Dorset is an incredibly family-friendly destination. With several miles of stunning coastlines and picturesque countryside, there’s plenty to do here for both adults and kids. From checking out Durdle Door to exploring castle ruins, visiting museums, and lounging at the beach, here are the top 5 things to do in Dorset with the family.
- Check out Durdle Door
The Durdle Door is one of the world’s most popular stone arches and a famous landmark of the Jurassic Coast. It was formed 10,000 years ago when the sea pierced through the layer of hard limestone standing vertically by the sea.
Durdle Door stands at the foot of a steep path with wooden steps, accessible via the Southwest Coast Path, which is a 15-minute walk to the beach. At the foot is the Man O’ War Cove, a lovely beach flanked by rocky and steep headlands of the Durdle Door. The footpath between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door is bustling with people, seeing over 200,000 walkers each year. Walking between the two sites will take around 30 minutes up and down the steep but scenic path.
The easiest way to get to Durdle Door is by car, although it’s also possible to take public transport. Families who are into hiking can take a longer walking route to get to the area. Durdle Door is a popular day trip from various cities around South England and a must-visit for families visiting Dorset.
- Wander Through the Stately Homes
Dorset is home to numerous stately homes that are a joy to explore with the kids. From ancient old abbeys to centuries-old castles and sprawling manors, you will find these stately homes scattered across the country’s picturesque countryside. Most have immaculate gardens, perfect for running around with your little ones. Visiting these places is a fun way to introduce culture and history to your kids, where they get a closer look into how noble families lived during ancient times.
The Athelhampton House in Dorchester is one of Dorset’s most famous stately homes. It’s a 15th-century house surrounded by stunning grounds featuring the Great Court, the Private Garden, and an octagonal pond that will lead you to the river Piddle. Inside the house is a Great Hall constructed in 1485, a perfect example of Tudor architecture. Most of the carved stonework, stained glasses, and hammer-beam roof are original.
The Highcliffe Castle in Christchurch is another stately home worth checking out in Dorset. It’s a gorgeous Grade-I listed property, only a stone’s throw from the beach. Overlooking spectacular views across the sea and into the Isle of Wight, Highcliffe Castle is a must-visit for families.
- Explore the Ruins at a Castle
Dorset is famous for its stunning historic castles with dramatic ruins. Exploring these castles is a fun experience, especially if you’ve got curious little kids. Here, you can introduce them to English history and discover how the royal families live in the early times.
The dramatic ruins of the Corfe Castle are among Dorset’s most iconic attractions. Perched on a peak amidst rolling green hills on the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle was built more than a thousand years ago and destroyed during the English Civil War in 1646. The striking ruins open to the stunning views of a lovely village home to quaint stone cottages. After spending some time at the castle, head to the village and check out its cosy pubs and cute cafes.
For a more relaxing way to enjoy your holiday with the kids, stay in a large cottage accommodation in Dorset, perfect for family getaways. Some have kiddie pools and playgrounds where your kids can have fun after a day of going around Dorset. Some of these cottages are close to ruined castles and other top attractions.
- Uncover History at the Museums
One of the best ways to teach your kids about history is to visit Dorset’s museums and galleries. These places allow you to peek into Dorset’s historical roots, showcasing impressive exhibitions and fascinating collections from ancient times. The best museums to take your kids to are the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life, the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum, and the Gold Hill Museum.
The Museum of Jurassic Marine Life lies in the lovely village of Kimmeridge. It contains some interesting fossils discovered at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Aside from learning about how these fossils were excavated and prepared, visitors also get the chance to watch real marine dinosaurs swimming.
The Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum is an immersive museum ideal for all ages. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the history of law and order, including past and present efforts to achieve equal justice for all people. Meanwhile, the Gold Hill Museum is a fun place to discover rural and town life. Perched at the stunning Gold Hill, the museum is housed in two historic buildings. One used to be a house of a priest, while the other served as a lodging for traders visiting the market of Gold Hill.
- Head to the Beach
Dorset is one of the best destinations for a family beach holiday in the UK. It has a stunning coastline home to many excellent sandy beaches, ideal for relaxing and indulging in water sports, such as surfing, paddle boarding, kitesurfing, and kayaking. They are also perfect for swimming and working on your tan.
About three-quarters of the coastline of Dorset is part of the Jurassic Coast Natural World Heritage Site, an esteemed designation recognising the fascinating diversity of its landscape and Dorset’s role in the discovery of fossils and the study of dinosaurs.
Bournemouth beach, which features 10 miles of magnificent coastline, is one of the best beaches in Dorset. It consists of two main areas, the East and West Cliff. Both offer a wide range of fun activities for both adults and kids. These Blue Flag beaches are ideal for families and have shallow and clean water safe for kids to swim in.