Easter escapes: 15 top days out
Steam into the holidays! Enjoy some family fun with these great ideas for Easter days out around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The holidays are here! Strike out in the Spring sunshine and make the most of the long-awaited opportunity to enjoy Easter days out at a local beach, theme park, National Trust property, heritage railway line and more.
The Vyne, near Basingstoke
The stunning 500-year-old Tudor manor house has woodlands, wetlands and a beautifully-tended walled garden to explore. This Easter, there’s an egg hunt adventure nature trail (1 April onwards) to add to the outdoor fun. Watch out if you settle down to a picnic or grab a takeaway to eat on the front lawn – there’s a particularly naughty band of ducks that operates there who like to steal sandwiches!
Egg Hunt, Gilbert White’s House, Selbourne, until 18 April
A nature challenge with a sweet reward. Hunt for realistic replica garden bird eggs (ten of them) hidden around the 5-acre Gilbert White’s garden. They’re painted to look like the eggs of the birds which nest in the grounds (made just a little bit bigger to make them easier to spot). Find them all and claim a chocolate egg. (£3 per child with a Garden Entry ticket, payable on the day).
Hinton Ampner, near Arlesford
The gorgeous gardens at Hinton Ampner are blooming with tree blossom and Spring flowers, making for an uplifting family day out. Make it even sweeter with an Easter trail which might include hopping like an Easter bunny, making a home for wildlife, or peeking into veg patches. Complete the trail and earn your chocolate reward at the end.
The New Forest Paddle Sport Company, Milford on Sea
Take to the water in a kayak or stand-up paddle board (SUP) exploring the ancient quays and scenic creeks around the New Forest. Founders Claire and Sean Scott and their team of top instructors offer taster sessions, tours, picnics, midnight paddles and more. Be prepared to don your wetsuit too – under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.
Lepe Country Park, Exbury, Southampton
There’s plenty of family-friendly fun perfect for Easter days out at Lepe Country Park. Head for the adventure playground or climb up to blowy cliff top vantage points for some brilliant kite-flying. For walkers, the five-mile circular Lepe Loop walk has views galore. Younger kids will love checking-off seaside finds on the the Lepe Park scavenger hunt list and of course, a paddle in the sea is not to be missed.
Exbury Gardens, Southampton, railway from 12 April
Trees, flowers and stunning flora and fauna at every turn – there’s loads to enjoy at Exbury Gardens, now at its glorious Springtime best. A new River Walk gives access to previously hidden woodland within the 200-acre New Forest garden, with glimpses of the Beaulieu River estuary.
Stretching nearly half-a-mile past mature oaks, field maples, yews and hazels, the trail meanders from the blazing-yellow Daffodil Meadow to the stunning flower-filled Azalea Bowl. From April 12 onwards, you can take a trip on the gorgeous Exbury Steam Railway, too.
Beaulieu National Motor Museum, New Forest
Soak up Spring sunshine (we hope!) in the grounds and gardens of Beaulieu. Take a scenic stroll through the Abbey Cloister, tranquil Mill Pond Walk, Wilderness Garden and charming Victorian Flower and Kitchen Gardens.
Car-fiends can see a few of The National Motor Museums vast collection lined-up outside the museum entrance, while the mudlets will love a play in the Little Beaulieu adventure playground. Throughout the Easter week (2 – 11 April) look out for a mystery historic vehicle driving around the grounds.
Live the High Life in Eastleigh at the Itchen Valley Country Park. Go Ape Southampton is one of the highest in the South, with two different difficulties of high ropes, tunnels, crosses, bridges and an awesome/terrifying wind-in-your-face zip wire. No-fear kids will love it.
Paulton’s Park, near Romsey, from 12 April
Say ‘howdy’ to Tornado Springs – the long-awaited new midwest desert resort town opening slap bang next door to Peppa Pig World in Paulton’s Park. Set in the American heyday of the 1950s, it features new rides and experiences including a spinning coaster, gyro swing ride and a classic locomotive. Hold on to your milkshake and fries, partner!
Hawk Conservancy Trust, near Andover, reopens 12 April
Set in 22 acres of countryside, there are loads of feathered friends to meet at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, from gorgeous tawny owls to peregrine falcons and a regal giant bald eagle. Kids will love the daily flying displays, ferret races, tractor rides and bird-themed adventure playground.
Marwell Zoo, near Winchester, from 12 April
Statuesque giraffes, friendly penguins, marvellous meerkats and beautiful snow leopards are just a handful of the 1,200 animals you’ll see at this excellent Zoo. Spot all your much-missed favourites then let your little ones swing around one of the FIVE adventure playgrounds, while you get a well-earned coffee.
The Watercress Line, Arlesford, reopens 12 April
Nostalgic countryside railway journeys are back as the Mid-Hants Watercress Line returns. No flashy LED trains or Thomas the Tank Engine (yet!) this time but plenty of family fun to enjoy on Easter days out as you steam through the beautiful Hampshire countryside.
ISLE OF WIGHT
Fancy an Easter holiday day out over on the Island? Red Funnel offer a vehicle ferry service between Southampton and East Cowes and a fast, frequent Red Jet Hi-Speed foot service.
Sandown beach, Isle of Wight
Yearning for the seaside? Bring your bucket and spade and head to the sandy beach at Sandown, also known for its fossil-rich cliffs and coastal wildlife. A perfect spot for Easter days out on the Island, the esplanade is dotted with seaside cafes, open for takeaway and terrace-side treats, like the surf-styled Beach Shack Bar.
Carisbrooke Castle, Newport
Got a history-buff in the family? A day out at the Island fortress will make a real treat. King Charles I was imprisoned here during the English Civil War before his execution. He famously tried to escape – and failed – by getting wedged in the window bars (word to the wise, don’t try this after three months of lockdown!). Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Beatrice, had much better luck – she lived here happily and there’s a pretty garden in her name to stroll around.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway, from 12 April
The railway folk have had the signal and it’s full steam ahead for Easter days out. The Island’s heritage railway line has been busy getting everything back on track: steam trains and Havenstreet station have had a fresh coat of paint and boiler checks, the garden has been primped and the museum and shop are restocked ready for Spring passengers. Toot, toot!
Please check latest visiting advice directly before arrival, plan your day trips in accordance with the latest Government travel advice and adhere to local restrictions.