Whether you prefer the coast or the countryside, love soaking up the sun or getting lost in history, there’s something for you here.Best of all, everything is on the doorstep of Condor Ferries’ port in Poole.
1. Bournemouth beach is one of the best in the world. Golden sands stretch for seven miles from Alum Chine to Hengistbury Head with lifeguards on watch throughout the summer.
2. Set sail for Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour and wander through the woodlands. Discover its links with celebrities such as Scouting’s Robert Baden Powell - and you might even see a red squirrel.
3. Go back in time at Corfe Castle and check out a thousand years of history. Family events are staged during the holidays at this former Royal palace in Purbeck, owned by the National Trust.
4. Meet the gentle giants at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park in Verwood. It’s home to more than 20 of these rare breeds. Youngsters will enjoy feeding the farm animals and collecting the eggs and you can all enjoy a carriage ride.
5. Dinosaurs once walked on Dorset’s amazing Jurassic Coast between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. Nowadays you can hunt for fossils on this World Heritage Site beach.
6. All aboard for a unique journey through Dorset on the Swanage Railway. Historic trains steam all summer long through the Purbeck countryside, past picturesque Corfe Castle.
7. Tanks are on the move every day at Dorset’s Tank Museum. It’s been voted the county’s best indoor attraction, if the weather’s not ideal.
8. Go ape at Monkey World and meet more than 50 chimps, monkeys, gibbons and orang-utans. Then learn how this charity has rescued and rehabilitated primates from cruel captivity around the world.
9. Walk among the vines on the Furleigh Estate. It’s one of the south’s most beautiful wineries. After your tour at Salway Ash, you can sample a glass or two (if you’re not driving!)
10. Did you know you can go on a day trip to Guernsey from Poole? In just 3 hours you could be exploring St Peter Port’s quintessential cobbled streets and tasting the delicious local, French-inspired cuisine. And, don’t forget to grab a bargain in the onboard duty free shop on your way back after a fantastic day out!
Feeding the farm animals is a highlight of any kid’s visit to Dorset Heavy Horse and Rescue Centre in Verwood. More than 20 of these gentle giants welcome families and you can find out how they’ve worked with humans over the centuries.
Mischievous chimps at Monkey World are guaranteed to make you laugh. Find out how they’ve been rescued from cruel captivity and are now enjoying their new lives in Dorset.
Whatever the weather, Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park is a real adventure. Meet the cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens, it’s a perfect day out for the under-eights
Seven miles of award-winning beaches are awaiting you in Bournemouth. It’s a bucket and spade holiday for the little ones, you can chill out on the golden sands or check out the fantastic free events and festivals all year round.
Hunt for fossils on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. A walk along the beach might end with an amazing discovery and you’ll certainly get plenty of exercise along the way.
Get out into the fresh air in Dorset by walking along the coast or through the countryside. You can download free maps from the National Trust.
Right in the heart of Bournemouth, you can find out how beer is brewed at Poole Hill Brewery. After taking the tour, you can enjoy a sample or two afterwards.
Sculptures by the Lakes is one of the south’s most beautiful parks. Wander through the exquisite gardens, set in 26 acres near Dorchester, view the art and stay for tea and cakes.
Tyneham village near Wool was evacuated in 1943 for wartime military training but its residents never returned. It’s a fascinating story. The abandoned site is open for visits most weekends but check before you travel.