With a history going back to the iron age. Poole has been invaded by the Romans, the Saxons and was the third largest embarkation point for the D-Day landings.
Today the only invaders are families from all over the UK and abroad as it’s now one of the country’s favourite holiday destinations.
It’s easy to see why, with family attractions like us to visit. Not to mention the charming old town and waterfront, historic quay and so much more.
The great thing about Poole, and the surrounding area, is that there is something to do to fit every taste, budget and circumstance. From enjoying eating fish and chips with the tide lapping at your feet, to full on excursions.
It’s just a question of what you want those precious lasting memories to be. Here’s our 5 favourite things to do when we’re out with our families:
This is something of a tradition in Poole with families coming from far and wide to enjoy a day at Poole harbour and get in a spot of crabbing at Fisherman’s dock.
Crabbing is an ideal pass time for the whole family because it’s low intensity with high reward so even little people can – with a bit of help – have fun catching crabs.
The water by the dockside is teeming with crabs so catching a few should be fairly easy which avoids disappointment (and any associated tantrums!). Set the family a challenge to see who can catch the most in an hour. The loser buys the ice creams.
The good news is that lines, buckets and bait are for sale nearby and and it’s something you can use again and again, making the initial cost a great investment over time. Crab lines and buckets cost between £3 – £10.
Just remember to return the crabs to the water carefully when you’ve finished. Throwing them over the side can cause harm.
As an added bonus, when you’re done crabbing the beach is just a short walk away so the children can let off some steam after a hard morning wrestling with creatures from the deep.
Famous the world over as the home of scouting, it is also a haven for the red squirrel and a place of incredible natural beauty.
Being the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding, Brownsea Island is all about adventure and outdoor learning. As such there are plenty of opportunities to explore the island and learn about nature, complete with a dedicated Outdoor Activity Centre.
Brownsea Island is only accessible by boat so the adventure starts the moment you board the ferry. As you approach, features like the island’s castle (yes, it has a castle!) and lagoon will start to appear adding to the excitement.
As you would expect it’s an incredibly friendly and child-orientated experience. The staff receive scouting groups all year round so rest assured your family will be well catered for.
The island is incredibly family focused with trail walks easily manageable for families young and old and free tracker packs for the children.
There’s guided walks twice a day for anyone looking to learn about the island’s rich history, an amazing natural play area, an onsite cafe and opportunities to pick up souvenirs to remember your time there.
You can also take a quick dip to cool off after a day’s hard adventuring on the South side of the island.
For pricing information follow the link to their website:
The island is open from 10am til 5pm every day so you really can make the most of your day, surrounded by beautiful woodlands.
Swanage Boat Tour
Continuing with the nautical theme, why not hop aboard for a trip around the Jurassic coast?
Dorset has some of the most historically significant coastlines in the country so if you’re looking for a mix of natural beauty, some time on the water and dose of local knowledge then what could be better?
City Cruises Poole offer a number of trips ranging from a little over an hour to an entire day, depending on your level of interest and the attention span of your children.
It’s a great day out as you get to experience exactly what you want from a coastal holiday – the open water sunshine (fingers crossed) and lots and lots of nature. They’ll even be the opportunity to get an ice cream.
With a cruise to suit any taste, it’s a great way to absorb the local landscape. Or if you prefer to keep your feet dry, there’s also the opportunity to ride the historic Swanage steam railway.
Prices vary depending on the cruise and the duration but a family of four can set sail for a two hour cruise at a cost of £33.50, a single adult family ticket only costs £21.
Poole Mystery Treasure Trail
If you’re in need of a little urban adventure, why not sign up to a Mystery Treasure Trail?
Treasuretrails.co.uk offer trails for Poole and the surrounding area including Corfe Castle, Sandbanks and the Purbecks.
Each trail is designed to only take a couple of hours so all but very young families should be able to embark on the adventure without too much difficulty.
Best of all, each adventure costs just £6.99 either as a downloadable PDF or as a printed booklet sent to you in the post.
It’s a great way to explore the local area and the sense of theatre will keep the children engaged which should keep complaints and requests to go to the toy shop at a minimum.
Because these trails aren’t an organised event you can plan them into your holiday whenever it suits you. For anyone with young children this is especially useful as flexibility is everything.
When the moment takes you, you can just pack a picnic and go.
It’s also a useful fall back on days when your original plans fell through or you find yourself with time to kill.
Best of all, any you don’t use you can save til next year!
Choosing your Family Day Out
Everyone at Farmer Palmer’s loves being at the heart of such a great place. Not only do we get to work with animals, surrounded by beautiful Dorset countryside, but we’ve got everything the coast has to offer too!
To help you make a decision we’ve created a handy comparison chart below:
Approx £3 pp
Adults Free, Under 3yrs £5, 3yrs+ £6
£6.99 per tour
Local cafes and restaurants
Drinks and snacks
Local cafes and restaurants
Public car park
Public car park
Public car park
Public car park
*based on a 2 adult family, including ferry crossing
**based on a 2 adult family
✝The park and the Ark is wheelchair accessible but not all activities are available to to individuals with physical disabilities
✝✝Although much of Poole and the surrounding area is wheelchair accessible, some areas may not be suitable for wheelchairs
If, after your mini-adventure, you fancy a whole day out amongst the fields feeding the lambs and playing in the hay bales why not come and pay us a visit?
We live locally to Farmer Palmers and have annual passes for our whole family. We’ve been visiting the farm for 6 years now (so I have lots of good things to say!) My younger daughter age 19 months loves it and so does her 6 year old sister! (My eldest also loved it as a toddler!)
It’s a farm, with all the usual farm animals you’d expect to see and more.
The indoor play area is done very well and my youngest and eldest daughter love it in there, soft play is also great for both ages.
Bouncy castles are kept clean and well maintained (let’s remember there’s a daily influx of small children who’ve spent the day running free range on a FARM so of course it’s got signs of being used!).
My daughters love it here, you have an array of activities to choose from woodland walks, soft play & bouncy castles. Guinea pig holding is a hit (happy well looked after Guinea pigs not cramped up in a pet shop. We were so happy with the standards of care we got our own guinea pigs from here!). Goat and lamb feeding (yes on busy days you don’t get a huge amount of time yet I haven’t heard a grumble from a single child). Not mention water sprinklers, Go carts which are suitable for both adults and small children, lovely picnic area and playground, seasonal pony rides and real milking demonstration (my eldest loves it!). There is decent home cooked food served in the cafe. Also a tractor ride available for a couple of £ you can even feed deer.
We’ve had several birthday parties here (so have my nephews and nieces age up to age 12!) and everyone loves it.
Considering the price of most family days out, I think Farmer Palmers is actually very good value for money, it’s a far cry from a theme park (thank goodness!) and I love spending time with my kids here throughout the year be it rain of shine!
Will be renewing our annual pass for the 3rd year this summer!
Thanks for endless entertainment!
W Beth 2019
Not a theme park a wonderful family farm
"Good place for the family lots to see and do. Clean and staff helpful. Could spend a day there with the kids and have a great time. Would recommend to everyone."
"An absolutely lovely farm, with the most perfect helpful, knowledgeable staff. We had an amazing day."
Allergy Awareness "We come and visit you every week and I was so pleased to see the "no food" notice up in the soft play areas. My son is anaphylaxis to dairy and peanuts. Thank you for raising awareness and helping my son to not be at risk!"
"The imagination and creativity with the play areas is just perfect. Today we fed the lambs and it was such a special moment, I've always wanted to do it and loved it!"
"The passes are fantastic value for money and whenever we come to Farmer Palmer's my children never want to leave. Staff are always very friendly and helpful."
Annual Pass Holder
"Even when it's pouring down, FP is a great place to come. Plenty to do under shelter and who doesn't love to put their wellies on and splash in muddy puddles! And for the mums and dads, the cake is amazing :)"
Sarah says "Food in the restaurant was lovely and the staff were friendly"
"A rare treat, a full day out and change!"
Value for money!
"We keep coming back with our grandchildren"
"We are big fans!! My little boy wakes up most mornings asking if he can go to Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park!!"
"It was amazing. From organisation to the staff,
who were fantastic, we were very pleased"
Team Farmer Palmer Fan
"Great family day out. Highly recommended!"
Holiday visitor to Dorset
"I can't recommend this wonderful place enough. It's an amazing little piece of paradise in Dorset."
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