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.

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.


St George's Close, Langton Matravers, Swanage, Dorset

Enjoy the heritage of Purbeck stone with an audio-visual introduction, displays of fossils, geology, worked stone, tools, photographs and a reconstruction of a section of quarry mine and its capstan. It is open on Monday to Saturday from April until September. A small admission charge applies to adults but children under 10 can enter for free.

Bere's Yard, Blandford Forum, Dorset

Find out the history of Blandford Forum from the Stone Age to the present day, including memorabilia from the two World Wars and recreations of bygone life in Blandford. The museum also has a Victorian children’s playroom with a doll’s house and toys. Open April to September with a small admission charge for adults but children can enter for free.

Poole, Dorset

Poole Museum has just undergone a major redevelopment thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The front of the building has been transformed by a new glass and steel structure designed by award-winning architects Horden Cherry Lee, and the light-filled glass atrium creates a stunning new entrance with a viewing terrace on the third floor to provide visitors with an orientation point and views across Poole and the harbour. The museum tells the story of two thousand years of Poole’s history and the new displays enable greater access to the collections and feature objects seen for the first time, including the iron-age log boat.

East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset

In 1901, Merton gave his wife Annie a dream home on a cliff-top overlooking the sea. It was an extraordinary, extravagant birthday present – lavish, splendid and with a touch fantasy.

They filled this exotic seaside villa with beautiful objects from their travels across the world and lined the walls with a remarkable collection of British art creating a unique atmosphere in a most dramatic seafront setting. A home, an art gallery and a museum. Then, they sealed it in time and gave it to the future. The house – beside the sea on Bournemouth’s East Cliff – celebrated the couple’s passion for art and travel, world cultures and natural history.

The main hall is hung floor-to-ceiling with the famous paintings of their day – a remarkable collection of high Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art, including many works by women artists. Rooms and collections are inspired by their travels – to Japan, Russia, Australia and New Zealand – and by their love of the theatre and the decorative arts. The decor is sumptuous; rich colours, stained glass, luxurious wallpaper, painted ceilings, frescoes and patterned floor tiles. The views are stunning and the cliff-top garden is serene. Four galleries, added in the early 20th century, are used for exhibitions and events and a modern wing showcases the world-renowned Japanese collection.

Merton’s extravagant gift is now one of Bournemouth’s most intriguing visitor attractions. There is also an on-site café and shop.

Open Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. Find out more at

Quay Road, Christchurch, Dorset

The museum contains a variety of objects with local and social historical interest, period costumes, and displays on geology, natural history and archaeology. There is a formal garden with culinary and medicinal herbs and a secluded informal garden with old fashioned roses and uncommon trees and shrubs. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday afternoons, as well as the spring and summer Bank Holidays. There is no admission charge.


The Old Power Station, Bargates, Christchurch, Dorset

This museum is set in an Edwardian power station and contains unique displays of electrical items ranging from a Bournemouth tram car to boot warmers. Open from Monday to Thursday from April to the end of September plus Fridays during school holidays. Admission charges apply.

Hangar 600, Bournemouth Airport, Christchurch, Dorset

The aviation museum contains a unique collection of ex-military and civilian aircraft, some of which still fly. On display are a Meteor, Hunter, Vampire, Jet Provost, BAC-111, Buccaneer, 1934 Dragon Rapide and the world’s last flying Sea Vixen. Open all year, although times vary.

Moor Lane, Sturminster Marshall, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 4AH

A flat, parkland course that will suit golfers of all abilities. Nine/18 holes, 5028 yards, SSS 65. Practice net. Visitors are welcome at all times.

Canford School, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 3AD

A flat, parkland course with nine (x 2) holes, 5934 yards, SSS 69.

Knighton Lane, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 3AS

There are three golf courses. Parkland: 18 holes, 6495 yards. Riverside: 18 holes, 6231 yards. Knighton: nine holes, 2754 yards, par 3. There is also a six-hole academy course and driving range practice area. Visitors are welcome and golf club hire and golf lessons are available. A handicap certificate is not required.

Links Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 0PF

This golf course is on undulating parkland. It has 18 holes, 5981 yards, SSS 69. Practice area. Visitors are welcome but only with an English Golf Union (EGU) or club handicap certificate.