Let’s Explore: Portsmouth

10th September 2019

Words by Anouska Parsons // Illustration by Sarah Geldart

There’s nothing like a bit of sea air to bring a little life into the kiddos so Portsmouth is a great option if you’re after a low-key city break just a couple of hours from London. Anouska Hurrell, local mum of two and founder of interior styling and events studio, Raggy & Boo, shares her family picks from the place she calls home.

SEE/DO

Portsmouth Harbour & Spinnaker Tower

If you catch the train down, chances are you’ll arrive into the harbour. This is a great spot for watching ferries come and go from the neighbouring Isle of Wight or checking out the iconic Spinnaker Tower, which was built to mark the millennium (but still looks just as modern today). A ticket to the top will offer brilliant views across the city and surrounding suburbs, helping you get your bearings before the adventure begins.

Southsea seafront

Easily accessible, totally free and the freshest air you can get your lungs on, Southsea Seafront is our go-to entertainment for the boys. When they’ve had their fill of the beach, Clarence Pier has a fun, retro amusement arcade, soft play, rides and a mini golf course for proper wholesome family fun.

The Creation Station

These messy play classes are great if (like me) you don’t fancy the idea of your toddler brandishing a paintbrush at home. With ‘Tiny Treasures’, ‘Baby Discover’ and ‘Little Explorers’ groups running in the week for babies and toddlers and ‘Family Fun’ (for 2-11-year-olds) on Saturday mornings, there’s always something messy to keep them entertained and get their creative juices flowing.

Staunton Country Park 

This idyllic farm and garden lives just outside Portsmouth in the small town of Havant. Take a picnic or enjoy the on-site café before befriending the animals that call this place home. They often have family-friendly events, which are great in the summer and an indoor play area and soft play when the weather’s not so great.

Hayling Island 

Hayling Island is another short drive from Portsmouth, offering beautiful beaches and miles of unspoilt coastline to explore. Take the kids for a picnic, skim stones or (when they’re a bit older) try out a water sport in one of the UK’s best spots for sailing and windsurfing.

Seven Dragons Yoga

This little studio came onto my radar last year when they started offering Wobbel yoga for toddlers. ToyDrop’s Anna and I are hoping to pop down and check it out together to see if it will channel our toddlers’ energy and clam their chi. We can but dream.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Who doesn’t love a tall ship?! With HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and HMS M33 all calling this home, it’s an amazing voyage of discovery for all ages. Step aboard these iconic ships and into the boathouses, where you’ll learn all about the history of this fascinating landmark.

SHOP

Gunwharf Quays

Open seven days a week, Gunwharf Quays sits right next to The Historic Dockyard with more than 90 premium stores and up to 60% off. Packed with kid-friendly cafes, restaurants, a cinema, bowling alley and art gallery for the more cultured kiddos, it’s great for escaping the elements if the sun’s not on your side.

EAT

Meat and Barrel

One of our favourite places to eat as a family is this craft beer and burger place near the beachfront in Southsea. They do amazing brunch, roast dinners and the vegan burger to end all vegan burgers. Rafe (our two-year-old) can’t get enough of the mac and cheese.

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