People often come visit us here on the Isle of Wight. They think they’ll book a cheap Monday – Friday break and figure if they run out of things to do they can always spend an extra day on the beach. Without fail, everyone who comes for the first time leaves telling me that they can’t believe how much there’s still to do that they haven’t had time for yet because there are many ways to spend your days out on the Isle of Wight!

So here are a few fantastic days out on the Isle of Wight for kids, as recommended by the most important critics of all: my own kids! Don’t be fooled into thinking this is all there is though – it’s just some of our favourite places, to get you started!days out on the IOW

Blackgang Chine

I think the children’s favourite attraction on the Island is Blackgang Chine. It’s tag line – land of imagination – is very apt. Blackgang Chine has a variety of zones dedicated to the favourite parts of childhood imagination, such as a super cowboy village, a ‘real-life’ fairy caste and a fairy village. There’s a new ‘underwater world’ area this year, and a nursery rhyme village. For those into a bit of scaring, there’s a haunted house, and one of the biggest attractions is the fantastic interactive dinosaur enclosure and the pirate ships with the most amazing ocean views.  There are a couple of rides and slides, but don’t go expecting the thrills of a big amusement park.

Go during the summer months and they also have evening openings with Magical Monday performances of dinos and fairies, Wednesday Firework nights, and Swashbuckling Sundays, so your 7 day return ticket (same price as the entry ticket) is really good value for money and your summer evenings are full and beautiful!

Good for: A full day, you can bring a lunch if you want. Great for children with fantastic imaginations. Bring your book and let the kids run around in each section.  Best for sunny days, though the dino enclosure on a misty night is something to behold!

Bad for: Someone who needs to be spoon-fed entertainment. Also not great for very wet weather.days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill

Robin Hill is a sort of ‘sister-site’ to Blackgang Chine. Again, there are a hand full of rides and a 4D cinema (and for older kids the Toboggan run and slides) , and a train that goes around the park. You can buy a joint-park pass, which is again really good if you have a one week holiday as Robin Hill’s summer evening entertainment schedule is on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a carnival going through the park.  So basically, your evenings sorted for a week.

Robin Hill also has themed play park areas which the kids love. There’s a small tractor park (wooden) and a huge Safari play park. There are other park areas dotted around, including a great climbing park at the entrance.

The Oriental garden itself is lovely, though they only really come alive in the March and October holidays.  This is just the tip of the iceberg though – there’s so much to enjoy and explore and just appreciate about being outdoors and in nature.

Good for: lazy days! Pack a picnic lunch (you’re around the corner from Arreton Barns which has a gorgeous Deli!), take your book, chill under a tree and let the kids run and play. This can be a really relaxing day out, but there’s enough to make it fun and exciting too.

Bad for: rainy days. It’s pretty much entirely outdoors, so you need it to be dry.

Parks

There are loads of lovely parks on the Isle of Wight, and they are of course, all free to visit.

Gurnard Beach has a pirate ship park, conveniently close to a cafe that sells ice creams.

There’s also a brilliant paddling pool in East Cowes, with a park suitable for both little ones and older ones. It’s quite isolated from shops and so on, and at last try their coffee wasn’t great, but people seem to like the food. And the ice creams.  There’s also a Waitrose around the corner.  This park is ideal if you’ve got some time to kill before getting your ferry back as it’s a 3-minute ride from the Red Funnel ferry.

Ventnor sea front also has a paddling pool with an island inside it shaped like the Isle of Wight. The attached restaurant with outdoor seating is super so you can relax with a cuppa while the kids play.

Sandown has a wonderful, large park – Rainbow Park and it’s conveniently close to both Dinosaur Isle and Sandown Zoo. Not to mention Muzza’s who do amazing  waffles and a wide selection of ice creams too.

Puckpools Park in Seaview is a super park, and there’s a minigolf course and a fab little cafe (and yes, ice cream) nearby. At the far end of Ryde esplanade – Appley Park  – there are two parks, one also has a paddling pool. Ryde also has a paddling pool by the lake.

Good for: inexpensive days or days when you don’t want to pack too much in.

Bad for: what on earth could a park be bad for?!

Meet the animals

The Isle of Wight isn’t actually that big, so it’s attractions are proportionally representative. The Isle of Wight Zoo for example, while lovely, won’t take the whole day. Unless you had breakfast at 11 and want to be at Blackgang Chine for 5!

The Isle of Wight Zoo has mainly big cats. Lions, tigers, a jaguar and so on. It’s a good place to go to see lions close up. There’s also a small animal petting zoo.  This is mainly a good weather attraction.

Amazon World Zoo is another zoo on the Island with a wider variety of animals, but smaller cages and a lot of it indoors. There’s also a wallabee walk through where you can get up (relatively) close and personal with the wallabies. There’s a lot of indoor area, but some outdoor too.

The Monkey Haven is precisely that – an aviary of sorts, for primates. The Monkey Sanctuary is a rescue centre, so there are quite a few exotic primates to be found. They’re also in the process of building newer, more modern enclosures.  Aside from the gift shop, the rest of the Monkey Sanctuary is outdoors.

days out on the Isle of WightJust next door there’s also Butterfly World where you can walk through the (very hot) butterfly enclosure and see butterflies as they flit around you. Cool off with the adjoined Fountain World, another walk through where you can feed koi and get a little wet, if you wish.

Further to the south of the Island there’s a Donkey Sanctuary and an Alpaca Farm – for a small island there are a lot of animals!

Good for: Little people who love meeting and visiting animals. Most of these are best enjoyed on sunny days, but Butterfly World and Fountain World are indoors, and warm, so perfect for those chillier days! Most of these places offer a free 7-day return (make sure before you buy though!) and Amazon World Zoo accept Tesco Clubcard Vouchers.

Bad for: depending on your budget these entrance fees will all add up really quickly, and they’re all really only half day attractions. But the Donkey Sanctuary is free, so do a half day at one and half at the Donkey sanctuary and it won’t sting so much!

The Beaches!

The Isle of Wight does have among the best beaches in the UK, I’m pretty sure.

For sandy beaches, try Ryde Beach or Appley Beach. Sandown and Shanklin also have lovely sandy beaches. Ventnor is also a good beach, with a bustling esplanade. Sandown and Shanklin have typically British esplanades with arcades, food places and souvenir shops.  There’s also a pier in Sandown.  Ryde and Appley have more nature-centric beaches, and Ryde even has a duck pond you can hire pedalos from.

For pebble beaches, head over to Freshwater Bay, where you can explore a cave too, if the tide is right!

I know many people can happily spend a whole day on the beach, and these are among the most popular, and to me, some of the most beautiful.days out on the Isle of Wight

Do check the tide tables though. If you just want to laze on the beach it’s not an issue, but if you want to be in the water the tide being out, out, out is inconvenient.

Good for: beaches! Good for sand in your teeth and sunburn. A perfect summer!
Bad for: nothing.

Arts and Crafts

Arty Shakes is a great place to make some take-home memories with painted ceramics and so on (but check the return time, so you can pick it up before you head out!

For something more immediate,  Craft Island at Arreton Barns has a fab space where you can make a bit of a mess with glitter.

Good for: rainy days or trying to stay out of the sun for a little while too.

Bad for: nothing I can think of!

History

There’s plenty history to be had on the Island, aside from the different dinosaur opportunities, like Dino Isle, there are also places like Brading Roman Villa which was a Roman courtyard villa that has been excavated and put on public display. They have regular event days so it’s worth checking the calendar.

Newport Roman Villa is another historical point where you can see the original ruins of an old Roman villa

Osborne House is an excellent English Heritage site that puts on amazing Victorian theme events throughout the year. Aside from that there’s a house to visit, beautiful gardens – I like taking the children there to cycle as it’s far free and that feels a lot safer with two small ones! – and long walking paths, there is also a little patch of private beach, complete with a cafe and, yes, ice cream shop!

Carisbrooke Castle has hills for rolling down, fields for running through, a tea room and kids can meet the donkey. It’s also English Heritage and they have occasional events there, so check the calendar.

Good for: doing things indoors, and including a bit of history

Bad for: nothing much!

In Motion

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is a fairly unique day out. The steam train with it’s cabin-carriages will appeal to Harry Potter fans who think themselves on a trip to Hogwarts!

Good for: train enthusiasts, Harry Potter fans (there’s nothing HP about it, just that it’s a similar kind of train)

Bad for: hardcore train enthusiasts who are used to longer lines and circuitous journeys. It’s a small island!

Ryde Beachfront

Ryde beach is pretty much the place to be in the busy days of summer. From festivals to trampolines, giant inflatables to Peter Pan and much more, there’s often something happening on the green next to Peter Pan Amusement park. You get incredible views of the Solent, and there’s a sandy beach with at least three play parks within walking distance of each other.  Do include Ryde in your itinerary. There’s always something going on!

If you’re staying on the Island, there’s a huge variety of accommodation, from camping and caravaning to beautiful AirBNB and other rental properties, like the beautifully refurbished cottages at Rookley Country Park. There’s a great review of the newly done cottages over at Are We Nearly There Yet for you to find out more.

Been there, done that? Here are 5 other weekend breaks by ferry from the UK for you to explore.

 

 

 

 

One comment

20+ Kids Days Out On The Isle Of Wight

  1. Please add Fort Victoria to the list; large playing field perfect for ball games kite flying (almost always windy) and bike riding. Woodland trail walks, a nice bit of rustic beach Model railway reptilarium planetarium and cafe. Great day out and very reasonable entry fees

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