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Things to Do in Portsmouth: 10 Family Activities for This Summer

August 22, 2019

Portsmouth may be one of the smallest cities in England, but it’s got one of the richest and most fascinating histories. These are the sorts of places that make for an exciting and educational day out for all the family – with sights and attractions for all tastes.

With that in mind, here’s our list of 10 must-visit Portsmouth attractions for this summer and every summer.

 

Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Get a bird’s-eye view of Portsmouth and the surrounding area by venturing up Spinnaker Tower, which stands at 170 metres, dominating the skyline. 

It’s by far the best way to see the city, and a perfect way to start off your day of fun. Or you can go later on for a spot of afternoon tea in the Cloud Cafe. A brew with a view if there ever was one.

 

Southsea Rock Gardens

Back on the ground, there are more sights to behold. Southsea Rock Gardens is an oasis of exotic plants,  meanwhile offering magnificent views of the ocean.

Take a wander around and stretch your legs, and take the opportunity to get some family snaps. If the weather’s on your side, these photos will come out looking more like Palma than Portsmouth!

 

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

As a historic maritime city, no trip to Portsmouth is complete without a trip to the dockyard, where you’ll find plenty of family-friendly attractions – from the National Museum of the Royal Navy, to the Horrible Histories Pirates Exhibition.

There are also several historic vessels, such as HMS Victory (launched in 1765) and HMS Warrior (launched in 1860) and more.

If all of these tickle your fancy, you can buy all-in-one tickets and pick and choose which ones you go to.

There’s also a Laser Quest, which is rather random but might come in handy if the kids get restless…

 

The Mary Rose Museum

An absolutely essential piece of Portsmouth history, the eerie remains of the Mary Rose will shiver your timbers for sure. 

Any artefact from the time of Henry VIII has got to be a must-see, right? The Mary Rose was a Tudor navy ship that was completed in 1512, fought in battle for 33 years, was sunk in 1545 – and then finally raised in 1982. 

Today, what remains of the ship is housed in the state-of-the-art, award-winning Mary Rose Museum – within the Historic Dockyard area. This is one attraction that isn’t featured in the big-ticket, though.

 

The D-Day Story

Sticking with the historical theme but fast-forwarding quite a bit to World War II, we have the D-Day Story.

Did you know that our fair city played a crucial role in facilitating the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944? Many land forces sailed from Portsmouth, across the English Channel and onto the beaches. Dwight D. Eisenhower was even based in a manor (Southwick House) just outside Portsmouth in the run-up to the operation.

The D-Day Story museum (located within Southsea Common) holds over 10,000 artefacts and has fact-filled exhibits telling the full story of this turning point in the war.

 

Blue Reef Aquarium

Right next door to the D-Day Story, you’ll find a much different yet equally fascinating attraction – Blue Reef Aquarium!

Your little ones will discover a whole world of sea creatures in our underwater safari: sharks, otters, rays, clownfish, eels, iguanas and more!

Got any Finding Nemo fans in your troop? They can meet the little guy himself right here!

Throughout the summer holidays, we’re running our Festival of Fishes event, which hosts daily activities and competitions, plus themed weekends. Here’s the full itinerary.

 

Gunwharf Quays

Everyone loves a bargain, and Gunwharf Quays is overflowing with them.

At this designer outlet, there are almost 100 shops from family-favourite brands such as Adidas, Cadbury (yes – discounted choc!), Cath Kidston, Clarks, Gap, Levi’s, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Vans and more… Plus a Five Guys if you’re in the mood for a juicy burger that doesn’t quite fit in your mouth.

A bit of retail therapy to break up all the sightseeing might just be a masterstroke – especially with the kids.

 

Exciting Escapes

Think you and your gang would make a decent ring of spies?

Put yourselves to the test at Exciting Escapes, where you can embark on an hour-long mission of your choosing. Defuse a World War II bomb… Plunge yourself into the midst of the Cold War… Travel forward to the year 2050 to save one of Her Majesty’s spaceships…

What better way to build up an appetite before lunch or dinner?

 

Fort Nelson

If the ships in the dockyard haven’t already satisfied your hunger for history, head to Fort Nelson and soak up some more. 

Built in the 1860s, as one of five forts built on the summit of Portsdown Hill, it now functions as a museum, housing a huge collection of artillery and hosting daily firing demonstrations. There’s also a network of eerie underground tunnels to explore, so it’s perfect for thrill-seeking children!

One thing to note: it’s six miles to the north of Portsmouth, so it is easiest to reach if you have a car, although it is accessible by public transport. 

 

South Parade Pier

What’s a trip to the seaside without a walk along a picturesque pier?

It’s a perfect way to end your day out, stretching those legs one last time and getting some nice lungfuls of fresh sea air – and maybe some bellies full of fish and chips or ice cream. Maybe both.

 

Have a Great Time in Portsmouth!

Whatever you choose to do in and around our fair city, we’re sure you’ll have a blast. To purchase tickets for Blue Reef Portsmouth, head to this page and book online to take advantage of our discount offer!

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