Portsmouth and The Historic Dockyards With Kids

Portsmouth is a vibrant waterfront city located on the south coast of England. The city is packed with historical landmarks and brilliant attractions for the whole family.

With so many diverse attractions for all tastes its difficult to decide what to visit first, it’s Maritime history is a must though, the historic dockyards are bursting with family friendly exhibits.

Ideally you need 3-4 days in the city to take make the most of everything on offer. In this guide I’ve explained what we visited during a day trip and listed the other family friendly attractions on offer.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyards

The HMS Warrior

We opted to visit HMS Warrior 1860 first, Bella and Maya’s choice! During the last two years of full time travel, we have often chosen immersive educational attractions, as we feel this is the best environment for our girls to learn in.

They feel like they are re-living history and are fully engaged and listening, also its easy for us to throw in a fun pirate story on a big boat like HMS Warrior.

The HMS Warrior
The HMS Warrior

From the moment we stepped on to HMS warrior it was like going back in time to 1860: not only was the ship restored to its former glory, there were real life characters on board, playing their victorian roles superbly.

Bella and Maya were particular fascinated by the gun and weaponry demonstration, where they were able to hold a sword and a pistol. 

The HMS Warrior

The sick bay was also fascinating, where they each had a lie down in the hanging cots used for injured or sick sailors. 

The girls also had an opportunity to dress up as well and looked the cutest, in the bakers overalls.

The HMS Warrior

The estimate visit time for the boat is one hour but, we spent far longer, the girls wanted to explore each of the decks, right down to the engine room.

There is even a small cafe located on the gun deck with tables between the cannons if you fancy a coffee or snack.

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose remained on the sea bed for an incredible 437 years, until it was raised and put on an intensive conservation programme. The ship now takes pride of place in specially constructed building.

From the moment you walk in the atmosphere is dark and eerie, with the sound of effects of the ships creaking timbers and shouting sailors adding to the atmosphere. With the help of special effects and holograms you are transported back to the time when the Mary Rose sailed the seas, and can see each deck clearly from viewing platforms.

The Mary Rose

The museum is really interesting too, with lots of artefacts on display, there is an engaging kids treasure hunt, around the museum where the girls were able to stamp their maps and get a prize at the end.

The girls were also fascinated by the larger than life actor walking around playing Henry 8th in full costume.

The Mary Rose

Portsmouth Harbour Tour

We were pretty shattered by the end of the day, but managed to fit in a harbour tour on the last boat. I’d highly recommend it.

During the harbour tour you are able to see other parts of the dockyard not visible from land, and learn about the history of the old and new naval vessels in port. We were lucky as the Royal Navy’s aircraft carries and frigates were in port, which were fascinating to view up close.

Portsmouth Harbour Tour

Thinking Nomads Review

Overall we had a fantastic day out: there is so much on offer, it is really hard to choose and I would suggest you need more than a day to visit.

The museum’s and exhibit are well organised and very child friendly.

We particularly enjoyed the characters on the boat which brought the exhibitions alive and engaged our girls imaginations.

Other attractions on Offer in the Historic Dockyards and Portsmouth

Within a day and visiting with young children we only had time to visit only the above attractions; we were upset not see to HMS Victory, but will see that next time.

There are also all of the following attractions listed below to choose, with various ticket options allowing you to visit more than one attraction and get family discount tickets.

Emirates Spinnaker Tower Portsmouth

If you want to get a glimpse of the best view on the south coast, I’d suggest a visit to Emirates Spinnaker Tower a 170-metre landmark observation tower in Portsmouth, England. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour.

The tower is in the shape of Spinnaker Sail paying homage to Portsmouth Maritime history. Not only do you get an amazing views towards the Isle of Wight, but the tower is also the highest accessible structure in the United Kingdom and outside of London.

If you are brave enough, check out the glass floor viewing deck looking 100m down.

The D-Day Story Portsmouth

We were lucky enough to visit the D Day museum on a very rainy day during the summer holidays.

I had envisaged that the D D landings might be difficult to explain to Bella and Maya and that they wouldn’t appreciate the museum. I’m pleased to report that both our girls loved it: the Museum is great for kids with the exhibits using lots of modern video and special effects, that brings the story of the landings to life. Bella, our eldest, was fascinated by the hologram of The Generals speech and explanation of how the D day landings were organised.

They also loved the story of Gustave the Pigeon who flew for 6hrs across the channel bringing news that the D D landings were successful.

The magnificent Overlord Embroidery in the Legacy Gallery was an extra that we didn’t expect to see, it was commissioned to remember those who took part in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. This was so fun for our girls as tells the complete story of the landings visually depicted in the embroidery which really helps young children to understand what happened and again there are lots of interactive exhibits like a table for tracing the pictures of the fighter planes.

The D-Day Story
The D-Day Story museum Portsmouth
The D-Day Story museum Portsmouth

For opening times and price tickets check > https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/

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