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Family-Friendly Fun in Winchester - A Zoo, WaterMill, and Museums

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Winchester offers a multitude of family-friendly activities to stretch both the mind and the legs. Children of all ages will find the city's many museums and historical sights fascinating, while youngsters with energy to burn will enjoy the area's activity centers and sporting facilities. However, the simplest way to entertain the kids during a trip to Winchester is to explore the surrounding countryside, which retains an enchanting, secluded feel despite its proximity to several population centers.

Exercise and sport

 

Winchester's location at the edge of South Downs National Park makes it an ideal base for families interested in hiking the English countryside or cycling. In the city itself, an abundance of parks and gardens provide room for children to stretch their legs. For parents in search of structured, supervised exercise for their kids, there are several recreational facilities within a few miles of the city.

 

River Park Leisure Centre

 

This spacious, well-maintained center is dominated by 2 indoor swimming pools, one of which is for young children. A 3-story soft play facility for kids younger than age 8 features a slide, ball pond, tiger rollers and bish bash bags.

 

Gordon Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 7DDTel: +44 1962 848700

 

River Park Leisure Centre website

 

Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre

 

Children of all ages are well catered to at this large facility. Younger ones (4 and older) can tackle the assault course; those 8 or older can try archery or canoeing; while teenagers will be entertained with paintball and quad bikes.

 

Hurst Lane, Owslebury, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1EZ. Tel: +44 1962 777547

 

Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre website

Kid-friendly museums

 

Winchester is bursting with museums, most of which offer exhibits specifically for children and a range of interactive activities. Many of these venues are operated by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, an independent charity, which recently took over operations from the local council. The trust maintains an informative website with details of its venues and information about special events.

 

Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium

 

Families come from across south England to spend time at this large center, which features a diverse range of science and technology exhibitions, a lively program of events, and the largest stand-alone planetarium cinema in Britain.

 

Telegraph Way, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1HZ. Tel: +44 1962 863791

 

Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium website

 

Westgate Museum

 

This compact museum, much-loved by locals, is housed within one of the 2 surviving fortified gates in Winchester, offering kids a glimpse of the Tudor era. Children can try on a suit of armor and make authentic brass rubbings.

 

High Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9AP. Tel: +44 1962 869864

 

Westgate Museum website

 

Zoos and wildlife

 

The mild conditions in Hampshire and the large tracts of green land around Winchester mean birds and animals thrive in the area. The city's parks and gardens are home to a variety of fauna, and the clean River Itchen is also a wildlife magnet. Nearby, Marwell Zoo nourishes animals from a range of climatic zones.

 

Marwell Zoo

 

More than 1,200 animals compete for attention at this charity-run zoo. Africa is particularly well represented, but there is also an 'Australian Bush Walk' and a large number of unusual insects. Playgrounds and a formal garden are also on site.

 

Thompson's Lane, Colden Common, Winchester SO21 1JY. Tel: +44 1962 777407

 

Marwell Zoo website

 

Winchester City Mill

 

This restored watermill on the River Itchen is home to abundant wildlife, including trout in the crystal-clear river, water voles on the banks, kingfishers that fish off the walls, and otters that make their homes under the mill.

 

Bridge Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 0EJ. Tel: +44 1962 870057

 

Winchester City Mill website