Hampshire Bucket List - What's on my list of places to visit in Hampshire this year?
I’ve been Girl About Hampshire since April 2020 and have visited so many places in this wonderful county. But there are always so many places still on my list to visit, and many others which need revisiting.
There are days out, restaurants, bars and even entire towns and villages which I need to explore so that I can continue to provide you with honest, useful recommendations.
I hope that by documenting my Hampshire bucket list, that I can also provide you with inspiration of places to visit in Hampshire this year. Whether you are local, or planning to visit on your next UK holiday, there is plenty to explore.
As always, please contact me on Instagram (@girlabouthampshire) if there’s anywhere you think I MUST add to my list!
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway
This is a revisit for me; I’ve been multiple times. However, it’s a place which requires visits throughout the seasons. I intend to go in the Spring to catch the azaleas and rhododendrons at their finest. The gardens explode with colour at this time and you’ll find your camera roll fills up quickly. The best week changes each year so I’d recommend following their socials to see when the blooms are at their peak.
The Pig, Brockenhurst
One for the foodies; a visit to a Pig hotel has been on my bucket list for a while. I’ll be visiting the one at Brockenhurst very soon for lunch and I cannot wait to sample the food. They have a commitment to a 25-mile menu which means they also support local Hampshire producers, and this is an ethos which I am very much on board with.
The New Forest
Ok, this is a huge National Park and so this is quite vague, but that’s because I still have so much of it left to explore. I need to walk the Tall Trees Trail, and find some other good walking routes. Whenever we drive through the forest I spot pretty villages to look around such as Burley. And then there are the beautiful hotels and restaurants such as Rhinefield House and Lime Wood.
This English Heritage site is free to enter, making it great for families or those on a budget. It’s a 13th Century church, much of which is still standing. It’s reported that Jane Austen found inspiration for her novel Northanger Abbey here too. Netley is close to Royal Victoria Country Park so you can easily combine a free day out across the two locations.
Winchester is full of fabulous independent eateries, and no sooner do I tick one off when another opens! Ashby’s has a perfectly Instagrammable pink exterior and a gorgeous pink-themed menu to match. Not only that, but they stock the county’s finest macarons from Petite Glaze. I’m definitely heading here for a coffee and sweet treat soon.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said to my husband that when we have a free Saturday and it’s not raining that we need to go to the cellar door at Raimes Vineyard. They open from 1-5 and have a lovely little courtyard where you can taste their wines and then of course buy some to take home. We have quite a few incredible wine producers in Hampshire and so I try to visit at least one vineyard a year!
Sky Park Farm, West Harting
If you like animal encounters then you should add this to your list of places to visit in Hampshire too. There are plenty of red, white and sika deer here which you can feed and interact with. There is also a farm shop, and The Grazing Rooms where you can sample venison on the menu. Children will have a fantastic time on the Adventure Playground too.
Aviator Sky Bar, Farnborough
The Aviator is a swanky hotel at Farnborough airfield and there’s apparently excellent views from the Sky Bar. It has a beautiful interior and comes highly recommended from friends but I need to go and try one of their signature cocktails myself. I have my eye on the ‘Mile High Club’ – a blend of cherry vodka topped with white chocolate foam.
Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Milestones is great value for money as the entry ticket includes entry for a whole year. This is the perfect place for a rainy day as there is a lot to explore indoors. There are over 260 teddy bears in Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum, and there’s a traditional penny arcade where you can have a go on vintage amusement machines. There’s so much Hampshire history here, from vintage vehicles to replica homes from Victorian times. They run regular events and fairs throughout the year too.
Bakers Arms, Droxford
Whenever I post a round up of the best roast dinners in Hampshire, I’m always given this pub as a recommendation by my followers. It certainly looks inviting with the open log fire and low beams. The Sunday lunch has won awards so it’s on my list of foodie spots to try this year. Its location in the pretty village of Droxford means there’s some good walks nearby along the River Meon too.
Butser Ancient Farm
Located conveniently off the A3 is this timeline of ancient homes, taking you from the Stone Age up to the Anglo-Saxons. It’s ideal for anyone with school-age children who might be learning about these eras in history. There are also rare breed animals which you can feed, all whilst enjoying the scenic surroundings of the South Downs National Park. It’s next open to the public in February half term, though I might wait until summer when they run events and ancient skills workshops.
Isle of Wight
Again, this is a huge area to cover but the isle is so accessible from the Hampshire coastline. I fancy a trip on the hovercraft from Southsea, but you can also get there on the foot ferry or car ferry. Once there, there are hundreds of family-friendly days out such as Robin Hill Country Park and Blackgang Chine. The Needles are a great landmark to visit as well. It might be fun to attend one of their famous events this year, like the Garlic Festival or Cowes Week. Perhaps I’ll need to spend a few days there, making the most of it!
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Whenever I visit Portsmouth, I’m distracted by the outlet shops and restaurants of Gunwharf Quays, and so never quite make it to the Dockyard. There is much to see here though, with the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. There’s also the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and more – a total of 10 attractions if you buy an Ultimate Explorer ticket. You can easily make a day of it down in Portsmouth and then walk over to Gunwharf afterwards for dinner. Definitely one of the best places to visit in Hampshire this year.
The Garden Society
This is more than just a garden centre. Although I want to peruse the aisles of beautiful interior decor and plants, the main reason I need to visit is for the food. Last summer I was invited to the launch of The Secret Garden; a set of four themed areas with a bespoke menu and paired cocktails. It’s the ideal location to host a hen party, birthday or any special occasion. The Potting Shed afternoon tea was my favourite, and who needs an excuse to meet up and socialise after the last couple of years?