27 exciting days out for under 12s

With plenty of energy and active minds under 12’s need both their bodies and minds exercised. Great days out in Hampshire can do just that! Below we’ve compiled our favourite days out for under 12s to enjoy.

Days out for active minds under 12

Two under 12s enjoying Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Spark their curiosity in science by letting them get hands-on with two floors of interactive exhibits at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, including the immersive Explorer:Space zone. And be sure to experience an unforgettable planetarium show in the UK’s largest standalone planetarium; there are a variety of 360°fulldome films and presenter-led shows on offer.

Let them get hands on and discover fascinating stories in the view from 100 metres up at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower – with interactive information touch screens, child-friendly audio guides, fun rib boat simulator, amazing glass Sky Walk and more.

The activity trolley at Whitchurch Silk Mill includes a range of activities for children to do whilst visiting the mill, including paper weaving, fill the gap activities, French knitting dollies and weaving frames.

Indoors at Bursledon Brickworks they have a children’s interactive trail, hands on puzzles and activities, lashings of Lego, full sized playboat plus activities throughout the museum. Outside they have a fairy trail and a really difficult ‘brickyard trail’.

Fire your imagination; learn about heroes of the past and how artillery has shaped history in Fort Nelson‘s fun family trails that guide you around the fort. Look out for their junior events and special gun firings available throughout the year.

Looking for some after-school fun? Why not take the children up to Riverside Bowl to enjoy their Pin Pals or Golf Buddies offer at an affordable price. Enjoy 1 game of bowling or a round of golf, finishing with a children’s meal of your choice.

For explorers under 12

Kids can enjoy following in some famous footsteps by crossing the newly opened Kings Cross footbridge that featured in the Harry PotterTM films at the Watercress Line. They can explore the new viewing galleries in the engineering workshops at Ropley station and get a unique view of the current restoration projects.

There’s plenty of space to run, jump and play around Mottisfont, and always something for families to do. Test your limits in Mottisfont’s Wild Play areas, explore the grounds with seasonal trails in school holidays, and enjoy a family-focused exhibition every summer.

Let them be curious and follow seasonal trails around Sir Harold Hillier Gardens; spotting plants, animals, insects and the changes in the season. Play eye-spy, view the giant willow sculptures and visit the Education Garden. During the school holidays they can also take part in fun activities such as Pond Dipping, Climb a Tree and Bushcraft.

Take to the Beaulieu River in stable touring kayaks on a paddling tour with New Forest Activities. They’ll be provided with all the kit and kick-ass guide to take them on an exciting tour of the rivers nature reserve. They’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of the river, whilst learning a new skill. All under 18s must take part with an adult. See their website for available session times, open all year round!

Ever wondered how to tie a bowline? Come along to the historic shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard and have a go! You can even have a go at traditional ‘caulking’, which is the process of making the seams in a ship watertight.

The Mary Rose in Portsmouth has loads for youngsters to enjoy under 12, from our ‘Life on Board’ light show, testing their strength on replica longbows, to handling, and even smelling, 500 year old rope from Henry VIII’s warship!

Meeting the animals and exploring the farm at Staunton Country Park and experiencing farm life through the years at Manor Farm will keep children entertained for hours! Events and activities designed especially for younger ages will give them a new and fresh experience each visit. The mini rangers club encourages children to explore the parks and engage with their environment; ideal for those who love to explore the great outdoors.

For Adventurers under 12

Adults and under 12s at Thruxton Race Circuit
Thruxton Race Circuit

There’s nothing like starting young! At Thruxton any budding racing drivers from 8 years old can go karting on our 365 metre Club Circuit and experience motor racing for themselves.

Release your inner ninja on the Ninja Force assault course in Action Stations at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Measuring 20 metre by six metre, the course combines elements of Parkour, rock climbing and rope courses and is suitable for anyone over six and visitors can have as many goes as they like. Action Station is home to dozens of interactive adventures, including an indoor climbing tower and the Making of a Royal Marines Commando exhibition.

Visit Lepe Country Park, with over a mile of beach is a great day out for all. Whether spending the day searching for seashore crabs and building sandcastles or enjoying the play area or a stroll around the coast to the D-Day remains or through the local nature reserve, there’s lots to do. Finish your visit at The Lookout, Lepe’s restaurant with panoramic views over the Solent – a destination for visitors whatever the weather!

At The Vyne, test their outdoor skills with engaging activities like den building, geocaching and orienteering. Ask about the numerous family trails on offer at Visitor Reception. Friendly house guides provide funny, engaging stories of life inside this grand home over the centuries.

For children aged eight and over there is an extensive range of equipment at Queen Elizabeth Country Park‘s Adventure Play Trail near the Juniper BBQ site. There are miles of open space to explore on foot, by bike or on horseback.

Kids can enjoy a fun filled hour of canopy exploring, trail blazing and obstacles on Go Ape Tree Top Junior. Perfect for anyone over 1m tall, you’ll negotiate three loops of crossings and finish on a high with two awesome Zip Wires.

For family fun days out that everyone can enjoy

Let your imagination run wild at Blackgang Chine. Venture on a journey of discovery, fighting pirates on-board your own ship, discovering life size moving dinosaurs and escaping from danger, being sheriff of your own cowboy town, rounding up the outlaws and locking ’em up!

Make a splash at Paultons Park and take on the Raging River Ride, an exciting log flume with two mighty drops! Head to the wave runner, and descend down a steep water coaster on fast flowing water whilst in your own dinghy!

Climb into a pod and take a ride through motoring history on Wheels at Beaulieu. Then grab a costume and pose for your photo in a historic vehicle. Plus don’t forget to follow the fun quiz trail…

Set in 88 acres of beautiful countryside, Robin Hill boasts a whole day of entertainment and more. With great rides, amazing falconry displays from one of the UK’s most experienced falconry teams, and adventure play for fun loving families and children.

Be a Wild Explorer and take part in Marwell Zoo’s popular Explorer’s Trail! Begin your expedition around the zoo to find and collect all ten stamps around the park at some of your favourite animal enclosures.

You will enjoy taking to the air in Hollycombe Steam in the Country’s famous Big Wheel, which offers spectacular views of the South Downs from its top. If you visit once, you can return again for free for a whole year!

Immerse your children in nature at the Hawk Conservancy Trust. Each day there is a full timetable of activities to entertain the whole family, including world-class flying displays. Children can let off steam as they complete the activity trail and on the new bird of prey themed playground. There’s also extra activities during weekends and school holidays including ferret racing, tractor rides and pond dipping.

We hope you’ve got some great new ideas for days out for under 12s, that you’ll enjoy as well. Why not view out full list of things to do in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for all ages. Got an older gang? Then view our guide on things to do with teenagers.

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