Bournemouth is one of England's most charming seaside towns, thanks to its iconic pier and striking beaches, alongside a variety of cafes and cultural landmarks. As the largest town in the scenic county of Dorset, which stretches along the English Channel, families flock to Bournemouth to soak up the classic English coastal atmosphere.

    There are over 2,000 acres of parks and gardens spread throughout Bournemouth, as well as a fascinating collection of art galleries and museums showcasing the region's ancient past. Like all good seaside towns, there's a quaint promenade with eateries and boutiques, as well as amusement rides and many kid-friendly activities. Here are our tips on the best places to visit on your family trip to Bournemouth.


    Riverboat ride from the Tuckton Tea Gardens

    Enjoy a peaceful morning on the water

    Set on the eastern edge of Bournemouth, the Tuckton Tea Gardens is where you can catch a ferry or rent your own boat to sail down the River Stour. Marking the end of the boating route, there's also a charming café serving coffee and snacks before you climb aboard. 

    As you set off towards the centre of Bournemouth, you'll pass through other scenic areas such as Christchurch Quay, Hengistbury Head, and along the beachfront of Mudeford Sandbank. You can rent riverboats on an hourly basis, which can carry up to 8 passengers. Rowboats are also available if you prefer a slower journey.

    Location: Belle Vue Rd, Bournemouth BH6 3BA, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 1202 429119


    Farmer Palmer's Farm Park

    Soak up the country air with some lovable animals

    Farmer Palmer's Farm Park attracts families looking to enjoy Bournemouth's countryside. Designed for kids under 8 years old, there are dozens of animals for the little ones to meet and feed, including donkeys, guinea pigs, alpacas and deer. Activities range from tractor rides and bouncy castles to pedal go-karts and expansive playgrounds. 

    Farmer Palmer's onsite restaurant and cafe produce tasty and nutritious meals from seasonal ingredients, along with a selection of homemade cakes that make for a sweet treat. Picnic areas provide a pleasant spot for lunch when the sun is shining.

    Location: Wareham Road, Organford, Poole, Poole BH16 6EU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 1202 622022


    Red House Museum and Gardens

    Delve into Bournemouth's ancient history

    The Red House Museum and Gardens is where you can learn about the history of Bournemouth and its surrounding areas. Featuring a variety of historical displays and artefacts, the museum reveals stories about Saxon princes from a bygone age, as well as remarkable details about those who lived during the Iron Age.

    The museum occupies a former workhouse dating back to the 18th century. Its surrounding gardens are just as impressive, with a walled herb garden and a woodland pathway. As you wander through the tranquil landscape, you'll get a view of the Christchurch Priory, one of the longest parish churches in England. There's also a cosy cafe and regular family-friendly events to enjoy.

    Location: Quay Rd, Christchurch BH23 1BU, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm (open from 12 pm to 4 pm in August)

    Phone: +44 1202 482860



    Climbing and caving adventures for the whole family

    RockReef at Bournemouth Pier offers 28 indoor climbing challenges, including speed walls and jungle gyms. One of its highlights is the PierZip, the world’s first pier to shore zip wire, which spans over 250 metres and launches thrill-seekers out across the waves before arriving safely back on land. 

    Kids can also find an underground caving labyrinth, an indoor obstacle course and a vertical drop slide. The onsite RockReef Cafe refuels your little ones with pizza, hot drinks and ice cream. Most of the facilities at RockReef are suitable for kids aged 8 and older.

    Location: Bournemouth Pier, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +44 1202 983983


    Pause Cat Café

    Lunch with some cuddly cats

    Bournemouth’s Pause Cat Café operates as an equal parts cafe, animal welfare advocate, and a safe home for cats. It provides a warm spot for lunch with a furry friend. On the menu, you’ll find vegan and vegetarian dishes, produced from locally sourced and sustainably grown ingredients.  

    Around 12 friendly cats roam the bright space – they often approach diners to say hello or play with the nearby climbing poles. If you do decide to visit with your family, be sure to check the website for details on bringing children into the cafe. 

    Location: 119 Old Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH1 1EP, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 12 pm to 4 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 1202 240194


    Boscombe Chine Gardens

    Stunning gardens and kids’ activities

    The Boscombe Chine Gardens blend refined floral landscapes with a variety of recreational activities. As you roam the gardens, you'll come across towering chine gorges that are home to a diverse mix of native wildlife species. Found dotted along the pathways is a quiz on interesting details about the plants and animals within the complex.

    There's also a water-themed playground, a mini-golf course, and a cafe, which serves cakes fresh from the oven and daily specials. You can find the Boscombe Chine Gardens just opposite Bournemouth Pier and the beachfront.

    Location: Sea Rd, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH5 1BL, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 1202 451629


    Bowl Central

    Classic games and bowling

    Bowl Central, previously known as Fun Central, offers a wide range of indoor games and activities for all ages. A throwback to the much-loved arcades of old, it was recognised for its massive gaming arcade, featuring classics such as Daytona USA and Time Crisis. 

    The venue has a 6-lane bowling alley, a lounge and a cocktail bar. There's also a coffee shop that serves pizzas and panini. Make sure you work hard at achieving your high scores, as tickets you win from each game can be traded for great prizes. 

    Location: 45-47 Westover Rd, Bournemouth BH1 2BZ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm (hours may vary)

    Phone: +44 1202 555552


    Bournemouth Big Wheel

    See Bournemouth from above

    The Bournemouth Big Wheel is a towering landmark that makes for a nice spot for sunset viewing. Reaching over 30 metres tall, those who climb aboard are welcomed by spectacular views across Bournemouth Beach, stretching as far as Hengistbury Head in the distance. 

    Each ride on this classic Big Wheel lasts approximately 10 minutes, with the enclosed gondolas providing a safe place to soak up the views. The Bournemouth Big Wheel is located at the end of Bournemouth Pier. Nearby, you'll find a variety of high-quality restaurants and eateries – you can choose to grab a table for dinner or order takeaways to enjoy on the beachfront. 

    Location: Pier Approach, Bournemouth BH2 5AA, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 1925 594264


    Bournemouth Natural Science Society

    Learn about the wonders of the natural world

    Formed in 1903, the Bournemouth Natural Science Society is set in a grand Victorian villa off Christchurch Road. There are frequent exhibitions, field meetings and open days year-round. Inside, you'll find an eclectic selection of fossilised animals and minerals, plus a collection of Egyptian sarcophaguses. For children below 12, the Young Explorers club meets on the second Saturday of each month, hosting a series of intriguing scientific activities. 

    Once you've finished exploring the antique exhibits, make sure you visit the botanical garden in the rear of the building. Here, you'll discover a green landscape of ponds and garden beds that are home to newts and frogs, just to name a few.

    Location: 39 Christchurch Rd, Bournemouth BH1 3NS, UK

    Open: Tuesday from 10 am to 4 pm (also opens on 1 Saturday every month)

    Phone: +44 1202 553525


    Mr Mulligans

    Intergalactic fun at this family-friendly venue

    Mr Mulligans is an indoor mini-golf venue at Bournemouth’s BH2 Leisure Centre. Spread across 2 levels, there are 3 space-themed mini-golf courses, each of which has neon artwork, bright lights and upbeat music. Mr Mulligans provides hours of entertainment, whether you're a beginner or an expert putter.

    Once you've mastered all 27 holes, there's a large restaurant where you can catch your breath and enjoy a meal. There are menus for kids, as well as share plates for the families and groups.

    Location: Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AF, UK

    Open: Open daily from 11 am (weekends from 10 am). Closing time varies between 10 pm and midnight

    Phone: +44 1202 837850

    Hudson Brown | Contributing Writer

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