Family Friendly Activities in Isle of Wight

Note: We visited in 2019. At the time of writing in 2020 the pandemic is still ongoing, so please check if attractions are open before visiting.

After visiting North Wales and Edinburgh, our next adventure was to the Isle of Wight. We booked accommodation close to Sandown through Airbnb and as per our previous trips we tried to cram in as much as we could in the 4 days we were there.

Arriving at Isle of Wight was an adventure in itself. We had to take the ferry from Southampton to East Cowes. The girls had never been on a ferry before so it was a new experience for them.

East Cowes

The Needles LandMark Attraction

As the weather for the rest of the week wasn’t looking good, we decided that as soon as we got off the ferry we would head to The Needles.

There are a number of attractions at the Needles. Including a chairlift, sand shop, boat trips, rides and a 4D cinema experience. Each attraction is priced individually and I would recommend getting the supersaver ticket which for £9 gives you 12 tickets worth £1 each. The only attraction we decided to do was the chair lift to get down to the beach.

View from chairlift Needles

We had wanted to go on the boat to get closer to the lighthouse but it was extremely windy and they had put a stop to the boats until the wind eased. The boat trips are a separate cost.

If you are able to, I would recommend going for a walk towards the Needles Old and New Batteries. High up you get some amazing views.

View of the coloured sands at Alum Bay

More information about The Needles can be found on their website: Needles Isle of Wight Attraction.

The New Battery and Old Battery

Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site perched high above the Needles Rocks

Be warned it is a long walk, but it is worth it for the views you get. However we did notice a bus drive up so if you don’t fancy walking you can find out about taking the bus.

Visiting the New Battery is free but if you decided to go to the tip to the Old Battery then as it is National Trust, there is a charge. As we are National Trust Members we decided to go in. However as the wind was getting worse we didn’t stay for long and didn’t get to explore as much as we wanted to.

Shanklin Chine

Shanklin Chine is  Isle of Wight’s oldest tourist attraction, which first opened in 1817. It is a leafy gorge with lots of plants, including rare plants, wildlife and even a waterfall.

If you are interested in plants then yes Shanklin Chine may be worth a visit. It is lovely to have a walk around, with some good views of Shanklin beach but to be honest we didn’t stay long. We were out in about 15 minutes which did feel like a waste of money. They had a few birds in their aviary’s which in all honesty didn’t look very happy, and the waterfall when we went wasn’t amazing and just a trickle. They do illuminate the place in the evening but the family didn’t want to return in the evening so we did not experience that. However sometimes they have entertainment in the evening so it might be worth checking and going in the evening.

More information and prices can be obtained from their website: Shanklin Chine.

Carisbrooke Castle

Sitting high and proud at the heart of the Isle of Wight, Carisbrooke Castle  has been an artillery fortress, king’s prison and a royal summer residence.

You could easily spend a whole morning/afternoon at the castle, if not the whole day, as there is plenty to see and do. From walking around the grounds, to the exhibitions and indoor spaces such as The Castle Chapel, there is something to entertain you all. For the younger ones, there are donkey exhibitions and areas to dress up. If you are an English Heritage member then entrance is free.

We walked right around the castle on the battlements and were treated to views in all directions of the island.


For more information about demonstrations and other events at the castle then take a look at their website: Carisbrooke Castle.

Donkey Sanctuary

When the girls were given a choice of what to do they decided they wanted to visit the donkey sanctuary. Admission is free but as it is a sanctuary we did make a donation on entry and also purchased some items from the gift shop. On arrival the girls were given a sheet with all the donkeys names to see if they could spot them all.

If you have a couple of hours spare and animal loving children, then it is a nice way to spend a few hours.

Head over to their website for more information: Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary.

Monkey Haven – Primate Rescue Centre

Again, this was the animal loving girls choice.

We’re a happy home for rescued animals – from whooping gibbons and cheeky capuchins to owls, meerkats and many more exotic creatures.

Monkey Haven

With a tea room, gift shop and play areas, this is the perfect place for a few hours or even a full day out.

With demonstrations and talks, there is plenty to keep both young and old entertained. What makes it more interesting is the app that makes it all more interactive. Scan the barcodes around the place to get more information on the animals you are seeing.

Sandown Pier and Beach

One of the beaches we visited was Sandown Beach and pier as that was the area we were staying, and went there a couple of times in evenings. There are plenty of amusements in the arcade, including indoor golf and ten pin bowling.

Dinosaur Isle

As this is based in Sandown on the beach we decided to check it out. It is Britain’s first purpose built dinosaur museum and visitor attraction.

The museum is very hands on with lots of activities to take part in, so if your child is into dinosaurs they are sure to love spending a few hours here and learning about dinosaurs.

For for information and prices, see their website: Dinosaur Isle.

Ventnor Downs

If you are after some views then Ventnor Downs is the place to go. It is the highest point of the Island and has a number of walking trails. We decided to just drive there one evening, we didn’t get right to the top but just parked up half way and soaked in the scenery. We also came across some cows!

You can find more information on Ventnor Downs via the National Trust website: Ventnor Downs.

Godshill Model Village

We offer a nostalgic experience allowing you to step back in time to see Island life in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Godshill Model Village

If you want to see a bit of history then this is the place. With models of moving trains, house models and even horses . The attention to detail is amazing and the children are likely to enjoy seeing ‘little people’ and houses that are their size!

For more information including prices see their website: Godshill Model Village.

Chocolate Island

Not an attraction as such, but not far from the model village is the Chocolate Island. Now this shop needed a mention as I love chocolate! The chocolate was delicious and such pretty designs too!

The Old Smithy

If you are into shopping then this is the place to visit in Godshill.

Large gift and fashion shops, landscaped gardens and coffee shop

I must admit we didn’t do much shopping but we had a lovely walk around the gardens and did some window shopping!

The Isle of Wight is a lovely place to visit for a few days. As it isn’t overly big you can easily travel to different attractions on different points of the Island. With friendly people and beautiful scenery you will want to return again. I know we do.

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