With a panoramic coastline of carved cliffs sculpted by nature, there are some truly amazing things to do in Dorset. In fact, many of the areas described in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books were inspired by Dorset’s landscape.
Dorset’s coast, known as the Jurassic Coast, is the only naturally occurring UNESCO World Heritage Site in England. But the coastline is not just visually appealing, it also tells a story.
The rocks that form the cliffs are preserving a record of 185 million years of history. So if you’re spending some time in Dorset, it is well worth a visit to the coast to get a feel for the huge scope of its history.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Dorset during your time here be sure to browse our list of places to stay in Dorset and check out our guide to what’s on in Dorset.
World Heritage Site
Chances are, if you see a photo of Dorset, it will probably feature the iconic Limestone Arch of Durdle Door.
Created by the sea eroding softer areas of rock, Durdle Door is a truly distinctive part of Dorset’s landscape. If you want to see it for yourself, make sure you are wearing a solid pair of shoes. The walk may be uneven and steep in places, but it is worth it for the view.
If the weather permits, arrive early and leave the car at Lulworth Cove visitor centre. From there you can wander your way on foot to Durdle Door, taking hundreds of photos as you go. The best time of year to visit is between October and April when it is a little quieter.
Create At The Cove
A good choice for families, Create At The Cove in West Lulworth has creative activities suitable for different ages, interests, and budgets. From fossil digging and model making to decopatch and pottery painting, choose your activity and get stuck in.
If you fancy a break from creating your masterpiece, stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the café, or relax on the patio overlooking the hills of Lulworth.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Dorset has several options to keep you occupied.
Putlake Adventure Farm
Putlake Adventure Farm is a great place to mix and match what you want to do. With plenty of activities, especially for children under ten years, you can spend as much or as little time here as you like; which is ideal for little ones who might suddenly get tired.
As the name suggests, Putlake Adventure Farm has a working farm, and you may even get a chance to bottle feed or hold some of the smaller animals.
Other attractions include trampolines, go-karts, a pet centre, birds, and tractor rides. If you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day then you can have lunch in the outdoor picnic area. Otherwise there is an indoor tearoom and an enormous indoor soft play area featuring tunnels, slides, and ball pits.
Harry May Fishing
For a taste of sea air, take a fishing trip with Harry May, seasoned Fisherman. Choose between a one hour Mackerel Fishing Trip, or a three hour Deep Sea Fishing Trip.
Afterwards Harry May will even clean and prepare your catch for you if you want to take it home to cook a fish supper.
Sealife Adventure Park
Sealife Adventure Park in Weymouth is inhabited by otters, penguins, seals, and tropical fish. Watch them at feeding time and listen to a talk, or meander through the indoor and outdoor exhibits at your own pace.
Kids will love to be let loose on the Caribbean Cove adventure playground. And don’t forget to pack swimsuits and towels so you can cool down in the in the Splash Zone & Pool after all that running around.
If you’re have a fan of animals, and more specifically our primate friends, then be sure to check out Monkey World – Europe’s only orang-utan nursery. Home to over 250 endangered primates that have been rescued from harsh conditions. Find out more about Monkey World here.
Stokewater Donkey Walking Days
Stokewater Donkey Walking Adventures offer a unique opportunity to go for a walk with a friendly donkey companion.
On arrival, you will choose a donkey and help them to get ready for the day by brushing them. After a short talk, you can set off with your donkey. If it is sunny you can bring a picnic with you, or you can stop en route for a pub lunch. A memorable day for both kids and adults, don’t forget to book in advance.
Hall & Woodhouse Brewery
Beer fans will be keen to visit Hall & Woodhouse Brewery, brewers of Badger Ales since 1777.
Learn from the professional brewers by attending a Brewery tour. Afterwards you will be invited to the Brewery Tap for a complimentary Badger beer, a soft drink, or a bottled beer to take home. Tours run from Monday to Saturday at 10:30am.
Before you leave, you’ll want to visit the Brewery Shop. Choose from a wide range of beer and soft drinks; or pick up some Badger merchandise.
If the weather is less than ideal, take your adventures indoors with a trip to Bournemouth Pier. The RockReef Indoor Activity Attraction at Bournemouth Pier is open all year round and is suitable to visit in any weather. Inside there are all manner of activities to challenge you, including climbing walls, a high rope aerial obstacle course, and an indoor cave experience.
Thrill seekers will love the Vertical Drop slide and the Leap Of Faith. But if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you can relax from the comfort of a chair in the Key West restaurant or the Coffee Reef Café. For a classic seaside souvenir, visit the Rock Shop.
Athelhampton House & Gardens
If you’re in the mood for a more refined, historical day out, spend a day exploring the distinguished Althelhampton House & Gardens. A Grade I listed Tudor manor house, it is opulently decorated with rich jewel tones and gilded with a flourish of faded gold.
The West Wing Gallery houses pieces by Russian artist Marevna. A peer of Picasso and Modigliani, Marvena lived in Paris and was influenced by the movements of Pointillism and Cubism.
As well as the manor house and gallery, it is worth spending some time in the gardens. Topiary, water features, and archways will provide you with the perfect frame for a photograph.
Whatever your reason for visiting, you won’t be at a loss for things to do in Dorset.