For many families, it simply isn’t a real option to take a big holiday over winter break. It may be work constraints, tight budgets, or young children that keep families wanting to stay close to home. However, you can still enjoy the effects of a holiday. The solution is the “staycation”. Enjoy a holiday getaway somewhere close to home rather than far away.
Here are some great ideas for family Hampshire staycations. You don’t need to go far from home to have fun, relax, and enjoy family time.
The New Forest
As a Hampshire resident, I love visiting the New Forest . It is a beautiful area where you can relax and enjoy the landscape at all times of year. I know from experience that a getaway to the New Forest can be even more relaxing and rejuvenating than a fancy holiday, and is still close to home. Children of all ages (including grown-up ones) will get excited to spot the wild horses, deer, and other wildlife in the New Forest.
Your staycation in the New Forest can be designed to match your budget. For example, your family could stay at the Sandy Balls Holiday Centre . They have a variety of accomodation to suit the needs of families of all ages and sizes. Make sure to check with them because they often run special offers (at the moment you can book midweek breaks for four nights for a family for just £100!). They have lots of outdoor activities, but also have suitable activities for the winter time, including an indoor pool.
People often take theatre breaks to London to enjoy shows on the West End and stay in the city. However, there are options closer to home. You can plan your own Hampshire staycation around enjoying the theatre.
The Mayflower is Hampshire’s biggest Theatre and hosts many major touring productions. Why not go on your staycation to Southampton and visit the Mayflower? They show a wide variety of shows to suit families with children of any age. Over winter break they always show a pantomime (in 2010 it’s Aladdin starring Paul O’Grady). Although people think of panto’s for younger children, I’ve enjoyed seeing them in groups of all ages. Tickets vary in price depending on which showing and seats you choose; for this year’s panto tickets range from about £14 to £28.
While you’re in Southampton, you can also enjoy visiting the city’s historic sites, shopping at West Quay, and try out some of the city’s many restaurants.
If you love literature, consider a staycation based around literature. Hampshire has an incredible literary history that you can explore. Jane Austen was from Hampshire. In Winchester, you can see a house where she lived and visit her grave in the Winchester Cathedral. You can also retrace her steps on a Jane Austen Southampton tour, and visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton. The museum costs £7 for adults, but has reduced rates for students and children.
You can also visit sites important to other literary giants. For example, Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, and you can visit his house (now the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum , open from the 6th to 10th of December for Christmas). If you have younger children, they may be interested in “Thomas the Tank Engine”. The “Thomas the Tank Engine” books were written by Rev. W Awdry, who was from Ampfield, Hampshire, and is buried there. To make the story come alive, take a “Thomas the Tank Engine” themed ride on the Watercress Line.
There are plenty of choices of where to stay on your literary winter break staycation in Hampshire, but I would recommend staying in Winchester. It’s fairly central, and it’s a beautiful town. I particularly love the Christmas market held each winter there.