I love where we live with Bournemouth, Poole, the Jurassic coast and New Forest only a short drive away. Bournemouth used to be known as a retirement town but recently it has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and we have had a swanky new upgrade to the sea front with a new water fountain area, tourist office and display area. For an extra treat why not book a hotel with a sea view.
In the summer Bournemouth Gardens is teaming with things to do such as the Bournemouth balloon where riders are enchanted with a spectacular panoramic view of the English Channel and surrounding area for up to 20 miles from the highest public observation point in Bournemouth. There is free children’s entertainment in the summer and the spectacular Candlelight nights, where candles are lit at dusk and the displays represent anything from animals to cartoon characters. Tapers are available free of charge from the crazy golf kiosk and the Bandstand, but a small bit of advice – get there early as the queues can get quite long!
Durlston Country Park -Durlston Country Park is situated in the south-east corner of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, a mile south of Swanage and features 280 acres of very special countryside that is ripe for exploring. Stroll down an amazing walkway with fossils and the Jurassic history carved into Portland Stone, all around the site, explore Durlston Castle and admire The Great Globe which is one of the largest stone spheres in the world and is constructed of Portland stone. It weighs about 40 tonnes and is 3 metres (10 ft) in diameter and is truly spectacular!
7 miles of sandy beaches are Bournemouth’s selling point but they can get extremely busy in the summer months, however there are tricks to finding quieter spots away from the crowded piers. Alum Chine Tropical Gardens has many exotic species of plant and tree that would normally be only found in a more southerly latitude and is situated at the back of the beach just into Alum Chine and immediately above the children’s playground, is a very scenic sub-tropical garden with excellent views out over the sea and remains remarkably quiet even in high season.
Slightly farther along the beach at Canford Cliffs you will find the Pinecliff play sculpture trail which features huge wooden life-like robust structures that are carved in wood with smooth surfaces, children aged 3+ can now see the type of insects that live in the surrounding woodland. This leads to the Treasure Island play park (so named as author Robert Louis Stevenson lived close by) which in my opinion is the best play park in the local area which in turns leads down to a lovely quiet stretch of sandy beach between Alum Chine and Sandbanks.
If you fancy heading eastwards you will find Hengistbury Head. This stretch of beach is located to the east of Bournemouth and is not only absolutely stunning, but is also a tranquil escape from the busy patch around Bournemouth Pier during tourist season. It’s a site of ‘special scientific interest’ and a ‘special area of conservation’ too. There is a land train, known locally as the Noddy Train, which you can catch which takes you to Mudeford spit, home to some of the most expensive beach huts in the country. They are worth more than my house!!
Mary Shelley’s Grave – Fiction writer Mary Shelley is best known for her novel Frankenstein – but, before she died in 1851, one of her last requests was to be buried in Bournemouth, even though she had never lived in the town. But the family plot in St Peter’s Church also includes something perhaps more unusual – the remains of Shelley’s husband’s heart.
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum – Dramatically located on the East Cliff, the historic house, art gallery & museum boasts stunning views across the bay of Bournemouth and is also home to a vast collection of Victorian art. Make sure you stop in the Urban Renaissance Cafe for a coffee and one of Kay the Baker’s famous cakes!
Bournemouth Natural Science Society – The Society runs an extensive programme of events throughout the year, including lectures, museum open days, exhibitions, study groups, field meetings, cultural visits and social activities.
Bournemouth Beaches are combed and cleaned daily so if you fancy something more as nature intended then I cannot recommend Studland highly enough. A short drive through millionaires playground, Sandbanks, jump on the chain ferry and enjoy sand dunes a plenty. Middle Beach is my personal favourite as it is home to Fore Adventure who will take you out on a kayak or sup-board out to Old Harry Rocks, an impressive chalk stack at the beginning of the World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast. Beware though, Studland is also home to a nudist beach too.
If you are looking to head somewhere where you can spend all day with the kids for the price of parking then I can highly recommend Moors Valley. With a play trail, nature trail, cycle routes, picnic areas, 2 parks and a miniature railway there is plenty to do and if you fancy being slightly more adventurous, then they also have Go Ape where you can release your inner monkey.
I hope this post has sold you on visiting my hometown – have you visited before? Is there anywhere you recommend that I haven’t mentioned?