Things to Do in Christchurch, Dorset
Beaches, ferry trips and the UK's longest parish church: welcome to Christchurch.
We’re talking about the quaint village in Dorset, rather than the New Zealand city. And if you’ve gotten the two confused, you’re a long way from home, our friend. But, if that confusion has led you to the British settlement by the sea, you’re in luck, because there’s so much to do in this charming town. It has the longest church in the UK, as well as a string of beaches, yacht-laden quays and museums.
On sunny days, head to the scenic gardens in the town and walk along the promontories that jut out into the sea. If you’re with your little ones, the area is packed with family entertainment, with all sorts of rides for the kids. They might also like to hear about the history of smuggling in this coastal resort, and its fortification during the Second World War. While we’re at it, might we recommend some of the Plum Guide’s most prestigious lodgings in Christchurch? Our homes are tried and tested by very high maintenance critics, so you know you're in for a good night's sleep.
Without further ado, we bring you the best things to do in Christchurch.
Climb aboard an aircraft
Check out the cockpits and study the engines of the impressive aircraft on display in the vast open-air museum of the Bournemouth Aviation Museum. One of the more unique places to visit in Dorset, you can actually sit inside the cockpits of the various airplanes and clamber inside the helicopters. Among the highlights are the Westland Wessex Helicopter and the English Electric Lightning plane. Take your kids on a tour through this large museum, learning as you go about the history of flight from the interactive exhibits. It makes for quite a unique sight, with its hodgepodge of different craft, including a bus and a truck.
Watch the planes taking off from the adjacent Bournemouth International Airport and imagine your kid as a future pilot. They probably won’t be… we mean, statistically, it’s unlikely. But if you do want to ingrain the idea in their little minds, get them a bunch of souvenirs from the gift shop. While you've got hatches on the brain, consider lodging in our cosy Bell Hatch cottage in Dorset.
Check out the amusement parks
If you're looking for things to do in Dorset with kids, there’s plenty of family fun to be had in Christchurch. You can start right next to the aforementioned aircraft museum. This is where you’ll find the Adventure Wonderland, with all the wonder and adventure that its name suggests that it provides. Watch them rush down the inflatable slide and climb aboard the runaway train. The park has all sorts of events and activities for kids.
Another fun family complex is Snowtrax, where you can learn to ski and snowboard. Grab a bite at the Alpine Bistro and get onto the slopes. Be prepared to fall a bunch of times and make a fool of yourself, while your kids grasp it quicker. Sit on the Ski Bobs to sled down the course or fall down the circuits in a ring. The site doesn’t quite use snow, but its modern system makes skiing and snowboarding feel like it, without the intense cold or the wet behinds that come from real snow. Enter the Alpine Adventure Park with your children in the woods, where they can Zipline between the trees and explore the decks and secret treasure of the Pirate Ship. It also has swings, a fort and a trampoline.
Go for a day at the beach
You can't visit the South Coast without going to the beach. The Avon Beach is one of the most popular sandy stretches around Christchurch, so this is where you can get the most eyes on your lobster sunburn or silly trunks. Set up a picnic on the beach and go swimming in the shallow water, which is overseen by a lifeguard between July and August. Enjoy the lovely views of the trees lining the rear of the strand, and let your little ones clamber over the rocks. Admire the boats around the Christchurch Harbour and wolf down a picnic at the Mudeford Quay. Embark on a seafaring voyage with Mudeford Ferry.
Get a sense of the history
The Christchurch Priory has a tall steeple and is surrounded by picturesque and serene fields. It is the longest parish church in England, so you can spend days just ambling around its circumference, which could double up as a walking trail. If you're looking for historical things to do in Christchurch, visit the Place Mill, an Anglo-Saxon watermill near the church. It takes water from the Avon River and recycles it into the Stour River, while generating energy. Then, take a trip to Highcliffe Castle, and marvel at its gothic revival design. Construction commenced in 1831, making it even older than you, your kids or partner might say with glee. Head inside for its various exhibitions and events.
Now you know the best things to do in Christchurch, it's time to find somewhere to stay on the South Coast. Plum Guide's properties are professionally vetted, so whether you fancy this open and spacious home or the so-called School House, you know you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.