We have recently returned from what is becoming our yearly mini holiday to Bournemouth. We stayed at the Marriott on High Cliff which I will write a post for at some point. Most of our time last year was spent exploring Bournemouth which you can find out more about over here My Top 10 List Of Family Friendly Things To Do In Bournemouth.
This year Jamie’s request was to go to Peppa Pig World. I granted that wish and again I will be writing about it asap. However, we spent a much nicer day out at Beaulieu Motor Museum and it’s somewhere that he has spoken about the most enthusiastically since. It is a really great family friendly day out and there’s plenty to see and do for all.
A Bit About Beaulieu – The National Motor Museum
First came the beautiful Abbey of Beaulieu, then the Palace house and then from a passion for collecting cars, by the owner, came the National Motor Museum. The motor museum has over 250 cars and I challenge anyone to not enjoy walking around this amazing museum. More about that later! There is so much more to Beaulieu than cars and I will outline everything that there is to see and do below.
Beaulieu is located in the heart of the National Forest in Hampshire, South West England. We had such a lovely drive through the forest there and back from Bournemouth. We even experienced a National Forest wild pony walking past our car. It also wasn’t anywhere near as busy on the roads around here.
We arrived just before 10 am on a Friday during the Easter holidays. There was a fairly large queue at the door but they had plenty of people waiting to sell tickets inside. There is also a lovely big shop here where my Aunty purchased a fun Beaulieu magnet for our collection. The beauty of Beaulieu is that it is so big it ‘absorbs’ people. It never felt too busy, even though it was.
What is there to See and Do for Families at Beaulieu National Motor Museum
The National Motor Museum
It was quite a cold and windy day when we first arrived so we headed straight indoors to the National Motor Museum. I’ve been to car museums in the past and I assumed I knew what to expect. It wasn’t anything like I expected it to be! It has been so cleverly put together with many exhibits alongside their 250+ cars. The museum was so interesting and we spent much longer here than I thought we would.
Jamie was very inspired by it all and did a rather continuous and slightly repetitive but incredibly cute commentary as we were walking around. Mostly every car was the oldest car haha! The hall is laid out with cars from the past right up to the future. There’s plenty of information on each car and there is something from every era. It was incredibly interesting to see some of the first ever cars and I especially loved seeing some of the Formula 1 cars. There are a few interactive exhibits which Jamie loved investigating, especially the vintage racing car.
A lovely surprise was seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in there. It’s one of the classic films that Jamie is yet to see so he didn’t understand the significance. But we were all very taken with it.
We all especially loved the old workshop and gas station with shop. It was truly like stepping back in time. There’s also a big London bus that you can sit on and this was located on an authentic street from days gone by.
We were especially taken with the Rolls Royce’s in there, especially a 2017 convertible that was simply to die for. They even had a Phantom II which was just gorgeous. It was lovely for Jamie to be able to see how cars have evolved, there was even a section for motorbikes and scooters.
We had a pit stop in the Brabazon coffee shop and restaurant with warming coffees and hot chocolate before checking out the other two exhibitions in this area.
On Screen Cars
This was a small display of approx. 8 cars from TV and cinema. I didn’t really know all of the cars there. My husband would have appreciated Bab’s Cab from League of Gentlemen and as a big fan of Mr Bean, Jamie loved seeing his mini. They also had the famous van from Only Fools and Horses.
World of Top Gear
I love Top Gear, well Top Gear with Clarkson, May and Hammond. Because of this, I was very excited about going to this exhibition. I was a little disappointed that half of it was taken up with the new team. I refuse to watch them although I have seen a few and it’s just not the same for me. However, the Top Gear geek in me (and my Mum!) loved seeing some of the famous cars from the challenges. They had all sorts of treasures that Clarkson etc have transformed over the years. The really fun part is that you are allowed to sit in most of them for selfies. What fun! We all had a big smile on our faces.
Outside they also have mini electric cars that you can race around for just £1. There is also a Top Gear simulator (charges apply).
Right next to World of Top Gear you will find one of the two stations for the Monorail. It was actually quite warm onboard even though it has open sides. The roof is quite low though so watch your heads. It was well worth the ride for the views of Beaulieu’s parkland. The other station is in between the Secret Army exhibition and the Victorian flower and kitchen gardens. We timed it quite well and didn’t have to wait too long. I can imagine that the queue can soon get long on much busier days.
After the Monorail ride, we went for lunch which I will talk more about at the end of this post.
Adventure Playground including Mini Cars
After lunch, we took Jamie for a much-promised play in the adventure playground. It’s a lovely space with plenty for the kids to play on to spark their imaginations. Jamie and another little girl were playing ‘fire engines’ on the big wooden truck and there’s also a few smaller cars to play on plus non-themed play equipment. There’s a kiosk selling ice creams and hot and cold drinks and plenty of places for adults to sit and chill out.
Next to the playground, you will find the mini ride on cars. There were three going around the track and the kids just have to put their foot on a pedal and steer themselves around a few times. They had a member of staff in charge of making sure the kids didn’t crash into each other or get stuck and that everyone had a fair turn. They went relatively fast and Jamie was thrilled to have a go. Height restrictions apply, there is no charge for going on the mini cars.
After this we then had a short walk over to the Palace House.
The Palace House of Beaulieu
The Palace house has been the Montagu family home since 1538. It’s a really lovely building and is almost castle like in its design and look. There’s plenty to see within the house, including a recently restored Victorian kitchen. There’s a couple of exhibitions including paintings and you are allowed in quite a few of the rooms. Some of them are up a flight of stairs.
The Abbey was actually much bigger than I was expecting it to be. I knew it was mostly a ruin however we had a nice walk around inside and outside. There’s plenty of displays telling you about the history of the Abbey and a gorgeous outside space where the kids can let off some steam on the grass. There is also a church here which you are allowed inside. The Abbey is actually 800 years old and was founded originally by King John.
You can probably tell how taken we were with the Abbey by my inclusion of plenty of photos below.
Vintage bus ride
During the day we had been keeping a keen eye on the vintage bus. It has a bus stop by the Brabazon coffee shop and one by the Abbey. We had noticed that there were a lot more people on the bus going to the abbey than there was coming back. With that, we decided to take the bus back from the Abbey. It seemed things had changed as the day progressed and it was actually packed out. Sadly hardly anyone got off the bus and those that were on it moved to the top deck. We ended up sitting downstairs which was a shame. It’s not a long walk back so that wasn’t a problem should we have walked back instead.
Other things to see
Secret Army exhibition – This was a WWII exhibition in a relatively small building. Jamie gave us no time at all in here and walked straight in one door and out the other. Kids!
Victorian Flower & Kitchen Gardens – In hindsight we should have had a wander around here instead of heading to the exhibition mentioned above. It looked really lovely from the monorail and I can imagine it is really lovely in the summer.
Mill Pond Walk – I wished that we’d had time for this as it sounds like a really good walk alongside water. There’s also a giant green man wood tree carving, plus fairy doors and statues.
While we were there they also had a free pack for the kids to take on a nature detectives trail. It was a printed pack with a crayon and kids had to tick off birds that they may spot, complete activities along the way and find items to put in their bag. I wanted to concentrate on reviewing everything there so we didn’t complete the pack. However, if they ever have a trail on I urge you to pick up a bag and have some extra fun.
The Brabazon Coffee Shop & Restaurant
We were very lucky to receive a complimentary meal in the Brabazon coffee shop and restaurant. I was a little nervous at first that we’d be like ‘hey we have a complimentary meal do you know anything about that’ and getting blank looks back. But the staff were in the know and so pleasant and polite. It has been a long time since I’ve experienced such welcoming hospitality. To be honest all the staff we met around the site were friendly and amiable. A real tribute to Beaulieu.
The Brabazon is a large space and slightly car themed cafe. There’s plenty of tables although by 12:30pm most of them were taken.
The food is counter service with a lot of it already laid out under hot lamps.
I chose a 10″ pepperoni pizza which was home-made and very tasty for £8.00. I struggle to say no to a pizza!
My Aunty is vegetarian so she had the baked aubergine with ricotta, other vegetarian options were available. This was £7.50 and came with optional sides.
And finally, my Mum had the traditional home-made beef lasagna, again with optional sides. This was £8.95. We all really enjoyed our meals and we can also highly recommend their cakes!
Important Information – Beaulieu National Motor Museum
Please note – Not all features operate throughout the year. Times and the opening of various attractions will be found at visitor reception. Some may be dependant on weather, height and age.
The grounds themselves are accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. However, they can not be taken on the monorail and a few other places such as the first floor of the Palace house. Please see website for further information.
Beaulieu is open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day. There’s plenty to see indoors should you visit on one of Britain’s worse weather days. Please see their website for opening times and to book tickets online etc.
If you purchase your ticket online in advance then you can benefit from an advance discount. Online tickets can not be used on the day of purchase. An adult ticket on the day is £24.75, online in advance it is £19.50. Children 5-16 are £9.50 online and children under 5 can visit for free. You can make a massive saving with a family ticket in advance. This is £49.00 compared to £64.00 on the day. This admits 2 adults and up to 3 children, or 1 adult and up to 4 children.
You can watch a video of our day out below
Disclaimer: We received complimentary tickets and a meal in exchange for an honest review. All words, photos, thoughts and opinions are as always entirely my own.
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