FREE DAYS OUT ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT
The Isle of Wight is bursting with free activities which are perfect for an affordable family holiday. We asked Robbie Lane from Isle of Wight Guru to choose some of his favourites.
For Younger Children
Parents of toddlers are likely to spend much time pushing a swing whilst on holiday – so you might as well find one with a good view!
In the South Wight, we like the small Seabreeze playground which sits up high overlooking Ventnor Beach. Gurnard and East Cowes in the North Wight both have pleasant playgrounds with views of the Solent. If you want to combine a playground with a bit of sandcastle building, go for Appley in Ryde or Sandham Gardens in Sandown/Yaverland.
In the West Wight, our favourite is Brighstone’s playground. It’s only small but it’s just round the corner from the village’s ‘Dragon Tree’. This ancient oak is growing sideways, across a shallow stream which is perfect for splashing. Just make sure you bring wellies!
Our children also love a trip to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. It’s roughly en route if you are travelling south from Newport to Ventnor. You can easily fill a couple of hours wandering round and meeting the animals.
For older children and teens
A day out at the seaside is the obvious choice for children and teens – but you need to pick the right beach!
For swimming and sandcastles, try Sandown or Shanklin. Both have long stretches of sand and a steady gradient for swimming.
If your children enjoy a bit of rockpooling, head for Bembridge at low tide. We’ve also had success with a net and bucket at Steephill Cove and Freshwater Bay.
Crashing waves which are perfect for bodyboarding can often be found at Compton Bay or Dunroamin Beach in Lake. Older children may prefer exploring the Island’s rustic southern coastline including Castlehaven, Blackgang Beach and Binnel Bay.
If you’re visiting in summer – pop along to one of the Island’s carnivals, which take place in most of the main towns. Ryde’s Carnival is probably the most famous, but other towns put on a good show, including Shanklin, Ventnor, Newport and Sandown.
Where to start!
The Bus and Coach Museum in Ryde has a lovely collection of old vehicles and a team of friendly volunteers. It’s also indoors, so it’s good for rainy days too. The world-famous Garlic Farm is free to visit although you may struggle to resist the charms of the farm shop!
Bembridge’s lifeboat station is open to the public. The impressive vessel hangs at an angle, ready to be launched into the sea at a moment’s notice.
English Heritage’s Appuldurcombe House is well worth a visit. It is free to all – regardless of whether you have English Heritage membership. The front of the house looks impressive from a distance whilst the rear of the building is something of a contrast!
The working Benedictine monastery of Quarr Abbey at Fishbourne is another historical gem. You can learn about monastic life, meet the resident pigs and explore the woodland.
Several museums and heritage centres don’t charge an admission fee. The Max Aitken Museum in Cowes is a good place to start, with its collection of oddities.
You can also get a flavour of some big name attractions without spending a penny. Queen Victoria’s church at Whippingham is a mini alternative to Osborne whilst the Needles New Battery offers views which match the popular Old Battery.
Visit Isle of Wight Guru for the full list of free days out – there are 45 in total!