Take part in Family Day
Our first thing to do in Cowes is on Sunday August 5th and is known as Family Day. It’s where families get special discounts on Spectator Boat bookings, plus there’s a whole host of child-centred entertainment in the grounds of the picturesque Northwood House. These include a Victorian fun fair with carousel and side shows, a giant observation wheel over 100 feet high giving stunning views across Cowes and the Solent, and tree climbing adventures with Goodleaf.
Down on the parade there’s a treasure hunt with the 1851 Trust from 11am till 4pm, and you can try your skills at coding to navigate a ‘Sphero’ boat around their racecourse – at 11.15am and 2.15pm. Between 2pm and 3.30pm you can join Gemma Hunt from CBeebies Swashbuckle for some, yes you’ve guessed it, swashbuckling.
Another thing to do in Cowes is at Cowes Yacht Haven, where there’s Huxley Hunt magic on stage from 1pm till 3pm. Down at Shepherd’s Marina there are children’s workshops in the Sugar Store. Wander around the decorated streets of Cowes and you will find face painters and glitter tattooists, for transforming your children into superheroes, princesses and glitter divas.
Meet the Reluctant Dragon
Everyone knows St George has to do battle with the dragon, but what happens when the dragon simply won’t fight St George? Take all your little ones to see The Reluctant Dragon outdoors at Northwood Park on Tuesday August 7that 11.30am or 3pm and find out.
“You’ve got to fight him some time or other you know, ’cos he’s St George and you’re the dragon…”
In this delightful new adaptation by Michael Whitmore, Quantum Theatre presents Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon, an enchanting tale of bravery, friendship and derring-do for all the family.
The shows take place in the hedged picnic area opposite the Park’s tennis courts, so bring a picnic and have lunch or afternoon tea whilst watching this lovely family play, from the creator of The Wind in the Willows.
Hire bikes for the whole family from IsleCycle, on Terminus Road in Cowes, and set off on an adventure whilst everyone else is out sailing. You can hire adult and children’s cycles, but also child seats, a ‘tag along’ that fixes onto the back of your bike, a kiddie trailer or even a tandem bike. Prices are very reasonable – a family of four could hire cycles for the day for around £50, less if one of the children is in a child seat.
Then set off down the former railway line from Cowes to Newport, for a flat cycle ride along the river Medina with great views, including those of the newly restored lime kilns, and stop in at Quay Arts on the harbour in Newport for a shot of culture and a yummy lunch. Or cycle along the seafront to Gurnard to see all the beautiful yachts racing on the Solent, then bear inland to eventually arrive at the picturesque former town of Newtown for the picnic you packed earlier. Newtown is a National Trust nature reserve so be sure to bring some binoculars for bird watching or a camera for shooting some great photographs. Cycling in and around Cowes is a wonderful thing to do, especially if the weather is on your side.
Walk the Line
Another great thing to do in Cowes is the ‘Boat Walk’ around both Cowes and East Cowes. Telling the tale of the town’s former boat building industry, along with its heritage and its culture, the trail itself is 4 miles long and can be joined at any part of its route. It takes around 3 hours to walk – longer if the floating bridge is out of action, so do bear that in mind if you’re thinking about tackling the entire walk as something to do.
It stretches from Egypt Point in the west to Castle Point in East Cowes – or not quite that far as there’s been a landslide – and the walk takes in many local landmarks but also gives some more secret locations such as the childhood home of Sir Thomas Arnold and a pub that was once used for smuggling.
Pick up a Boat Walk leaflet from various locations around the town, especially Cowes Library and Maritime Museum in Beckford Road, where you’ll find more information about local history, along with a small museum to Cowes’s heritage.
Eat an Ice Cream
A foodie-inspired thing to do in Cowes is visit one of the three locations for great cool treats on a hot day of sightseeing in Cowes. Firstly there’s Bliss Ice Cream Parlour on Bath Road, who have loads of flavours of ice cream as well as smoothies, shakes, sundaes and waffles. The bright primary coloured interior is a great place for taking a coffee, whilst your children indulge in some cool snacks.
Plaza Ices on the High Street has tables outside and large interior, with a merrily striped counter for choosing your favourite flavours of ice cream with flakes, fudge sticks and loads of toppings. Plus, you may see one of their iconic vintage-style vans around Cowes during the regatta, so do stop to buy a cone or lolly.
Tiffins on the High Street do the best frozen yoghurts in town. Choose from about a dozen flavours and they come served with a fresh strawberry, a chocolate flake and a dollop of Whippy ice cream on top – we recommend the coconut and lemon flavour but mix and match to get your favourite.
We hope our best 5 things to do in Cowes during Cowes Week has inspired you to visit the Isle of Wight with your family for the next event!