DISCOVER SOUTHAMPTON & HAMPSHIRE
Its favourable position on the English coast and proximity to Winchester and London put Southampton on the map centuries ago.
An important port since medieval times, Southampton was targeted in World War 11 because of its industrial output and location as a military embarkation point. Today Southampton is still an important passenger port and the busiest cruise-ship terminal in the UK, but it’s also a thriving city and at just 25 minutes’ drive from Botley Park Hotel & Spa, it’s well worth taking a day to explore.
Lively Guildhall Square is known as the Cultural Quarter of the city – a hub for museums, galleries, bars, cafes and more. From here, you’re an easy walk away from the Westquay Shopping Centre - if the urge for retail therapy strikes - Southampton Art Gallery and the excellent SeaCity Museum.
Opened in 2012, SeaCity Museum is dedicated to shipping and the sea. There’s a host of wonderful collections and events to check out, but its most prominent exhibition tells the Titanic story and how the sinking of the famous White Star liner in 1912 impacted the city. Visitors can experience an interactive model of the ship which gives fascinating insight into the lives of the crew aboard the Titanic, many of whom were Southampton residents.
Tudor House & the Old Town
For a closer look at the city’s history, stop off at Southampton’s most important historic building – the Tudor House, a timber-framed dwelling built in the 15th century which offers an interesting perspective on the lives and times of its residents and the city. It’s designed to appeal to all, with lots of interactive, family-friendly activities and it’s fun to combine with a walk around the Old Town walls.
Isle of Wight
If you fancy a day trip to the Isle of Wight, you’re in the right place, and foot passengers can just turn up and catch the high-speed service from Terminal 2. This takes you to West Cowes in 25 minutes or if you need to cross by car, book in advance for a departure from Terminal 1 – around an hour’s ride to East Cowes.
Paultons Park & Peppa Pig World
If a fun day out for all the family is what you’re seeking, Paulton’s Family Theme Park – home to a variety of themed worlds, an assortment of exhilarating rides and the enduringly popular Peppa Pig World – will tick all the boxes.
Booking in advance is a must and it will also get you an improved ticket rate, with everything included apart from Go Karts. Plus, a good look at their website will help you to navigate your way around a dizzying choice of rides, themed worlds, events and shows. Helpfully, you can filter the rides according to the make-up of your group – so Children’s, Family or Thrill Ride – and there are height requirements too.
Peppa Pig World is the big draw for young fans of Peppa, George and other popular characters but older children will love Tornado Springs, set in a Midwest desert resort town and featuring 8 incredible rides and experiences.
The park is open on selected dates only between November and March so check before you travel.
Beaulieu National Motor Museum
Beaulieu National Motor Museum, just 40 minutes’ drive from the hotel, is an important pit-stop for anyone who’s fascinated by cars, but it also makes for a great afternoon out, with much more to see including the house, gardens and the spectacular ruins of 800-year-old Beaulieu Abbey.
The the world-famous National Motor Museum has one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world but while you’re there, don’t miss the chance to visit Palace House, the Montagu family home since 1538. Remodelled in the 1800s, it’s a fabulous example of a Victoria country house and well worth exploring, alongside the stunning, 800-year-old ruins of Beaulieu Abbey which have been carefully conserved by the Beaulieu family.
Beaulieu’s lovingly tended gardens were the original Abbey grounds and there’s a network of paths to follow through the picturesque landscape with a detour for views across the Beaulieu River. If you have family in tow, the exciting outdoor play area, Little Beaulieu, will encourage them to let their imaginations run wild – and let off steam!
River Hamble Country Park
A visit to Hampshire wouldn’t be complete without making the most of its lovely countryside and you’ll find the perfect antidote to the whirlwind of theme park rides and city life at River Hamble Country Park, situated on the River Hamble.
Drive there in 20 minutes then ditch the car and embrace the open air! This is gorgeous walking country - 400 acres of picturesque woodland, riverside and open space, with dedicated trails to follow and some interesting landmarks along the way. Look out for St Bartholomew’s Church, mentioned in the Domesday Book, or the shipwreck of King Henry V’s flagship, Grace Dieu, which was struck by lightning in the 15th century and is visible from the park’s pontoon.
You’re likely to spot a range wildlife depending on the time of year, from roe deer in the woods to skylarks in the fields, and a wonderful array of wildflowers. Make time to stop off at Manor Farm where kids will adore seeing animals in their traditional farmyard setting – think ducks, geese, rabbits, sheep, cows, pigs – and alpacas! A visit to the farm is a voyage of discovery with animal encounters, a 14th century farmhouse and wartime cottage and year-round activities to choose from. Check their website for more information and seasonal opening times.