Top 5: Family Attractions in Chichester

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Pete Edgeler, Weald and Downland Living Museum

Chichester’s wealth of historical landmarks and beautiful scenery make it a treasure trove for day-trippers and holiday-makers. The cathedral city and veritable capital of West Sussex is surrounded by family friendly attractions, providing the perfect destination for a day out with the kids this summer. Without further ado, here are our top five family attractions in and around Chichester.

Our picks of the best family activities around Chichester

Weald and Downland Living Museum

Having left the confines of the classroom behind them this summer hols, the last thing most kids want to do is to be dragged round a stuffy old museum. But the Weald and Downland Living Museum rewrites the rulebook: founded in 1967 this innovative open-air museum covers a 40-acre site with no less than 50 historic buildings to discover. You can try out some Tudor cookery, experience blacksmithing in the Victorian smithy, or just go for a stroll through the woods. Don’t miss the Vintage & Steam show coming to the museum this August, where you can see steam engines on display and in action across the site.

Image Credit: Anguskirk, the 15th century Bayleaf Farmhouse at the Weald and Downland Museum

The Weald and Downland Museum can be found at Open Air Theater Road, Singleton, Chichester PO18 0EU.

Kingley Vale Trail

If the Weald and Downland just ain’t outdoorsy enough, make a beeline for the Kingley Vale nature reserve. This national nature reserve covers some 400 acres, spreading into the South Downs, and its leafy carpet of yew forest holds what are thought to be some of the oldest trees in Britain (some of them to the tune of 2,000 years). The reserve features a number of walks and bridleways, the most famous of which being the Kingley Vale Trail, which meanders through the woods allowing you to see the great gnarled trunks in all their glory. A tree-climber’s paradise - and not unreminiscent of the Hogwarts Whomping Willow - Kingley Vale was one of the first national nature reserves to be established in Britain, and they’ve preserved the magic to this day.

Image Credit: Katariina Järvinen, Kingley Vale yew tree

Kingley Vale Trail can be found at Chichester PO18 9HR.

Fishbourne Roman Palace

The charming village of Fishbourne is only a stone’s throw from Chichester, but as the title of this next attraction suggests, it’s history goes back a long way. The Fishbourne Roman Palace was built in the 1st century AD, only thirty-odd years after the Roman conquest of Britain, and features amazing floor mosaics and ghostly ruins from Roman times. The large site has been partially reconstructed, allowing visitors to see what the building would have looked like, and the gardens recreated so you can walk around the once-lavish residence. With a host of archaeological talks and workshops to get involved with, turn back the clock to an ancient civilization - and teach the kids a little history in the process.

Image Credit: diamond geezer, Fishbourne Roman Palace

Fishbourne Roman Palace can be found at Roman Way, Fishbourne, Chichester PO19 3QR.

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering is surely up there with the best of Britain’s beaches, and few seem able to resist its blustery charm. You can catch great views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs from its sand dunes and grassy knolls, and the clear waters make it a popular site for swimmers, wind and kite surfers, and paddlers alike - it even holds a coveted Blue Flag Award for cleanliness and safety. Wildlife abounds, making it a great place for bird-spotting, and the extensive grasslands are perfect for playing hide and seek. The Beach Café serves ice creams and hot food all day long, so all you need to bring is the bucket and spade and you’re sorted.

Image Credit: Bill Glover, West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach can be found at Pound Rd, West Wittering, Chichester PO20 8AJ.

Earnley Butterflies, Birds and Beasts

Just 10 minutes south of Chichester you’ll find a miniature tropical paradise, filled with butterflies, birds and - you guessed it - beasts. Walking through the 17 covered theme gardens at Earnley, you can get up close and personal with an array of beautiful tropical butterflies. Stop by the aviary where the birds also fly freely, and you can coax parrots, lovebirds, parakeets, budgies and cockateels to sit on your shoulder. The menagerie continues with a reptile house, complete with tortoises and large iguanas, and the ‘animal avenue’ where you can meet guinea pigs, rabbits, barn owls and miniature donkeys. A treat for any animal lover, we can guarantee you’ll want to take those miniature donkeys home with you.

Image Credit: Karen Roe, Earnley Butterflies, Birds and Beasts

Earnley Butterflies and Gardens can be found at 133 Almodington Ln, Earnley, Chichester PO20 7JR.