12 of the best animal attractions near Hampshire
If you have young children then I’m sure you’re familiar with researching fun things to do with them. I’ve done some of the hard work for you and put together a list of 12 of the best animal attractions near Hampshire.
Children love to visit places with animals, and I’ve found the best farm parks, wildlife parks and zoos in and around Hampshire. I’ve visited most of them myself and will be providing my honest reviews.
They are all within an hour’s drive from Winchester so hopefully you’ll get some inspiration for new places to visit.
Some of these animal attractions near Hampshire are also great to visit without children; I’ll let you know which are fun for adult days out too.
Finkley Down Farm Park, near Andover
There aren’t many attractions near Hampshire which give me more nostalgia than Finkley Down Farm. I spent many summers here during my childhood, and now I love to take my daughter here.
The primary attraction is the farm; with your standard set of farm animals living among the less common alpacas and meerkats. There is a daily timetable of activities where you can meet the rabbits, or cheer the goats on as they race around the track.
If the weather isn’t great, there is a large soft play indoors which has separate sections to keep toddlers safe from bigger children. There’s also a good café serving hot and cold food and it’s well set up for children – great toilets, lots of highchairs and a kids menu.
On a dry day, you’ll spend hours outside. Take a picnic and relax (if you can!) whilst watching the kids play on the extensive play equipment. There’s sand and water play, jumping pillows, go-karts, trampolines and much more. My daughter loves the musical village too.
Best for: families with children aged 1-9
Prices start from £12.95 for an adult ticket
Marwell Zoo, near Winchester
Marwell is Hampshire’s only zoo and has been open for over 50 years. It’s easily accessible from the M3 and is a large site which will take you a good few hours to explore. They’ve recently launched a new app to help you find your way around and catch all the keeper talks.
There are a lot of animals to see here, though I’ve found it a bit ‘hit and miss’ lately for getting good sightings of them all. I tend to walk around twice, just in case the animals are sleeping or hiding the first time. There are a few empty enclosures and sadly they recently lost their red pandas which were our favourites (they’re expected to receive some more in early Summer).
There is still lots to see; the giraffes are magnificent and you can view them from a tall platform if they’re outside. This year I’ve seen a pair of tigers playing in the water, rhinos and zebras roaming across the fields and a family of curious meerkats.
The tropical house is a great attraction. The two-toed sloth seems more elusive than the previous sloth but there’s usually a keeper on hand to help point him out to you. There are lots of brightly coloured birds, butterflies and fish to spot in there too.
Across the zoo grounds, there are 5 play areas which are suitable for a range of ages. Our favourite is the large sandpit area which is perfect for under 5s. It’s next to one of the various food vendors, and members receive a nice discount on refreshments.
There is a lot to look forward to at Marwell as the old tropical house has been transformed into ‘Thriving through Nature’ which will open in Summer 2023. Bush dogs and caracara are coming soon now that the bird flu restrictions have been lifted, which also means Penguin Cove has finally reopened.
Best for: an annual membership
Prices start from £26 for an adult ticket or annual membership for £67
The Hawk Conservancy, near Andover
If you prefer birds to mammals then you must visit The Hawk Conservancy to watch their flying displays. There are 3 a day which feature a range of birds of prey; many of which are critically endangered. The newest flying display which launched in Spring 2023 has the biggest number of birds they’ve ever flown in one showing and it is incredible.
In between displays you can wander around the aviaries to see some of the birds up close, spend time in the play area or grab a bite to eat in ‘Feathers’ the restaurant. You can read a full review of the Hawk Conversancy in the handy links section below.
Best for: exhilarating flying displays
Prices start from £18.50 for an adult ticket which includes a 10% donation to the Trust
The New Forest Wildlife Park, near Southampton
The team here are very passionate about conservation and protecting our native species. There are 4 species of otter here, and I recommend attending the keeper talks. Not only will you learn a lot, but you’ll see the otters at their most active as they grapple over their fishy treats.
It was a joy to watch Britain’s smallest rodent, the harvest mice, as they ran and played around their enclosure. On the other end of the scale, there are giant bison and red deer which are Britain’s largest land mammal. Other residents include wolves, ferrets and owls.
The ‘mini adventure playground’ is set in a huge sandpit and perfect for pre-schoolers whilst there are sections of play equipment and climbing frames more suited to older children. There is an on-site restaurant or you can take a picnic. Adults and children alike will enjoy a day out here.
Best for: learning about the local and native wildlife
Prices start from £14.75 for an adult ticket
Longdown Activity Farm, near Southampton
Just down the road from The New Forest Wildlife Park is Longdown, so you could possibly combine your visits if you’re not so local. I’ve not yet visited this one but the daily timetable looks like a lot of fun with activities such as bottle-feeding the calves and an animal encounter barn.
In the Chick Shed, you’ll be able to see the development cycle from egg to chicken (or is it the other way around?) and there are lots of different breeds of cows, pigs and goats too. Apparently, there are always at least 100 kid goats on the farm, and there are bottle-feeding opportunities each day.
There is a pig-themed play barn, ride-on tractors, trampolines and an outdoor playground. It’s lovely to see that there is a bespoke wheelchair swing too. Don’t leave without visiting the farm shop too which is full of delicious local produce.
Best for: A chance to bottle-feed the animals
Prices start from £12 for an adult ticket
Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm, near Amesbury
Cholderton is one of my favourite animal attractions near Hampshire because it’s a small, family-run farm which never feels busy. You can find it along the A303 near Amesbury and the café is open early for breakfast.
Once you’re on the farm I suggest following the daily schedule to take part in a number of activities which might vary from duck feeding and pony grooming to guinea pig fishing! Yes, it’s as cute as it sounds but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. The pig race is also a highlight; and on our last visit, they were trying to train the lambs to race around the track too. Expect to see some great characters like Britney Shears and Lewis Ham-ilton.
There are lots of rare farm animal breeds here and you can feed most of them. There’s also an indoor play barn, trampolines, outdoor play areas and zipline, and toddler swings and sandpit in the café garden.
Best for: a quieter day out and great value for money
Prices start from £5 for an adult ticket before 21st June then rising to £8
Beale Wildlife Park, Pangbourne
Just a little north of Hampshire is Beale Wildlife Park. There are over 160 species residing here in the 350-acre site which runs alongside the River Thames in Berkshire.
I’d describe it as a mix between a zoo and a farm; with excellent play areas. There are your usual meerkats, lemurs and otters mixed in with the more unusual armadillo, loris and naked mole rat! On the farm side, you’ll see American miniature ponies, Kune Kune pigs and pygmy goats to name but a few.
There is a miniature train which is a fun way to see some of the animals, and even better is that a ride is included in the admission price. Other attractions include a jumping pillow, adventure playground, paddling pool and sandpit. For under-5s there’s also an indoor soft play and toddler village.
A new restaurant opens in the Summer of 2023, but until then there is a food van serving hot food and drinks, and an ice cream van. Or take a picnic and pitch up near the play areas.
Best for: seeing more obscure species
Prices start from £17.05 for an adult ticket which includes a 10% donation
Miller's Ark Animals, Hook
This is one of the best places to see animals in Hampshire if you’re an adult. It’s great for kids too, but they run specific Adult’s Open Days for those of you who love animals. You are encouraged to get in all of the pens to stroke and pet the animals, and they are all very tame and love human contact.
It’s a small family-run farm and they only open on selected days. The staff are all extremely friendly and clearly love working with all the animals. Some of my favourite residents were the donkeys and they often have several baby donkeys to see. There are also lots of pigs, goats, sheep and horses too.
The sessions are 90 minutes long, but you can enjoy something to eat and drink in the Old Dairy before or after your session. It’s a working farm and you’ll be in the pens so I suggest wearing old clothes and boots.
Best for: animal cuddles!
Prices start from £12 for an adult ticket
Wellington Country Park, near Reading
Though the focus isn’t really on the animals here, I have to include it as one of the best family attractions near Hampshire. There is a petting zoo where you can feed the animals such as goats, sheep and alpacas. There are some daily activities which might include goat-walking too.
Aside from the animals, Wellington Country Park is really known for its abundance of play areas. There’s something for children aged 0-8 here whether it’s the popular jumping pillow, hilly slide selection, sandpit and diggers or splash pad (open in peak season).
They recently built a new wooden toddler village with some incredible local replicas such as Wellington Stables and the farm shop. My daughter could easily have spent the whole day in this section but there’s much more to see. There’s also the excellent dinosaur trail, miniature railway (not included in admission price) and woodland play areas.
You definitely need a whole day here if you want to see everything. The restaurant is great if you need it and there are about 40 highchairs stacked up. The kid’s lunchbox has decent and varied choices too.
Best for: a full day out for families with children aged 1-8
Prices start from £18.95 for an adult ticket
Manor Park Farm, near Southampton
The farm is situated within the River Hamble Country Park, you enter through the barriers and just keep driving up the long drive. It’s a traditional farmyard setting full of pigs, cows, sheep, goats and more.
The highlight for me is the farm-themed indoor play barn with large soft play vegetables and a wooden cow slide. There are a few tractor slides outdoors too and plenty of space to run around. Inside the Tractor Barn is a lovely display of vintage tractors and farm tools.
Whilst you’re in the area you could also take a walk or bike ride on one of the many trails of the country park. You’ll have great views over the River Hamble and you can go crabbing from the jetty too.
Best for: a traditional farm experience
Prices start at £10 for an adult ticket
Birdworld is another attraction I’ve been visiting since the 90s, and despite the name, there are more than just birds here. They are of course the main focus and there are a couple of great exhibits. I visited one July to find several baby flamingos had been born; they are a gorgeous grey colour and so fluffy (though the flamingo flock are a pungent smelling bunch!)
The penguin beach is also a lovely area; with a couple of different species waddling around. The parrots are well acquainted with humans and you can spend a long time conversing with them. If you love owls then there is a whole parliament of them (yes, that’s the name for a group of owls!) in the Terry Pratchett-themed area.
Over on Jenny Wren Farm, there are lots of animals to see including goats, pigs and sheep. There is a play area, toilets and a food kiosk at this end of the site, and another play area over on Parrot Lawn. The new Palm Café overlooks the fountains and serves a variety of hot and cold food and drinks.
Best for: birds of course!
Prices start at £18.95 for an adult ticket
Sky Park Farm, near Petersfield
Sky Park Farm is a deer farm surrounded by the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. In the spring and summer, you are likely to see lots of deer calves, and you can buy bags of special deer food to feed the animals on your visit.
There is an excellent adventure playground where kids will have loads of fun climbing, exploring a treetop walkway and defending the hilltop fortress. I love that there is also a fenced-in area for under-5s with a mini fort, sandpit and swings.
It’s worth visiting the on-site farm shop and butcher too and it’s not just venison on offer. There is a fun milk vending machine with milk sourced from across the road, and you can add different milkshake flavours. There’s also the Grazing Rooms which offers high-end dining on a 30-mile menu. Delicious!
Best for: feeding lots of deer
Prices start at £6.50 for an adult ticket