What to do on a rainy day?
By Kate Medhurst
We don't always have the best weather in the UK and sometimes it seems like the rain will never stop. Here is a list of activities and places to visit in Bournemouth, Poole & Salisbury which may go some way to keeping your family entertained on those too-frequent grey and rainy days. Most are indoors in the warm, but there are a few that might get you wet! The first section below are free (hooray!)
FREE Places to Go Out & About
Many museums in Dorset & Salisbury are free for visitors as volunteers and registered charities often staff them. As well as free entry to the museums there are often special events taking place throughout the year, so worth keeping an eye on.
Corfe Castle Museum BH20 5HB
This is a museum containing exhibits of local history and dinosaur footprints and archive of photographs and records of the parish.
Tel: 01929 480666. website
Gillingham Museum, SP8 4UA
This museum tells the story of the town, the immediate parishes and their people. Many generations have seen this corner of the Blackmore Vale grow from a Neolithic settlement to the bustling Gillingham of today.
Tel: 01747 823176. website
Poole Museum, BH15 1BW
The rich history of the ancient port town of Poole is revealed in four floors of galleries housed in a 19th century quayside warehouse. The museum was reopened in 2007 following a major redevelopment.
Tel: 01202 262600. website
Red House Museum & Gardens, BH23 1BU
A charming Georgian building, built as a workhouse in 1764, now filled with a rich variety of displays and a regular and varied exhibitions programme.
Tel: 01202 482860. website
RNLI Headquarters and Museum, BH15 1HZ
The old lifeboat station was established at Fisherman's Dock in 1882. It moved to its current position on Poole Quay in 1989. The Old Boathouse became a museum in 1974.
Tel: 01202 662228. website
Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, DT2 7EH
Packed with illustrative displays, this new state-of-the-art interactive exhibition tells the Tolpuddle Martyrs story.
Tel: 01305 848237. website
Wareham Town Museum, BH20 4NN
Wareham Town Museum tells the story of the Wareham area from prehistoric times to the present day. It has a special section on Lawrence of Arabia and is regularly updated with new exhibits.
Tel: 01929 553448. website
Water Supply Museum, DT3 6LT
This was a rural pumping station supplying water to Weymouth for 150 years. The displays trace the history of water supply in the Dorset area. Various pumping equipment is also present from other pumping stations in the area.
Tel: 01305 832634. website
Churches, Castles, Abbeys & Houses
Dorset is peppered with historical churches, abbeys, castle ruins and country houses, which are open to visitors and have no admission fee (although donations are welcome and encouraged). Hours can be spent admiring the architecture and history, as well as the gardens and grounds.
Christchurch Priory, BH23 1BU
This beautiful priory is steeped in history. The medieval monastic church was started in 1094. You can walk around the priory on your own or take part in a guided walk. It is also often to climb the steps of the tower.
Tel: 01202 485804.
Christchurch Castle Ruins, Castle Keep & Norman House, BH23 1DT
Christchurch Castle was built in the late 11th Century and the Constable's House, now in ruins, has the oldest Norman chimney in Britain. The ruins make a great family attraction with a lovely river walk, which leads to the Place Mill, a restored Anglo-Saxon watermill, and Christchurch Quay.
Tel: 01202 495127.
Sherborne Abbey, DT9 3LQ
Founded in AD 705, the Abbey has developed from a Saxon cathedral to the worshipping heart of a monastic community. The abbey is one of only 18 churches awarded 5 stars in Simon Jenkins' England's Thousand Best Churches.
Tel: 01935 812452. website
Upton Country House & Park, BH17 7BJ
Upton Country Park, Poole's only country park, consists of more than 100 acres of woodlands and gardens. A programme of family events takes place throughout the year and admission and parking is free. Scheduled tours around the house take place on certain Sundays between March and September.
Tel: 01202 262753 website
Walford Mill Craft Centre, BH21 1NL
Walford Mill Craft Centre is a converted watermill and has a gallery displaying exhibitions, contemporary crafts for sale, workshops on the site where craftsmen can be seen at work and craft sessions visitors can take part in (booking is essential).
Tel: 01202 841400 website
Salisbury Cathedral, SP1 2EF
Discover over 750 years of history, including Britain's tallest spire, the world's best preserved original Magna Carta 1215 and Europe's oldest working clock. Built between 1220 and 1258, in one architectural style, Salisbury is Britain's finest 13th century Gothic Cathedral. Donations appreciated.
Tel: 01722 555120 website
Outdoor Parks & Play Areas
Avon Heath Country Park, BH24 2DH
Avon Heath County Park has a Discovery centre with games and displays, a lovely woodland walk; children's play areas and grassed areas. There are regular treasure trails and events, family activity trails, competitions for children. Entry is free but there is a parking charge.
Tel: 01425 478082.
Boscombe Chine Gardens, BH1 4AA
Families can enjoy a lovely walk through Boscombe gardens and there is a play park for smaller children. The gardens take you to the beach. There is a crazy golf course and land train to Bournemouth but these have charges attached. (Children under 5 travel free on the train).
Bournemouth Gardens, BH1 2AQ
Bournemouth Gardens are split into three areas: Lower, Central and Upper Gardens. The Lower Gardens are home to an Aviary, which is open all year round, and it hosts events and attractions in summer months. There is also mini-golf but this is not free.
Tel: 01202 451629.
Chessil Beach & Centre, DT2 7AA
Chessil Beach Centre is run by Dorset Wildlife Trust and provides an opportunity for close encounters with plants and animals in their natural habitat. You can visit the centre and enjoy the beach for free but there are certain talks and walks which have a small fee attached.
Tel: 01305 264620. website
Hengistbury Head, BH6 4EW
Hengistbury Head is a scenic, historic headland and makes a lovely family walk. It's also a popular kite-flying destination. You can walk from the car park to Mudeford Sandbank for free (although car parking charges apply) there is also a ferry from the spit to Mudeford Quay and a Noddy train back to the car park, but these are not free.
Tel: 01202 420909. website
Poole Park, BH15 2SE
Poole Park is a great open space with large grassed areas; two play areas, cricket pitches, a crazy golf course, putting green and tennis courts. There is also a pond where children can feed the ducks. There is a small train and indoor play area but charges apply.
Tel: 01202 265265.
Moors Valley Country Park, BH24 2ET
Moors Valley has a selection of nature walks, trails and play parks for children which are all free although parking charges apply. There are also a number of additional events available at a cost including a small train and a Go Ape high ropes course.
Tel: 01425 470721.
ACTIVITIES AT HOME:
Games & Activities:
Indoor Treasure Hunt: You don't have to buy anything for a treasure hunt - all you need is some paper to write down clues and some Ã¢‚¬Å“treasureÃ¢‚¬ to search for.
Film Day / Movie afternoon: Close the curtains, make some popcorn and re-create the cinema in your own home with a movie afternoon.
Write & perform a play: Get your children to write and perform their own play, they can dress up, create characters and use their imagination.
Board Games: Get the whole family involved Ã¢‚¬€œ older children can play games such as monopoly, trivial pursuit, family fortunes etc. For younger children Orchard Toys do a range of affordable simple board games suitable for children aged 3 and up. Buy them once and play time and time again.
Wordsearches, spot the difference and dot-to-dots: Get your brains working with puzzles including wordsearches, dot-to-dots, spot the difference, sudukos and more.
Visit: www.kidspuzzlesandgames.co.uk, www.hellokids.com, www.activityvillage.co.uk, www.activityexpress.co.uk
Decorate a Room: Maybe a spot of painting will pass the time? A new lick of paint on the children's bedroom walls, painted together as a family could be fun - or a mural to brighten up a room up?
Write a story / poem: Get your child to imagine a new world or planet and to write a story the takes place there with funny characters. If you find yourself needing help then there are websites to help.
Camping Indoors: Set a small tent up, fill it with sleeping bags, make a pretend campfire and pretend to roast marshmallows. Young children will love it.
Cooking: Bake with your children Ã¢‚¬€œ anything from cakes and cookies to pizzas and soups Ã¢‚¬€œ children love to help in the kitchen. CBeebies I can cook recipes are great for younger children and healthy recipes.
Arts & Crafts:
Make your own Play Dough & Paint: Make play dough, or salt dough and your own paint for hours of crafting fun with your children.
Visit: www.learning4kids.net and www. theimaginationtree.com
Origami: From hats and boats to cranes and butterflies, the art of origami can provide hours of fun. All you need it some paper and a family willing to give it a go.
Make with Cardboard: You can make anything with cardboard so don't throw away any extra boxes you may have - save them for a rainy day. Boats, pen pots, cars, Wendy houses, monsters, robots Ã¢‚¬€œ you name it you can make it. Try Pinterest for inspiration just search for Ã¢‚¬ËœThings to Do with a Cardboard Box'.
Bath boats: Have any old margarine tubs in your recycling? Get your children to make a sail and paint it and they've a bath boat to play with! Still need inspiration? Check out the web for easy but effective ideas.
Mosaic Pictures: Get children to cut up birthday and Christmas cards and snip up coloured paper then make a picture from the mosaics they have created. For something different decorate paper plates and cups.
Easy hopscotch /race tracks: If you have some masking tape in your garage you can make an easy race track or hopscotch on your living room carpet. Stick the tape to the floor in the track to hopscotch pattern you desire, then simply peel away when finished.
Window Painting: Just take some watercolour paints and let the children decorate and paint the windows in your house Ã¢‚¬€œ they have great fun and you can simply wash it off afterwards.
Messy Play: Young children especially love messy play but perhaps parents don't like cleaning it up afterwards! For one of the 'less messy' games try a couple of cups of flour, some spoons, bowls, empty cupcake cases and little bottles. It can keep them entertained for hours.
FAMILY DAYS OUT - Under £20
The following places to go can be enjoyed by all the family for under £20. Some are even under £10! Family tickets often include 2 adults and 2 children but there are exceptions to the rule.
Inside Play Areas
There are a number of inside play areas in Poole, Bournemouth and Salisbury. They all charge and costs are generally between £4 - £6 for children and £1 - £1.50 for adults, making a family for four trip costing £9 - £15 on average. They generally have cafes, although obviously all food and drink needs to be paid for. Please check websites for up to date admission costs.
Role Play World, Salisbury, Wilton, SP2 0RS
Provides a range of fantasy and real life role play areas for children to play and develop language and communication skills as well as personal, social and emotional development. The areas change regularly
The Ark, BH15 2SF
The Ark soft play offers lots of fun play for children up to eleven years old. Three levels of adventure to discover with slides, tunnels and interactive zones to run, jump and slide on.
Tel: 01202 717197. website
Outburst, SP1 2JG
Clown About at the Outburst centre in Salisbury offers a soft play area with slides, ball pools and more.
Tel:01722 413121. website
Adventure Wonderland Wild Thing, BH23 6BA
From December 31 - March 28 you can just use just the Wild Thing play area. During March - December though you have to pay full admission price to the whole park, so this is only under £20 in the winter months.
Tel: 01202 483444. website
Monkey Madness, BH23 2BT
There is four-lane slide into a ball pit, a spiral tube slide, aerial runway, tunnels, obstacles and much more for children of all ages to enjoy.
Tel: 01202 481015. website
Lollipops Soft Play Area, BH4 9EH
There is a 3 levels play frame for children with a small, dedicated section for babies.
Tel 01202 766710 website
Lemur Landings, BH12 4NY
With a multi-level play frame; complete with multi-slide, bridges, tunnels, ball pools and cannons the centre caters for children up to aged 12 and has a dedicated area just for toddlers and a super sensory area for the under 5's. Newly renovated for 2017, Lemur Landings now also boasts a role play village and new climbing zone.
Tel: 01202 740500. website
While there are many free museums available these ones charge entry fees, all are under £20 for a family ticket.
Bournemouth Aviation Museum, BH23 6BA
This museum has many interactive exhibits with most of its aircraft cockpits available for you to actually sit inside. From the famous English Electric Lightning to the mighty Westland Wessex Helicopter - all are available for you to view up close.
Tel: 01202 473141. website
Dorset County Museum, DT1 1XA
This museum is full with displays and exhibitions covering the history of Dorset. An adult ticket includes 2 free accompanying children.
Tel: 01305 262735. website
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, SP1 2EN
There is a range of interesting collections on display including Stonehenge and Prehistory, Roman and Saxons, medieval Salisbury and much more. Your entry ticket here becomes an annual pass so you can come as many times as you like.
Tel: 01722 332151 website
The Dorset Teddy Bear Museum, DT1 1JU
The earliest antique teddy bears to today's TV favourites are all waiting to greet you at this Teddy Bear Museum in Dorchester.
Tel: 0 1305 266040. website
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, BH1 3AA
One of the most important and fascinating museum-houses in England. It holds collections of international status and you can admire the house, view the artwork and explore the house. Free admission from 1 October until 31 March. (April Ã¢‚¬€œ September Ã‚£15 per family).
Tel: 01202 451858. website
CASTLES, CHURCHES, ABBEYS & HOUSES
Many churches and Abbey's are free but encourage donations. These castles and forts charge an entry fee but are under £20 for a family ticket. (Apart from Corfe Castle which just tips over £20, but as one of the most popular ruins in Dorset we have included below) English Heritage Castles are free if you are a member. Please check websites for up to date prices.
Highcliffe Castle, BH23 4LE
This Grade 1 Listed cliff top mansion was built in the early 1830's. Derelict for over two decades, the castle is now externally fully restored. Within the rooms visitors can find information on the castle's intriguing history. Children under 16 are free.
Tel: 01202 485804. website
Nothe Fort, DT4 8UF
Located at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour the Fort is a labyrinth of underground passageways and outdoor areas. Constructed on three levels, the Fort is filled with displays, mammoth guns and cinema areas that chart the history of the structure.
Tel: 01305 766626. website
Corfe Castle, BH20 5EZ
Enjoy one of Britain's most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War, partially demolished in 1646 by the Parliamentarians. Lovely ruins to enjoy with the family.
Tel: 01929 481294. website
Old Wardour Castle, SP3 6RR
Set in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside beside a lake, Old Wardour Castle, near Tisbury was once one of the most daring and innovative homes in Britain. It was built in the 14th century as a lightly fortified luxury residence.
Tel: 01747 870487. website
Old Sarum, SP1 3SD
Discover the story of the original Salisbury and take the family for a day out to Old Sarum - an Iron Age hill fort where the first cathedral once stood and the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark. Children under 5 are free.
Tel: 01722 335398. website
WATERPARKS & SWIMMING POOLS
Many water parks and swimming pools have free entry for the under 5s. All of the swimming pools below offer a family swim ticket. Check their websites for current prices.
Littledown, BH7 7DX
There are family swim sessions as well as wet and wacky sessions over school holidays. Children under 5 are free.
Tel 01202 417600. website
The Rapids, SO51 8AF
With several slides, rapids and water jets the whole family can take part in a swim session.
Tel: 01794 830333. website
Five Rivers Swimming Pool
Five Rivers Leisure Centre has a 25m main pool, teaching pool and Beach pool with flume and other water features. The pool also has two spas.
Tel: 01722 339966. website
Ferndown Leisure Centre
With a toddler pool and larger pool this centre runs a series of sessions for families. Children under the age of 8 swim free.
Tel: 01202 877468. website
The list above is not a complete and full list of events and activities. If you would like to suggest additional places to visits and events to do at home, which are either free or under £20 then please get in touch. For more Rainy Day Ideas follow the Raring2go's Rainy Day Ideas board on Pinterest.