When my stepdaughter was only a year old we went away on our first family holiday to the Isle Of Wight. It was the start of a love affair with the island and we have been back again so many times since. It’s the perfect place for a family holiday that caters for all ages. From the ferry trip to get there making it feel like a ‘proper’ holiday, to the gorgeous sandy beaches. There are visitor attractions galore and fabulous places to eat around every corner. What more could you want?!
Things To Do
There are so many attractions on the Isle Of Wight it’s unreal. We have done a fair few of them, although certainly not all. Top of our list to visit is always Amazon World. This is a tropical oasis full of rare species of animals. It’s like stepping foot into the rainforest, with beautiful birds flying around freely above your head. There are fascinating exotic plants and so many different animals to see. I particularly love the sloths. Outside there are more animals including flamingos, penguins, anteaters, lemurs (the lemur walk is great fun!) and wallabies.
Blackgang Chine is really well known as one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island. It’s also the oldest theme park in the UK, celebrating 175 years in 2018! Blackgang Chine is a family friendly theme park where your imagination can run wild. From fighting pirates on a lifesize pirate ship to discovering dinosaurs in Restricted Area 5. There’s a cowboy town, fairyland, nurseryland, Rumpus mansion and a crooked house. This place is bursting at the seams with adventures. My kids absolutely love this place and so do I! DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
Robin Hill Country Park is the partner site to Blackgang Chine. They are both owned by the same company and you can get combo tickets for both. Robin Hill Country Park is a lovely nature based attraction. It’s a great place for adventure playgrounds, woodland walks, suspension bridges, canopy skywalk plus a maze. There’s also falconry displays, a tractor train and our favourite – the toboggan run! This is another place you can easily spend all day having fun adventures outdoors together as a family. The gardens are absolutely stunning! DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway is great for any train enthusiasts. We really enjoyed being able to hop on and off the steam trains all day and ride along different sections of the track. It’s a really charming place with an olde worlde feel about it. The staff are dressed in traditional uniform and it feels like stepping back in time to a bygone era. I absolutely love it! The calm pace of everything and friendly charm is so lovely. There’s also a play area, woodland walk and museum to enjoy. Often there are special events at weekends and school holidays which are well worth the visit. DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
The Needles is probably the most famous landmark on the Isle Of Wight. Now I have to be completely honest here – I’m not the biggest fan of this place. I know it’s the first place everyone heads to as it’s so well known, however I find it very over commercialised and it’s always heaving with coachloads of tourists. The view is lovely and there are lots of activities to have a go at including the carousel, sand bottles, water walkerz, crazy golf, etc. There is also the chair lift from the top of the cliff down to the beach at the bottom. Be warned though, it’s very VERY steep and a little hair-raising with kids!
If you like animals then the Isle Of Wight Zoo is lovely. The zoo is predominantly a rescue home for big cats and a charity doing conservation work. The zoo is also home to a lemur walk which is a lovely experience for all the family to enjoy. The keepers are very knowledgeable and the keeper talks are well worth going to. There are also animals from Madagascar, wallabies, raccoons and farm animals to name a few. There is a cafe to stop for a bite to eat.
Another favourite attraction is Dinosaur Isle. This is a fascinating interactive museum with over 1000 fossils and fascinating dinosaur skeletons, as well as animatronic dinosaurs! The museum is open all year and is indoors so it’s a great place to visit whatever the weather.
Another place to visit is The Garlic Farm. I’m told their homemade garlic mushrooms are the best you’ll ever have. They look and smell amazing but I can’t stand mushrooms! The farm has a beautiful wild flower meadow and lots of land that visitors are free to explore. You can see the chickens and try samples of the farm produce. There are tractor trailer tours around the farm in the school holidays. They have lots of fun family friendly events throughout the year to enjoy so do check to see whats on during your visit. If you like garlic or are a bit of a foodie then this is the perfect place to try out some local produce.
Another free place to visit which the kids really enjoyed is the Isle Of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. The sanctuary is in fact a charity which rescues unwanted donkeys as well as some horses and ponies. They have over 100 animals in their care. The sanctuary is open to visitors every day 10am-4:30pm and welcomes donations to help continue their important work. There is a gift shop, cafe and you can also adopt a donkey! The donkeys love to be fussed by visitors . DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
One of the things I had on my bucket list was to climb to the top of a lighthouse. I achieved this with Lois by my side at St Catherine’s lighthouse. There is a minimum height restriction of 1.1m to climb the 94 steps to the top of the tower and its not for the faint hearted. The steps are very steep at the highest point! The tour we did was fascinating though and we learned so much about the lighthouse’s history. Even Lois enjoyed it despite being the only child! The views from the top are beautiful.
Shanklin Chine is a beautiful spot to visit. It’s hard work with small children though as there’s a lot of walking and steps. I’d love to go back and see it at night time all lit up. The photos I’ve seen of the Chine Lumiére are spectacular. DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
The Rosemary Vineyard is open to visitors and has free tours of the winery on Mondays, Tuesdays and weekends. There is a tasting after the tours of the wines, ciders and juices produced at the winery. The vineyard shop sells all their produce. I love to pick up a couple of bottles of their fruit juices to have with our breakfast in the caravan.
The Wight Military and Heritage Museum houses a number of tanks and military vehicles as well as military memorabilia. There are guided tours available with ex-servicemen volunteers which really add to the experience of bringing the museum to life. There are sometimes rides available in the vehicles and an air rifle shooting range at an extra charge. The kids enjoy climbing in the back of the armoured personnel carriers. DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
Where To Stay
Nodes Point Holiday Park has always been the one place we stay whenever we visit the Isle Of Wight. It has static caravans and chalets for holiday makers to stay in as well as a campsite. The chalets are ideal if you have very young children as you can get a pushchair in and out easily, there is a full size bath (easier with little ones than a shower I found) and the bedrooms are bigger.
Nowadays I like the caravans as they feel a little more luxurious. Nodes Point has a playground, children’s activities during the day, evening entertainment, swimming pool and direct access to the beach. It’s the perfect place for a family holiday. DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
Places To Eat
The Fighting Cocks family friendly pub near Amazon World is one of our favourite places to eat. It has a lovely bright restaurant eating area as well as cosy armchair nooks. There is an extensive menu with something to please everyone. I usually choose one of the seasonal dishes from the specials board and have never been disappointed. We’ve often sat relaxing, eating and drinking in there for hours, simply enjoying the atmosphere. I have breastfed quite happily in one of the cosy nooks when the babies were small. Now they are older they enjoy the outdoor play area. DOG FRIENDLY VENUE
The Oasis homeware and gift shop in Brading has a lovely coffee shop attached to it which is perfect for tea and cake or a light lunch. The shop itself is full of beautiful items and well worth a look round. We always pop in for a browse and to enjoy one of the cakes for afternoon tea.