This is a review of a holiday we went on to Weymouth in July 2020 at a time when we were socially distancing because of coronavirus. It’s about three hour from where we live in Milton Keynes and we stayed there for a week. Here’s a list of some ideas for days out with the kids in Weymouth and West Dorset if you’re going to the area. I would suggest that you check each place for whether it’s open and whether you need to book in advance and any safety measures that may be in place. It’s a great part of the country to holiday with children and we found there was enough to do for a week in and around the area. We booked a late deal a couple of weeks prior to going and stayed in what is called a Haven Hideaway at Weymouth Bay. A standard 6 people caravan was small but clean. I’d probably book a wider one if we ever went back. At the time of booking they said that nothing apart from a couple of takeways were open. But upon investigating on our second day it turned out that some facilities like the arcades were open but were limited in numbers, some films were being shown in the entertainment area but you had to book, and the large play area could be booked by people eating in the building. So if you are staying in a Haven Hideaway anywhere in 2020 definitely have a walk around the site and speak to staff to see if there is anything open.
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The main beach in Weymouth town centre is sandy and really lovely. I’d recommend a visit. It’s a fab seaside beach. The nearest beach to where we were staying was Bowleaze Cove where the Fantasy Island rides are. The beach is nice but pebbly. There is a toilet and restaurant and refreshments. You pay to park everywhere. I’d recommend the just park app as it made paying really easy. There’s also Chesil Beach which is very famous – it’s 18 miles long, thousands of years old and is made up of billions of pebbles. You can walk along it at many different points between West Bay and Portland.
Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Lulworth Castle
Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch and stunning – it’s probably one of the most famous arches in the world. It was about 25 mins from where we stayed in Weymouth. We pre-booked parking £10 for 4 hours although you could pay when you turned up we didn’t want to chance it being full. It’s well worth downloading the just park app as so many places there used it. There are toilets at the car park. Not on the beach itself. A long one way system was in place – a 30-40 minute walk which would be fine if a) everyone did it and b) it was enforced. But it wasn’t. And it takes you round to the same steps everyone uses anyway.The walk back up is about 5-10 mins. I wouldn’t attempt it personally with buggies or if you struggle with steep steps. The beach is pebbled not sand. The water is freezing! It’s beautiful though. You can do a cliff top walk to nearby Lulworth Cove. Definitely worth visiting but either go first thing in the morning or in less sunny weather. It’s a busy place that attracts a lot of people. On the day we went it was very hot so we decided not to visit Lulworth Cove that day but instead head to Lulworth Castle. You can pay to go in the castle but we decided just to explore the grounds and have a play in the play area and see the peacocks. It was very peaceful and hardly anyone there. On a separate day we visited Lulworth Cove on our way back from the Tank Museum. It was busy. There is a car park and toilets and refreshments. Durdle Door is a really popular beauty spot so I’d suggest keeping an eye on the Lulworth Estates Facebook page for news about car park and road closures.
D-Day Centre, Portland
We loved the D-Day Centre in Portland. It’s a relatively small museum. If you’re happy for children to touch things then it’s hands-on with WW2 artifacts, weapons and wartime vehicles, including a full size replica Spitfire, a Bofors 40mm gun and even a restored Sherman tank. The volunteers there were really informative. My children got to sit in a number of vehicles including a big tank outside. When we visited it cost £18 for a family ticket. I’d say you’d spend about an hour and a half there – it’s quite small but packed with things to look at.
Located at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour and overlooking Portland Harbour, the Nothe Fort was built between 1860-1872 was built to protect the Naval Harbour at Portland. The museum explores how advances in military design and technology altered the Fort until its decommission in 1956. You can walk all around the top edge of the fort as well as go down into it. Quite a few of the smaller rooms were closed because it was difficult to social distance. Less hands on and more a place to read information and see exhibits. The fort offers great views of the harbour. When we went it was £18 but can return for free until the end of 2021. I’d check all the latest information on their website before visiting. There were toilets and a cafe. Parking at Nothe Fort is also good if you want to walk down to the harbour area for crabbing – or for walks along the pretty coastline.
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill lighthouse is really pretty – but it was closed when we visited. I think it may be open at the time of writing but do check before visiting. It’s also a good location for climbing rocks. The drive back to Weymouth is pretty – look out for the Olympic rings which are on a lookout point and make for a great photo. There’s also sculptures in the quarry park too although we didn’t go there.
The Tank Museum
The Tank Museum in Bovington was about a 25 minute drive from where we were staying in Weymouth Bay. At the time we visited it was £36 for the family but that was for an annual pass so we could return for free for the rest of the year. It’s huge. I have never seen so many tanks. Much of it isn’t hands on. The best bit was ‘the trench experience’ which gave you a real good idea of what it was like in the trenches for soldiers. My eldest son – aged seven at the time we visited – found it quite emotional. It was all well spaced out. There are toilets. I’d advise booking in advance on their website if you want to go, partly because it’s cheaper and also on the day we did want to go because it was raining it was fully booked.
Lodmoor Country Park
Lodmoor Country Park isn’t just a country park with parkland, there are attractions there too including the Sealife Centre, Sandworld, go-karts and a miniature train. When we went in July 2020 my children went on the tyre type vehicles because they wanted to drive themselves and the go-karts are quite pricey. There’s also a big slide there but it was shut when we went. We had a walk around the country park. There’s a fairly decent play area there. The miniature train was running but we didn’t go on. We didn’t go to either the Sealife Centre or Sandworld although they are options if it’s raining.
The drive we most enjoyed doing was Weymouth to West Bay. There’s a pretty harbour and stunning views once you get there.
Overall we had a lovely holiday in Weymouth and West Dorset area and would definitely return to the area. A number of attractions were still closed when we visited but may be open by the time you’re reading this so there’ll be even more to do in the area.
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