Hello venturous people. In today’s article, we are going to look at some of my top favourite places in Hampshire. The good news, are probably the best 5 free things to do with your family, kids, friends or why not, by yourself. Of course, you can find more than 5 free things in Hampshire county you can do, but these are my first recommendations if you are looking for a day out inspiration.
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1. Hogmoor Inclosure
Hogmoor Road, Whitehill & Bordon, GU35 9HX
Hogmoor Inclosure near Bordon, UK, stands out for several reasons that make it a truly unique and exceptional place. Firstly, its sheer size sets it apart. Covering 54 hectares, which is equivalent to around 70 football pitches, this extensive natural space provides an abundance of room for diverse activities.
Whether you’re into leisurely walks, invigorating runs, cycling adventures, or simply enjoying a picnic with family and friends, Hogmoor Inclosure has the space to accommodate it all.
Secondly, the commitment to wildlife conservation adds to its uniqueness. The area offers fantastic opportunities for spotting local wildlife. It’s not uncommon to come across various bird species, insects, and other creatures as you explore the woodlands and heathlands. This focus on preserving and appreciating the local ecosystem sets Hogmoor Inclosure apart as an eco-friendly and educational destination.
Lastly, the community-oriented approach distinguishes Hogmoor Inclosure. It’s designed not only as a natural retreat but also as a place to foster a sense of togetherness among residents. With regular events and activities throughout the year, it serves as a hub for social engagement. This emphasis on community-building makes Hogmoor Inclosure more than just a green space; it’s a place where people come together to enjoy nature, learn, and bond with one another.
Important Information to Know:
- Opening Time: The site has open access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the facilities are limited.
- Car Parking: There is a free car park on Hogmoor Road which is open daily (1 October – 31 March, 7am – 7pm and 1 April – 30 September, 7am – 9pm). Additional parking is available around site, please read the trust website.
- Useful Website: The Land Trust (image copyright belongs to them)
- Cafe & Toilets: Cafe Hogmoor (located by the car park) is open seven days a week. Sat & Sun 9am-4pm | Mon – Fri 10am-4pm. Open daily in conjunction with café opening hours. Other facilities include: baby changing facility & changing places
2. Lepe Country Park
Lepe, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO45 1AD
Nestled along the Hampshire coast within the embrace of the New Forest National Park, Lepe Country Park is a natural gem that promises a memorable day out for visitors of all ages. With its mile-long shingle beach, pine-fringed cliffs, and echoes of D-Day history, this park offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and historical significance.
From Hurst Castle to the iconic Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, Lepe rewards you with stunning vistas across the Solent, making it a picturesque destination for those seeking coastal tranquillity.
Whether you’re a child eager to explore seashore crabs in the shallows or an adult yearning for a serene stroll amidst woodlands and meadows, Lepe provides a welcoming haven.
Here, the Dark Water estuary unfolds before your eyes, offering breath-taking views that are a testament to the park’s idyllic location within the New Forest National Park. Adding to the allure of Lepe is “The Lookout,” a remarkable restaurant perched on stilts.
Opened in 2018, this venue boasts panoramic views over the Solent. Whether you’re in search of delectable ice creams for the family or wish to savour a warm coffee by a roaring fire, “The Lookout” invites you to relish your visit regardless of the weather.
With its captivating scenery, rich history, and modern amenities, Lepe Country Park invites you to discover the wonders it holds within the embrace of nature’s beauty. And is another of the free things to do in Hampshire.
Important Information to Know:
- Opening Time: The car park and toilets are open from 7am – 7pm. The Lookout is opened from 9am-6pm. The visitor desk and shop are open each day from 10am – 4pm.
- Car Parking: There are car park charges, depending on season: 1 October – 31 March: up to 1h is £2.00, up to 2h is £3.50, up to 4 hours is £5.00, and full day is £6.00. 1 April – 30 September: up to 1h is £2.50, up to 2h is £5.00, up to 4 hours is £7.50, and full day is £9.50.
- Useful Website: Lepe Country Park by HCC
- Cafe & Toilets: The Lookout (located by the car park) is open seven days a week. They serve a variety of foods and drinks. And is a dog welcome café. You can find toilets either inside the Lookout or outside by the car park.
- Events: You will find a lot of events within the park, such as Bird Aware Ranger Walks, to Craft Workshops and many more. Definitely is worth having a look on the Useful Website link to see what’s going on.
3. Southampton City Art Gallery
Commercial Road, Southampton, SO14 7LP
In Southampton’s Cultural Quarter, there’s a special place called the Southampton City Art Gallery. It’s been here since 1939 and attracts people who love art, those who are curious about it, and even folks who just like being in a gallery. Inside, you can see all kinds of art, like paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, and films. They also change what’s on display regularly, so every visit feels new.
The best part is, it doesn’t cost anything to go in, thus free things to do. Plus, it’s right next to the Sea City Museum, making it a great spot for families. You can follow trails through the art, join art clubs every month, and do lots of fun activities for all ages.
So, whether you’re a big art fan or just want to try something different, the Southampton City Art Gallery is a place where you can discover amazing creativity and have a great time.
It’s a family-friendly place. If you have kids, it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to the world of art. They can enjoy fun activities, art clubs, and gallery trails that make learning about art an enjoyable and interactive experience.
So, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a family looking for a day out, or someone curious about the world of creativity, the Southampton City Art Gallery is a welcoming and enriching destination for all. Don’t miss the chance to explore the beauty of art in a vibrant and ever-changing setting.
Important Information to Know:
- Opening Time: Is free to visit any time between Monday – Friday 10am – 3pm (Last entry 2.45pm), Saturday 10am – 5pm (Last entry 4.45pm). Closed Sundays
- Car Parking: There are a number of city car parks within easy walking distance.
- Useful Website: Southampton City Art Gallery
- Café & Toilets: Is no coffee shop within the gallery, but you can find one next door at Sea City Museum, or 2 minutes away on adjacent streets. They have toilets at the ground level in the Gallery Foyer.
- Baggage Policy: Be aware of their baggage policy (like any other museum in fact): For reasons of security and safety, Southampton City Art Gallery has a maximum bag size policy in place. Luggage with wheels &/or larger than 56x40x21cm will not be admitted and need to be stored elsewhere before entering the gallery.
4. Royal Armouries: Fort Nelson
Portsdown Hill Road, Portsmouth, PO17 6AN
Fort Nelson in Portsmouth is a fantastic place for the whole family to enjoy a day out. It’s home to the Royal Armouries national collection of artillery, which means you’ll get to see some really big guns!
But that’s not all; this place lets you step back in time to explore a completely restored Victorian fort. Imagine high walls, old defences, a huge parade ground, and even underground tunnels to discover. It’s like taking a journey into the past.
What makes Fort Nelson even more exciting is the national museum it houses. Here, you’ll find over 700 pieces of artillery from all around the world, covering a whopping 600 years of history. Each piece of artillery has its own unique story to tell.
The fort itself has a fascinating history too. Built in the 1860s as a defence against a possible French invasion (which never happened), it played important roles in both World Wars. In World War I, it was a barracks for soldiers preparing for the front lines, and in World War II, it served as an anti-aircraft ammunition supply depot.
As you explore the fort and its museum, you’ll come across some remarkable artifacts, like a revolutionary 15th-century Turkish bombard, a colossal 200-tonne railway howitzer, and even the infamous Iraqi supergun. So, whether you’re into history, big guns, or just a fun family day out, Fort Nelson in Portsmouth is a free thing to do where everyone can have a blast!
Important Information to Know:
- Opening Time: Open daily during school holidays and Tuesday-Sunday during term time, 10am to 5pm. Free admission
- Car Parking: There are car park charges: £3 on arrival. If you are a member of the Royal Armouries the parking is free.
- Useful Website: Fort Nelson, Portsmouth
- Café & Toilets: Fort Nelson Café is situated in the Visitor Centre and is open whenever the Fort is. They serve a variety of foods and drinks. And is a dog welcome café.
- Events: You will find a lot of events within the fort, such as Firepower at the Fort, Remembrance Day, Portsdown Artillery Volunteers Event (once a month on a Sunday until 26 Nov). Definitely is worth having a look on the Useful Website link to see what’s going on.
5. Royal Victoria Country Park
Netley Abbey, Southampton, SO31 5GA
Royal Victoria Country Park in Southampton is a must-see spot to enjoy incredible views of bustling Southampton Water. You can sit back and watch the busy ships as they come and go from the city.
It’s a place that’s steeped in history, once serving as the home of the largest military hospital in the entire Victorian Empire. Now, this sprawling 200-acre site is a haven for relaxation and leisure.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for a peaceful escape, this park has something for everyone. You can explore ancient woodlands, roam through vast open spaces, stroll along charming boardwalks, or admire serene ponds. There are numerous picnic spots scattered throughout, and if you’re up for a barbecue, family BBQ areas are available for hire.
The Café in the Park is on hand to serve up a delicious array of hot and cold food, ensuring you won’t go hungry during your visit. For the little ones, a ride on the miniature railway or some active fun in the scenic play areas will be a delight.
Royal Victoria Country Park isn’t just about serene landscapes; it’s also a hub of excitement throughout the year. With a thrilling calendar of events and activities, there’s always something interesting happening here. So, whether you’re planning a tranquil day surrounded by nature or seeking family-friendly adventures, Royal Victoria Country Park in Southampton offers a delightful escape for all ages.
Important Information to Know:
- Opening Time: The park grounds are open from 8am – 9pm during March to October and from 8am – 5 pm during November to February. The restaurant and café are open from 9:30am to 5pm, respectively 4pm. The Chapel is open for April to September: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 5pm and October to March: Wednesday to Sunday: 10:30am to 4pm.
- Car Parking: There are car park charges, depending on season: Oct – March: up to 1h is £2.00, up to 2h is £3.50, up to 4 hours is £5.00, and full day is £6.00. April – September: up to 1h is £2.50, up to 2h is £5.00, up to 4 hours is £7.50, and full day is £9.50.
- Useful Website: Royal Victoria Country Park by HCC
- Cafe & Toilets: The Cedar Rooms is normally from 9:30am – 5pm during March to October and 9:30am – 4pm during November to February. They serve a variety of foods and drinks, on site and on the go. Also, you can find beverages and some snacks at the Chapel Kiosk (open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30am to 3:30pm).
- Things to do: You will find a lot of things to do within the park, as you will have The Chapel tours, Royal Victoria Railway, play areas, laser tag events, glamping, Netley Military Cemetery and a duck pond. Definitely is worth having a look on the Useful Website link to see what’s going on.