We’ve just returned from a busy, blustery weekend in Bournemouth and we had a blast. There are so many child friendly activities and things to see and do.
Living in The New Forest makes Bournemouth a very easy destination taking just 40 minutes by car. While we’ve visited many times, most of our experiences this weekend were new to us. If I’m honest, I can’t believe we have never heard of these places and I am a little disappointed – I feel like we’ve missed out on lots of fun!
We are very excited to share all the details from our brilliant Bournemouth stay.
Bournemouth Beach Lodges
On Friday afternoon, we set off after lunch to make our way to the Bournemouth Beach Lodges (check in 3:00pm), we were very excited. I’m not going to lie, we were a little nervous too. Storm Brian was set to hit the South Coast bringing strong winds and heavy rain and people were warned to be careful by the coast. Here we were, travelling to our much anticipated trip to stay in a beach hut on the seafront.
When we arrived we were blown away (no pun intended). They were beautiful and the views were incredible. Sounds silly but I had not realised we had this beautiful part of the beach so close to us and we had never visited before!
These aren’t your standard beach huts. These are spectacular lodges with 2 levels. That’s right, 2 levels! They can sleep up to 4 adults and 2 children; have a well equipped kitchen, Wi-Fi, a toilet and a shower. There is also an accessible lodge for wheelchair users and they are dog friendly.
To find out everything you need to know about these lodges, their suitability for families with young children and our experience read our full review:
You read that right, takeaway. You can order a takeaway to your beach lodge and have it delivered! This was amazing and despite having a well equipped kitchen and plenty of restaurants to choose from we loved getting a take away in the cosiness of our beach lodge with the waves crashing outside. Just up the seafront, The Wood Oven offer delicious pizza delivery – something we would definitely do again! Not only this, you can also order food from Deliveroo which offers a huge array of cuisine from local restaurants.
Urban Reef Seafront Restaurant
After a peaceful first night, we woke nice and early, wrapped up warm and walked 5 minutes along the seafront to Urban Reef where we were treating ourselves to breakfast.
Again, I cannot believe we have lived so close for so long and never visited. We fell in love with the place immediately. The interior is decorated in a relaxed, beach bar style with coloured glass jars and pretty lights hanging from the ceiling. You can also enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views of Bournemouth bay, the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Purbeck.
We enjoyed a delicious, hearty breakfast from their extensive menu which set us up perfectly for a busy day exploring Bournemouth.
Read our full review to find out more and to discover just how suitable they are for families with young children:
This is a small cafe located on the seafront. We visited after a trip to the Oceanarium and were surprised by the large menu. We weren’t too hungry (having filled up with breakfast at Urban Reef) so we all had a hot dog and shared some chips. While the menu is extensive, the food was very basic. In our opinion, it was a good spot to stop for a quick refuel. They had highchairs and a variety of snacks to choose from but do not go with high expectations for food quality and service. Also, important to note: there are no toilet facilities within the café so you must therefore walk to the public ones (not too far but not ideal with young children).
Oceanarium: The Bournemouth Aquarium
The Oceanarium is located on Bournemouth Seafront, adjacent to Bournemouth Pier. We had heard of this attraction before and have visited many times. It is the perfect all weather attraction because it offers shelter from the wind and rain during our colder months but can also offers a short respite from the sun during the summer.
While it has lots to see and enjoy, it is not a huge aquarium. Therefore, we tend to spend a couple hours wandering leisurely.
All Fired Up – Ceramics Café
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have discovered this absolute gem! Right in the centre of Bournemouth, located just off ‘the square’ you will find this brilliant creative cafe.
Incredibly child friendly, lovely food and a variety of crafts to enjoy – we had a great time. A perfect break from shopping with the little ones, shelter from the sun or rain, this really is the ideal spot. We will definitely be returning. To find out more read our full review:
Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea Festival
The Arts by the Sea Festival is brought to Bournemouth every autumn by Arts Bournemouth. There are over 60 events which show case some of the best arts in dance, theatre, literature, film, music and more. Many of these events and exhibitions are suitable for families with young children.
Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave
We were very lucky that part of our stay coincided with Bournemouth’s Arts by the Sea Festival. Unfortunately we only got to enjoy the last day but we were lucky enough to experience the family rave. This was just one of the many family events that are a part of the festival.
The family rave was held in The Old Fire Station which is a club in Bournemouth. We were not sure what to expect and just how child friendly it could be (despite being advertised for families with 0-8 year olds). The event was held between 1 and 3.30pm and it definitely exceeded our expectations.
Firstly, there was dancing. Lots of dancing! Colourful lights, glitter cannons, a bubble machine, balloons, face paints, a craft table, play dough and more.
Festival Finale: Sense of Unity by Dundu and Worldbeaters.
We feel very lucky to have experienced the festival finale. We were a little worried that Storm Brian would have forced a cancellation. Fortunately for us this did not happen and we weren’t the only ones crazy enough to brave the wind and rain. I’m not going to lie, while we waited for the parade to start in the cold and rain I did question why we bothered to come. We had no idea what to expect. I wished we were snuggled up warm and cosy in our Bournemouth Beach Lodge.
The moment the drummers started I knew we had made the right decision. We followed the percussion as they paraded through Bournemouth and watched the colourful collaboration between the German outdoor puppeteers, Dundu, and the UK percussion ensemble, Worldbeaters.
Both children were totally mesmerised and in awe. I wasn’t sure what they would think of it but I can safely say they loved it. They haven’t stopped talking about ‘big drummer man and baby drummer man’ (Dundu) and we have re-watched video clips over and over again.
Hengistbury head is a dramatic and stunning headland in Bournemouth. There is the chance to explore heathland, grassland, woodland, the coast and much more. Only a 10 minute drive from our beach lodge we couldn’t miss the opportunity to explore.
We participated in the Autumn Scavenger Hunt and had great fun finding the different items across the varied landscapes.
Not only this, you can also get the Land Train to Mudeford Sandspit which is a beautiful beach with many beach huts and a fantastic beach cafe, restaurant, shop and ferry connections. The Land train costs £2 each way for an adult and 50p each way for a child (cash only). Children under 4 travel free. This runs daily between 10am and 4pm.
Although our visit to Mudeford Sandspit was short and rainy, we had a much longer trip towards the end of the summer. We took the ferry from Mudeford Quay, had dinner at the Beach House Cafe watched the sunset on the beach. It was the most incredible evening and you can read more about it here (link coming soon).
We will definitely be returning!
Our seaside stay in Bournemouth was amazing. We were concerned Storm Brian would stop us from exploring but thankfully Bournemouth had lots to offer, even in the wind and rain!
Sadly, we were not able to complete the seaside day we had planned. The wind meant the land train, cliff lift, pier and mini golf were not accessible. We hope to enjoy these activities soon and share them with you.
It is hard to believe we have visited Bournemouth so many times yet never knew about most of the things we experienced on this trip. Our highlights were definitely our accommodation at Bournemouth Beach Lodges, getting creative at All Fired Up and the Dundu and Worldbeater Festival finale. We would love to return again soon, especially to enjoy Bournemouth in the summertime.
We will be leaving on our family world trip next year but we are hoping to squeeze in a few more Bournemouth trips before then!
Big World Little Explorers were the guests of Bournemouth Beach Lodges and Bournemouth Tourism but all opinions are our own.
If you would like to read more about some of our family friendly weekend stays, read our post about our fantastic glamping weekend on the Isle of Wight where we stayed in Bell Tents at Tom’s Eco Lodge.