Whatever the weather and whatever your age, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Bournemouth. With breathtaking scenery all along the coastline, wide expanses of golden sands and nature reserves packed with wildlife, don’t miss out on the chance to get active in the great outdoors. Or stay in town and entertain the family with the many rain-friendly attractions, including the Oceanarium, activity centres and more.
Activities in Bournemouth
Explore the oceans whilst staying dry as a bone at the popular Bournemouth Oceanarium on the seafront, a handy five-minute walk from our Bournemouth Central hotel. Discover giant turtles, penguins, sharks and exotic fish through 10 recreated aquatic environments. Bookable animal experiences allow you to get up close and personal with the fascinating sea creatures, helping with feeding time and perfect for wannabe marine biologists.
Bournemouth offers plenty of other indoor options if the weather isn’t up to scratch, from the classic seaside arcades for all ages at Fun Central, to the immersive film experience at the 6D Cinema screening room – complete with 3D screen, moving chairs and special effects that put you right in the action. The top-rated Bournemouth activity by visitors from TripAdvisor is the Marvo Mysteries Escape Room on Holdenhurst Road, where your team must challenge their wit to search for clues and solve cryptic puzzles, all in a bid to find the artefact and escape as the clock ticks down.
If you need a bit of relaxation after all of this activity, head to the Forever Gorgeous Day Spa for a dip in the pool and your choice of their wide range of treatments and packages. It’s conveniently located less than a 10-minute walk from our East Cliff hotel. You’ll want to head out on the town once you’re done, to show off your gorgeous skin and youthful glow from the pamper treatments, scrubs, wraps and massages on offer!
Adrenaline junkies can whiz through the air and enjoy a unique view of the town from Bournemouth Pier. Race to the beach with the dual zip wire Pier Zip (Spiderman costume optional!), spanning 250 metres over the waves and catapulting you to Bournemouth beach.
If you develop a taste for adventure, you can release your inner gorilla and tackle the Go Ape Moors Valley aerial assault course in Moors Valley Country Park, less than 20 minutes’ drive north from Bournemouth and just seven minutes from our Bournemouth/Ferndown hotel. Nestled in the trees of this Dorset forest, you’ll find a double Tarzan swing, skateboard zip and over 1,000 metres of crossings that zigzag through the canopy. A junior version means that the little ones won’t get left out, and the whole family can explore the sweeping trails and winding forest pathways by foot, bike or even Segway.
If you’d rather keep your feet firmly at ground level, a great option for a family day out is the Littledown Miniature Railway chugging through the parkway to the north-east of Bournemouth town centre. All aboard for a few laps on the miniature track – the railway is usually open for rides from 11am to 3.30pm on Wednesdays and Sundays. While you’re there, enjoy the children’s playground and duck pond.
Another option to get the family out and about is Playgolf Bournemouth. You’ll find a peaceful 18-hole golf course, driving range and footgolf course, but the go-to attraction for families is their dinosaur themed adventure golf. They invite all ages ‘from little raptors to ancient fossils’ to tackle the crazy golf course, where you’ll have (almost!) life-sized dinosaurs to contend with as you perfect your swing.
Or take to the water and improve your paddling skills at Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre, right on the seafront at Christchurch Harbour. The shallow waters of the harbour provide the perfect setting to try your hand at a new water sport, with friendly instructors ready to coach you in windsurfing, sailing, paddlesports and more.
Visitors flock to Bournemouth for its bustling nightlife, busy events scene and of course, its seven miles of golden sands. The nearby Studland Nature Reserve and the rest of the Jurassic Coast also provide dramatic views and plenty of dunes to explore. Read our dedicated guide to the best beaches in Bournemouth for more.
Cyclists of all abilities are welcome at Bournemouth Velodrome, with track cycling taster sessions, dedicated junior times and bikes for hire if you need them. If you prefer a rambling bike ride through the countryside, the Bourne Valley Greenway offers a tranquil 6.5km route from Gravel Hill and then through all of Bournemouth’s central parks, finishing at Lower Gardens by Bournemouth Pier. Safe, peaceful and away from any traffic, it’s a great connection from the town centre to Dorset’s countryside.
The Purbeck Way is also a beautiful route not far away. Walk or cycle as much of the 26-mile route as you’d like, with the dramatic scenery of the Jurassic Coast, meadows, coastal paths and Corfe Castle to enjoy.
Explore Bournemouth with additional insider knowledge by enjoying a walk with Bournemouth Guided Walking Tours. The Bournemouth town tours kick off from the Tourist Information kiosk opposite the pier, following a route with stunning views of the bay, tranquil gardens and the heart of the town centre. Or try the Three Chines Walking Tour, enjoying all three beaches, views towards the Isle of Wight and Old Harry Rock, as well as hearing tales of the bay’s smuggling past.
Hattie Mills from Walkingtalks leads a variety of walking tours full with tales of Bournemouth’s dark past. Learn the gory mysteries and secrets you may not find in the history books. Check out the latest schedule for more details.