Over the Easter break we had our first visit to the Isle of Wight. We caught the ferry from Portsmouth and arrived in Fishborne just 50 minutes later, just long enough for a coffee and a picture or two on the sun deck :)
We had been invited over to go and experience all of the family fun that this lovely little island has to offer. It was the perfect time for us to visit, as the island is in full swing celebrating 175 years of family fun with great adventures across the island based on the much loved 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' book. There is an adventure trail, special events and much more with many of the major attractions getting involved. This all added that extra bit of extra excitement to an already lovely holiday destination.
5 minutes from the port is where the Isle of Wight Campervan holidays are based, and where we headed first of all to ‘collect’ our home for the next 5 days… the lovely Dylan.
Dylan is a 2010 newly converted (2018) automatic T5 and he is brilliant! He treated us very well over our mini break, and was the perfect choice for exploring this lovely little island.
For those who would like to do a campervan break, but don’t really know where to start I’ll have a full post coming soon with some tips we picked up, and some helpful advice from the absolutely lovely Will and Jubee from Isle of Wight Campervan holidays.
For now though, I’ll just say, that if you are keen to explore the Isle of Wight I don’t think you can pick a more fun way to see it, and that’s coming from a novice camper who was rained on the entire time :)
We were hampered a little by the awful weather on the Friday and Monday, however, we didn't feel short changed as the island has a fab choice of wet weather activities. I’ll run through the many family activities we visited below &.I’ll also add the ones we would have liked to if we hadn't of ran out of time. You could easily spend a whole week there, and you would still have plenty of things to do at the end of it.
Blackgang Chine – the UK’s first theme park opened its gates in 1843 and this is a place for imaginations to run wild. With different ‘Lands of Imagination’ to explore it is a theme park like no other. There is the Underwater Kingdom, Fairyland, Pirate Cove and our personal favourite Cowboy Town which is a brilliant replica of a Western town complete with saloon, bank robbery set up, county jail, stables, stage coach and much more.
We loved every second we spent at Blackgang Chine. Bella’s favourite part was probably the gigantic snakes and ladders by Fairyland - she spent a good 30 minutes climbing up the ladders and sliding down the snakes.
Tapnell Farm Park – we spent a rainy here and it is a perfect rainy day choice. The massive indoor soft play, café, straw bale adventure zone and other activities are all under cover. When there was a break in the rain we headed out to see all the animals.
There were animals under shelter too, so if you do have a rainy day when you visit definitely head here as you won’t feel short changed.
For lunch head to The Cow Co Restaurant & Bar and thank me later :)
The Needles Landmark Attraction – This place has got spectacular scenery and the iconic/reasonably scary chairlift that takes you down to the needles rocks and coloured sands is certainly an experience. The chairlift isn’t the only attraction though, on the pier there are a few little rides for the kids, there is a 4d cinema experience, sand shop where Bella loved filling her souvenir shape with all the different coloured sands and a sweet manufactory where you can go behind the scenes and watch some demonstrations.
After we went on the chair lift and some of the rides we had afternoon tea at Marconi’s Tea Rooms which was yummy.
Dinosaur Isle - this purpose built dinosaur attraction is where you can see life size models of the dinosaurs that used to inhabit the isle of Wight. The museum galleries have fantastic displays and there are lots of interactive exhibits which the kids will love. Bella loved pretending to discover a dinosaur fossil and do some fossil brushing. Upstairs they have a large area where painting and drawing is set up and a large corner filled with soft toys perfect for Penny when she had had enough painting. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you might be able to take part in a guided fossil walk as well. If your little ones are dinosaur mad I’m sure they will love the idea of fossil hunting with the experts.
Carisbrooke Castle – we had a lovely couple of hours exploring the grounds and rooms of this historic fortress, King's prison & royal summer residence. There are more than a couple of lovely play areas, one of which is right next door to the café :) Centuries of history, beautiful walks and loads of open space for the kids.
Sandown Pier – There’s something nostalgic about having fun at the pier, and as you would expect from any good pier there is an abundance of fun to keep you and your little ones entertained. There is indoor golf, ten pin bowling and a magic island play area and from Easter the rides at the end of the pier are open including the dodgems, ball walkers, quad bikes, tea cups and much more.
Below are the places we wanted to visit but ran out of time. The Isle of Wight is such a good choice for a family holiday as it’s small & compact, but packed with loads of great family attractions, as well as beautiful beaches, walks & parks, all of which I’ll cover in the next post.
Isle of Wight Zoo – Penny is the perfect age for animal atractions at the moment, and has perfected all of her animal noises, so a visit would have been nice, especially as I read there was a lovely stamp trail to follow on your way around the grounds, perfect for Bella. There is a play area, as well as your chance to spot tigers, lions, lemurs, monkeys and much more.
Osborne House – Queen Victoria’s Seaside Home is the place I am most disappointed we didn’t get to see. Wandering along Queen Victoria’s private beach and exploring this royal residence would have definitely floated my boat.
Robin Hill Adventure Park & Gardens - great all-rounder. Rides, adventures playgrounds, falconry and lovely gardens. Perfect place to take a picnic and spend the day.
West Wight Alpacas – I read a couple of great reviews about this before we visited. If your little one is aged 8 or over they can take them for a walk around the park (younger children can walk them too but will require an adult assisting) It also looks to have a lovely bistro on site specialising in Wood Fired Pizzas :)
This is by no means a complete list of family attractions on the island, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how much there is do on holiday there. The next post will cover our favourite restaurants, beaches and walks.
To read more about the family attractions on the Isle of Wight head to the Visit Isle of Wight website which is packed with useful information :)
*This is a collaborative post with Visit Isle of Wight