Portsmouth is most famous, as you might well imagine, for its port. The docklands are well-preserved, and a must-visit for those of you with an interest in naval history (and even those who don’t – yet). But the rest of the town and beach offer a range of other activities, too. If you’re based on the South Coast, you’ll be able to easily reach the area via Southern Rail, and you’ll be able to enjoy several breathtaking sea views along the way.
Escape rooms have become something of a craze in recent years, and Portsmouth isn’t immune. There are several to choose from, of which three stand out as of particular high quality. There’s Exciting Escapes, Other World Escapes, and The Real Escape. They’re all open from midday to late evening, and will take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on how clever you all are.
Right on the seafront you’ll find Canoe Lake. Despite what the name might imply, this isn’t just a lake on which you can go boating: it’s part of the grounds of an enormous leisure complex, complete with playgrounds, basketball courts, and grass tennis courts (including artificial grass courts). A day spent fishing for crabs or veering about in a swan-shaped pedalo makes a great way to enjoy the sunshine!
Treasure Island Golf
A little further up the beach, on Clarence Pier, you’ll find Treasure Island Golf. This miniature golf course has been around for awhile, but it still offers reasonable value for groups with time to kill. There are nine holes on each of the two courses, and a trip around will take around twenty minutes, if you know what you’re doing.
This activity centre makes a great match for kids and adults alike. It’s built in boathouse 6, a 19th century building which forms part of the city’s historic dockyard. There’s a laser-quest, a Ninja-Warrior-style assault course, and several climbing walls, one of which rotates. If you’ve got a family to entertain, it’s a great way to occupy the kids.
Of course, if you’re going to be visiting the dockyard, then taking a stroll around the Royal Navy’s most famous ever warship should probably be considered obligatory. Visit the HMS Victory and you’ll get a hand-held audio guide, as well as experienced and knowledgeable actors who’ll be able to fill you in on the details of the Battle of Trafalgar.
To continue the nautical theme, there’s the Mary Rose museum in the heart of the docklands. This is a 500-year-old warship whose wreck has been hauled from the ocean floor and housed behind glass so that we can all enjoy it. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that!
If you’ve invested in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Full Navy Ticket, then you might be disappointed to learn that the museum isn’t included – so if you’ve only got limited time, you’ll need to choose between the two. Still, the museum represents excellent value – and you’ll get the kid-friendly ‘Shipwreck Explorers’ stuff thrown in for the price of admission.
For the rest of July, they’ll be demonstrating how real shipwrights used to shape wood into real boats back in the 16th century. Don’t miss it!