Ambassador Claudia on accessible places to visit in Winchester
4 July 2023
There’s so much to see in the city of Winchester. It’s got everything you need from independent shops, delicious places to eat, gorgeous walks and it’s full of history, and with a family that has a child with mobility issues there is a lot we can do.
Allow me to introduce you to my family. I’m Claudia and am mum to three boys. Broden 16, Chase 11 and Trent, who is disabled and has mobility issues, is 9. As you can imagine planning a day out can cause anxiety about being able to get around easily without missing out on all the fun and takes a lot of planning and researching.
Which is why I think Winchester has something that caters for families like mine, and I want to share with you some of our favourite places to visit with places to park too, and don’t forget keeping those tummies full.
Here are my top 5 places to visit:
Marwell Zoo – If you haven’t had the chance to visit Marwell it is a fantastic day out and is great for all ages. From the dedicated disabled parking bays, easy access to the park with minimal steps and wheelchair access to most enclosures/exhibitions and areas. Carers have free admission with a full paying guest who has accessibility needs and they are the first zoo to have a full Changing Places toilet (accessible with a radar key).
Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium – This is one of my favourite places to visit as it really does have something for every one of my kids. So many experiments, exhibitions and things to try for Chase. Full accessibility (including a lift to get to the bottom floor), exhibitions he can touch and interact with, Changing Places toilet and, best of all, a Recombobulation Room, a place we can sit and have some quiet time if the noise gets too much. We can also ALL access the Planetarium.
City Museum – You can find this museum, which tells the story of England’s ancient capital, right in the heart of Winchester city centre. They have a lift to take you up to the three floors and there are so many hands-on activities for the boys to try . There is also on-street parking for Blue Badge holders next to the museum.
Winchester Sport and Leisure Park – This new addition to Winchester is a great place for our family to visit. We love to swim and the leisure park has a pool to suit all types of families. There is the smaller, shallower leaner pool and the larger Olympic size pool that is made smaller and is shallow enough for us all as well. There is also a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool, built by The Pinder Trust. Like the centre’s change rooms, there are fully accessible changing rooms that are in accordance with Changing Places facilities.
Another favourite is The Great Hall. At the very top of town The Great Hall is one of the finest surviving aisled halls of the 13th century and has the greatest symbol of medieval mythology, King Arthur’s Round Table, which the kids love to look at. There is lots to do in The Great Hall, you can try on amazing costumes and take pictures with your head on the executioner’s block.
Besides the many places we like to visit there is a plethora of independent restaurants that are family friendly and accessible for us. Some of our favourites are:
Three Joes – they make delicious sourdough pizzas, milkshakes and have a great kids menu.
Cathedral Refectory – you can find it tucked away behind an ancient flint wall right by the Cathedral. It has a lovely large terrace to sit in during the warmer months and a great range of food to choose from.
Yia Yia’s – recently opened Greek restaurant is a favourite for us. Amazing service and delicious food. Generous portions and a great kids menu, definitely worth a visit.
Open House Deli – they make the most delicious salads, with seasonal and local produce, prepared every day. It is a spacious deli so lots of space for our wheelchair, lots of highchairs and also allow dogs in.
Marse Dumpling – this has become a firm favourite. They handmake delicious Nepalise dumplings and a yummy peanut and tomato dip.
Besides all these amazing places to visit in the centre of town, Winchester also has some fantastic places to walk and have picnics.
Abbey Gardens at the bottom of town, it’s a great spot for a picnic and the play park has recently been upgraded – making it a fun space for the whole family.
Winnall Moors Wildlife Reserve – not so much a picnic spot but a great place for a walk and bird spotting. It is also wheelchair friendly with a wooden walkway.
The Weirs – this takes you behind the Cathedral and along the buildings of Winchester College. Some lovely architecture and a lot of smooth roads/walkways for scooters.
Winchester Cathedral – don’t forget the grounds outside the Cathedral. Always a popular place for a picnic when the weather is warmer.
There is so much more to explore, the markets, the walks, the restaurants, independent shops and interesting and fun venues that keep families like mine entertained. So many accessible places that make it a very inclusive city to visit.