Are you looking for a perfect English getaway, a weekend staycation to get away from the busy city? Then come and relax amongst the stunning countryside and have an awesome family-friendly short break in Dorset.

From charming towns to spectacular beaches; Dorset is just one of those picture-perfect places to visit and provides an awesome family-friendly weekend away.

With all the amazing things to see and do in Dorset with kids, it is definitely one of the best UK family-friendly holiday destinations. You can easily enjoy a weekend in Dorset or go for longer to experience all that Dorset has to offer. It is also one of the best places to see the natural wonders and hidden gems of England.

Where is Dorset?

Where is Dorset (Google Map)

Dorset is a county in the SouthWest of England on the English Channel Coast. Dorset covers a large area and so you can divide it to cover North Dorset which is recognised for its outstanding natural beauty and is a great place to walk, hike and bike. South Dorset which is the home to the UNESCO world heritage Jurassic coast, a fun place to go fossil hunting with the kids and visit the amazing beaches in Dorset.

Check out and download our free breakdown of Dorset with popular activities and places to see here

Where to Stay in Dorset?

Awesome glamping experience in Dorset

We had a wonderful glamping weekend and stayed at the Omaha Meadows. They have 2 lovely glamping tents in a small field with cooking facilities, bbq and a firepit. This is also a very good place for camper vans (They are part of the Caravan Club). There were also two lovely and hungry Billy Goats; Rocky and Rolo.

For more amazing places to stay in Dorset click here for the best options

Where to eat in Dorset?

Swans, pub in Dorset

Depending on where you will be staying in Dorset there are many lovely restaurants and country pubs to choose from. As we were staying in Verwood, close to Moors Valley, these places to eat would be ideal for your stay:

  • Dine out at Swans in Verwood which is a really reasonable country pub and a place you can enjoy a family-friendly dinner. You also have a big Morrisons supermarket just next to it if you need to stock up on any food and drinks for your glamping stay.
  • For a more traditional English country pub, you can try The Monmouth Ash, offering a cosy atmosphere of traditional open fires and oak beam decor.
  • For pub classics and seasonal dishes head to the Three Legged Cross.
  • Restaurants nearby include Dorset Al Trullo an Italian restaurant and Spice of India Cinnamon Lounge

Things to do in Dorset

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

One of the best free things to do in Dorset is to visit Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset

What are the opening times and costs?

Moors Valley is open from 8 am to 8 pm. Although there is no admission charge; there is a parking charge which changes depending on the season and how long you park for. It is a maximum of £15 for peak season for 5 hours or more.

You can easily spend the whole day at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest as there is so much to do and see here.

Walking Routes

There are a variety of walking routes that take you through different scenic routes. There is a lookout walk which is 1.5 miles. You can also walk on a park and forest walk of 3 miles or along a forest walk of 5 miles.

There are also a few family cycle routes, if you don’t have your own bikes then you can hire them here at the Cycle Hire Centre. Here you can easily hire mountain bikes, trailers and children’s bikes.

A few Play Trails

Near the Visitor Centre, you can try the Gruffalo Trail which takes you through the woods and you can use an app to discover all the fun activities. The trail is easy and is around 2km; great for families with kids ages between 3-9 years old.

Also check out the fantastic play trail which takes you through the forest where you can discover 10 wooden play structures including the fun crocodile crossing, the enchanted woods, the giants wood ants nest and the hawk house. If you carry on a bit further from the hawk house you will come to the Tree Top Trail.

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset

Tree Top Trail

While walking on the Play Trail through the forest, this boardwalk of 200 metres takes you up amongst the trees; please note it is not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

Treetop boardwalk in Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset

Play Area

This is just minutes from the Visitor Centre and car park. You have 2 sections here for younger to explore the sandpits and older children who can experience the zip wire and nets.

Places to eat at Moors Valley

You have several options; many people decide to bring a picnic as there are beautiful spaces near to the lake and inside the forest. You can also eat at the restaurant

TIP There are no rubbish bins at Moors Valley so bring a spare bag for any rubbish you may have.

Also check out our other articles about beautiful walks in the UK: Kingston River The Barge Walk

Experiences to try out inside Moors Valley Country Park

Moors Valley Railway This is a miniature steam railway that takes you on a short trip along the banks of Moors lake. It is actually a real steam train, but a small version. It is such a fun way to experience a real steam train run by coal. You can get on board from Lakeside station where you can buy your tickets. Get there early this is a very popular activity to do.

Go Ape adventure If aerial trekking is your thing then definitely try out the Go Ape experience; they have a Treetop Challenge and the Treetop Adventure Plus for those who want that extra adventure adrenaline and of course not to miss is the awesome 166-metre zip wire.

They also offer a Nets Adventure which is high up in the trees where you can bounce around on the high nets and slide down the net slide; needless to stay hours of fun! You can also explore the forest by segway if you prefer to be on the ground.

We really enjoyed our experience here and the staff are really helpful. Our 5-year-old was not comfortable to start with but managed to complete the treetop course with the help of a lovely member of staff and he was totally thrilled afterwards that he had done it.

Other activities to do in Dorset

There is so much choice of activities in Dorset, that a weekend is not enough. You will certainly be coming back for more weekend trips with kids. For some water fun and splashes check out Splashdown in Poole or Dorset Waterpark. Also, visit Abbotsbury Children’s farm or the Dorset Heavy Horse Centre in Verwood for some great days out.

abbotsbury swannery, nature, dorset-820170.jpg
Abbotsbury swannery, Dorset – image from Pixabay

Charming towns to visit near Dorset

Dorset is surrounded by beautiful, charming towns where you can easily spend the afternoon or make a day trip.

Some of these include Sherborne and Bridport. There are some amazing tours that you can do as a day trip which take you from Studland to see Durlston Country Park, Durlston Castle, Corfe Castle, Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove to Bournemouth.

Check out some of these top recommended tours below.

Awesome beaches to visit in Dorset and nearby

Boscombe Beach, Bournemouth

Beach days are always a fun way to create great days out with kids and the Dorset coast has many miles of gorgeous beaches and hidden coves including Old Harry Rocks in Studland Shell Bay, Southbourne where you have free parking, Mudeford Sandbank and Sandbanks beach. You also have the seaside towns of Bournemouth and Weymouth which run for miles.

Now if you are interested in fossils and rock formations then you cannot miss a trip to the UNESCO world heritage Jurassic Coast covering 94 miles of coastline. It is one of the most popular destinations in Britain and has something for everyone. Nearby is also the beautiful iconic limestone structure on Durdle Door beach and the natural beauty of Lulworth Cove.

We had a fantastic time glamping in Dorset; it is a place that attracts all generations of travellers due to all the different activities on offer. Whether you want to enjoy a luxury couple weekend away in Dorset or a family vacation in the UK; Dorset is definitely a place that caters for all travellers.

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