
For older children and history lovers, a visit to Osborne House is a must. Built in the 19th Century this was Queen Victoria and Prince Alberts rural retreat.
Visit Victoria and Albert's private apartments, their bathing beach and children's play-cottage for an intimate glimpse of royal family life. Then stroll through the garden terraces where the stunning views across the Solent which reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.
Carisbrooke Castle is perfect for exploring and is famous for where Charles I was imprisoned during the English Civil War before he was executed. Meet the resident donkeys that have been drawing up water in the well house for hundreds of years and look out for special event days such as jousting and Knight school which run on various dates throughout the year.
For dinosaur lovers, Dinosaur Isle is a purpose built, interactive museum which displays fossil finds found on the island and interactive exhibits for the kids to get involved with, or you can join them for a fossil hunt of your own at one of the islands many beaches.
For a cheap and stress-free day out with the kids, why not head for the beach. Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor are popular beaches with great facilities including toilets, beach-side amusements and are good for swimming, or head to Appley which has a vast patch of sand at low tide which is good for football and beach games.