20 things to do in Dorset this Winter!
If you were under the impression that there might not be a lot to do on a holiday in the UK in the winter, or that places will be closed up and hibernating, then let us tell you why you couldn’t be more wrong! Dorset is increasingly becoming an all year round destination for a short break, long weekend or longer holiday during the winter months from November to February.
You may be someone that likes to relax and chill out while on holiday, in which case there are some amazing views, accommodation and facilities to enjoy. However, if you fancy trying some new experiences and making memories with loved ones, then take a look at the list we have put together below, of some fantastic things to see and do during a winter holiday in Dorset…
Enjoy a beach day with your dog
Pretty much all Dorset beaches are dog friendly in the winter! And most of the time, you will have the beach to yourselves. Eype Beach, just a short walk from the accommodation at Highlands End Holiday Park is a hidden gem and welcomes dogs all year round. Find out more about dog friendly holidays in Dorset.
Take a steam train ride through the Isle of Purbeck
Swanage Railway are offering a not-to-be-missed steam train experience, decorated with Christmas lights, for one-hour evening round trips passing the historic ruins of Corfe Castle. This is a memorable experience for all ages, with festive music and synchronised lighting displays. Find out more here.
Visit the gardens at Mapperton House
The nation’s finest Jacobean manor house and gardens, Mapperton, is situated in the deep Dorset countryside near Beaminster. The gardens and cafe are open until 17th December and is then closed for the rest of the winter, reopening on weekends in February.
See the world’s finest collection of tanks
The Tank Museum at Bovington brings history to life and you can come face to face with over 300 military machines and explore 9 exhibitions covering a century of history. The Tank Museum is open throughout the winter, excluding 24th to 26th December.
Walk the ‘Three Peaks’ Challenge
Walk our very own West Dorset ‘Three Peaks’ Challenge – a 9.3 mile circular route taking in 3 of the biggest hills and best views in Dorset – Colmer’s Hill, Golden Cap and Thorncombe Beacon. The route starts and ends at either Highlands End or Golden Cap Holiday Park – find out more.
Take home a piece of the Jurassic Coast
Take a guided fossil hunt with the award-winning Jurassic Coast Guides. Fossil walks take place from Charmouth Beach throughout the winter, which is the best time of year to find fossils, due to the winter storms churning up the beach material. Find out more here.
Visit iconic landmarks
Winter is the perfect time to visit Dorset’s two most popular natural landmarks – Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Take a walk between the two along the demanding coast path and on some days you may even have the place to yourself!
Starry night skies
During winter, there are longer and darker nights and cooler, crisper air giving more clarity and less haziness in the night sky. You can stargaze from your own accommodation or from a beach or local viewpoint – be sure to take a warm blanket, hot drink and a chair. Find out more about stargazing.
Bring your camera
Not only is the Jurassic Coast a World Heritage Site, our parks are also in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and there are other important areas including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) – this makes Dorset the perfect location for both landscape and wildlife photography.
Relax at Sculpture by the Lakes
One of the most beautiful sculpture parks in the UK, Sculpture by the Lakes is a haven of peace and tranquility on the River Frome. Nestled in 26 acres of Dorset countryside, the lakes are an oasis for art lovers and collectors, but is well worth a visit for anyone who is looking for a relaxing day out. Sculpture by the Lakes is open Tuesday to Saturday throughout the winter.
Marvel at the power of the winter storms reshaping the coast. Two of our favourite locations for wave watching are the cobb harbour wall at Lyme Regis and the piers / seafront at West Bay. What could be more refreshing than a bracing walk along the clifftop or beach in winter. Please take care during adverse weather on the coast.
View millions of years of history
The Etches Collection is a modern museum and centre for learning in Kimmeridge and there are some amazing marine fossils on view that tell the story over millions of years of the Jurassic Coast’s history. This attraction is open all through the winter, excluding 24th to 26th December and be sure to go down to the coast at Kimmeridge Bay to see the fossil-rich cliffs, ledges and the unique Clavell Tower on the clifftop.
Get close to nature
Visit RSPB Arne Nature Reserve where more than 20,000 wintering birds flock, on the edge of Poole Harbour, or take a boat trip around Poole Harbour and visit the red squirrels at Brownsea Island. If you visit Arne Nature Reserve during the winter months around sunrise or sunset, you are bound to see herds of deer crossing the countryside.
Divulge in award-winning food
Dorset is home to a fabulous range of eateries and even during the winter, many pubs, restaurants, cafes and takeaways stay open and busy. Take a look at our blog for a comprehensive list of places to eat close to Highlands End and Golden Cap Holiday Parks.
Fire and fantasy at Kingston Lacy
This December, experience the shimmering effects of fire, light and lanterns throughout the gardens and parkland at Kingston Lacy. This is a brand new illuminated trail that offers moments of reflection and playful discovery. The hour-long discovery trail has been designed for visitors of all ages to enjoy in the great outdoors. Find out more here.
Take an ATV safari with Jurassic Safari
Jurassic Safari offer an ATV safari around 52 acres of beautiful central rural Dorset on Park Farm. Located at Charminster, this is suitable for private groups of 2 to 5 people, who will enjoy seeing wildlife, countryside views and learning about local history. To check availability and book, call 07872 471973.
Visit Monkey World
Monkey World in Dorset is a chimpanzee rescue centre, home to hundreds of creatures, including monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. The 65 acre park is one of the biggest and best attractions in the county. Daily keeper’s talks provide a captivating insight into life at the park. Monkey World is open throughout the winter, excluding only 25th December.
Use the shorter days to your advantage
You may be thinking that shorter days aren’t a good thing, particularly when on holiday. But the flipside to this is that you can enjoy breathtaking sunrises and sunsets at more sociable hours and there’s nothing like winter sunrises and sunsets in Dorset! Some of our favourite locations include Colmer’s Hill, Lyme Regis Cobb, Eggardon Hill, Abbotsbury Hill and Pulpit Rock at Portland Bill.
See the animals at Weymouth Sea Life Centre
Take a fascinating journey from the coast to the ocean depth through 15 themed zones at the Sea Life Centre, by the seafront in Weymouth – just a 30 minute drive from Highlands End and Golden Cap Holiday Parks. The park is open every day of the year, except just Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so you can enjoy a visit throughout the winter.
Visit the home of Parterre Fragrances
Explore the scented botanic gardens at Keyneston Mill on the River Stour near Blandford – a working 50 acre estate where they grow, harvest and distil unusual plants and ingredients for luxury perfumes. There are scented garden tours, an open-air perfume exhibition, fragrance workshops and outdoor cinema evenings. Keyneston Mill is open daily (except Tuesdays).
Book a winter holiday in Dorset
West Dorset Leisure Holidays, who have a selection of accommodation available all-year-round, including luxury 1, 2 and 3 bedroom Lodges, 2 and 4 bedroom self-catering Apartments and cosy 1 bedroom Bungalows.Check availability and book online