Staycation Island: Top UK Getaway Ideas for Couples & Families on the Isle of Wight
Be it a long weekend exploring iconic island landmarks or a day trip to discover historic, culinary and fun-filled attractions, the Isle of Wight has everything that families and couples are looking for in an idyllic UK break away.
From Osborne House, the Needles and Carisbrooke Castle to Britain’s oldest theme park (Blackgang Chine), foodie delights such as the historic Garlic Farm, and endless miles of breath-taking countryside, wildlife, beaches, castles, attractions and coastal towns – the Isle of Wight really does have something to suit everyone.
Island Staycation Ideas for Families
Blackgang Chine (Blackgang)
Blackgang Chine, Britain’s oldest theme park, first began life as a coastal landscaped garden for Victorian holidaymakers. Today, the theme park is a land of imagination for children and, incredibly, the park is still run by the family of its founder. Brimming with fun for all ages, Blackgang Chine features roller coasters, an underwater kingdom, a fairy land, an animatronic dinosaur experience and more. Guests can even visit an original whale skeleton which Queen Mary bumped her head on during a royal visit to the island!
Island Fossil Hunting (Island-wide)
Nicknamed ‘Dinosaur Island’ because it boasts one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in Europe, the Isle of Wight is a haven for families looking for a truly Jurassic staycation experience. Head to the coastal treasure troves of Hamstead, Yarmouth, Compton Bay, Whitecliff Bay or Brighstone Bay for the best chances of discovering ancient remains. It’s not just prehistoric remains of the dinosaur variety that are up for grabs either, look out for fish and shellfish, mammal, turtle and reptile fossils too. Guided fossil walks are also available. Find out more in Red Funnel’s fossil hunting guide for families.
Dinosaur Isle (Sandown)
Fascinating for both parents and children, Dinosaur Isle is an unforgettable experience for families looking to discover the island’s prehistoric heritage. More than just a museum, the attraction allows you to hear dinosaurs roar, watch the dinosaur experts at work in the laboratory and much more. Visitors can even walk through a reconstructed landscape as it was 135 million years ago and see life-sized models of dinosaurs, including a robotic, flesh-eating Neovenator (a relative of the T-Rex) and real-life fossilised remains of animals and plants. A professional palaeontologist is also on hand to identify any fossils that the family discover on their visit!
Isle of Wight Steam Railway (Havenstreet, Wooton or Ashley)
Forget Thomas, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is fascinating for all ages. One of the last remaining steam trains of its kind, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is beautifully preserved and takes visitors on magical journeys to discover some of the island’s most charming countryside hotspots. Alight from an authentically restored carriage at the rural stations off Havenstreet, Wootton or Ashley, as a classic steam engine meanders through idyllic countryside.
Godshill Model Village (Godshill)
Created as a tiny real-life replica of some of the surrounding villages and tourist attractions, Godshill Model Village is an unusual yet fun family day out. Aside from pretending to be giants in the village, there’s also beautiful, landscaped gardens boasting more than 3,000 ornamental conifers and shrubs. Once you’ve explored, be sure to go on the hunt for the real-life versions of the houses and buildings you’ve spotted in the model village.
Island Staycation Ideas for Couples
Osborne House (East Cowes)
A must-see for couples on any staycation to the Isle of Wight, Obsorne House is a stunning and much-loved royal residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Couples are able to meander through the house and garden terraces, discovering what life was like for the royal couple, Victoria and Albert’s private apartments, their bathing beach and play-cottage. Situated in a commanding spot, high above the Solent on the Island’s northern shore, the house has stunning views across to mainland Britain.
Shanklin Chine (Shanklin)
A mesmerising geological treasure well worth exploring with a loved one, Shanklin Chine features a series of walkways past beautiful waterfalls and through lush trees and vegetation. Couples can make their way along the nature trail to spy a plethora of flowers, shrubs, plants and trees – as well as wildlife including birds, butterflies and island-bred chipmunks. One of the highlights of a visit here is the stunning waterfall which flows into the gorge, surrounded by verdant vegetation.
The Garlic Farm (Sandown)
Not many people are aware that the Isle of Wight is in fact the UK’s largest garlic producer. The Garlic Farm, a foodie retreat founded more than 60 years ago by the owners, Colin and Jenny, offers couples the opportunity to learn everything they could ever hope to know about garlic. Couples can also sample delicious garlic produce – from garlic condiments, chutney and oil salts to black garlic ice cream. The farm even offers wildlife walks, cocktail evenings and the opportunity to stay on-site in one of seven accommodation options, including yurts, cottages and farmhouses.
Carisbrooke Castle (Newport)
Nothing says fairy tale romance quite like a historic island castle. The 10th century Carisbrooke Castle, a key attraction on the island, serves up island heritage, romance and charm in spades. This motte and bailey castle is the location where King Charles I was kept imprisoned for 14 months prior to his execution by the Parliamentarians in 1649. However, Carisbrooke has also served as an Elizabethan artillery fortress and royal summer residence in its long 1000-year history. Today, couples will find lovable donkeys, an Edwardian garden, historic remains of the castle and a fascinating museum to discover together.
Adgestone Vineyard (Brading)
These breath-taking island vineyards are a must see for couples looking for culture and romance on the island. Boasting a long history, rumour has it that the ancient Romans once made wine near the vineyard. However, today couples will find gorgeous landscapes and the opportunity to sample many good vintages in the vineyard’s café or outdoor terrace. The vineyard produces dry and medium white and red wines, as well as liqueurs and delicious chutneys. Tours of the vineyard and winery and tastings are also available.