The Isle of Wight has plenty of family friendly fun to keep all ages busy while on holiday. Enjoy the beaches and the Great Outdoors and then visit one of these three things to do.
A visit to the Isle of Wight will no doubt include days on the beach – relaxed, memorable outings for the whole family. But once the kids are tired of sand castles and you've eaten far too much ice cream, you may want to consider other island pursuits that are sure to engage young and old alike.
Some inspiration for things to do with kids on the Isle of Wight:
- Isle of Wight Steam Railway
- White knuckle rib ride with Rebel Marine
- Carisbrooke Castle
- Osborne House
- Blackgang Chine
- Robin Hill Country Park
- Alum Bay chairlift
- Get on the water with Adventure Activities
- Ramble through Victoria Park
A Steam Train Ride
Our first ride on the historic Isle of Wight Steam Railway was good fun – it’s the sort of easy-going outing that will delight everyone from tots to grandparents. While the powerful steam engine looks like an overgrown toy, the large, beautifully upholstered passenger cars speak to long-gone days of luxurious travel.
The journey from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton ambled through wooded countryside and farmland. Young children will no doubt enjoy the sheep dotted across the landscape. At Havenstreet Station we hopped off the train to enjoy a Minghellas ice-ceam cone, where we also found the Railway Museum, a gift shop, cafe and children’s play area.
A train ticket allows you to hop on and off as often as you like throughout the day and you’ll enjoy discounted tickets if you book online. We boarded the Island Line at Ryde Esplande - the quirky former London Tube trains dropped us at Smallbrook Junction for a double-dose of locomotive fun. You can also meet the Steam Train at Wootton or Havenstreet stations where you will find plenty of free parking. So much more than just a train ride, the steam train is a family day out, history lesson and lovely introduction to inland Isle of Wight.
Rebel Marine Rib Ride
If your teenagers have a need for speed, a rib ride may be just the ticket. When my extended family came to visit – all seaworthy fellows – we booked with the safe and savvy seamen at Rebel Marine. A 12-passenger boat whizzed us gently from Fishbourne to The Needles. Floating up close and around this natural wonder was simply breathtaking; it felt like we were watching a David Attenborough documentary but in fact we were living the unique natural beauty of the Island.
Our brilliant boatsmen at the helm were members of the RLNI, so we felt safe and sound all the way around. Just as well, because from The Needles we decided to extend the experience and circumnavigate the Island. This is where the rib ride got really exciting. The waters became darker and choppier, creating a thrill like none I’ve ever experienced. To be clear, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Nearly as exciting was the school of 6 to 8 dolphins that we spotted along the way.
What’s great about Rebel Marine is the opportunity to customise the ride to suit your family. Anyone would enjoy the fast but super smooth zoom out to The Needles and back. But if you’re seeking to please a pack of thrill-seekers, push the boat out and circle the Island at speed.
Our visit to Carisbrooke Castle was so much more than I expected. The diversity of things to do inside the castle walls was impressive. The “something-for-everyone” appeal of this fairytale-type castle may be due to the fact that it has served as a fortress, prison and royal residence.
It’s great fun to wander the grounds imagining it as a home – where Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice lived while serving as the Island’s governor. Little ones will no doubt enjoy meeting the donkeys who push the treadmill that raises water from the bottom of the castle well. These alert but docile, well looked-after creatures make the ancient stone edifice feel more like a living, working castle community than a stuffy museum. Dead history can certainly bore children, but Carisbrooke is very much alive with activity.
Undoubtedly our favourite aspect of the castle was the wall walk. Making our way around the top of structure was exciting, walking across its battlements high above the courtyard, up steep stairs that inevitably resulted in birds-eye views across the Island was inspiring. And good exercise for teens who’ve maybe spent too much time slumped over a flashing screen. We ended our day at Carisbrooke with a big slab of cake in the tearoom – you should too.
Take your pick of our holiday cottages and start planning your Island break today.