Free Days Out 2022

With the cost of living rising (by what feels like the day) never has there been a time needed more for a handy guide to free days out on the Isle of Wight.

Doing something with the family does not have to cost the earth, so here are our top days out on the Isle of Wight that won’t cost you a penny plus a few ideas where you can get money off).

Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary

South Wight

Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary is a safe haven for homeless and unwanted donkeys (we know who could not want a donkey!). The charity offers a loving and safe home nestled in the rolling hills of Wroxall, just a few minutes from Ventnor. Access to the grounds is absolutely free, you can gather your troops and while-away an hour or two. The estate spreads over 55 acres with plenty of paddock and grazing land for the donkeys. Wander around Bruno’s Bungalow, Peanut’s Pad and Poppy’s Place to name a few. The sanctuary also runs lots of events throughout the year, many are still free to attend too.

Carry on your free day out by packing a picnic and heading to Ventnor Park. With plenty of space for children to roam and explore. Pinned as the park for the people, follow the stream to the pond to see koi and ducks, visit the free outdoor gym, in summer months there’s live music for everyone to enjoy… just enjoy the surroundings.

If you’re more of a beach babe that takes your packed lunch to Ventnor beach, shingley, it’s still lovely to sit on and watch the tide roll and paddle in the shallows.

Shanklin Beach
Shanklin Beach

East Wight

The quintessential British seaside holiday towns of Sandown and Shanklin are a hub of activity and there’s so much to do that won’t cost you a penny.

Updated and modernised is the public playground at Sandham Gardens (just a short walk from the seafront and Fort Street car park in Sandown). A huge hit with children of all ages. There’s a decent-sized toddler only area as well as climbing frames, swings, a skate ramp and basketball hoops for older ones. We think everyone will be happy and entertained… even for a short while.

Surrounded by greenery Shanklin is not just a beach goers paradise. Rylstone Gardens and Big Mead is the place to enjoy a traditional picnic lunch. The gardens have a large bandstand where you may catch live music during the warmer months and band practices through the week. Big Mead is a pretty public park with a duck pond and a small playground…. Even better there is a free car park nearby (PO37 6QY)

Beaches do not really get better than both Shanklin and Sandown… What feels like miles of sandy beach, they are the ideal places for spending a few hours building sandcastles, swimming in the sea and enjoying some family time.

**money off** From June 2022 Shanklin Chine is offering 20% of admission for Isle of Wight residents, NHS staff/blue light card holders, host families and more. Visit shanklinchine.co.uk for more information.

Quarr Abbey Pigs
Quarr Abbey Pigs

North Wight

Straddling the north/east is Quarr Abbey. You can wander the grounds and take in the 30 minute woodland trail, visit the church and of course see the pigs and piglets for free all year round. Even better, parking is absolutely free too.

For a little bit of history and heritage visit the Sir Max Aitken Museum. A free museum based in the centre of Cowes. Observe the collection once belonging to local man Sir Max Aitken. He was an MP, a fighter pilot, raced yachts and was also the founder of the London Boat Show. Now that’s a varied life!

Cowes is not known for its beaches, the busy shipping lanes make it a less than ideal place to go swimming but a paddle along the small stretch of beach located around Gurnard is a lovely spot to sit and watch the world go by. Accessible by following the footpath behind Gurnard Sailing Club.

**money off** English Heritage are giving 15% off membership with the code EH2022 until 31st May 2022. You can then visit places like Osborne at your leisure.

Dinosaur Footprint at Brook Bay
Dinosaur Footprint at Brook Bay

West Wight

The exhibition at The Needles Battery is absolutely free to visit. It depicts the unlikely story of how the Isle of Wight was involved in the space race with the USA and then USSR. Over 200 people worked in bunkers at the needles for a decade and a half working on secretly testing rockets through the 50’s through to the 70s. Visit the site for the full story.

If you are into stargazing, the west wight is the best place to be as the sun goes down. With less light pollution here you’ll be amazed at just how twinkly the inky skies above become. The Isle of Wight’s photographers take advantage of this fact and capture some of the best night time photography around.

Whether you want to beach comb for fossils and dinosaur footprints or relax on a sandy beach Brook and Compton (along the iconic Military Road) are a must visit.

Completely isolated there are no shops for children to say ‘can I have’ literally what’s in your picnic bag is what you have. Compton is known for its waves so when venturing out for a paddle just be aware.

Brook Beach (also dog friendly all year) is known for throwing up a few fossils. It’s also home to the famous Iguanodon footprints… if you see a few large rocks that look like three toed footprints, you’ve found them.

Parkhurst Forest
Parkhurst Forest

Middle Wight

Home to the Island’s county town of Newport. Just a few minutes from the town is Carisbrooke (famed for Carisbrooke Castle, once a prison to King Charles I). Carisbrooke Priory is a former convent and now a House of Prayer and Healing. It is open to the public but it’s worth checking in advance if it’s open as the house is staffed by volunteers. The interesting property is surrounded by pretty gardens and a chapel.

Church Litten, in the centre of Newport and near superstore Morrisons, has a lovely green park with a playground for children. On sunny days it’s a popular spot for young and old and it’s used to its fullest extent. Wanting to escape the town, Parkhurst Forest is on the outskirts of Newport. Said to be one of the oldest forests in the country, it’s home to rare species including the native red squirrel and elusive birds such as the nightjar and long eared owl.

Walkers and bicyclists are welcome to explore (as are horse riders by permit only) with many made and unmade pathways to wander through and pitch up at one of the park benches and listen to the sounds of the forests – there’s nothing like the sound of woodland birds chirping in the sunshine.

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