Poole is a pretty special place!
With a history going back to the iron age. Poole has been invaded by the Romans, the Saxons, and was the third-largest embarkation point for the D-Day landings.
Today the only invaders are families from all over the UK and abroad because it’s now one of the country’s favourite holiday destinations.
It’s easy to see why, with family attractions like us to visit. Not to mention the charming old town and waterfront, historic quay and so much more.
The great thing about Poole, and the surrounding area, is that there is something to do to fit every taste, budget, and circumstance. For example; why not enjoy eating fish and chips with the tide lapping at your feet or head out on a full-on excursion.
It’s just a question of what you want those precious lasting memories to be. Here are our 5 favourite things to do when we’re out with our families:
(Update: Some attractions/activities may have changed due to the Covid19 Pandemic in 2020, please see individual websites for the latest information).
This is something of a tradition in Poole with families coming from far and wide to enjoy a day at Poole harbour and get in a spot of crabbing at Fisherman’s dock.
Crabbing is an ideal pass time for the whole family because it’s low intensity with a high reward so even little people can – with a bit of help – have fun catching crabs.
The water by the dockside is teeming with crabs so catching a few should be fairly easy which avoids disappointment (and any associated tantrums!). For example, you could set the family a challenge to see who can catch the most in an hour. The loser buys the ice creams.
The good news is that lines, buckets, and bait are for sale nearby and it’s something you can use again and again, making the initial cost a great investment over time. Crab lines and buckets cost between £3 – £10.
Above all, remember to return the crabs to the water carefully when you’ve finished. Throwing them over the side can cause harm.
As an added bonus, when you’re done crabbing the beach is just a short walk away so the children can let off some steam after a hard morning wrestling with creatures from the deep.
Brownsea Island is a pretty special place.
Famous the world over as the home of scouting, it is also a haven for the red squirrel and a place of incredible natural beauty.
Firstly, being the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding, Brownsea Island is all about adventure and outdoor learning. As such there are plenty of opportunities to explore the island and learn about nature, complete with a dedicated Outdoor Activity Centre.
Brownsea Island is only accessible by boat, therefore the adventure starts the moment you board the ferry. As you approach, features like the island’s castle (yes, it has a castle!) and lagoon will start to appear adding to the excitement.
As you would expect it’s an incredibly friendly and child-orientated experience. The staff receive scouting groups all year round so rest assured your family will be well catered for.
The island is incredibly family-focused with trail walks easily manageable for families young and old and free tracker packs for the children.
There are guided walks twice a day for anyone looking to learn about the island’s rich history, an amazing natural play area, an onsite cafe and opportunities to pick up souvenirs to remember your time there.
You can also take a quick dip to cool off after a day’s hard adventuring on the Southside of the island.
For pricing information and opening times follow the link to their website:
Swanage Boat Tour
Continuing with the nautical theme, why not hop aboard for a trip around the Jurassic coast?
Dorset has some of the most historically significant coastlines in the country! Therefore, if you’re looking for a mix of natural beauty, some time out on the water and a dose of local knowledge then what could be better?
City Cruises Poole offers a number of trips ranging from a little over an hour to an entire day, depending on your level of interest and the attention span of your children.
It’s a great day out because you get to experience exactly what you want from a coastal holiday – the open water sunshine (fingers crossed) and lots and lots of nature. They’ll even be the opportunity to get ice cream.
With a cruise to suit any taste, it’s a great way to absorb the local landscape. Or if you prefer to keep your feet dry, there’s also the opportunity to ride the historic Swanage steam railway.
Prices vary depending on the cruise and the duration, however, a family of four can set sail for a two-hour cruise at a cost of £33.50, a single adult family ticket only costs £21.
Poole Mystery Treasure Trail
If you’re in need of a little urban adventure, why not sign up for a Mystery Treasure Trail?
Treasuretrails.co.uk offers trails for Poole and the surrounding area including Corfe Castle, Sandbanks, and the Purbecks.
Each trail is designed to only take a couple of hours therefore all but very young families should be able to embark on the adventure without too much difficulty.
Best of all, each adventure costs just £6.99 either as a downloadable PDF or as a printed booklet sent to you in the post.
It’s a great way to explore the local area and the sense of theatre will keep the children engaged which should keep complaints and requests to go to the toy shop at a minimum.
Because these trails aren’t an organised event you can plan them for your holiday whenever it suits you. For anyone with young children, this is especially useful as flexibility is everything.
When the moment takes you, you can just pack a picnic and go.
It’s also a useful fallback on days when your original plans fell through or you find yourself with time to kill.
Best of all, any you don’t use you can save until next year!
Choosing your Family Day Out
Everyone at Farmer Palmer’s loves being at the heart of such a great place. Because, not only do we get to work with animals, surrounded by beautiful Dorset countryside, but we’ve got everything the coast has to offer too!
To help you make a decision we’ve created a handy comparison chart below:
|Crabbing||Brownsea||Boat Tours||Poole Park||Mystery Tours|
|Cost||Approx £3 pp||£49.75*||From £33.50**||Adults Free, Under 3yrs £5, 3yrs+ £6||£6.99 per tour|
|Time/Duration||1-2 hours||3-6 hours||2-5 hours||1-2 hours||Flexible|
|Baby Changing||Public toilets||Onsite||Onboard||Onsite (Ark)||Public Facilities|
|Toilets||Public toilets||Onsite||Onboard||Onsite (Ark)||Public Facilities|
|Food/Drink||Local cafes and restaurants||Onsite/picnic area||Drinks and snacks||Onsite (Ark)||Local cafes and restaurants|
|Parking||Public car park||Car park||Public car park||Onsite (Ark)||Public car park|
*based on a 2 adult family, including ferry crossing
**based on a 2 adult family
✝The park and the Ark is wheelchair accessible but not all activities are available to individuals with physical disabilities
✝✝Although much of Poole and the surrounding area is wheelchair accessible, some areas may not be suitable for wheelchairs
If, after your mini-adventure, you fancy an experience amongst the fields feeding the lambs and playing in the hay bales why not come and pay us a visit?
You can expect a warm welcome from our family to yours with onsite dining, great facilities, and activities for the whole family.
Check out our Plan Your Visit Page to learn more about activities and attractions at Farmer Palmer’s and see our great value admission prices. All visits need to be pre-booked online from 2020 onwards.
Last updated 23.06.2021