Find the nearest See & Do in Dorset
Heading to Dorset and looking for something to do or a place to visit nearby. Coast Radar is not just a list of beaches but we bring you the whole Dorset coast including castles, lighthouses, piers, museums, beautiful gardens, seaside towns, National Trust and other heritage properties.
When on an information page you can also use our tools to search for nearby Dorset seaside towns, and the surrounding coast for the best beaches and places to stay and eat.
Finding the best things to see and do on a Dorset day out with your family or friends is easy – simply explore the links below, to find the closest hit the jump to my location compass or use the search bar to plan where your next Dorset activity could be.
- Maiden Castle was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 6.4 hectares (16 acres). Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 19 ha (47 acres), making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe. At the same time, Maiden Castle’s defences were made more complex with the addition of further ramparts and ditches. Then around 100 BC habitation at the hill fort went into decline and became focused at the eastern end of the site. It was occupied until at least the Roman period. After the Roman conquest in the 1st century AD, Maiden Castle appears to have been abandoned, although the Romans may have had a military presence on the site. In the late 4th century AD, a temple and ancillary buildings were constructed. In the 6th century AD the hill top was entirely abandoned and was used only for agriculture during the medieval period. There is a small car park at the fort which can become busy at peak times.
- Abbotsbury Swannery is unique, the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans. The Swannery was established by Benedictine Monks who built a monastery at Abbotsbury during the 1040’s. The monks farmed the swans to produce food for their lavish banquets. St Peter’s monastery was destroyed in 1539 during the dissolution. Some of the ruins are still visible around St Nicholas’ Church in the village. Since that time the Swannery has been under the stewardship of the Ilchester Estates.
- Wimborne Minster has changed over the centuries. The first church on this site was founded in 705 but the earlest part of today’s church id the eastern 12th century tower. The building makes use of local Purbeck stone and marble with elaborate carving on the interior arches.
- Shaftesbury is a charming market town and Dorset’s only hilltop town founded over 1,000 years ago as the home of King Alfred’s citadel Benedictine Abbey. The Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and garden brings to life the story of the Abbey and its inhabitants. The walled garden includes excavations of the Abbey Church. The Gold Hill is a charming collection of traditional sandstone cottages on a steep cobbled stone hill. This is one of the most photographed roads in England and has featured in TV commercials.
- The Cobb is a curving sea wall built at the end of the 13th Century to provide safe anchorage. The Cobb is a must to visit on foot with a great view from the end of Lyme Regis and the surrounding coast. Most people picture The Cobb as seen in The French Lieutenant’s Woman with waves crashing over the wall. It was also featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
- The Russel Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is located next to the Royal Bath Hotel on East Cliff. The building itself is a Grade II listed building originally known as East Cliff Hall. East Cliff Hall was the home of Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes, designed by the architect, John Frederick Fogerty but with significant input from Merton and Annie. Buyilding started in 1897 and was completed in 1901. The house was to be a showcase, not simply for their own enjoyment, but also for the people of Bournemouth to whom it was given. As well as the resident exhibits the museum and gallery hosts ever changing exhibitions, please check the website for opening times and what is currently showing.
- At Moors Valley Country Park there is something for all ages. The park is mostly covered by woodland and is ideal if you want to enjoy a peaceful walk or cycle ride through the Forest, experience a ride on the narrow-gauge steam train, play trails for youngsters or for the older adventurous go on a high wire adventure swinging through the tree tops. Go Ape Ringwood, giant obstacle courses up in the trees using ladders, walkways, bridges and tunnels made of wood, rope and super-strong wire, and top it all off with the country’s best zip lines
- The Waterfront Museum or Poole Museum is almost on Poole Quay giving visitors fantastic views of Poole Harbour and the Old Town. Built to display the history and culture of Poole’s maritime history from its pirates to modern day sailors. Displays in the Museum include an historic street scene featuring a local public house, chemist and general store, as well as on old fire engine. Other exhibits in the Museum include the famous Poole Log Boat, numerous pictures and maps of the area, items recovered from wrecks – such as the Studland Bay wreck – interactive exhibits where the children at heart can have a go at brass rubbing, mosaic making or numerous other crafts. The Poole Museum also houses the Local History Centre, based in the historic Town Cellars, where you can learn more about the history of Poole and it’s people, where you can also carry out private research by prior appointment. Scaplen’s Court Museum is adjacent to The Poole Museum and is used as an educational centre for children throughout the year, but is open to the public during the summer month of August. Scaplen’s Court Garden is a unique walled garden to the rear of the building which has been restored by a team of volunteers.
- Nothe Fort is at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour, constructed on three levels, with lift access, the Fort is filled with displays, guns and display areas that describe the history of this Victorian Fort. The Fort is a labyrinth of underground passageways and outdoor areas with stunning views of the coast.