Things to Do in Dorset

You certainly won’t be short of things to do in Dorset while you are on holiday here. From wildlife, history and heritage, and beaches and coastline to family attractions, activities and adventure holidays, and watersports, the Visit Dorset website helps you find some great ideas for days out for all the family.




Only booked a few days away in Dorset? Not sure what things to do in Dorset while you’re here on holiday? Why not use our list of some of the most popular Dorset attractions to help you decide. If you are interested in our history and heritage, why not visit the majestic ruins of Corfe Castle, Athelhampton’s Tudor manor house and world-famous gardens, the fascinating Tank Museum at Bovington, the Swanage steam railway or perhaps Sherborne Castle and its Capability Brown designed lake. Or, for the nature lovers, there’s Abbotsbury Swannery with over 600 free flying swans, Brownsea Island nature reserve, Weymouth’s Sea Life Park and Monkey World ape rescue centre. And, for the younger ones, there’s always the Adventure Wonderland family fun park.

You may even just enjoy a day on the coast, exploring Dorset’s unique landscapes and vistas. In the evening settle down for some local fare at any number of spots ranging from casual pub atmospheres to fine dining luxury. You will find something to suit every traveller’s taste. The same can be said for Dorset’s accommodation. Visitors can choose from charming B&Bs to 5 star hotels.

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The Keep, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset

The Keep is a modern military museum with computers and creative displays to tell the stories of courage, humour, tradition and sacrifice of those who served in the regiments of Devon and Dorset for over 300 years. The museum is open from April to September on Monday to Saturday and also on Sunday during July and August. From October to March it is open on Tuesday to Saturday. Admission fees are charged.

Bridge Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset

This museum is located in a beautiful building overlooking the sea and it tells the story of Lyme Regis through the use of award-winning displays about the history of Lyme Regis and the Cobb, its geology, fossils, literary connections and famous people. The museum is open daily from April to October, and at weekends and during school holidays from November to March. There is an admission charge for adults but concessions apply and accompanied children may enter for free.

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High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset

Open daily from July to September and Mondays to Saturdays between October and June.

This museum has galleries on Dorset’s archaeology, wildlife, geology and local history brought to life with free audio guides, interactive displays and films. It contains dinosaur footprints, Roman mosaic flooring and a reconstruction of Thomas Hardy’s study. The museum is open daily from July to September and Mondays to Saturdays between October and June.

South Street, Bridport, Dorset

Discover Bridport’s unique history from the Romans to rope making by visiting the Bridport Museum, which is located in a beautiful Tudor building. It is open from Monday to Saturday between April and October. There is an admission charge for adults and a small charge for unaccompanied children; accompanied children may enter for free.

Whitcombe Road, Beaminster, Dorset

Beaminster Museum is housed in the old Congregational Chapel and its displays explain the history of the town and the surrounding villages. Exhibitions also cover the archaeology and agriculture of Beaminster as well as the people who lived there. The museum is open from April to the end of September on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. There is a small admission charge for adults; concessions apply and entry for children is free.

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Sturminster Newton, Dorset

This is a small, local museum located in a former Workhouse Chapel, which contains memorabilia from the old railway, creamery and livestock market. A working mill still grinds flour using a 1904 turbine and special Milling Days and events are held throughout the season. It is open from Easter until the end of September. A small admission fee is charged for entry to the mill but the museum is free.

Abbey Gatehouse, Church Lane, Sherborne, Dorset

Located near the historic Abbey and Almshouses, Sherborne Museum features local history, geology and agriculture, as well as a model of the old Norman castle, displays on Sherborne’s silk and glass fibre industry, a beautiful doll’s house and an ecclesiastical wall painting dating from the early 16th century. It is open from April to October on Tuesdays to Saturdays and in the afternoon on Bank Holidays. There is a very small admission charge for adults but children and students can enter for free.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset

Gain an insight into Shaftesbury’s long history including the Byzant water ceremony, unique to the town, and its association with crafts such as the Dorset button making industry. From the museum’s cottage garden you can enjoy views to Melbury Hill. Open daily, except Wednesdays, from April until the end of October. A small admission fee is charged.

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Park Walk, Shaftesbury, Dorset

The site of this Abbey church and museum was once the most important Benedictine community for women in the country and is the resting place of the murdered boy King Edward the Martyr. Today visitors can see the excavated foundations of the church, which lie in a walled garden, and see what the Abbey would have looked like through a virtual tour. There is also an Anglo-Saxon herb collection and a mediaeval orchard. The museum is open from mid-March to the end of October. There is a modest admission charge but concessions and family tickets can be purchased.

Chantry Fields, Gillingham, Dorset

Gillingham Museum tells the story of the town and its surrounding villages from prehistoric times, through Roman and mediaeval occupation, to the major rebuilding work of the Victorian period. The displays include a 1790 manual fire engine, an exhibition about John Constable, an interactive quiz and a photographic display. Admission is free and the museum is open all year round on Mondays (except Bank Holidays), Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings.

Town Hall, East Street, Wareham, Dorset

Wareham Museum tells the history of the town from pre-historic times to the present day and includes a special exhibition on Lawrence of Arabia. It is open from mid-April until the end of October on Mondays to Saturdays and admission is free.

23-27 High Street, Wimborne, Dorset

This is an award-winning museum set in an Elizabethan town house, which tells the story of life in East Dorset. Visitors can explore period rooms, including a Georgian parlour, 17th century hall and Victorian kitchen, as well as a beautiful secret garden. It is open from April to October and a small admission fee applies.

Lime Tree House, The Plocks, Blandford Forum, Dorset

This museum houses over 250 years of costumes in a beautiful Georgian building with a tea room and shop. Closed from mid-December to mid-February. Admission charges apply but children under 7 can enter for free.

The Square, Swanage, Dorset

Open daily from Easter until October

Discover the story of Swanage from dinosaurs and the Jurassic coastline to the seaside resort and World War II. You can see period shop displays including Burt’s Stores and Lloyds Dispensing Chemists, re-live the local stone trade and experience World War II ARP Headquarters. The museum is open daily from Easter until October and admission is free.

Blandford Camp, Blandford, Dorset

An interactive museum of communications, science and technology. Displays include ENIGMA, elite special forces, motorcycle collection, and animals at war to name but a few. Open mid-February until the end of October. Moderate admission charges apply.