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Free Things To Do in Hampshire: Great for Families

Embark on a journey through Hampshire's rich history and natural beauty, where every corner unveils tales of bygone eras and picturesque landscapes. From art galleries to serene country parks, Hampshire offers plenty of attractions to captivate visitors of all ages!

Andover Museum and Museum of the Iron Age

AI Generated Image for Museum of the Iron Age
AI Generated Image - Museum of the Iron Age

In Andover, along the banks of the River Anton, lies a gem for history enthusiasts: the Andover Museum and Museum of the Iron Age. The Andover Museum is free, but the Museum of the Iron Age comes at a small additional charge.

While the Andover Museum delves into the town's rich history from prehistoric times to the present day, the Museum of the Iron Age offers insight into archaeological discoveries at the nearby Danebury hill fort. 

With engaging activities for children, including dress-up and craft days, along with amenities like a café and museum shop, it is a great place for the whole family to enjoy a day out steeped in the region's fascinating past.

Bishop’s Waltham Palace

Winchester Countryside - a person walking in a meadow
Winchester Countryside

Bishop’s Waltham Palace, once the grand residence of medieval Bishops of Winchester, boasts remnants of 12th and 14th-century architecture, including an impressive three-story tower and the fine windows of the great hall.

Surrounded by picturesque grounds, it offers a glimpse into Hampshire's rich history, with the Bishop's Waltham Museum, a small museum housed within the former farmhouse, showcasing artifacts from prehistoric times to the modern era.

Explore Hampshire's Beautiful Parks

Hampshire has numerous country and national parks, each a sanctuary of natural beauty and an invitation to embrace the wonders of the great outdoors. Here is a handful of top picks:

Lepe Country Park

White lighthouse in Lepe Country Park
Lepe Country Park Lighthouse

Explore Lepe Country Park on the edge of the New Forest for a memorable day amidst beautiful countryside.

Take a stroll along the Lepe Loop, a scenic circular walk of around five miles, or unwind on the tranquil shores of Lepe Beach with stunning views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight. Whether birdwatching, enjoying the play area, or simply soaking up the natural beauty, Lepe offers the perfect escape for nature lovers of all ages.

Itchen Valley Country Park

Beautiful Purple Flower in Itchen Valley Country Park
Beautiful Flower in Itchen Valley Country Park

Nestled alongside the picturesque River Itchen, Itchen Valley Country Park sprawls across 440 acres of stunning water meadows and woodlands, offering a rich tapestry of heritage and abundant wildlife.

Visitors can enjoy activities, including exploring art exhibitions, indulging in the Woodland Café, and embarking on outdoor adventures such as the award-winning treetop experience at Go Ape!

Lakeside Country Park

Lakeside Country Park offers a serene escape amidst 22 hectares of lakes, meadows, and woodlands, teeming with diverse wildlife such as deer, foxes, and even bats. Visitors can make the most of their time by the lakes with watersports, fishing, and exploring the art trail.

Nearby, families can enjoy a delightful excursion at the Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway, boasting one of the largest collections of miniature locomotives and charming steam trains - although please note that there is a cost for riding the miniature railway.

Royal Victoria Country Park

Water view in Royal Victoria Country Park
Royal Victoria Country Park

Located in Netley Abbey, Hampshire, just a couple of miles east of Southampton and nestled alongside the shores of Southampton Water, Royal Victoria Country Park offers 200 acres of diverse habitats and a rich history to explore. 

From the enchanting fairy garden and historic Royal Victoria Chapel to the poignant Netley Military Cemetery, visitors can enjoy a range of attractions, including BBQ areas, picnics, a play area, and a serene duck pond, ensuring a memorable day out for all ages.

River Hamble Country Park

Nestled in Bursledon, River Hamble Country Park offers a picturesque setting for picnics and outdoor adventures, with opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding, and crabbing along the river. 

Children can frolic in the ship-wrecked-themed play area while visitors can explore The Barn for local information and enjoy refreshments at the café. Do not miss the chance to visit Manor Farm (admission charged), where you can interact with friendly farm animals and immerse yourself in a memorable family day out.

Queen Elizabeth Country Park

A Guy Exploring Queen Elizabeth Country Park
A Guy Exploring Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Queen Elizabeth Country Park is Hampshire's largest country park in the heart of the South Downs and spans over 2,000 acres.

In the park, visitors can explore the captivating work of local artist Mark Anthony Haden Ford while enjoying family-friendly amenities such as a play area for children and an exhilarating "assault course" for adults, where you can test your limits in this obstacle course.

For those seeking unique experiences, the park offers a range of bookable activities at an additional cost, from tree climbing and electric mountain bike rentals to forest yoga and laser tag adventures.

New Forest National Park

Tall Trees in New Forest National Park
Tall Trees in New Forest National Park

New Forest National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, boasting an array of habitats from ancient woodlands to open heathlands, providing a home to ponies, wading birds, bats, butterflies, and deer. 

It offers unparalleled opportunities to encounter some of Western Europe's most fascinating wildlife species amidst its picturesque landscapes.

South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park offers a diverse landscape of rolling hills, ancient woodlands, and picturesque villages, spanning over 1,600 square kilometers.

Cliff and Lighthouse in South Downs National Park
South Downs National Park

Visitors can explore the park's beauty through biking, walking, or horseback riding, with accessible routes like Miles Without Stiles catering to all abilities.

Additionally, the park boasts award-winning wine, beer, and gin produced locally, along with vibrant farmer's markets showcasing the region's agricultural bounty.

Curtis Museum

The Curtis Museum in Alton houses one of Hampshire's finest local history collections, offering a captivating journey through the region's past, from ancient Saxon burials to the notorious tale of Sweet Fanny Adams.

With family-friendly activities and educational exhibits, it is the perfect destination for a day of discovery. After exploring the museum, do not miss the chance to visit the Allen Gallery, where you can admire outstanding ceramics and enjoy refreshments in the welcoming café.

Hayling Island

Aerial Shoreline View of Hayling Island
Aerial Shoreline View of Hayling Island

Hayling Island boasts five miles of sandy beaches, perfect for swimming and beach volleyball. Meanwhile, its cycle paths wind through unspoiled coastline and countryside, offering tranquility and scenic views. For family fun, visitors can enjoy the thrills of Funland Amusement; admission is free, but rides require an additional fee.

Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery

Immerse yourself in Portsmouth's rich heritage at the Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery, where you can explore exhibits ranging from the world of Sherlock Holmes to the history of Portsmouth FC.

Do not miss the captivating Story of Portsmouth exhibition, featuring a fascinating array of historical vignettes, from a dockyard worker's kitchen to a Victorian parlor and a 1950s living room, offering a glimpse into the city's past.

Portsmouth Harbour

Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth Harbour with sail boats underneath floating in the water
Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth Harbour

Portsmouth Harbour is a vital hub for international travel and maritime history. From Portsmouth International Port, millions of passengers embark on cross-channel ferries or cruises while vital cargo freight is dispatched across the globe. 

Visitors can also explore Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, just minutes away, where the iconic Mary Rose Museum offers a glimpse into maritime history - although admission to the museum requires a ticket.

Royal Armouries: Fort Nelson

Perched atop Portsdown Hill and overlooking Portsmouth Harbour, Fort Nelson is a Victorian fort steeped in years of history. With over 19 acres to explore, visitors can delve into the fort's underground tunnels, which once served as vital passageways for soldiers.

Home to the national collection of artillery, the fort showcases over 350 historic cannon and guns, including notable pieces like a 15th-century Turkish bombard cannon and the infamous 'Big Babylon' Iraqi supergun, offering a fascinating glimpse into centuries of military history.

Southsea Castle

Explore the historical allure of Southsea Castle, open free of charge from Tuesdays to Sundays between April and October each year.

Lighthouse in Southsea Castle with a flag on the right
Lighthouse in Southsea Castle

From panoramic views of the Isle of Wight and Solent atop the keep to guided tours of the castle tunnels, visitors can delve into centuries of history and enjoy refreshments at The Courtyard.

Do not miss the chance to sample the tasty brews from Southsea Brewing Company, located within the castle grounds, where small-batch beers pay homage to the castle's rich heritage.

Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery

Explore Basingstoke's vibrant history at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, housed in an impressive early Victorian building at the Top of the Town. Delve into the town's rich heritage, from archaeological treasures to modern-day exhibits, and do not miss the chance to snap a selfie with the Jane Austen statue.

With stunning regional and national exhibitions in the Sainsbury Gallery and engaging hands-on activities for families, there is something for everyone to enjoy during your visit.

Southampton City Art Gallery

Streets of Southampton with 2 mega busses and the sun rising
Streets of Southampton

Discover the rich tapestry of European art at Southampton City Art Gallery, in the heart of Southampton's cultural quarter. The Gallery has a diverse collection of art from the Renaissance to the present. 

With regularly rotating displays featuring national touring exhibitions and local artists' works, there is always something new to admire. It also offers a range of creative workshops and activities suitable for all ages and abilities, ensuring an enriching experience for every visitor.

Visit Hampshire Today!

A Meadow in Hampshire with purple and yellow flowers
A Meadow in Hampshire

Whether you are strolling along the sandy shores of Hayling Island, delving into the depths of Fort Nelson's underground tunnels, or admiring European art at Southampton City Art Gallery, Hampshire promises unforgettable experiences steeped in history and charm. So, pack your sense of adventure and embark on a captivating voyage through this diverse and enchanting county!

Have you visited any of these free places in Hampshire? Let me know in the comments below! Share this article with the person or people you want to go on your next adventure with! Also, be sure to SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places you should add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

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