The writers of Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are all closely associated with this seaside resort, as are the memories of most of your parents and, depending on your age, your own childhood. That’s because Bournemouth was one of the pre-eminent sandy holiday destinations for hundreds of years, and still remains a family favourite, despite the invention of the airplane and its budget airlines delivering pallid Brits en masse to the south of Spain.
As such, there’s something of a Victorian eminence to Bournemouth, with its old-world architecture and family-fun activities. So, just like their parents decades before them, the kids are likely to love their holidays here. The coast is adorned with sandy strands, while the pier amusements will keep them entertained all day. Pantomimes and other family shows take place in the iconic Pavilion Theatre, and museums, festivals and galleries add to the excitement. We here at Plum Guide know all about Bournemouth and its delights - we are travel experts after all - so here we impart the best of our knowledge on the best things to do in Bournemouth with kids.
Sunbathe at the beach
Bournemouth Pier, England, UK
Just because you're looking for things to do in Bournemouth with kids, you needn't deny yourself some downtime while on holiday. Find a spot on Bournemouth Beach, plonk yourself down with a book and refuse to talk to anyone - including your own children - for the remainder of the afternoon. It’s tanning time. What’s the point of a trip to the coast, if you don’t return looking about ten years older, more wrinkled and burnt to a crisp? It’s a sign of affluence… or something.
Get changed in one of the colourful huts that back onto the green mound at the rear of the beach. Chase your kids around the beach and force them to slap suncream on, and then play some ball games on the sand. Rent a deck chair and umbrella, while keeping an eye on the little ones. They’ll be splashing about in the cold water (why don’t they seem to mind the cold)? The city even has its own children’s safety scheme called LV=KidZone, involving wristbands and reuniting lost kids with their worried parents. Still, best to keep an eye on them.
For something a little more secluded and quiet, head down to the Hengistbury Head Beach. Enjoy the views of the Christchurch Harbour and spot the Isle of Wight. The Alum Chine Beach has a fun play area for the little ones (obviously, it wasn’t going to be for you...alas).
Ride the Land Train and visit the piers
Boscombe Pier from above, Bournemouth, UK
The Land Train (aren’t most trains on some sort of land?) takes passengers along the scenic coasts, dropping them off at Boscombe Pier, the aforementioned Alum Chine Beach and Bournemouth Pier. Kids will love chugging along the seaside and taking in the salty air by the water. At Boscombe Pier, walk along the wooden platform and soak up the vistas of the water and the coast. Let your little ones play mini-golf, providing they don’t hit their ball into the sea. Watch them clamber on top of the boulders by the pier and try your hand at slacklining (walking along a rope). Go for a family meal at one of the cafés and restaurants backing onto the beach.
As for Bournemouth Pier, it has the privilege of having the city’s name in its title. So, that’s something, right? It merits this honour too, with its array of fun and exciting activities that you wouldn’t expect to be able to do on a pier. Go zip lining over the deck and look down at the people on the pier, as though they’re ants you’re intending to crush. The pier’s Rock Reef activity is an obstacle course for kids, while the Adrenaline Package has a Leap of Faith and a Vertical Drop Slide. It’s all about defiance of gravity.
Enjoy some rainy day activities
However tiny, there’s always the chance of rain. Well, in the UK, perhaps it’s not that tiny. So, we’ve prepared a back-up plan, and luckily there are plenty of rainy day-friendly things to do in Bournemouth with kids. Don’t worry, those beaches aren’t going anywhere… but maybe the kids will be acquiesced with a trip to Mr Mulligan’s Bournemouth, an indoor crazy golf complex that lets you play amid an alien invasion. Speaking of alien invasions, let the kids run wild in the Laser Quest Bournemouth, where they’ll team up with some stranger kids and fight against other stranger kids. Speaking once again of alien invasions, perhaps you’ll find the latest Blockbuster hit in the ODEON Bournemouth. Try the escape rooms of the MacGuffin Project and journey 20,000 leagues under the sea for the creatures of the deep in the Oceanarium, which is a posh word for aquarium.
Support the Cherries
The Cherries is the nickname of the city’s football team, and sounds a lot less boring than its actual name: Athletic Football Club Bournemouth. The red-and-black stripes of their team can be seen harrying up and down the pitch at the Vitality Stadium, which seats around 11,000 spectators. Chat to locals to hear about the team’s meteoric rise from the lower echelons of semi-professional football to the Premier League. Depending on when you read this, they can now be seen threatening to yo-yo between the first and second tiers of the pyramid. Purchase tickets online and bring your family to the stadium in Kings Park, Boscombe. With luck, you’ll catch a game against Southampton, their biggest rivals. Your kids will love the competitive atmosphere, while you’ll be worrying about escaping unharmed by the final whistle. Still, it'll be fun...