Isle of Wight – A Perfect Family Holiday

April 23, 2023 4:00 am61 commentsViews: 115

On our first visit to the Isle of Wight with our sons aged eight months and four years, we stayed in a caravan in peaceful Thorness Bay, and used it as a base to tour the island. Believe me when I tell you, we’ll be back for more of the Isle of Wight. One visit is never enough.

Isle of Wight - A Perfect Family Holiday

Blackgang Chine

Our first stop was the extraordinary Blackgang Chine on the south coast of the Island. Britain’s earliest theme park, it was founded by a Victorian and added to in various eclectic ways over the years to make a truly unique experience. Enter through the gift shop, try the Hall of Mirrors, and head off down narrow paths to Dinosaur Land. Populated by life size plastic dinosaurs, it could only frighten extremely young children, whilst adults are amused by the kitsch novelty of the garish colours and the comedy photo opportunities. Find your way to Nurseryland for more of the same. From a band of leprechauns in a tree stump, to rabbits on a see saw in formal Victorian dress, it’s all there in Nurseryland. The Pirate’s adventure playground provided a good picnic spot, although a café is available. You can also see sweets being made, visit Fantasyland, watch the fish being fed, try out the rollercoaster, and fly down the 300ft water slide. Of particular note is a 15-minute cinema film of the Isle of Wight from the air, a spectacular start to a first visit to the Isle. A charming day trip, if a little bizarre, and worth it for a talking point alone.

Feed the Penguins in Flamingo Park

On the east coast of the island, is Seaview Wildlife Encounter (Flamingo Park), which has so much more than flamingos. Here in the beautifully landscaped grounds, we did everything from feeding the geese and swans, eating in the café where staff had to frequently chase out wandering ducks, watching the magnificent peacocks, visiting the wallabies, otters and meerkats, and, the highlight for our son, feeding fresh sprats to the penguins by hand.

Lions and Tigers and Lemurs, Oh My!

Next on our list was the Isle of Wight Zoo in charming Sandown. Specialising in lemurs, lions and tigers (in order to avoid disappointment, don’t expect much more than that), the zoo is laid out around intriguing tunnels in use during the Second World War. Park at the Zoo all day and after your visit, stroll down to the pier where you can find crazy golf, a café, amusements, and fairground rides.

All Aboard the Steam Train!

The magnificent Isle of Wight Steam Railway was worth a day out, with a pleasant museum, café and gift shop with a bygone days vintage feel to the railway station. Buy a train ticket for a trip through stunning unspoilt countryside. The Isle of Wight railway used to transport Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to their home at Osborne House.

Take a ride in Ryde

Ryde on the east coat is also worth a trip, for the children’s fairground on the sea front, and the long 1814 pier with a train station at the end (and toilets!) Union Street will give you everything from antiques, a Wimpy Bar, bookshops, cafes. and skincare guru Liz Earle’s flagship beauty emporium. It’s also a prime spot to watch the hovercraft.

The Famous Needles

You can’t visit the Isle of Wight without seeing the famous Needles at Alum Bay, and this was no disappointment. Home to the famous chair lift ride that dips over the cliff and back, Alum Bay is a memorable day out. A recreational souvenir village (Needles Park) has developed here and we enjoyed ice creams, crazy golf, carousels, making a glass lighthouse filled with the famous coloured sands, and even buying “Vampire’s” garlic relish.

Celeb spotting

Speaking of vampires, did you know that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson spent their second consecutive New Year’s Eve at The Spinnaker in Ventnor, Isle of Wight in 2010? Actress Celia Imrie also has a home here.

Something for everyone

You see, the Isle of Wight really does have something for everybody and we never even reached Osborne House, Robin Hill Country Park, Amazon World, Fort Victoria Model Railway, Cowes, the Donkey Sanctuary… the list is endless. The Isle of Wight website has more information, including links to all the individual attractions. Happy holidays.


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