Low-cost family days out
On a tight budget? No problem! There are plenty of cheap days out in Hampshire for all the family to enjoy. From steam trains and castles to beaches and bike rides, we've picked a variety of low-cost family days out so you can have a great time without breaking the bank.
Explore castles and forts
Step back in time at the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson. Entry is free on non-event days so go along and explore underground chambers and tunnels as well as daily gun salutes, costumed interpretations and professional guided tours. The view from the fort across Portsmouth and the Solent cannot be missed! There are also lots of castles in Hampshire to be explored, such as the surviving ruins of Wolvesey Castle where entry is free, or for small charge take a look around Portchester Castle.
Grab a packed lunch, pack a pad of paper and pens and visit a local country park or nature reserve. The kids will love planning a nature trail and drawing any animals they see along the way. There are a number of country parks in Hampshire and countless wildlife reserves including Titchfield Haven near Gosport, and Pamber Forest near Basingstoke. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust also run a number of family events throughout the year, with only a small charitable donation to be paid.
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...
Hampshire has several beaches including Lepe and Hayling Island, so why not go for a stroll and try skimming stones across the waves? Some of Hampshire's biggest seaside destinations have special attractions such as the amusements at Clarence Pier in Portsmouth, and Funland Amusement Park on Hayling Island.
Hampshire's rural pubs are open to families and have wonderful gardens with attractions ranging from chickens, rabbits, pigs and ducks to trampolines, wendy houses and giant chess sets. Children can let off steam, while you take in the wonderful scenery, from watercress beds to picturesque villages or the local cricket pitch.
Delve into Hampshire's history
Hampshire has several free-entry museums and galleries including the Natural History Museum in Portsmouth where you can enjoy the brilliant butterfly house. Visit one of the finest local history collections in Hampshire, exploring 100 million years of history, at the Curtis Museum in Alton. Or you could become a knight of the round table at the Great Hall in Winchester, home to the famous Arthurian Round Table, which has hung there since 1348. Enjoy all of this for free!
Take a guided tour around Hampshire's towns and cities
Guided Tours are a great way to explore Hampshire's towns and cities, and they are usually free or require a small charge. Many Tourist Information Centre's provide Blue Badge guided tours that have been approved by the Institute of Tourist Guiding so you can be sure that you'll have a great day out with a guide who is both entertaining and informative. Find out what tours are happening in Winchester, Portsmouth and Southampton, or call a Tourist Information Centre for more details.
Visit your local Discovery Centre
There is something for all the family at Hampshire's exciting Discovery Centres. You can rent books, CDs, DVDs and video games, surf the internet for free, chat in the café or simply grab your favourite book and find a quiet spot to sit and read. Hampshire Discovery Centres also run lots of events throughout the year so don't miss out!
Ride a steam train
Take a ride on a steam-hauled miniature railway at Eastleigh Lakeside Railway for a small cost. Hop on and off the train to have lunch in the picnic area, and see model boating, fishing and canoeing lakes all on the same site. At the weekends, have a look around Royal Victoria Country Park on their miniature railway; a cheap day out which the kids will love.
Go for a bike ride
All you need for this one is your family and your bikes! There are safe cycling routes for the whole family all over Hampshire, through tranquil lanes, pretty villages, country parks, forests and towns. Maps, guides, routes and safety tips are all available to download. Each year Hampshire County Council celebrates the best summer cycling events across the county through their Summer of Cycling campaign.
Pack a picnic
Why not go for a good old-fashioned picnic? Make it a family day out from start to finish and ask the kids to help make the sandwiches and choose their favourite snacks to take along. There are loads of open green spaces and country parks in Hampshire perfect for a family picnic, including Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Butser Hill, the highest point in Hampshire with stunning views around the Petersfield area.
Take the dog for a walk
Hampshire has a number of dog-friendly trails through tranquil countryside and coastline. Take a stroll through the New Forest or take in the sights at Manor Farm Country Park on their Waggy Tail Trail. Let your dog run wild in the exercise field, whilst you take in the beautiful scenery. Alternatively, take your dog along to Danebury Iron Age hill fort, where you can learn about the history of this 2500 year old monument.
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