Staycation would appear to be the buzzword of the moment. Much as I love a home holiday, I’m certainly not averse to the odd jaunt abroad. Nevertheless, there is so much to experience here at home in the UK. In my opinion, Britain’s tourist trade is going from strength to strength, whether it be our Blue Flag beaches, facilities at England’s most fascinating historical sites or all-round fun at family attractions and activity centres.
This coming week I am off to Weymouth with dog and children in tow for some good old fashioned family seaside fun: ice creams, salty lips and sandy toes are all on the agenda. I thought I’d share with you what’s on my itinerary for our short break to one of the UK’s most popular seaside destinations.
Thanks to my job, I am fortunate to be up to speed on what’s on, where to go and what not to miss. Visit Dorset have kindly guided me in the right direction for a short visit to Weymouth and the Portland area; you can get the same expert advice by visiting their website.
Photo: Visit Dorset
A great place to start is Chesil Beach Visitors Centre. Chesil Beach is in the heart of the Jurassic coast – an 18 mile stretch of pebble and shingle that is a haven for wildlife and is home to the Fleet Lagoon which alone has 150 species of seaweed, 25 species of fish and 60 known species of mollusc. The visitors centre is located at the southern end of the Fleet Lagoon.
To explore the Lagoon take a trip on the Fleet Observer, a shallow drafted glass bottom boat that was specifically designed to explore the world hidden beneath the water. The locals who run these trips are passionate about the indigenous wildlife and keen to point out rare bird and marine life whilst sharing scintillating titbits of information. Sounds like a great way to spend a few hours – I will let you know how we get on!
We are planning on having lunch at the newly opened and highly recommended taste* café at the visitors centre. Opened in March by the owners of the successful taste* café/bistro in Dorchester, it promises freshly prepared food accompanied by spectacular views of this beautiful area.
Another of Weymouth’s popular attractions is SandWorld. Several of my friends have visited with varying ages of children and all have thoroughly recommended it.
It is in its fourth season, with this year’s theme Books and Authors. Sand sculptors from around the world bring to life some of the literary world’s most famous personalities from Mr Men to Shakespearean characters, all created out of sand – they put my lopsided sand castles to shame!
SandWorld is located in Lodmoor Country Park and right next door to Sea Life Adventure Park, so there is plenty to do after your visit. The park is set over 350 acres with attractions and activities for all the family along with superb facilities.
Photo: Visit Dorset
This brings me on nicely to the next attraction on my to-visit list. I know we all enjoy different activities; I personally like to have a mix of new experiences and firm family favourites. My kids love anything to do with the sea, and Sea Life Adventure Park promises to provide great family entertainment.
The adventure park is home to over 1,000 marine creatures which include all the favourites: sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and penguins along with rarer and endangered species. Whilst visiting you can learn all about the conservation projects that the centre takes part in to help protect and preserve the amazing creatures that dwell in our oceans. If that’s not enough there are also watery rides, an underwater tunnel and a splash zone.
The entry ticket also gives you access to the Sea Life tower which is a few miles along Weymouth’s golden sandy beach. The tower will take you 53m above the resort, giving you the most spectacular views of the Jurassic Coastline, Weymouth, Northe Forte, the White Horse and the picturesque harbour. If you run out of time you have fourteen days to visit the tower so you needn’t rush away from the adventure park.
Photo: English Heritage.
Adding a little history to my mix is Portland Castle. Standing majestically over Portland Harbour, the castle is one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal forts.
Built in 1540 to protect against the French and Spanish invasion, the castle is steeped in history and played a part in both the First and Second World Wars. The audio tour is free and I’m sure will be of interest to my children as it tells the castle’s story from Tudor times through to the Second World War, which they have both covered at school.
There is plenty to explore with gun platforms, an armoury and Tudor kitchen, plus the prospect of wandering the gardens and enjoying the coastal views before finishing up at the Captains Tearooms for afternoon tea.
Dorset is a wonderful county to visit with stunning coast and picturesque countryside; I really am looking forward to my visit to Weymouth and Portland. Why not take a look at a staycation before school starts again – it’s a great way to enjoy what’ at home whilst sharing some of the UK’s history and important geographical sites with the children.