Abbotsbury is a small Dorset village situated on the coast road between Weymouth and Bridport. It is home to three of the best known local tourist attractions, Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, the Swannery and the Children’s Tithe Barn Farm. There are also lovely walks in the area including the walk up to St Catherine’s Chapel where you can get fantastic views along Chesil Beach. There is a car park as you come into the village and others at Abbotsbury gardens and the Swannery.

St Catherine’s Chapel, in the guardianship of English Heritage

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

The subtropical gardens are located in a sheltered valley just inland from the Jurassic Coast. They are open nearly all year round, although being a wedding venue a small section of the garden may be closed off at certain times. A gentle stroll round the gardens takes about 1 – 2 hours and there is lots to see all year round. The rope bridge is a favourite with children as it is in a very jungle like setting with palms, bamboo and large tree ferns all round. There are also 2 large fish ponds and a secret walk which takes you to a viewing point overlooking the Fleet and Chesil Beach. When you have finished your walk around there is the very popular Colonial Restaurant for drinks and light refreshments. There is also an excellent selection of exotic plants for sale at very reasonable prices, and a childrens play area

  • Welcome to Abbotsbury subtropical gardens

Children’s Farm

Just a short walk from the village centre is the Tithe Barn which was built by St Benedict’s monks around 1390. This listed building now houses an indoor children’s play area including a soft play area and indoor games. It forms part of a larger complex where children also have outdoor activities to choose from and there are various farm animals and a petting area with guinea pigs. During the summer they often have birds of prey demonstrations as an added attraction.

Outdoor play equipment at the children’s farm.

The Swannery

The Swannery which is a short walk from the village centre is home to a very large breeding population of mute swans. Spring and early Summer are the best times to visit when the cygnets are hatching.

Within Abbotsbury itself there are a number of specialist artisan shops where you can purchase unique gifts. You will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to refreshments as there are a number of very good Tea Rooms to choose from, offering a wide choice of refreshments and of course Dorset cream teas and the local speciality Dorset apple cake.

Cream Teas

There are many cafes and Tea Rooms in and around Weymouth where you can enjoy a range of refreshments including cream teas. The ones we have chosen all have gluten free scones if you have special dietary requirements.

The Wishing Well at Upwey

The wishing Well at Upwey

Situated in Upwey village the Wishing Well is very much a traditional tea room offering a varied menu and a good choice of home made cakes including gluten free options. Outside there is a delightful garden which is free to visit to customers. The river Wey rises in these gardens and there is a wishing well (hence the name!) Parking is alongside the road or in the nearby church car park.

The Lobster Pot

If you are driving out to Portland Bill (and this should be on everyone’s itinerary) then you will find the Lobster Pot restaurant adjacent to the lighthouse. This is a very popular and busy cafe, particularly in the summer and is well worth a visit. Again they serve gluten free scones with their cream teas if requested. Personally we are also very fond of their chips which are light crisp and not greasy. Perfect. Parking is in the large car park at Portland Bill

Lobster pot cafe Portland Bill

Tank Museum

The Tank Museum at Bovington is a great all weather attraction just a short drive from Weymouth Bay.

The museum houses a large collection of tanks which take you through the history of tank development right up to the current day. While most of the exhibition is undercover there is also a large display arena where you can watch tanks being put through their paces.

Of special interest for the children there is a dressing up area, a large indoor soft play area and the option to take a ride round the tank demonstration course on a people carrier.

Take a ride around the tank course

All in all a good day out for the entire family.

What to do in Weymouth when it rains

Weymouth library – Free

With a large children’s section and activities it’s a great place for kids on a rainy day.

Paid for Places to visit

Sea Life Centre at Lodmoor country park. This can be expensive if you have to pay full price so look out for vouchers. There are usually lots around. In 2018 they introduced Fairy Penguin Island walkthrough! Home to the only colony of Fairy Penguins in Europe, the smallest, cutest, fluffiest penguins in the world!

SandWorld at Lodmoor country park. SandWorld is a unique gallery with a massive difference, as you get to have a go yourself, with tools and helpful staff at hand. Suitable for all ages.

Fun Factory indoor play centre, Granby industrial estate. A large indoor play centre for the kids and a cafe for you.

Weymouth Pavilion at the end of the esplanade offers an excellent programme of events throughout the year from visiting bands, spectacular shows and the summer pantomime. There is free car parking after 6pm at the Pavilion car park.

Portland Castle. Situated on the left just as you cross the causeway, Portland Castle has some good interactive activities including a dressing up area for young and old alike.

The canons at Portland Castle

Cineworld is located in the town centre and is usually showing new releases. The programme changes every Thursday.

Nothe Fort is a good place to spend half a day whatever the weather. Most of the displays are under cover. During the summer you may be lucky enough to catch one of their special events when the guns are fired.

Bowleaze Fantasy Island Fun Park is just a short walk across the fields from Weymouth Bay holiday park. There are lots of children’s rides, mostly suitable for a younger age range, and an excellent indoor play area if it is raining outside. The Sunset Bar Cafe and Restaurant is just upstairs where you can enjoy a leisurely drink and spectacular views

The Palm House Weymouth has a play cafe for under 5s with indoor and outdoor activities.

The Tudor House Museum is just off Hope Square and is a small intimate museum with lots to see as you step back in time. A tour of the house gives a fascinating insight into the life of the times during the heyday of Weymouth as a port for trade and exploration. Guides describe the domestic daily life of the times, including furniture and clothing, cooking and serving of food, lighting and candle making.