Things to do in Hampshire and Isle of Wight in the holidays

April 14, 2023

4 giraffes outside at Marwell Zoo eating from hanging tree branches attached to their enclosure. The sky is blue with white clouds and it's sunny. Marwell Zoo is one of the most fun animal attractions in Hampshire.

There’s so many epic things to do in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight! And the holidays offer the perfect opportunity to explore its lively locations and unwind in the natural beauty of tranquil landscapes. It doesn’t matter who you are; you’ll find something for you in this unique and vibrant corner of the world. 

In this blog, you’ll find wonderful days out, including fun family activities at our amazing attractions. So, why not make your great escape here for the holidays?

Animal attractions

If you’re a lover of animals, you have an endless choice of animal experiences and attractions. To name just a few, let’s start with attractions doing great things for wildlife conservation. Marwell Zoo (image above), located in Winchester, is home to a wide variety of animals, like tigers, penguins and giraffes. The New Forest Wildlife Centre is another popular choice, if you fancy seeing British wildlife in their natural habitat.

And if birds are more your jam, you’ll find over 800 of them over at Birdworld in Farnham. This aviary and bird park also has a range of other animals to see too. 

Family fun on a rollercoaster at Paultons Park
Paultons Park

Not to mention, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have a selection of farms that make wholesome family days out in Hampshire. Staunton Farm, Longdown Activity Farm and Tapnell Farm are great options for families with young children! So, why not meet and interact with animals whilst having fun with the different activities?

Adventure activities 

Calling all adventure seekers on the hunt for their next thrill. Firstly, Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a popular theme park in Romsey. This is a super popular family destination that makes a fun-fuelled day out in Hampshire. 

If you like the excitement of rides, head to Clarence Pier in Southsea. Here, you’ll enjoy a day at the seaside with fun-fuelled classic fairground rides and amusements. 

And what about visiting Thruxton, the world-renowned motorsport circuit that offers driving experiences and track days? For sporty types, New Forest Activities offers a range of outdoor activities, including kayaking, archery and forest survival skills. 

Fancy an adventure with a little more chill? Visit the bowling alley, Riverside Bowl! Or, Sandham Gardens on the Isle of Wight offers a range of activities, including mini-golf, water play areas and a children’s play park. 

There’s so many adventure activities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to explore, so make sure to have a proper look so you can plan a wonderfully thrilling time. 

Outdoor attractions 

Well, where do we start with outdoor attractions? Because Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are packed with nature you wouldn’t mind getting lost in for the day, away from the grind of daily life. 

And for unbeatable adventure in the treetops, visit Go Ape in Southampton, Moors Valley and Alice Holt!

Fancy a tranquil garden? Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey lets you explore 180 acres in the rolling green of the Hampshire countryside. If a unique outdoor adventure game sounds more up your street, Text Quest in Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester takes you on a journey through the city’s historic landmarks!

Children are rock climbing on a rock climbing wall, all wearing helmits. One child is climbing and 4 children are on the ground with one holding rope whilst watching a girl climb up the wall.
Calshot Activities Centre

Another place to get active is at Calshot Activities Centre. This offers a variety of both water and land-based activities for all ages and abilities! You can find the centre on the Solent.

And the Needles Landmark on the Isle of Wight, has incredible views of the coast and a chairlift ride; one of the Isle of Wight activities you just have to experience! Prefer to explore on two wheels? Cyclexperience offers bike rentals and guided tours through the New Forest. 

All in all, visiting Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is exciting for the outdoor attractions alone, so make sure to explore all your options

Hampshire Gardens and Country Parks

The ultimate relaxation waits for you in Hampshire’s exquisite gardens! Sometimes fun is sitting in a beautifully maintained garden at Mottisfont, near Romsey, surrounded by nature, your stress melting away. Or, Exbury Gardens in the New Forest, which even features a miniature steam train ride. 

There are also plenty of country parks to choose from. Staunton Country Park in Havant and Lepe Country Park in Southampton both offer views of the coast that are sure to spark joy on your holiday. And with countless unique walks and trails to discover, there are so many opportunities to take in all the natural wonder whilst getting your step count up!

Indoor activities

Live show with fire at Winchester Science centre indoor venue in hampshire
Winchester Science Centre

Weather not on your side? Well, you won’t be short of things to do in Hampshire with its indoor attractions. Winchester Science Centre offers hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, whilst Milestones in Basingstoke takes you on a journey through Hampshire’s history.

After a couple of hours learning at the science centre, maybe you want to catch a light-hearted show at the Theatre Royal Winchester, which hosts a range of shows and performances throughout the year. 

878 AD in Winchester allows you to transport back in time to Anglo-Saxon England in its interactive Viking-themed experience. And once you’re done being a Viking, head over to God’s House Tower in Southampton, a contemporary art and heritage venue with great views from the old tower. 

Plus, you don’t want to miss 170 metre high Spinnaker Tower if you’re in Portsmouth. Because who wouldn’t love taking in the stunning views of the coast from its observation deck? 

Historic days out

Looking for unforgettable historic days out? Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have many, including heritage themed days out and museums

Firstly, let’s start with Fort Nelson, which offers a fascinating insight into the history of military technology and tactics! There’s also interactive exhibits and stunning views over the surrounding countryside. 

And then Steamship Shieldhall will take you back to the golden age of steam, with its beautifully restored engines and luxurious interior. Plus, The Watercress Line is a must-visit for anyone with a love of trains. If you fancy a nostalgic journey through the picturesque Hampshire countryside, this is a must-experience!

Popping over to the Isle of Wight? Carisbrooke Castle is a medieval masterpiece with a rich and fascinating history to uncover.

Dog-friendly things to do in Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Many attractions in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are dog friendly such as Butser Ancient Farm where you can explore ancient buildings with plenty of activities to interest everyone. Visit the extensive 18th century gardens at Gilbert White’s House or explore the over 100 year old Exbury Gardens where your four legged friend can even join you on the steam train! And of course, all of Hampshire’s Top Attractions Country Parks welcome dogs. Explore all 23 Dog friendly attractions in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Rose Veilchenblau on arch, in the rose garden in June at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Accessible days out 

Are you looking for attractions that offer an accessible day out? The Hawk Conservancy Trust offers daily talks and displays with commentary for the hearing impaired and Mottisfont has a volunteer-driven mobility buggy service to transport between the welcome centre, house entrance, stable yard and entrance to the walled gardens. Mayflower Theatre, Theatre Royal Winchester, New Theatre Royal and MAST theatres all have Relaxed Performances for guests that would benefit from a relaxed performance environment, such as those on the autism spectrum, with sensory and communication difficulties, or a learning disability.

Days out with grandparents

If you’re looking for things to do with grandparents, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have lots of options. Isle of Wight activities like Osborne House, summer home of Queen Victoria with an intriguing history, is an exciting day out for grandparents and grandchildren alike. For a day to remember, explore the stunning grounds, the private beach and Swiss Cottage!

Days out with teenagers 

Keep teenagers entertained in the holidays! Whatever your teenager’s interests are, you’ll find something they’ll love. Whitchurch Silk Mill offers the chance to have a go at weaving for the more crafty types, whilst adrenaline junkies will enjoy the thrill of abseiling down Spinnaker Tower (over 14s), and wiping the competition at Laser tag Laser Squad in Southampton or Portsmouth.

Days out for under 12’s 

School Holidays in Hampshire. Staunton Farm and Country Park
Glasshouse at Staunton Farm

Explore your options of days out for under 12s! Kids can enjoy learning how to tie a bowline at the historic dockyard, Buckler’s Hard. Or children from 8 years old can go karting on the 365 metre Club Circuit and experience motor racing for at Thruxton.

Days out for under 7’s

With many days out for under 7s on offer, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Hop on board The Mary Rose at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for some historical family fun, or let your children be awe-inspired by the majestic birds at The Hawk Conservancy Trust at their world-class flying displays. 

Days out for preschoolers and toddlers 

Want to find fun days out for under 3s? Furzey Gardens, in the New Forest, is a beautiful woodland garden where you’ll find exquisite displays of flowers, plants and fairy doors!


So, if you’re on a budget, and looking for cheap fun days out then make sure you see our family days out for under £30 guide. Above all, we hope this has given you plenty of ideas for planning fun things to do in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the holidays. 

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