Brownsea Island family fun

Child walking through the heathland Brownsea Island

There's lots to see and do at Brownsea Island, whatever the weather, to help you spend time together as a family. Let imaginations run wild in our natural play area and cross some of the '50 things' off your list as you explore the island and take part in our free seasonal trails.


'50 things' on Brownsea Island

There's lots of activities on the '50 things to do before you're 11¾' list to keep you busy on the island. No. 32 Float in a boat, can be crossed off your list as soon you step aboard for your ferry ride to Brownsea – a great way to begin a day’s adventure. And it doesn't stop there. The challenges listed below are some of our favourites that you can do on the island – why not have a go when you next visit? As well as the option to tick off welly wandering – perfect for rainy days on the island – you can eat a picnic in the wild, make friends with a bug, go cloudwatching, discover wild animal clues and find your way with a map. 

Climb a tree

No. 1 Get to know a tree

The variety of trees on Brownsea make it the perfect place to take a closer look and explore their different shapes, patterns and textures. Lots can change through the seasons from spring buds and blossom to falling leaves in autumn. Don't forget to look up through the canopy, listen to any birds on branches or the wind rustling the leaves. Be sure to check out our tree trail to help you on your way.

Den building

No. 4 Build a den

Grab all the twigs and branches you can find and build your very own fortress or pirate hideaway in the woods. The natural play area is the perfect spot to let your imagination run wild. Let's take you back to a time when there were pirates in the harbour. Maybe you're a pirate and you've landed here and need to build a shelter to spend the night. What things might you need? Here's a challenge for you - can you make your den waterproof?

Create some wild art at Kingston Lacy in Dorset

No. 18 Create some wild art

You'll find there's so many of nature's treasures that come in all sorts of shapes and colours that can spark your imagination when it comes to wild art. What will you use, and how? It's not just the woodland that can inspire your natural masterpieces. The South Shore beach and at low tide, Pottery Pier, offers the chance to make some coastal creations too.

Children bird watching

No. 44 Watch a bird

There's plenty of places to spot some of Brownsea's winged residents including on the lagoon, in the woodland and on the shoreline. To be a successful bird watcher, you'll need to be as quiet as a mouse while you keep a look out for our feathered friends. What will you spot? Keep an eye out on your ferry crossing to and from the island as well.

Download the '50 things' activity guide 

If you want to download a PDF of the whole '50 things to do before you’re 11¾' list, then here it is.

Natural play area

Located at the heart of the island, families will find our natural play area equipped with balancing beams, climbing frames and see-saws. Here you can practice soaring, scrambling and scampering - can you match the agility of our resident rare red squirrels? 

The new natural play area on Brownsea
Natural Play Area
The new natural play area on Brownsea
Free family trails
Child climbing a tree at Crom, County Fermanagh

Brownsea Tree Trail

Our popular tree climbing trail is back!  Navigate the island and find nine trees to climb, ranging from oak to pine, all with interesting stories to tell.  If you're lucky, you may even spot a squirrel scampering up one of the neighbouring trees so do keep a look out.

Scouts on Brownsea Island

Scouting skills activity

In the spirit of Baden-Powell’s first experimental Scout camp, held on Brownsea in 1907, this trail sheet contains an activity map and skills challenges to enhance your practical, observation and tracking skills. Perfect for Scouts and Guides and fun for all the family too.

Family friendly checklist 

•    Free entry for under 5s.

•    Baby-changing facilities in access friendly toilets.

•    All-terrain wheelchair hire

•    Buggy-friendly routes and buggy hire 

•    Free trails

•    Natural play area

•    Children’s menu available at the Villano Café 

views out towards poole harbour

Visiting Brownsea Island: what you need to know

Brownsea Island is open until 31 October. Although you are no longer required to book your visit in advance, we are continuing to offer a limited number of pre-bookable tickets. Booking is advised in order to guarantee entry at busier times like school holidays and weekends. Same-day walk up visitors may now arrange a visit to Brownsea without an advanced booking, by visiting the yellow Brownsea Island Ferries company kiosk on Poole Quay. Same-day visitors will pay for their boat fare and island admission on arrival at Brownsea. In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about how to get here, what's open and what to expect from your visit.