Last summer we got our first National Trust membership and have definitely got our money’s worth. We worked out that after 3 trips our family of 3 would be getting free visits on the annual membership of £115. This post isn’t in conjunction with National Trust at all, we’ve just been to some really great places and think the membership is such good value for families that I wanted to share our faves with you.
We live in Poole, Dorset, so the National Trust attractions we’ve visited are in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. They are always a great family day out in the fresh air, exploring and having adventures. These are our favourite National Trust days out …
Kingston Lacy, Dorset
The nearest National Trust property to us is Kingston Lacy in Wimborne and we’ve visited a lot over the years as it’s right on our doorstep. Kingston Lacy is a fabulous house surrounded by beautiful gardens and walks. You can go a few times without even walking in the same direction. The house is good fun to explore and they often have fun activities laid on for the kids.
We last visited at Christmas when the gardens were all lit up and looking very festive.
There’s a Japanese garden which is fun to explore and a kitchen garden with little play area. There’s also a walled garden under the cover of trees where all the kids love to run up and down the paths and there are lots of woodland walks. If you head away from the house there’s a good wooden play area and if you walk through the woods you might see two giant pigs foraging for food.
There’s also the laundry to see with all the old-fashioned mangles, sewing machines etc that the kids love to look at.
We always head to Kingston Lacy to see the bluebells in the Spring
Mottisfont house and gardens is in Romsey, Hampshire which is about an hour away from us. Similar to Kingston Lacy there’s a great house to explore and they always have an art exhibition including some for kids such as artwork from The Gruffalo.
There are lots of gardens to explore and wooden paths to wander down. We always like to head to the little gypsy caravan which is kitted out like a shepherds hut and all the kids love.
Our favourite part to explore at Mottisfont is the walk down by the River Test. You can walk down one side, down to the fishing hut, over the bridge and then back down the other side. There’s a little water park and also a wooden bog play area which gets extremely muddy in the winter!
Stourhead in Wiltshire is our favourite even though we have only visited once so far! There’s so much there that we ran out of time and are looking forward to visiting at Easter.
The gardens at Stourhead are incredible. In the middle is a lake with a path that takes you the whole way around. Around the lake are temples, cottages and grottos and you end up wandering off in a completely different direction into the woods or up the hill. The buildings are so much fun to explore and great for kids who might otherwise get bored just wandering.
We visited last summer and had a lovely lazy picnic on the grass by the lake. The gardens are great fun to explore as well.
The house is really interesting to look around and I won’t give it away but head up to the top floor and see what surprise is waiting in the children’s’ bathroom!
Away from the main house, there’s also chapels and churches within the grounds to explore. Like I said, you need more than one visit to see it all.
Corfe Castle, Dorset
I’ve visited Corfe Castle over on the Isle of Purbeck so many times since I was small and it’s always really good fun. It’s different to our other favourite National Trust properties as there’s no house and gardens to explore.
Corfe Castle is basically what’s left of a 12th-century castle built for King Henry I. It’s brilliant fun to explore and the views from the top are definitely worth seeing.
There’s usually things going on in the grounds for kids – when we last visited they had tents showing trades and crafts from the time of Henry I with people dressed up. They also had stocks, catapults and there’s always great educational events going on during the school holidays.
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Brownsea Island is a ferry ride from Sandbanks in Poole and is famously where Lord Baden-Powell held the first scout camps.
I hadn’t been since I was little as it works out quite expensive with parking at Sandbanks and a ferry ride as well as the entrance fee. We visited last summer and had a really good day out, though it does still work out more pricey than the other National Trust days out as your membership doesn’t cover parking and the ferry.
It’s a full day out though and another place you need more than one visit to explore. It’s not open all year round so best to check the timings if you’re planning to visit in the winter.
Brownsea Island has lovely beaches with amazing views across Poole Harbour and they’re so much quieter than those over at Sandbanks etc.
There’s also lots of woodland walks and plenty of wildlife to spot in the conservation area. On any walk around the island, you can find peacocks and red squirrels though the squirrels are harder to spot.
There’s a church to explore, various huts along the way and a really good wooden play area.
I don’t think we saw the whole island as ran out of time so on our next visit we’ll just have to walk the opposite way around!
Those are our favourite National Trust days out. Have you visited any of these? Or do you have any recommendations for us?