Wimborne Minster is a charming Dorset town renowned for its architecture, much of which dates back to between the 15th and 18th centuries. The Saxon church features Gothic and Norman architecture and is also home to a rare “chained library” where the books are literally chained in. This was common practice from the Middle Ages since books were so valuable back then.
The town is also a thriving market town, brimming with high-end shops and independent boutiques that you'll find tucked away in pedestrianised courtyards and squares, and lining the pretty riverside. This is a great town for simply pottering around, taking a relaxing stroll by the river, or if you visit on a Friday or weekend, popping along to the lively market where you're sure to find a bargain or two.
There are plenty of things to do in and around Wimbourne Minster, with popular attractions including the beautiful Art Deco Tivoli Theatre, the model town depicting the area as it was in the 1950s, Honeybrook Family Farm, and Kingston Lacy National Trust. You can also find tombs of royalty in the church, alongside that of the notorious Dorset smuggler, Isaac Gulliver.
However, if you’re looking for a day out by the sea, why not take a ferry trip from nearby Poole or Sandbanks over to Brownsea Island, home to the first scout camp back in 1907 and a stronghold for our native, red squirrels.
Or if you’d rather keep your feet on dry ground, then visit Arne RSPB Nature Reserve with its vast expanse of open heathland and ancient oak woodland that is a great place for the whole family to explore.
Meanwhile, if you fancy a beach day, Sandbanks in Poole and the Bournemouth beaches are all within half an hour's drive of Wimborne Minster.
A holiday cottage in Wimborne Minster provides an excellent base to relax and unwind, enjoying the benefits of having a pretty market town on your doorstep, and the stunning Dorset countryside and coastline just beyond.
A National Trust property and lavish family home, Kingston Lacy was built to resemble an Italian Palace, and houses curious details including an ‘I owe you’ note from a king. The house is brimming with paintings from the likes of Rubens and Van Dyck, while the gardens are a delight for both adults and children. Beyond that, the estate extends to Iron Age forts, heathland, meadows and a Roman road across 8,500 acres. The restaurant specializes in home made cakes and award-winning scones, there are seasonal events throughout the summer, particularly for children, and prices start at £14.90 for adults or £7.40 for children.
A National Trust property, this former corn mill still houses original wooden machinery in its peaceful riverside setting. The mill was rebuilt in 1776 on a site marked in the Domesday Book, but these days it’s all a bit fragile to be a working mill, so it’s perfect for visitors looking to explore the gardens and take in the tranquil surroundings of the River Stour. Opening times vary so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the website before you visit. The property has limited facilities and no toilets, but you can book a tour, which is worthwhile. Prices start at £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for children.
An all action waterpark at the Tower Park complex near Poole with 13 indoor and outdoor exhilarating flume rides. The less adventurous can relax on the Sun Terraces, take a dip at Captains Cove or chill out in the Jacuzzi. Tower Park is also home to Lemur Landings soft play centre.
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Poole's finest fruits de mer and fresh local fish restaurant with a warm and friendly atmosphere, just two minutes from the Quay. Serving classic French cuisine and signature seafood dishes featuring locally-landed fish, lobster and crab. Meat and Vegetarian dishes also available.
Guildhall Tavern, 15 Market St, Poole BH15 1NB (T: 01202 671717)
One of a small local chain of modern Italian restaurants specialising in wood fired Neopolitan pizzas . Add some fresh antipasti, salad or a mouth watering dessert to your order for a truly authentic Italian experience, all created with super fresh high quality ingredients. Some interesting Italian wines and aperitifs to choose from too. Kids menu available.
Baffi Pizza 12 High Street, Poole, BH15 1BP (T: 01202 681780)
Exceptional classical French dining, featuring delicious, locally sourced dishes served in this stylish bistro restaurant just off the historic Quayside along a narrow cobbled street in one of the most charming hotels in Poole.
Indulge in the nautical theme and dine under the stars in the courtyard with its sail-like awning, or retreat to the comfy sofas in the snug for an aperitif, cocktail, or nightcap. Enjoy wines expertly selected by the Sommelier to perfectly match your meal choices.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Poole, Thames St, Poole BH15 1JN (T: 01305 819027)
Located in the historic Poole Quay, La Lupa offers excellent Italian cuisine in a comfortable friendly atmosphere just a short stroll from the hustle and bustle of the crowded Poole centre, at the quieter end of Poole Quay.
La Lupa Restaurant, Yeatmans Old Mill, The Quay, Poole BH15 1HA (T: 01202 670660)
With its exposed beams and cosy benches The Stable Pizza,Pie and Cider restaurant is edgy enough to satisfy the adults, but still kid friendly in the food department with a dedicated kids menu. Right on the water at Poole Quay, you can either enjoy the view or watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen . Regular live gigs in the evening and a popular bar means it fills up so best to book.
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Hamworthy Beach is a family-friendly sand and shingle beach with a promenade, fringed with pretty beach huts and offering stunning views of Arne Nature Reserve, Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills in the distance.
The beach is popular among locals, boasting a jetty offering an excellent spot for fishing, large green gardens behind, a children's play area and a large seasonal paddling pool. There are also several opportunities to partake in watersports, including windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing.
Dogs are welcome on the beach all year round, but not in the play parks or paddling pool.
Facilities include parking, toilets and cafe as well as nearby shops and public transport connections.
Branksome Beach is a wide, golden stretch of sand popular among locals and visitors alike, in part due to its Blue Flag status which highlights high standards of cleanliness on the beach and in the bathing waters.
The beach benefits from a promenade behind and many facilities including beach huts, shop, bar and restaurant. There is also good disabled access and a safe swim zone.
Watersports include swimming and windsurfing and there is lifeguard cover in the summer months.
Dogs are not allowed on the main beach from the 1st May - 30th September, however they are allowed on the promenade on a short lead.
Alum Chine is a wide sandy beach with a paddling pool and large adventure playground, making it the perfect beach to visit if you have young children in tow.
Meanwhile, the scenic sub-tropical gardens behind the beach with stunning views out to the Solent are a big draw for the older visitor. Due to the mild micro-climate along this stretch of the south coast, it's possible to grow many exotic species successfully.
The beach also boasts Blue Flag status, beach huts for hire and a large car park, as well as a regular bus service to and from Bournemouth Centre. The popular Land Train also links Alum Chine with other beaches along the long sandy stretch of Bournemouth seafront.
There's a popular family-friendly Italian restaurant, Vesuvio, and many ice cream vendors to keep you refreshed during the day.
A variety of watersports are available here including kayaking/canoeing, fishing, swimming, sailing and windsurfing.
Dogs are allowed on parts of the beach throughout the year although they are banned from certain areas - check local signage for details.
Shore Road is a golden sandy beach with a promenade that stretches for miles along the beautiful Sandbanks peninsula - perfect for a seaside stroll or cycle (except during peak times in July & August from 10am to 6pm when cycles are not permitted).
Famed for its Mediterranean-style cafes and outstanding views across the harbour to the Purbeck hills and Brownsea Island, this beach is very family-friendly thanks to its gentle slope into clean waters and seasonal lifeguard cover.
Dogs are not allowed on the main beach from 1st May - 30th September, however they are permitted on the promenade on a lead all year round.
This Blue Flag standard beach has several watersports hire shops and many other beach facilities, including plenty of parking, cafe/restaurant, beach shop, beach huts and deck chairs for hire, toilets and outdoor showers, and reusable water bottle drinking water refill points.
Nestled beneath stunning cliffs, Bournemouth Beach (also known as Bournemouth Central Beach) is the popular stretch of sand to the east and west of Bournemouth Pier. Enjoying its own micro-climate with some of the warmest sea waters in the UK, and with spectacular views of the Isle of Wight, this is one of the busiest parts of the full seven-mile stretch of sandy beaches that run along the Bournemouth coastline.
Easy walking distance from the shops, bars and restaurants in the centre of Bournemouth, there are lots of things to do here too, from the selection of rides, amusements and boat trips that depart from Bournemouth Pier, to the shore zip wire, to a refreshing paddle in the waves, or a spell relaxing in the sunshine on a deckchair. Bournemouth Oceanarium is also located on the seafront, as are many bars, cafes and restaurants to suit every taste.
A Land Train runs along the promenade from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier, or to Alum Chine - perfect for children or anyone else who wants to save their legs whilst enjoying views of the beach.
Dogs are not permitted on this stretch of beach, but are allowed on a lead on the promenade.