Everything you need to know when you visit Bournemouth


Last updated: 23/01/2024


Bournemouth attractions

So, you want to know what to do in Bournemouth? Our team of local experts at the hotel have put together this Bournemouth guide for you, so let’s explore!

There are so many things to do near Bournemouth, it’s a great choice of base if you feel like exploring a little further afield.

Fun things to do in Bournemouth

It’s always fun when you’re down by the coast! There are plenty of fun things to do in Bournemouth whether you’re visiting for a day trip or a longer break.

Fly through the sky on the pier

10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Ever fancied launching yourself 250 meters through the air, over the ocean and onto the beach? PierZip is the first pier to shore zip wire in the world, and it’s right here in Bournemouth!

The dual zip line means you can share the experience with family or friends too.

Minimum height: 1.3 metres. Minimum weight: 30kg. Maximum weight: 120kg.

Enjoy a round of golf, with a view

10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Mini Golf
Smuggler’s Cove lets you experience Bournemouth’s past as you battle your way past treacherous rocks, church ruins and waterfalls.

And with Bournemouth seafront providing the perfect backdrop, this is a lovely way to spend an hour or so.

This crazy golf course is without doubt one of the most fun things to do in Bournemouth, with or without kids!

Things to do in Bournemouth with kids

When you’re out with your family, it’s always a good idea to look for activities which allow your children to roam free and let off a little steam! This always works for a better night’s sleep for all involved and a little relaxation time for the parents. So, what things can you do in Bournemouth with kids?

Explore the depths at the Oceanarium

10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Bournemouth Oceanarium
If you’re wondering what to do in Bournemouth when the kids want to roam free, how about a day at the Oceanarium? Every child loves to explore what lies beneath the ocean’s surface and here they’ll come face to face with jellyfish, clownfish, turtles, stingrays and even crocodiles.

The adorable family of otters who live here will certainly be a hit with the kids, and probably the adults too!

The feeding talks are excellent so we recommend timing your day around them – check out the website for the times ahead of your visit.

Bournemouth attractions for kids don’t get much better than the Oceanarium!

Learn something new in the Science Zone, Boscombe

8 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Boscombe Science Zone
Treat yourself and your children to an educational hour or two and head to the Science Zone in Boscombe (a great thing to do on a rainy day!). Packed with interactive fun, shows, experiments and even dinosaurs, anyone with a mind of curiosity will enjoy their time here.

It’s located in the Royal Arcade so you can have a little walk around there when you’ve decided you’ve had enough science for one day!

Spend a day on one of the many Bournemouth beaches

2 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Bournemouth Beach
One of the most popular Bournemouth attractions has to be the many sandy beaches around the area, and the best news is that they’re all free to visit!

Ideal when you’re looking for things to do with your family while trying to keep costs down. All you need is an ice cream and a few soft drinks for a fun-filled day out.

Many beaches around the Bournemouth area have the Blue Flag award, including Alum Chine Beach, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk Beach, Southbourne Beach, Branksome Chine, Canford Cliffs, Manor Steps, Shore Road and Sandbanks.

Any one of these guarantees a fantastic family day out! Children will especially love Alum Chine Beach as there’s a pirate-themed playground there. Or head to the crazy golf course at the top of Southbourne Beach.

Explore the beauty of the New Forest

20 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
New Forest
The New Forest is the ideal place to go for fresh air and exploring the wonder of nature. From stunningly beautiful woodlands teeming with wildlife, including deer, donkeys, cattle and ponies, to sweeping clifftop vistas and wild moorlands.

Hire a bike and head off to explore or simply walk and wander, stopping at one of the many small villages for a bite to eat. It’s the ideal family day out.

Things to do in Bournemouth in the rain

If you’re wondering what to do in Bournemouth when it’s raining, there’s no need to panic as there are so many choices! There are plenty of indoor things to do when the rain sets in, keeping you cosy and warm despite the weather.

Seaside fun at the amusements

9 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Happyland Amusements
Whether you’re with the kids or not, the perfect way to remember your youth and enjoy an hour or two sheltered from the rain is to head to West Cliff’s Happyland Amusements. Think slot machines, plenty of neon-lit fun, cuddly toy grabber machines and the scent of candy floss in the air.

This is surely one of the most fun things to do in Bournemouth!

If you have small kids with you when the rain sets in, this amusement park has plenty of rides for all ages, as well as games everyone can play, such as air hockey, shooting games and one arm bandits. You might not want to leave even when the rain stops!

Get a little active at RockReef

10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
If you’re wondering what to do in Bournemouth when it’s raining, RockReef is the place to be for those who want to be a little active and enjoy some adrenaline fun! It’s located at the end of Bournemouth Pier.

This year-round, all-weather entertainment centre is packed with climbing walls, vertical drop slides, highline aerial obstacle courses and adventure fun. It’s suitable for all ages making it a great indoor attraction for kids, families and adults.

The perfect place to spend some time when the rain decides to pay a visit.

Learn about history and nature at Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre

20 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Hengistbury Head
A visit to Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve is still possible in the rain but if you prefer to stay dry, or wait for the rain to clear up, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy at Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

This area is packed with not only beauty and wildlife but archaeological history that dates back centuries. The visitor centre allows you to explore all of that without getting a single drop of rain on your head!

The visitor centre is FREE to enter and it’s packed with interactive exhibitions that help you to learn about the past 14,000 years in the Bournemouth area.

Spend the day in our swimming pool and Jacuzzi

Bluewater Spa
If the weather takes a turn for the worse you can easily take refuge in a little slice of heaven, right underneath your nose! Our hotel’s luxury Bluewater Spa is the perfect place to forget about the rain and enjoy total rest and relaxation.

Why not treat yourself to a spa treatment or two? Grab some exercise in the gym or pool, or simply enjoy complete chill out time in our Jacuzzi, sauna or steam room. By the time you’ve emerged you’ll be so carefree you won’t mind what the weather is doing!

Romantic things to do in Bournemouth

If you’re planning a romantic getaway for you and your loved one, Bournemouth is the perfect place to visit. Not only do you have plenty of evening entertainment to choose from, but you won’t be short of Bournemouth sightseeing opportunities during the day either.

Soar high on the Bournemouth Big Wheel

10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Bournemouth Wheel
Located right next to Bournemouth Pier, the Bournemouth Big Wheel is a great way to enjoy some stunning views of the seafront.

The Bournemouth Big Wheel replaced the Bournemouth Balloon (also known as the Bournemouth Eye), which was a popular attraction in Lower Gardens. Enjoying this experience with someone special is the ultimate in romance.

Explore the magic of Bournemouth Lower Gardens

15 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
The Lower Gardens
A hand-in-hand walk through the beautiful Lower Gardens is the ideal way to spend a morning or afternoon in Bournemouth. Part of an English Heritage listed area, the Lower Gardens is packed with idyllic flora and fauna and a chilled out feeling in the air.

If you want to up the ante in terms of fun, challenge each other on the mini golf course or try some of the street food on offer. What better way to spend your time together?

Enjoy an intimate movie at the UK’s smallest cinema

19 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Bournemouth Colosseum
The fashionable Westbourne district of Bournemouth is a top spot for shopping and laid-back fun, but it also has another claim to fame. Westbourne is home to one of the most romantic things to do in Bournemouth – a visit to the smallest cinema in the whole country!

Despite its mighty name, Bournemouth Colosseum is a tiny cinema that only houses 19 people. Snuggle up whilst you watch a movie together in this intimate venue, there is nothing more romantic than that.

Enjoy a couple’s spa day in our luxury spa

Bluewater Spa
Our luxury Bluewater Spa is the ideal place to enjoy a little R&R as a couple. Why not get a  couple’s massage together or simply chill out in the swimming pool. We have several spa day packages available too which will certainly cast your cares away with ease!

Afterwards, head down to The Connaught Brasserie, our AA Rosette restaurant, and enjoy our famous afternoon tea with a glass of bubbly. Bliss!

Things to do in Bournemouth at night

If you’re ready to get dressed up and hit the town, Bournemouth has some vibrant nightlife on offer! Whatever you feel like doing, you’ll find something to suit your tastes – from shows to cocktail bars, clubs to coffee shops. Here’s our top pick of things to do in Bournemouth at night.

Catch a show at the Pavilion Theatre or BIC

5-10 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Pavilion Theatre
If you’re keen to watch one of the biggest names in entertainment, the Pavilion Theatre and Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) are the places to head to. Packed with different shows throughout the year, head online to check out the roster for the time you’re visiting.

To give you an idea of headliners, we’ve previously seen the likes of Jack Whitehall, Jools Holland and the West End version of Aladdin.

Visiting one of these venues is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Bournemouth at night.

Sample over 200 varieties of gin at The Connaught Gin Bar

The Connaught Gin Bar
You don’t have to venture too far for a great night out, as The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth has an on-site gin bar to tempt you! You don’t even need to be a hotel guest as we also welcome local residents or anyone just visiting Bournemouth.

We have various offers on throughout the week, so you can sample as many different types of this eclectic drink as you can handle, all within the cosy and inviting atmosphere of our hotel.

And if you’re staying at our hotel you can drink away safely in the knowledge that you only have to stagger up to your room when your night is over!

Enjoy live music at Madding Crowd

8 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Madding Crowd
Madding Crowd is a live music venue in Bournemouth town centre where you can see your favourite artists up close. With shows from every type of musical genre you can imagine.

If you love live gigs and you have an eclectic taste in music, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. And there are fantastic street food menus on offer all night too so you can really make a night of it.

Have a flutter at a casino

13 minute walk from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Genting Casino
If you want something to do during the night hours that’s a little different, why not head to Genting Casino and see if you can win some extra spending cash for your holiday?

With countless live casino games, slots, tables, a bar, restaurant and plentiful opportunities to win big, a night here is an exciting way to spend your time. And who knows whether it will be your lucky night or not!

Free things to do in Bournemouth

If you’re looking for things to do in Bournemouth and Poole that aren’t going to break the bank, the good news is that there is plenty to choose from. The natural beauty around the area means that walking in itself is a treat, but here’s a few more ideas of fun, free things to do in Bournemouth.

Blow the cobwebs away on Boscombe Pier

10 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Boscombe Pier
This is no ordinary pier! As you walk along Boscombe Pier, you’ll see countless musical instruments along the way, which you can play and make a tune with!

This musical pier is the perfect way to spend an hour without breaking the bank and you can watch the surfers or simply people-watch the day away.

If you don’t mind spending a few pounds, try the mini golf, as the balls are made of fish-friendly food so they’ll get a treat when you hit one into the sea! What a fantastic idea!

Explore the history of Wimborne Minster

30 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Wimborne Minster
Wimborne is a small Dorset town, visiting is one of the best things to do near Bournemouth if you want to get away to enjoy some peace and serenity. If you’re visiting on a weekend you’ll get to see the town crier in the town’s square, but exploring Wimborne Minster itself is a real treat.

Dating back to Saxon times, the church has wonderful architecture and also houses the tombs of many important figures in history such as King Ethelred and Alfred The Great’s brother.

Pay a visit to Mother Nature at Old Harry Rocks walk

50 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Old Harry Rocks Walk
There are many great free things to do in Bournemouth and if you feel like enjoying the arms of Mother Nature and everything the local area has to offer, head to Old Harry Rocks walk at Studland Bay.

This is a short distance outside of Bournemouth but the drive itself is super-scenic. The rocks themselves are historic and you can learn more about them as you visit. There are plenty of quaint pubs along the route too so you can also walk off any excesses calories that you may have consumed!

Enjoy a free walk along the Boscombe Arts Trail

10 minute drive from The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth
Boscombe Pier
From Boscombe High Street all the way down to the seafront you can walk and enjoy the fresh air and the scenery of the Boscombe Arts Trail.

In 2010 this free walk was introduced which follows a route of works of art along the way. Check out the giant octopus or the huge marble inside a bench as you go.

Andy Kirkby, a local artist, is responsible for this quirky free activity, which will take you around half an hour to enjoy at a leisurely pace.

Where will you visit first?

As you can see, our list of the best things to do in Bournemouth is pretty long! From history to nature, free fun to nights out, you’ll certainly find lots of things to fill your time.

At the end of those long days, returning to your temporary home in The Connaught Hotel and Spa Bournemouth will mean a comfortable evening and a good night’s sleep. Check out our photo gallery then browse through our range of rooms and suites to find your perfect daily retreat.

With an award-winning 2 AA Rosette brasserie, gin bar and indoor swimming pool, our hotel is perfect for chilling out after a long day’s exploring.

We guarantee that that’ll you return home after your break well-rested and with fantastic memories of Bournemouth.