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Family-Friendly Fun in Winchester - A Zoo, WaterMill, and Museums

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Winchester offers a multitude of family-friendly activities to stretch both the mind and the legs. Children of all ages will find the city's many museums and historical sights fascinating, while youngsters with energy to burn will enjoy the area's activity centers and sporting facilities. However, the simplest way to entertain the kids during a trip to Winchester is to explore the surrounding countryside, which retains an enchanting, secluded feel despite its proximity to several population centers.

Exercise and sport


Winchester's location at the edge of South Downs National Park makes it an ideal base for families interested in hiking the English countryside or cycling. In the city itself, an abundance of parks and gardens provide room for children to stretch their legs. For parents in search of structured, supervised exercise for their kids, there are several recreational facilities within a few miles of the city.


River Park Leisure Centre


This spacious, well-maintained center is dominated by 2 indoor swimming pools, one of which is for young children. A 3-story soft play facility for kids younger than age 8 features a slide, ball pond, tiger rollers and bish bash bags.


Gordon Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 7DDTel: +44 1962 848700


River Park Leisure Centre website


Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre


Children of all ages are well catered to at this large facility. Younger ones (4 and older) can tackle the assault course; those 8 or older can try archery or canoeing; while teenagers will be entertained with paintball and quad bikes.


Hurst Lane, Owslebury, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1EZ. Tel: +44 1962 777547


Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre website

Kid-friendly museums


Winchester is bursting with museums, most of which offer exhibits specifically for children and a range of interactive activities. Many of these venues are operated by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, an independent charity, which recently took over operations from the local council. The trust maintains an informative website with details of its venues and information about special events.


Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium


Families come from across south England to spend time at this large center, which features a diverse range of science and technology exhibitions, a lively program of events, and the largest stand-alone planetarium cinema in Britain.


Telegraph Way, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1HZ. Tel: +44 1962 863791


Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium website


Westgate Museum


This compact museum, much-loved by locals, is housed within one of the 2 surviving fortified gates in Winchester, offering kids a glimpse of the Tudor era. Children can try on a suit of armor and make authentic brass rubbings.


High Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9AP. Tel: +44 1962 869864


Westgate Museum website


Zoos and wildlife


The mild conditions in Hampshire and the large tracts of green land around Winchester mean birds and animals thrive in the area. The city's parks and gardens are home to a variety of fauna, and the clean River Itchen is also a wildlife magnet. Nearby, Marwell Zoo nourishes animals from a range of climatic zones.


Marwell Zoo


More than 1,200 animals compete for attention at this charity-run zoo. Africa is particularly well represented, but there is also an 'Australian Bush Walk' and a large number of unusual insects. Playgrounds and a formal garden are also on site.


Thompson's Lane, Colden Common, Winchester SO21 1JY. Tel: +44 1962 777407


Marwell Zoo website


Winchester City Mill


This restored watermill on the River Itchen is home to abundant wildlife, including trout in the crystal-clear river, water voles on the banks, kingfishers that fish off the walls, and otters that make their homes under the mill.


Bridge Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 0EJ. Tel: +44 1962 870057


Winchester City Mill website