Poole is a vibrant and bustling town on the south coast in Dorset. It offers visitors plenty of things to do, from walking around Poole Harbour to exploring Brownsea Island, a short boat trip away.
Poole is a popular tourist destination with a variety of holiday parks nearby. And if you really fall in love with your holiday, you can even think about buying a static caravan!
Read our guide for the top things you should do when visiting Poole!
Poole Town Centre
Poole town centre is home to a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs.
Expect to find a variety of popular high street shops and some independents within three shopping areas; the Dolphin Centre, Poole High Street and The Quay.
The historic quayside is one of Poole’s most popular spots, with beautiful views across Poole Harbour. There’s always something going on here, from live music and street food to arts and crafts markets.
It is here that you will find the free to enter Poole Museum (see below) as well as a variety of ships and boats, from fishing vessels to powerboats, as well as harbour cruises and trips along the coast and around the islands.
Poole Quay offers a wide range of takeaways, restaurants, bars and traditional pubs.
Check out the summer events programme which often includes a weekly free firework display across the harbour.
Sandbanks is one of the most exclusive areas in Poole, and its beach is one of the most popular in the area. It’s a great place for a swim, walk, picnic or just to relax and take in the views.
Sandbanks is a tiny peninsula that extends into the Poole Harbour entrance on the English Channel.
Facilities at the Blue Flag awarded beach include;
- Children’s play area
- Deckchairs and parasols for hire
- Beach huts for short-term or long-term hire
- Cafes and shops
- Mini land train
- Dogs welcome (check for restrictions)
Brownsea Island is located in Poole Harbour and is a short boat trip away. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, and there’s plenty to see and do here.
Brownsea Island is managed by the National Trust and is bursting with history.
One important part of that history is that Brownsea Island was the birthplace of the Scouting and Guiding movement.
There are plenty of activities available on the island including free trails, a natural play area, wildlife tours and the Brownsea Open-Air Theatre (check for details).
Access to Brownsea Island is possible by ferry from Poole Harbour or if you wish, you can kayak your way over!
Poole Park is a large park with 110 acres of parkland. It’s a great place for a walk, a picnic or to let the kids run around and play.
The Green Flag awarded park has a saltwater lagoon, play parks and plenty of well-managed green spaces to let off steam, or sit back and relax.
Facilities and highlights of Poole Park include;
- Three free car parks within the park
- Dogs welcome (apart from within fenced areas)
- Picnic areas
- Boating Lake
- The Ark Cafe (with a soft play area)
- Scoops Ice Cream Parlour
- The Kitchen waterside restaurant
- Crazy Golf, Model Boat Racing and Rockley Watersports
- Fitness trail and tennis courts for hire
Upton Country Park
Upton Country Park is a large park on the outskirts of Poole. With a Grade II listed Georgian Mansion House to admire, or the stunning botanical walled garden to explore there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained.
The kids will love it too with the play park to have fun in or take part in one of the many free activities that Upton Country Park run.
Facilities and highlights at Upton Country Park include:
- Tea rooms
- Upton House open days
- Art gallery
- Spurrier’s play park
- Refreshment kiosk
- The Walled Garden
- Summer splash fountain
- The Front Lawn (for picnics and ball games)
- Cycling and walking
Hamworthy Park and Beach
Hamworthy Park is located on the northern shore of Poole Harbour. It consists of a green area and a small beach with beautiful views across the harbour towards the Purbeck Hills.
Rockley Park is a holiday park located in the Hamworthy area.
Facilities and highlights at Hamworthy Park include:
- Seasonal paddling pool
- Children’s play area
- Dog-friendly beach
Compton Acres is a beautiful ornamental garden, originally created by Mr Thomas Simpson in 1920.
It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for somewhere to relax and enjoy the gardens.
- Over 10 acres to explore, set out on a circular route including The Italian Garden, The Wooded Valley, The Rock Water & Gardens, The Heather Garden and The Japanese Garden.
- Cafe and Tea Rooms
- Gift store
- Plant Centre
Splashdown is a water park located at Tower Park in Poole. It’s a great place for the whole family to have some fun and cool down.
Splashdown has 13 indoor and outdoor flume rides and 3 under 5’s splash zones.
Farmer Palmers is a great place for the kids to learn about farming and meet some animals as well as enjoy some young fun attractions such as tractor riding and go-karting.
Farmer Palmers has a variety of different events throughout the year.
Farmer Palmers is aimed at children aged 0 to 8 years old.
Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Shop
Visit the Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and Shop, located at the eastern end of Poole Quay alongside Fisherman’s Dock, for a taste of the history of the lifeboat. The old lifeboat station was established at Fisherman’s Dock in 1882.
Poole Museum is located in Poole and is home to a variety of exhibitions about the history of Poole. It’s a great place for anyone interested in local history.
The four buildings of Poole Museum;
- Atrium: Poole Tourist Information and museum shop.
- Oakley’s Mill: Victorian grain warehouse and flour mill with museum displays.
- Wool Hall: the medieval third building was built about 1300 and is the Poole History Centre.
- Scaplen’s Court Museum: open to the public in August with a herb and physic garden during the summer.
Rockley Watersports is a water sports centre in Poole. It’s a great place for the whole family to learn about and try out a variety of watersports.
Taster sessions and short courses are available including paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing.
There you have it! Our guide to the top things to do in Poole. We hope you enjoy your visit!
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, check out our selection of holiday parks near Poole.