Once heralded the ‘Naples of England’, Weymouth is a bustling seaside resort during peak summer months, with some fine sand and pebble beaches, which are ideal for families on a cottage holiday. The busy harbour buzzes with a dizzying number of eye-catching yachts, cruisers and pleasure boats, powerboats, lifeboats, cross-channel ferries and Naval vessels. The town has a lovely sweep of seafront lined with Georgian houses, plus Tudor cottages are to be uncovered tucked away in the narrow back streets behind the bright seafront, and there is wide range of restaurants, cafes, pubs and ice cream parlours to cater for the hungry tourists who flood in during the holiday season. The beaches are well maintained and supervised in season, and offer all manner of beach and water sport activities, from the hire of beach huts and pedaloes to the more traditional seaside fare of donkey rides, Punch and Judy shows and many other forms of children’s entertainment.
The town enjoys an enviable location, between the designated World Heritage sites of Purbeck and the West Dorset Heritage coast, whilst the Isle of Portland with its famous castle, built by Henry VIII to ward off invaders from the Europe, is just off the shore of Weymouth. Ever popular with visitors, Portland is somewhat precariously linked to the mainland by the 18-mile spit of Chesil Beach. This area is a vast, steep shingle beach and the Chesil Beach Centre near Portland is a must for visitors. Glass-bottomed boat trips offer a closer look at the unique marine life and geology of this area, whilst the interactive displays at the centre are both fun and educational. Abbotsbury Swannery and Gardens is another nearby tourist attraction, famous for its vast collection of swans best seen in action during the amazing twice-daily mass feeding sessions. Also in Abbotsbury is the award-winning Subtropical Gardens and younger children will be enthralled at the Farm Centre with its goat racing and animal feeding sessions. The wider Weymouth area is a magnet for bird lovers, with a number of RSPB sites in the locality, thanks to conditions attracting varied species of wading and nesting birds.
Also on the edge of town, Nothe Fort and Gardens make for a popular day out. Walk the ramparts at the fort, with guns at the ready, and take in the stunning views over the Dorset coastline. Back in town, a very popular family day out can be enjoyed at Lodmoor Country Park, a large green space overlooking Weymouth Bay. One of a number of attractions within the park is the Weymouth Sealife Park and Marine Sanctuary. Here all the family can enjoy the Seal, Penguin, Turtle and Otter Sanctuaries, the Shark Lagoon, as well as some of the more unusual exhibits featured, such as the National Seahorse Research and Breeding Centre, which puts on public display work which has long been carried out behind the scenes at the centre. Children will also love the outdoor waterslides and pools at the Splash Lagoon, as well as a virtual trip through one of the world’s great tropical rainforests in the Amazone. Visitors to Lodmoor will also find a leisure ranch, RSPB-run nature reserve, miniature railway, skate park and a mini golf, as well as pleasant open spaces for picnics and general recreation.
Weymouth’s harbour area is the hub of family entertainment in the town. The twin attraction of Deep Sea Adventure, and children’s fun play zone, Sharky’s, are located here. Close by, Brewer’s Quay is a shopper’s paradise. Victorian buildings complete with cobbled streets and a maze of narrow alleys reveal a host of arts, crafts and independent shops and places to eat. It also houses the hands-on fun of the Discovery Science Centre. Brewery Days charts the brewing heritage of the area, whilst the Timewalk gives an insight into the town’s history and the Weymouth Museum is well worth a visit.
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