We all know that if the kids are happy then so are their parents, so I hope you find the below guide useful to keep the youngsters entertained!
City Cruises offers a variety of boat trips starting from 9.15am and going on into the evening. These run seven days a week. This is a great educational opportunity to learn about Poole Harbour and The Jurassic Coast from our Captain’s onboard commentary. Taking a trip to Swanage, the children can visit the beautiful sandy beach with sheltered waters or visit the mini funfair located just off the promenade. A typical Victorian seaside town, Swanage is very much geared up to entertain the children. There is also the opportunity to travel to Corfe on a Victorian steam train or a Heritage Diesel Train. Run by volunteers, Swanage Railway is a ‘must do’ when you visit the area. A boat/train combination ticket can be bought at the City Cruises kiosks or online.
Special Events cruises throughout the year include gin night, jazz and prosecco, Mexican night, and much more.
If you are joining a City Cruise Sightseeing Trip to Swanage and the weather is inclement, then take the opportunity to visit Swanage Railway. Combination tickets are available from City Cruises. This volunteer-led railway has been operating since 1976. The railway was built in 1885 but with the introduction of cars, it went into decline in the 1950s and was finally closed in 1972. It has taken many decades to get it back to how it is today, and it now runs a regular service from Swanage to Corfe Castle on either a steam train or a Heritage diesel train. Plans are to extend the service to run to Wareham in the future.
With a bustling high street and a large shopping centre, Poole has plenty to offer the avid shopper! Great opportunity for a bit of retail therapy when the weather is bad.
Owned by the Natural Trust and partly managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, Brownsea Island is well known for its wildlife such as rare red squirrels, and a wide variety of birds including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns, and oystercatchers. The island can be accessed by boat from Poole Quay and is the largest island in Poole Harbour. The Island is one and a half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide and makes for a lovely stroll through the nature trails ending up with refreshments in the café by the Brownsea port. The children love it as there are plenty of woodland trails and play parks and lots to see.
Brownsea Island is also home to Scout camps first introduced by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907 and are continuing today.
Starting at Poole Museum, take an hour and a half walk around the old town in Poole following the brass plaques in the pavement to retrace Poole’s rich historical heritage, as well as learning about present-day landmarks. These clues in the pavement offer an opportunity for children to test their puzzle skills! A leaflet can be picked up at the museum or downloaded on the Poole tourism website.
Poole is probably most famous for making bright and cheerful pottery throughout the later part of the 1800s and throughout the 1900s. The factory in Poole no longer exists (now in production in Stoke on Trent) but Studio Poole opened in 2018 to keep the memory and legacy of Poole Pottery in Poole. The studio is a one-stop shop for Poole Pottery where you can buy discontinued tableware, vintage collectibles, and a whole host of other gift ideas. They still have an in-house studio that produces quality, handmade tribute reproductions of discontinued Poole Pottery ranges. And for those budding artists, you can paint your own ceramic masterpiece from a wide selection of bisque animals and fantasy creatures.
Naturally beautiful, with its golden sands and clear waters, Sandbanks has held the highly coveted international Blue Flag for the past 30 years. There are miles and miles of stunning beaches for the children to enjoy and at Sandbanks itself, watersport equipment can be hired or there is an outdoor play area. Easily accessible by buses from Poole or Bournemouth. Car parking is available but does fill up very early on in the summer and is a bit pricey!
Just a 10-minute drive from Poole centre or easily accessible by bus, Splashdown waterpark at Tower Park is always a family favourite for the kids. With 13 thrilling inside and outside rides and 3 under 5’s splash pools, it is guaranteed fun! Also located at Tower Park are Hollywood Bowl, Cineworld, Buzz Bingo and a host of restaurants.
Perfect for youngsters, Farmer Palmers is a 15-minute drive from Poole and can also be easily accessible by bus from Poole bus station. There is a host of animals to see and learn about, Farmer Palmer’s has an indoor soft play area, a dinosaur trail, tractor rides, pedal tractors & go-karts, a sand & water play area, an outdoor play area, a wendy house, bouncy castles and much more. A full day’s entertainment!
An exciting new attraction is due to open in Spring 2023 and is located in The Dolphin Centre in the centre of Poole. Flipout is designed for adults and children offering seven new attractions including E-karting, interactive football, laser tag, bumper cars, a roller rink, a cannon blast arena, and a soft play area.
Eat & Drink
There is a wide range of pubs and restaurants in Poole where you can shelter from the rain and grab a drink or a bite to eat. The town centre offers an abundance of cafes and bars.
Things to do in Poole and Surrounding Areas
- New Forest – walking, cycling, camping, horseriding
- Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door
- Bournemouth Beaches & Town Centre
- Studland Beach – National Trust
- Dancing Ledge
- Dorset Adventure Park
- Kingston Lacy – National Trust
- Corfe Castle
Whether you are here for a day, a week or a fortnight, there is always something to see, do and enjoy.