Visit Winchester > Things to do > Family fun

Family fun

Day out with Thomas
Day out with Thomas

Whatever the weather there is something to suit all ages in Winchester. Many of Winchester’s attractions are family-friendly and offer a host of hands-on activities including interactive puzzles, trails, games, quizzes and opportunities to try on costumes from bygone eras. See re-enactors and enjoy special events throughout the year including make-and-take workshops, book readings by famous authors to plays and shows. You’ll find plenty of play parks and picnic spots too.

Don’t miss the Winchester Bunny Hop – every Easter Winchester’s Easter bunny hides colourful clues around the city and families flock to Winchester to help find them and crack a puzzling code to win an ‘egg’citing treat.

Find out exactly how it felt to be a Pilgrim, discover hidden treasures, explore the creepy crypt and search for the bones of early kings and bishops on the children’s trail at Winchester Cathedral.

Climb the steep stone steps, open the creaky door and read the graffiti etched in the wall by prisoners at the Westgate Museum.

Children will love dressing like a Roman and searching through the galleries to track down answers to the quizzes at Winchester City Museum.

Be thrilled by the sights and sounds of Winchester City Mill and have a go at milling flour. Learn more about the mill with interactive quizzes and hands-on activities including CCTV footage of Winchester’s resident otters.

Outside of the city explore spooky underground tunnels and stroll along the ramparts of Fort Nelson and don’t miss the noise and power of the midday gun-firings.

It’s ‘all aboard’ for a ride on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line. The picnic area at Ropley station gives you space to stretch your legs and children will enjoy playing on the climbing frame. Enjoy following in some famous footsteps by crossing the newly opened Kings Cross footbridge that featured in the Harry Potter films. Time your visit to coincide with the popular Santa Specials and Thomas the Tank Engine days – perfect for letting off steam.

It’s hands-on not hands-off for kids at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. Bringing to life the world of science, this interactive centre is housed in a futuristic pyramid on the outskirts of Winchester. Engineered for children of all ages, you can discover how to bend light, become a human battery and work your own production line. A particular favourite on a rainy day so make sure you get there early.

From meerkats and red pandas to snow leopards and rhinos, Marwell Zoo is home to over 250 species of animal. A visit to this world-famous zoological park, set in 140 acres of beautiful Hampshire countryside is both fun and educational with something for everyone. See giraffe, zebra, waterbuck and ostrich roaming wild in the newly opened African Valley. Dive beneath the surface with the underwater views in Penguin World.

Winchester is near to several country parks and nature reserves including the Yew Hill Farm Butterfly ReserveWinnall Moors, or you can follow in the tracks of Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig at the scenic Downlands – the inspiration for Richard Adams’ much loved book ‘Watership Down’.

Sitting on Winchester’s doorstep, the Hampshire area of the South Downs National Park offers a day out with a difference.

Children will love the Go Ape! Rope bridges, zip wires and Tarzan swings at Alice Holt Forest. There are also plenty of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding.

In the centre of the city there is a much-loved children’s play area in Abbey Gardens, with space to picnic and plenty of ducks to feed.

With superb panoramic views over the city, St Giles’ Hill is a great spot for a picnic, kite flying or family games.

Take the Weirs Walk along the fast-flowing River Itchen – where ducks paddle frantically against the current – past Wolvesey Castle and on towards the water meadows.

To the east of St Cross, and an easy one-mile walk from the city centre, is the Iron Age fort of St Catherine’s Hill, the site of the first settlement in the Winchester area. Another great spot for picnics, you can enjoy fabulous views of St Cross and back towards the city. Children will enjoy the twists and turns of the intriguing miz-maze cut into the surface of the hill.

Perfect for rainy days or cooling down in the summer in the new Winchester Sport and Leisure Park at Bar End with its 50m 8 lane swimming pool, a 200 station fitness suite, a Hydrotherapy Suite including treatment rooms, a Top Rock Fun climbing facility, the Crussh café and an outdoor terrace.

Wallops Wood Cottages are perfect for family breaks. The cottages have direct access to South Downs National Park, an onsite games room and swimming pool.

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