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10 best free things to do in Bournemouth

Bournemouth is a beautiful seaside town in the South of England. This Dorset Town lies right next to the New Forest and is a favourite beach destination for many Britons on staycation.

Bournemouth boasts beautiful sandy beaches and is a paradise for surfers and people enjoying water sports. Bournemouth also has a beautiful city centre with many great shops and nice little cafes serving amazing food.

If you are travelling on a budget and not looking to spend a lot of money, here is an overview of 10 FREE things to do in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Bournemouth Gardens

When visiting Bournemouth you will probably notice the beautiful lush Victorian gardens in the middle of the city. Decked out with palm trees and a tranquil little stream, these 3 km long gardens are a magnificent strip of tranquillity in the city.

Bournemouth gardens also house a crazy golf course where you and the kids can put some balls for a fiver each. If you would get hungry, Bournemouth Gardens also boasts a great foodcourt, but if you are on a budget you can run into the nearby Tesco and grab yourself a nice picnic.

Entrance to the gardens is completely free and you can walk from the Pier Approach to the borough boundary with Poole.

One of my favourite things about the Bournemouth Gardens is the aviary located at the start of the trail. It houses some pretty amazing birds like parrots, lovebirds, fantail doves and absolutely stunning finches. The aviary houses homeless and tropical birds and is completely ran by volunteers on donations of the public! Definitely worth a little visit!

There is so much more to do in these beautiful Bournemouth gardens. You will be able to find the following amenities in the free Bournemouth gardens.

  • Bournemouth Tennis Centre
  • Mini Golf
  • Children’s Playgrounds
  • Public Toilets in the Lower Gardens
  • Aviary
  • Bandstand – regular free concerts
  • Ice cream & refreshment kiosks
  • Art Exhibition (open May to September behind the Bandstand)
  • Ornamental rockery
  • Bournemouth War Memorial

Boscombe Pier

Boscombe is not far from Bournemouth. In fact, you can easily walk from Bournemouth to Boscombe over the beach!

In Boscombe you can take in the magnificent wide view of the ocean and take a look at all the surfers enjoying the waves. Boscombe is also known for its pier. It has recently been renovated and restored in order to ensure the pier is safe and sound. The government and council pumped £2.4 million into the renovation to save one of the remaining great piers in the UK from crumbling down into the ocean.

The Boscombe Pier is lined with musical instruments which you can play! This is especially fun for kids – but also for crazy adults like me.

Boscombe Pier also has a lovely little crazy golf course where the balls literally land in the water! Don’t worry, the balls are made of fish food and dissolve into little fish treats when they land in the ocean.

Wimborne Model Town

Wimbourne model town is a tiny little town scaled 1/10 depicting a beautiful rustic English town. It was established in 1951 and to this day amazes young and old by how beautiful and quaint it is.

The model town itself gives you the opportunity to literally walk around between the old buildings and shops of yesteryear with beautiful banks, restaurants, cafes and even rivers and waterways! You can pick up free quizzes for you or the kids that will help you to explore the little village in detail.

The Wimbourne Model Town also has extensive and award winning gardens, a tea room and a model train railway!

Boscombe Bouldering

If you are a fan of climbing and bouldering you might want to check out the Boscombe Bouldering challenges. These specially crafted and designed rocks are put down onto the soft sand and you can spend a good time climbing and bouldering these rocks from different sides and angles.

These rocks and boulders might look a bit familiar to you as they are all shaped to look like famous local landmarks such as the Old Harry Rocks and Agglestone Rock.

If you are not very familiar with bouldering it is a good idea to go through the health and safety guide that is displayed on sight to make sure you are bouldering and climbing safely.

Alum Chine Gardens

Bournemouth houses 4 beautiful Chines of which Alum Chine Gardens is the largest.

Chines are steep-sided river valleys where river flows through the cliffs to the sea. Chines are mostly found in Dorset due to the soft eroding cliffs that consist of sandstone and clay.

Alum Chine Gardens is an oasis of shaded paths, beautiful tropical flowerbeds and loads of quiet places to sit and read a book or magazine.

When you are bringing kids you might want to check out the themed Treasure Island play area and when the water gets hotter your kids can cool down in the paddling pools.

If you get peckish you can find catering facilities in the neighbouring Argyll Gardens.

Alum Chine Gardens are located on top of the cliff overlooking the Blue Flag Award winning beach. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. It should be no secret that the gardens have become famous for its great facilities and its stunning views.

Boscombe Arts Trail

Artfans can marvel at a series of modern and innocative sculptures and installations along the Boscombe High Street and at the sea front. The Boscombe Arts Trail was installed in 2010 and is a marvellous free walk with seven distinct scultures and installations. There are many different kinds of statues ranging from a giant octopus with a helmet and a large marble in a park bench.

The art pieces were chosen by local people and the councellers and reflect the ideas by the locals of Sea Road and Undercliff Road.

The walk takes about 25 minutes and at the end of the walk you can enjoy an ice cream on Boscombe Pier.

Tranquil pond and gardens

bournemouth free things to do coy pond

If you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet you will definitely be able to find it at the Tranquil Pond and Gardens. This amazing coy pond with weeping willows and alder trees is the perfect place for a nice picnic in the sun.

Although Coy Pond is set in a residential area, it is very quiet and has many hideaway spots and places. The Tranquil pond and gardens is very popular with locals and boats a nice, unmodified stream with beautiful water banks. It is Grade II listed as English Heritage.

Red House Museum

bournemouth free things to dored house museum

The Red House Museum is a charming Georgian building that was built in 1764 as a workhouse. Now it houses a variety of regular and varied exhibitions.

The workhouse was actually the thatched barn that stands on the side of the art gallery. The current museum was built later as another workhouse in 1764.

Workhouses housed the poor where they needed to work hard to earn their keep. Art the time no less than 200 men, women and children would have lived and worked in these buildings.

The museum shop offers a great variety of nice cards, souvenirs and old fashioned toys hard to find anywhere else. You will also be able to find a large selection of books about Christchurch and the surrounding area. There is also a large variety of craft items made by locals.

At the museum café you can enjoy a refreshing drink and during nice weather you can sit outside and enjoy the beautifully designed herb garden.

Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum

If you are looking to find out more about modern day trade unions, you will want to visit Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. It tells the harrowing story of the Martyrs’ arrest, their trial and the punishment they received which ultimately lead to modern day trade unions.

The museum itself is very modern and highly educational. It uses interactive touchscreens and graphic panelling lets you learn more about the history through text and images. The museum itself tells the story in 4 chapters: what happened before the arrest, the story of the Oath and Betrayal, the transportation and ultimately the homecoming.

The museum tells the highly interesting story of high the Tolpuddle martyrs changed social history and made a massive impact on society.

Boscombe Chine Gardens

Bournemouth has many beautiful and tranquil gardens and Boscombe Chine Gardens are definitely one of them. The Boscombe Chine Gardens offer an amazing view over the sea and allow you to walk through beautiful Victorian walkways.

Boscombe Chine Gardens are personally one of my favourites to visit because of the magnificent view over Bournemouth bay and the Isle of White. Boscombe Chine Gardens are also very dog friendly and the little café at the end – the Beach Comber, serves great food and amazing ice cream.

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