You’ll find endless things to do on holiday in Dorset, a county where ancient natural wonders meet glorious beaches and lavish National Trust properties unveil glorious woodland. Family activities in Dorset range from fossil hunting to SUP sessions and there are plenty of places to visit in Dorset for groups and couples.
Want to find out more? Read our pick of the 10 top things to do in Dorset.
Take a boat trip over the Fleet Lagoon
Book a glass bottom boat tour across the Fleet Lagoon and discover what makes it one of the most important marine protected areas in the UK. Soak up some local history and learn about the myriad bird species, including the Little Tern. You’ll also get great views of the iconic Chesil Beach.
See where Broadchurch was filmed
If you’re a fan of the BAFTA-winning series Broadchurch, you’ll know that screenwriter Chris Chibnall featured many of its third series in and around the striking red cliffs of West Bay, Dorset. Book a private tour with Literary Lyme and explore some of the top filming sites, from the police station and newsagents to the notorious ‘death cliff’.
Visit the Abbotsbury Swannery
Impress the family with a trip to the Abbotsbury Swannery, home to the only managed colony of resting mute swans in the world. Watch swathes of these beautiful birds feeding and, if you visit at the right time, the kids will love spotting their fluffy cygnets waddling into the water. Close to the swannery, you’ll find the Abbotsbury Children’s Farm and the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, two great family attractions.
Hike the Jurassic Coast rock formations
One of the best places to visit in Dorset is, without a doubt, the magnificent Jurassic Coast. Put on your hiking boots and explore the glorious Lulworth Cove, one of the best beaches in Dorset and don’t miss the dramatic Stair Hole and Fossil Forest. The most famous site among them is of course, Durdle Door, one of the most photographed rock archways in the world. Then rest your achy feet at The Boat Shed Café for fresh-from-the-sea fish dishes and fabulous views.
Explore the Kingston Lacy mansion
Not only is Kingston Lacy a beautiful Italian inspired mansion, it’s also the home of the renowned Bankes family, who owned Corfe Castle and a large part of the county for over 400 years. Step inside and discover fine Italian and Flemish artwork alongside one of the UK’s largest collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts. Check out the glorious gardens, wider Holt Heath Nature Reserve and Iron Age hillfort known as Bradbury Rings.
Kayak around Durdle Door
If you’d like to see Durdle Door up-close, why not hire a kayak tour around this geological wonder with Jurassic Coast Activities. Joined by expert guides as you paddle, you’ll also get some unbeatable views of the Heritage coastline and see many of its magnificent caves, fossils and rock formations.
Go coasteering along the Heritage Coast
If you and your group are feeling adventurous, book a coasteering session with Land & Wave. Taking you to top climbing sites such as the manmade rock formation – and former quarry – known as Dancing Ledge in the Isle of Purbeck, you’ll be guaranteed an exhilarating outdoor adventure.
Go fossil hunting on Charmouth Beach
One of the best family activities in Dorset has to be fossil hunting and Charmouth Beach is a prime location to do it. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre offer regular two-hour guided fossil walks where wardens will fill you in on everything you need to know about the Jurassic Coast fossils and most importantly, how to find the best ones. Entry to the centre’s exhibitions is included.
Discover the ruins of Corfe Castle
One of the most captivating National Trust properties in Dorset is Corfe Castle. Occupying a hilltop where a keep was originally built for William the Conqueror’s son, the royal palace and fortress dates back 1,000 years. After surviving English civil war in the 17th Century, it was partly destroyed, leaving the beguiling ruins you see today. Have fun exploring the secret nooks, medieval-themed events and stop by the tea-room in Corfe Castle village for a traditional Dorset cream tea. Many come here for sunset when a glorious rose hue is cast over the castle.
Marvel at the coastline from a SUP
Stand-Up Paddle boarding is one of the best family activities in Dorset, especially for those with older children and teens. If you’re new to SUP, the beaches in and around Lyme Regis are a great place to start and Jurassic SUP Fitness offer guided sessions that take in some great Dorset sights such as Monmouth Beach, the seaside spot of Lyme Regis itself and its iconic stone pier known as the Cobb.
Inspired you to consider Dorset for your next family holiday? Then you might be interested in our collection of extraordinary villas in the region.