England, UK, Wanderlust

16 things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids

For a relatively small island, the trickiest part about a family holiday to the Isle of Wight is how to fit everything in – my daughter’s first trip was aged two, and she’s racked up several more by the age of eight.

Each time, we go home wishing there had been longer. From toddlers to older kids, beaches for when the sun shines (more often than not thanks to the island’s microclimate) and attractions for rainy days on the Isle of Wight, there’s plenty for different budgets and ages and for different times of year when you’re visiting the Isle of Wight with kids.

My daughter with bucket and spade on the beach at Appley near Ryde, looking back towards Portsmouth - my 15 things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids

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From hunting for dinosaurs and animal spotting to natural landmarks and castles, here are my 16 top things to do on the Isle of Wight for kids.

*2020 update: Opening hours and prebooking requirements may change, so always check directly with the attraction before visiting*

1. Isle of Wight beaches

One island, so very many gorgeous beaches – 57 miles of coastline means there are plenty of spots to make sandcastles, holding a string of Blue Flag and Seaside awards over the years.

Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown are great for facilities, with cafes and shops, or try Ryde for open sands, plus others with arcades and funfairs. Appley has a lovely play area just off the beach too.

For my pick of the best Isle of Wight beaches with kids, check out this post

The playground at Appley by the beach near Ryde - discovering the Isle of Wight coast

2. Amazon World Zoo Park

One of the many animal attractions on the island, there are around 200 different species in the zoo, including some distinctly unusual ones.

There are normally daily meet the animal sessions and an adventure playground, plus soft play (currently closed) – if you’re fans of lemurs like us, it’s ideal.

Tickets don’t need to be prebooked although you can buy them online.

Check out our full review of our day out.

3. Carisbrooke Castle

Depending on your point of view, Carisbrooke Castle is best known either as the place King Charles I was imprisoned before being beheaded or home to donkeys which work the 16th century treadwheel.

Either way you’ve got centuries of history and open spaces for little ones to burn off plenty of energy, as well as walls to climb for some great views.

Entry is currently by timed tickets only.

4. The Needles Park

On the southwestern tip of the island, the Needles Rocks themselves rise from the water as one of the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmarks.

Almost as famous is the chairlift taking people from the clifftop down to Alum Bay beach, while there are also rides, sweet-making demonstrations, glass-blowing, the chance to make sand souvenirs and crazy golf to mention just a few at The Needles park.

Don’t miss a boat trip out into the bay – here’s what we thought

A view down onto Alum Bay and the turquoise sea, looking out to The Needles - discovering the Isle of Wight coast

5. Dinosaur Isle Museum

The Isle of Wight has a well-deserved reputation as the Dinosaur Isle – you can still find fossils on some beaches as we did on a fossil walk, if you’re lucky.

But this purpose-built dinosaur museum is perfect for dino-fans, including 126 million years of geology and history and great for even younger kids. Expect school groups during term time.

Entry must be prebooked at present.

6. Isle of Wight Zoo

This small zoo is famous for its rescued big cats and the conservation work it does – there’s a lovely stamp trail for kids to follow between spotting tigers, lions, lemurs, monkeys and more, as well as a play area and cafe.

There are usually talks throughout the day, although these are not currently taking place. Tickets can be prebooked online.

7. Monkey Haven

A rescue centre for primates and birds of prey, you can see monkeys, lemurs and gibbons as well as eagle and snowy owls at the Monkey Haven, along with the chance to meet some of the animals and watch feeding, as well as listening to the gibbons howl.

Check out the kids’ zone on the website as well for puzzles and colouring. Tickets can be prebooked although some may be available on the day.

One of my favourite days out on the Isle of Wight with toddlers.

8. Osborne House

Queen Victoria’s ‘seaside home’, this palace is fascinating as both a royal residence with all the regal trappings you might expect and a place which was once a genuine retreat from public life.

With Victorian-themed events for kids at holiday times at Osborne House, you can also see Victoria’s private beach and some Indian-inspired decorations.

Timed tickets must be prebooked.

9. Robin Hill Adventure Park & Gardens

Rides, adventure playgrounds, gardens, falconry, special events around the year – this is the perfect children’s playground whether you’re two or 12, although there’s more for older kids than toddlers.

Look out for the rare new white-tailed sea eagle which has been added to their roost.

Tickets must be prebooked online.

10. Blackgang Chine

Another amusement park meets adventure playground, there are exhibitions as well as the slides and rides, and themed play areas at Blackgang Chine. It’s the sister attraction to Robin Hill and you can get combined tickets (which must be prebooked) with entry to both.

One of the biggest Isle of Wight attractions for families, the Underwater Kingdom and dinosaur area were some of our favourites.

Brightly colour starfish and giant corals in the Underwater Kingdom at Blackgang Chine - a day out hunting the Isle of Wight dinosaurs

11. Donkey sanctuary

Another haven for donkeys which need a safe home, the sanctuary has become an attraction in its own right. Free to enter (although donations are welcomed), you can meet the donkeys and there are special events during the year too.

12. West Wight alpacas

Home to Suri alpacas, this breeding farm also runs treks and talks about the animals – you can choose a short trek around the farm, meeting some of the animals at West Wight alpacas, as well as longer ones off-site.

The treks aren’t suitable for younger children but you can also walk around the farm to look at the alpacas instead, and the cafe has some great pizza.

13. Goodleaf tree climbing

One for older kids, Goodleaf tree climbing is the perfect adventure for ages eight and above – two hours climbing a 70ft oak tree, with the help of ropes.

You can get around 50ft high to the canopy with amazing views out over the sea or simply relax in the tree-top hammocks once you’re up.

Sign at the Isle of wight steam railway - one of my 15 things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids

14. Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Not a kids’ attraction as such, but likely to be a firm favourite with fans of Thomas and Friends (and their grandfathers) as well as a children’s play area – ideal if you’re looking for Isle of Wight things to do with toddlers.

You can look round the sheds at the beautifully restored locomotives of the Isle of Wight Steam railway or take a journey along the tracks.

15. Quarr Abbey

Just outside Ryde, Quarr Abbey is still home to a community of Benedictine monks but you can wander the grounds, try special nature activities during holiday weeks as well as spotting pigs and stocking up in the farm shop.

16. Brading Roman Villa

One of the country’s best preserved Roman sites, Brading Roman Villa is a fantastic place to explore with kids – my daughter still talks about making mosaics, and there’s also a trail to follow and other interactive exhibits along the way.

As you look at the displays, you walk around the remains of the villa itself, so it’s perfect for bringing it to life. There are often extra family activities as well. 

There’s currently limited opening and timed tickets must be prebooked.

For more ideas on visiting the Isle of Wight with kids, read about our day hunting for dinosaurs, inspiration for a Bear Hunt on the Isle of Wight as well as exploring the island coast. There are also day itineraries, as well as tips for everything from bike hire to buying ice creams at visitisleofwight.co.uk  as well as my pick of the best things to do in Hampshire with kids

**First published 2016, updated 2020**


The best things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids - my top family activities on this lovely island off the south coast of the UK, with tips for days out with toddlers, rainy days, the best beaches on the Isle of Wight and dinosaur adventures


Images copyright MummyTravels