Picnics feature quite heavily during our summer holidays, although they mainly involve me saying one of the following on repeat; ‘sit down, stop standing on your sister’s food’, ‘eat your sandwiches/rice cakes’ (middle child will only eat bread if its toasted, pain, I just love spreading Dairylea on a rice cake with whatever flat instrument I can find, not the knife that I handily left on the kitchen worktop) or ‘great you need a poo right now when we were in the toilet 10 minutes ago, lets all pack up and find a toilet’. Sound familiar anyone?!
If you can grin and bear it the following locations would be perfect for a family picnic, don’t worry most have toilets nearby although sadly not a licensed bar……
Big family picnics
The common has so much space and many facilities surrounding it, toilets and cafes by the D Day museum and Clarence Pier. There is a big park behind the hoverport car park. We also like it as you can stroll into Southsea if you fancy a look at the shops or a drink. The parking on the seafront and car parks is pay and display, if you park on the roads just inland from the seafront you can find 2-3 hours of free parking.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Perfect for a picnic or a walk (if you’re feeling fit up Butser Hill where there is a snack kiosk at the top!), great if you’re meeting people from Surrey as its just off the A3. You can hire a BBQ pitch from £10 for 2 hours for up to 12 people. Car parking is £3.50 per day. There is a café and kiosk at the play area.
Staunton Country Park
We love a visit to the farm at Staunton and it took us a while to realise that there is a really nice lake and woodland area over the other side of the road. There are some lovely picnic spots here and lots of open space to let the kids play. For a shop/café you’d have to cross the road back to the farm side and there is one just after the car park. Toilets are just in the entrance to the farm. Parking is pay and display.
Best for family sports
Royal Victoria Country Park
You really have the best of both worlds here with the wide open space and the beach, there is also a nice woodland trail through to Hamble. Its possible to hire BBQ pitches and these would be ideal for family rounders games. The park is brilliant with its tree house area, zip line and smaller toddler area. The café and toilets are near to the play park which is handy. If you time it right you can take a ride on the train which does a circuit around the park.
We’re really lucky in Warsash to have a playing area with such a brilliant view of the Hamble estuary, so even if you don’t want to join in with the family sports you can pass the time watching the boats. You can stock up on supplies at the shops in the village and there is often an ice cream van by The Rising Sun pub. If toilets are needed there is one in the village centre and one in the large car park on Shore Rd.
Salterns Field, Hill Head
Another picnic area by the sea, the Salterns field attracts dog walkers and kitesurfers. The open space is perfect for a kick about or run around for the kids, with the beach just over the path is great for a change of scenery when the kids get tetchy (after about half an hour for mine). There are toilets and a refreshment kiosk, The Shack, in Monks Hill Car Park, Salterns rd.
Best beach picnics
Bournemouth – Westcliff
The beaches in Bournemouth are probably our nearest proper sandy beaches. We find the West cliff area perfect with the kids as there are plentiful café/bars, toilets and amusements, you can also park on the residential roads for free, if you can find a space, and walk down the zig zag slope with a buggy. If the kids (or you) are tired there is the cliff lift to get back up. This spot is handy also if you want to walk into town through the lower gardens, another great picnic spot, or visit the pier.
Not a sandy beach but great for exploring when the tide is out as big pools are left, ideal for paddling and looking for sea creatures. You can picnic on the pebbles and move to play in the wet sand. There are toilets on the end of the beach and an ice cream van often stops here. If you fancy a cup of tea the Titchfield Haven café is nice and does great cake, also handy in a downpour!
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Best spots by a park
Whiteley Meadowside Field
The large park on the playing field behind the Meadowside centre at Whitley has recently been given a refurb. It now caters for a wider age range and will soon feature water and sand play. There are obviously plentiful food and drink opportunities in the shopping centre along with toilets. The red paths through the houses and up to Yew Tree Drive are great for scooting and cycling, our daughter recently perfected cycling with no stabilisers on the quiet paths here.
Hedge End, Bursledon road park
With the play park and paddling pool this is a perfect area for a picnic. There are toilets and a snack kiosk onsite too. Parking is on Bursledon road, be careful as you get the kids out as the road is fairly busy.
Manor Farm Country Park
The Barnfields area of Manor Farm has a large open space and good park for school age children. If you want to have a walk, go through the woods at the bottom right of the field and you will eventually get to the River Hamble and a pontoon that is ideal for crabbing. Perhaps not great if you have 3 under 6’s like me, the pontoon is likely to give you palpitations! Toilets and a snack kiosk can be found at the top of the field. Parking is pay and display.
New Forest, Balmer Lawn
A nice shady spot to picnic with the ponies in the New Forest and paddle in the Lymington river on a hot day. The river is shallow enough for paddling with a small stoney island in the middle, take nets and water toys for extra amusement. There are no toilet facilities so a portable potty may come in handy, or a tree!!
100 Acre Woods, Wickham
Fantastic park and sand pit area along with wooden climbing apparatus for older kids. Picnic on the field by the park or under the trees for shade. Various walks through the woods and plentiful pay and display parking. Snack kiosk and toilets by the car park. An off road buggy is not essential but would make for an easier push on the stoney, hilly paths if you’re planning on having a walk.
Stanley Park, Alverstoke
A lovely little park set back from Stokes Bay Road, accessed from the Alverbank Hotel entrance or Western Way. Nice green space for picnics with trees and flower beds to run around. Use the toilet and café facilities on the sea front.
Puckpool Park, Ryde, Isle of Wight
If you live on the Island you’re sure to have discovered this fantastic park, but if you’re coming from the mainland this is a bit outside the box. It offers the perfect opportunity for a day out, take a trip on the Hovercraft from Portsmouth and walk along the promenade, past the ice rink, boating lake and amusements and you’ll eventually come to Puckpool Park. There is a childrens play park, crazy golf and tea rooms. You could picnic at the park or stop on the sandy beach or green areas on the way. Its about a 40 minute walk but there is plenty to see on the way.
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