The best things in life are free – activities for your holiday that won’t cost a penny

Everyone loves finding a bargain, even when away on holiday! There’s just that special feeling of slight smugness (you know the one I mean) when you get something for free - and it’s even better if it’s fun and educational, too.

Keeping the kids entertained while away needn’t be difficult, or expensive, so below are our top suggestions of free things to do with kids across the South Coast.

Museums and Art Galleries

Portsmouth Museum

Portsmouth Museum

Museum Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2LJ

Portsmouth Museum is the museum of and for the people of Portsmouth, featuring exciting and varied displays. It hosts a number of permanent exhibitions including the "Story of Portsmouth", "a study in Sherlock", "Football in the City", "No Place Like Pompey", and "Magnifying Sherlock". As well as these, there’s also a regularly changing programme of displays in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, ensuring there’s always something new to see or do.

Closest holiday parks: Solent Breezes (30 mins), Chichester Lakeside (30 mins)

Turner Contemporary

The Rendezvous, Margate, Kent, CT9 1HG

Based in the popular seaside town of Margate, the Turner Contemporary is a visual arts organisation that celebrates JMW Turner’s association with the town. JMW Turner was a well-known painter, with a thorough understanding of historical and contemporary art (hence the fitting name of the gallery). He was a regular visitor to Margate throughout his life, and was drawn to it by the unique skies, leading to his famous quote “…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all of Europe.”

Closest holiday parks: Birchington Vale (10 mins), Seaview (30 mins), Alberta (30 mins)

Shipwreck Museum

Shipwreck Museum

Rock-A-Nore Rd, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3DW

Hastings Old Town is incredibly artsy and quirky, even just wandering through the streets is sure to keep the family entertained for an afternoon as there’s so much to see. For those that love pirates and shipwrecks, head to the Shipwreck Museum located on the seafront, where you’ll find maritime treasures and pirate paraphernalia to discover – it really is atmospheric me hearties!

Closest holiday parks: Coghurst Hall (15 mins), Beauport (15 mins), Winchelsea Sands (20 mins), Rye Harbour (30 mins), Pevensey Bay (40 mins)

Dedham Art & Craft Centre

Brook St, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6AD

Discover the excellent work produced by about 60 local artisans, including clothes, ceramics, furniture, woodcraft, metalwork and more, set over three floors of a converted church. With free entry, it’s the perfect place for a casual browse, taking in each unique style that the work has to offer. The Centre also has a tearoom on site, should you wish to enjoy a coffee and a piece of cake after viewing the collections.

Closest holiday parks: Oaklands (25 mins), Dovercourt (30 mins), Seawick (35 mins), St Osyth Beach (35 mins), Martello Beach (40 mins)

De La Warr Pavilion

Photo credit: Laura Sayers

De La Warr Pavilion

Marina, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1DP

Located along the seafront in Bexhill-on-sea, the De La Warr Pavilion is a grade I listed building and a pioneering centre for arts and culture. Hosting a large and varied array of events, exhibitions, gigs, and workshops, naturally the DLWP attracts people of all ages, with a range of interests and hobbies. Throughout the year, many of these events are free, and you’ll find that even just wandering around the building and its surrounding areas is a pleasant afternoon (especially at sunset).

Closest holiday parks: Beauport (15 mins), Pevensey Bay (20 mins), Coghurst Hall (25 mins), Winchelsea Sands (40 mins), Rye Harbour (45 mins)

Carnivals

Paignton Festival (Torbay Carnival Week)

Paignton Green and other locations, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 6BW

Dates for 2020: 25th July 2020 – 2nd Aug 2020

Paignton Festival (previously known as Torbay Carnival) has been running for over 100 years and is run by a small team of dedicated volunteers. Originally held on just one night, it has grown over the years and now runs over nine days of free entertainment for all the family including a funfair, charity stalls, live music, fireworks, shopping marquees and much more! Definitely a must if you’re in the area.

Closest holiday parks: Waterside (10 mins), Landscove (20 mins), Riviera Bay (20 mins), Dawlish Sands (40 mins), Golden Sands (40 mins)

Dawlish Carnival Week

Dawlish, Devon, EX7 9AP

Dates for 2020: 15th Aug 2020 – 21st Aug 2020

Located on the beautiful South Devon coast, the pretty seaside resort of Dawlish is a firm family favourite, which bursts into colour and life every year with its carnival. This seven-day event is jam-packed with activities for everyone to enjoy. The big event of Dawlish Carnival is the main procession, covering a two and a half mile route through the town, so there’s plenty of spots for you to get an uninterrupted view of the floats.

Closest holiday parks: Golden Sands (7 mins), Dawlish Sands (10 mins), Waterside (40 mins), Landscove (50 mins), Riviera Bay (50 mins)

Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3EN

Dates for 2020: TBC

Hastings Old Town Carnival Week usually takes place in early August, and is extremely popular with locals and those further afar. Expect a week of exciting events including Pram Racing, Walking Tours, Art Shows, Street Parties and more, all culminating in a Grand Carnival Procession. The carnival is organised by volunteers and supports a number of local charities.

Closest holiday parks: Coghurst Hall (10 mins), Beauport (15 mins), Winchelsea Sands (20 mins), Rye Harbour (30 mins), Pevensey Bay (40 mins)

Other

The Donkey Sanctuary

Slade House Farm, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 0NU

Nestled in the East Devon countryside in an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', visitors can meet the donkeys at The 'Donkey Sanctuary' that are waiting to say hello – completely free of charge. Enjoy interactive activities and exhibits and learn how donkeys provide for communities around the world. (Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a lead, and many of the farm trails are accessible and bike-friendly).

Closest holiday parks: Dawlish Sands (50 mins), Golden Sands (50 mins)

Fossil hunting along the Jurassic Coast

Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset

Many people visit the Jurassic Coast for its scenic views and the beautiful, iconic landmark that is Durdle Door. However, the Jurassic Coast is also famous for the plethora of fossils that have been, and continue to be discovered, on the beaches and cliffs. Fossil hunting is a fun pastime for both adults and children, however, make sure you stay safe while doing so, check the tide times and never pick at the cliffs.

Picnicking

Picnicking

Wherever you fancy!

Across the south of England there are plenty of beautiful spots to settle down for a couple of hours in the sunshine and enjoy a picnic with family or friends. From beaches to parks, there’s sure to be somewhere to suit everyone’s (french) fancy. Check out our previous picnic blog with the best spots to lay your picnic blanket out on.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Birdwatching can be a peaceful and relaxing pastime for those that like to spot some beautiful wildlife. Naturally, the best places for this are large, open areas where birds are free to flit and roam at their leisure, with minimal disturbances. There are many places along the South Coast where you can watch a bird or two, including:

Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve – a one and a half mile long sandpit/beach which runs along the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Rarities recorded at the site include the 'Broad-billed Sandpiper' and 'Stone Curlew'.

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - Rye Harbour is most famous for its varied bird life and, in particular, its breeding colonies of the little, common and Sandwich terns. So far more than 280 species of birds have been recorded on the Reserve, of which over 90 have nested.

Dunwich Heath – Featuring a number of magnificent walks with amazing views, the Dunwich Heath gives you the chance to spot some beautiful birds in their natural habitat; gangs of Green Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers and even the legendary Great White Egret.

Trainspotting

Trainspotting

Trainspotting is a popular hobby that involves making an effort to spot and watch certain types of rolling stock. Trainspotters collect and exchange detailed information about the movements of locomotives, and the southern counties are home to a number of preserved steam railways, which you can read more about here.

Walking

Walking

It’s free, it’s healthy, and it’s fun! With so many beautiful countryside and beach locations across the South Coast (and particularly near our parks), there’s no excuse to stay stuck indoors! As well as giving you the opportunity to take in some beautiful views, walking has many health benefits, so get out in the fresh air with the family and enjoy some quality time together.

Cycling

Cycling

Choose between an adventurous or a leisurely bike ride around the many cycle routes that the South Coast has to offer. If you’re visiting our Tarka Holiday Park in North Devon, then why not cycle the famous Tarka Trail during your visit? The Trail takes you through some beautiful Devon scenery, wooded river valleys, and rich green countryside, perfect for an afternoon cycle.

Caravan Holidays & Short Breaks

It's clear you won't need a fortune to have an amazing time on holiday. We're one of the largest providers of caravan holidays in the UK, with more holiday parks along the south coast of England than anyone else.

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