I have lived in Hampshire all my life and spent a lot of my childhood visiting the great places it has to offer. Certain places hold special memories for me and the coast, especially Southsea and Hayling Island, were two of my Mum’s favourite destinations.
Southsea is located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island and is most well-known for its castle, its naval history, the events which take place on the common and its pier. Each time I visit there seems to be a new gem to discover. As a child, I would enjoy the funfair, arcades, the Pyramids Centre and I adored the model village. As an adult, I have loved going down there for a long dog walk and to pick up a treat of honeycomb for the journey home! Since having Jake we have found Southsea to be a perfect place to visit from being baby up until now at three.
Here is why everyone can enjoy what Southsea has to offer:
- The beach
Even on a chilly day, the beach is such a lovely place to just sit and watch all that is going on. With views across to the Isle of Wight, ferries and boats coming and going and of course the fun of watching the hovercraft’s land there is always something to take in. So the beach is pretty stony and you have to hunt for the sand but who doesn’t love skimming stones eh?! And you just can’t beat eating your fish and chips next to the sea.
2. Southsea Model Village
This place just captivated me when I was a child; a little world of small people and their villages. When we last visited, Jake was 18 months and his train obsession had already started so to be able to watch the miniature trains move around the tiny village was the best thing he had ever seen! They currently open 10:30 am- 4:30 pm and charges do apply- both of which vary depending on the time of year. For up to date information you can refer to their facebook page.
3. Sealife Centre
This a must-do for all the family. With a variety of fish, otters, sharks and rays all of which will offer informative talks and feeding demonstrations from the staff. The great thing about the centre is that you pay once for the day and with your hand stamp you are free to come back as often as you choose.
4. Arcades and Funfair
We introduced Jake to all the fun of the arcades and fair towards the end of last year and we couldn’t believe how much he loved it. We visited again on Easter Monday of this year and it proved even more exciting! Playing with the 2p and 10p slot machines just takes you back to that good old fashioned seaside feeling and I remember how much I loved it when I was a child. What is even better is the fact that the funfair rides still require tokens as payment, it is like stepping back into your own childhood and reliving it through the eyes of your own child.
5. Gunwharf Quays
Gunwharf Quays is an outlet retail park which is just a short walk from where the arcades are located. Most famous for as the location of the eye-catching Spinnaker Tower it is buzzing with restaurants, bars and high-end shops. We particularly like to visit to take a look at the boats and the views.
6. The Castle
The castle was built in 1544 to protect the coast from invaders. The wall follows the seafront just down from the Pyramids Centre and links up to the castle itself. You can visit inside between March and September for free. There is just so much history here.
7. The Open Space
There are plenty of green areas for picnics, a game of football, flying kites and dog walking. Southsea is always bustling with visitors no matter what time of year it is. The summer sees plenty of events being held such as Race for Life, Great South Run, Victorious Festival, the circus and so much more. The atmosphere is always buzzing and you can see how much everybody is taking in and enjoying.
The list could go on and on and you definitely need to return to experience all that Southsea has to offer. We are yet to go swimming at The Pyramids Centre with Jake and I haven’t been since I was a child so it is something we will probably try and cover this summer. There is also Clarence Pier, flowered gardens to enjoy, parks, the boating lake, golf, the D-Day museum and plenty of promenade to enjoy a bike ride or run.
If you are down that way I can also highly recommend a visit to The Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth to view ships such as The Victory, The Warrior and The Mary Rose. I think children of all ages can enjoy this as there are plenty of interesting points for everybody and activities to do. If you take the day to visit you can also enjoy a harbour tour on a boat.
Those are all our experiences of Southsea, do you have any to add?