The best family things to do in Southampton include many a fun and educational activity. While the English city is best known for its nautical associations and pulsating nightlife, it’s also home to a lot of family-friendly fun.

    Get to know more about the city’s pivotal role in aviation and maritime history in its interactive museums or spend the day outdoors with wildlife and farm animals in its special parks. If your kids want something more action-packed, Southampton also offers an array of amusement parks where they can play to their heart’s content.

    1

    Solent Sky Museum

    Immerse yourself in aviation history

    If you and your family share a love for planes and flying, then the Solent Sky Museum is the place to be. Get to know more about the Solent, the world’s centre for aviation research and development during the golden age of aviation. The museum's interactive exhibits feature more than 20 aeroplanes, its centrepiece being Southampton’s very own Supermarine Spitfire, the famous WWII fighter plane.

    Be sure to hop into the cockpit of the jet fighters in the exhibition – like the Hawker Siddeley Harrier G.3 and the Supermarine Swift F5 – and get a taste of the thrill of being an ace pilot.

    Location: Albert Rd S, Southampton SO14 3FR, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)23 8063 5830

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    2

    SeaCity Museum

    Discover Southampton’s maritime milestones

    Located at the heart of the city, the SeaCity Museum is a haven for those who want to know more about Southampton’s illustrious maritime history. Find out more about the city’s historic connection to the ill-fated Titanic in an exhibit with a 1:25-scale interactive model of what was the largest ship in the world, at the time of its sinking.

    Besides the Titanic exhibit, learn more about the lives of the people in this English port for the last 250,000 years from its various historic collections.

    Location: Havelock Rd, Southampton SO14 7FY, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)23 8083 4536

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    photo by Hahnchen (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    New Forest Wildlife Park

    Relax with the woodland animals

    Take a stroll down the tree-lined trails of the New Forest Wildlife Park and get acquainted with its animal residents. Meet Victor the red stag, Hobbit the barn owl, and their expanded park family that includes otters, ferrets, Scottish wildcats, foxes, and the majestic European bison. Visit in the summer and admire the play of butterflies at the Tropical Butterfly House.

    The park’s Go Wild! playgrounds are for the young ones and the young at heart to play to their heart’s content on the swings, log jumbles, zip wires, and climbing nets.

    Location: Deerleap Ln, Southampton SO40 4UH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)23 8029 2408

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    4

    Manor Farm Country Park

    Experience farm life for a day

    The Manor Farm, found in the middle of the River Hamble Park, is the place to meet your favourite farmyard friends and get to know the farmers taking care of them. Get a chance to meet baby animals; you can even hold the baby rabbits, chicks, and ducklings. Explore the medieval farmhouse and take a look at the Victorian kitchen and schoolroom.

    This farm has a play area where children can have fun with kid-friendly models of farm equipment like a play tractor and a combine harvester. Your kids can also race each other on a pedal tractor circuit.

    Location: Pyland's Ln, Southampton SO31 1BH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1489 787055

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    photo by Peter Trimming (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Go Ape Itchen Valley

    Swing your way through the treetops

    Go Ape Itchen Valley combines adrenaline-pumping fun with a lovely sight of the lush meadows and woodlands, making it a great outdoor activity for families who want thrills with their view. Swing, balance, and zip your way through their Treetop Challenge, the highest high ropes course in Southern England. Alternatively, harness up for the Treetop Adventure, which provides a slightly tamer, child-friendly thrill with its breathtaking Flying Carpet, the wobbly Grandpa Crossing, and the tricky Stepping Stones.

    There’s also the Forest Segway for those who’d rather keep their adventures firmly planted on the ground. For the thrill-seekers, there’s the Nets Adventure, which takes you up 30 ft in netted walkways.

    Location: Itchen Valley Country Park, Allington Ln, Southampton SO30 3HQ, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 2.30 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1603 895500

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    6

    Eastleigh Lakeside Railway

    Take a quick trip on a miniature train

    The Eastleigh Lakeside Railway has miniature steam-hauled trains that can take you from Eastleigh Parkway to Monks Brook Halt, and back. The one-way trip takes about 20 minutes, and you can choose to alight at Monks Brook Halt to have a picnic with a nice view of the lake and to let the children play at the playground.

    After returning to the main station, hop over to the souvenir shop for Thomas and Bigjigs die-cast models to add to your collection.

    Location: Lakeside Country Park, Eastleigh SO50 5PE, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm (open on weekends from mid-September to mid-July)

    Phone: +44 (0)23 8061 2020

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    photo by Rob Candlish (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    Historic Southampton Treasure Trail

    Follow clues to a hidden treasure

    Explore the city’s historic places with a fun twist as you embark on the Historic Southampton Treasure Trail. This self-guided spy mission-inspired treasure trail takes you to various points in the city with clues that will lead you to this rumoured precious bounty. Follow the trail at your own pace and take a moment to admire the beautiful places you’ll find yourself in as you complete the mission.

    And you don’t have to worry about getting stuck – you can get clues via text message so that you and your family are sure to solve the mystery.

    Location: Bargate Street, Southampton SO14 2DA, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1872 263692

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    8

    Tudor House and Garden

    Learn about Southampton’s history in its most historic building

    Tudor House and Garden is considered to be Southampton’s most historic building. Here, you can get a glimpse of the rich lives of the city’s residents through hundreds of years. Marvel at the lavish and opulent décor of this handsome timber-framed building, or at antique artefacts such as a medieval jewel casket, Victorian stuffed birds, and a pair of shoes from the 1920s.

    Adjacent to the Tudor House and accessible via the garden is the equally historic Norman House, which you can visit to admire its fine domestic architecture.

    Location: 15 Upper Bugle St, Southampton SO14 2AE, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Fridays)

    Phone: +44 (0)23 8083 4242

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    9

    Eling Water Park

    Have a splash of fun at the water park

    Spending the day at Eling Water Park is a great way to cool down and have fun on a hot day. Enjoy the park’s water shoots, waterfalls, and car wash-style sprinklers. There’s also a big field where you can have a picnic or play ball games, outdoor tables to play table tennis, and a play park with roundabouts where the kids can play some more after they’ve had their fill of water fun. 

    Eling Water Park is also a popular spot for dog walkers, so expect to see a lot of dogs during your visit.

    Location: Totton, Southampton SO40 9DT, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1603 895500

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    10

    Children's Pleasure Park

    Enjoy the day at this mini fun fair

    Children’s Pleasure Park, located at Southampton’s Sports Centre, boasts over 20 attractions for a full day of fun for the whole family. Choose from a menu of fun with the trampolines, mini trains, animal roundabouts, snake slides, motorbikes, and more.

    There’s a picnic area if you’d like to bring your own spread, and they also have refreshment stands if you’d prefer to just buy food and drinks on the spot. This park is open to all with no entry fee, but you may have to spend for some tokens to enjoy the rides.

    Location: 1 Golf Course Rd, Southampton SO16 7LE, UK

    Open: May–October: daily from 10.30 am to 5 pm. November–April: Saturday–Sunday from 10.30 am to 3 pm (hours may vary)

    Phone: +44 (0)7809 151365

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    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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