The city of Southampton is in Hampshire on England’s South coast and has been an important port for centuries. The Mayflower sailed from here for America in 1620 as did the Titanic in 1912 and today Southampton is the UK’s leading cruise port. Budget regional airline Flybe links the city with destinations across Europe and has asked me to look at things to do in and around Southampton for families with kids. Here are some of the best.
The SeaCity Museum is in the heart of Southampton and tells the story of the people of the city and their connections with the sea and with the Titanic. There are scale models and interactive exhibits as well as a coffee shop at the museum.
Southampton City Art Gallery
Right next to the SeaCity Museum is Southampton City Art Gallery. The gallery is free to enter and is home to around 3,700 works of art. There are gallery trails around the exhibitions and, if you book in advance, there are art activity sessions for children to take part in.
Mayflower Park is right on the coast and is a popular place from which to watch the enormous cruise ships which use the port. There’s also a small cafe at the park.
The city’s Mayflower Theatre offers a wide range of entertainment including performances for children and family drama workshops.
Woodmill Outdoor Activity Centre
There’s a range of outdoor activities on offer in the North of the city at Woodmill Outdoor Activity Centre. Activities include archery, climbing, canoeing and kayaking. Water activities take place either on a lake or on the River Itchen and there are conditions to suit all abilities.
Isle of Wight
You can take a ferry from Southampton across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. The journey takes less than an hour and there are loads of family-friendly things to do on the island. Highlights include the award-winning beaches, Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, and fossil hunting.
The edge of the New Forest is just five miles west of Southampton. The New Forest is a primeval oak wood which was used by William the Conqueror as a hunting ground. Today there are shaggy New Forest ponies living in the woodland as well as fallow deer and it’s a lovely area for walking and cycling. The New Forest is home to some popular family attractions including Peppa Pig World at Paultons Family Theme Park, the New Forest Wildlife Park and Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum.
The city of Portsmouth is around 20 miles east of Southampton along the coast. In Portsmouth you can get a bird’s-eye view from the 170 metre-high viewing area of the iconic Spinnaker Tower. You can also visit places like the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the D-Day Museum, the Blue Reef Aquarium or you can just enjoy the waterfront.
Have you been to Southampton with your kids? Do you have any recommendations to add?
Disclosure: This article is in association with Flybe.