The ancient and prosperous market town of Romsey is situated on the banks of the River Test. It's a friendly place to visit and a good base to explore some of the local sites.
Things to Do: King John's House and Heritage Centre,Church Street, Romsey SO51 8BT
This local history centre is worth a mention because it is simply so charming. There are some 750 years of history within its uneven walls and creaking floor boards: King John's House is 13th century and the Tudor cottage is a late Tudor timber-framed house that houses the quaint and rather marvellous Miss Moody's Tudor Tea Room. There's also a Victorian and Edwardian section.
There are some lovely children's activities (brass rubbing, colouring and a quiz trail) and during the holidays there might be weaving, pottery or model boat racing! The flourishing garden is buzzing with happy bumble bees and butterflies, zigzagging about the flower beds.
Admission to Gardens: Free.
Admission to historical centre: Adult £2.50; Children £0.50
Buggy access: Fine - lifts to first floor.
Refreshments: Miss Moody's Tudor Tea Room where you can sip tea from a bone china cup and devour a delicious home made cakes. Afternoon tea: £4.50 for tea and scones.
Parking: Lortemore pay and display car park at rear.
Eating: The Cromwell Arms, Mainstone, Romsey. SO51 8HG
01794 519515 www.thecromwellarms.com
The menu at this popular gastro-pub is a lively mix of classics with a modern twist, featuring locally sourced produce and a mouth-watering choice. Homemade game terrine with red onion marmalade, seared scallops with a shallot purée, chorizo oil and pancetta... and that's just to start! Main courses include comfort food such as Honey roast ham with free range eggs and homemade chips or Hampshire guinea-fowl with chive mash.
Children are welcomed and their menu includes prawn cocktail, chicken breast with vegetables and mash or mussels and chips followed by chocolate brownie and ice cream. (2 courses from about £8).
Baby-changing facilities: No.
Colouring/activity packs: Yes, drawing and colouring.
Child-friendly staff: Yes, happy young staff.
Style: Stylish and friendly gastro-pub, that presents an impressive meal for both discerning adults and even more discerning children!
Things to do: Paultons Park, Ower, nr. Romsey, SO51 6AL
023 8081 4442
Probably the most toddler friendly theme park in the country, Paultons is just excellent for a family day out if you have little ones! There are all sorts of fun toddler rides including Trekking Tractors, Seal Falls (a mini log-flume), cute digger ride plus train round the park and Flying Frogs, the gentle(!) roller-coaster.
The Waggoner's Self-Service Restaurant is reasonably priced and offers plenty of options: nothing too fancy, but there's too much to do in the park to waste time over lunch! There's even Wi-Fi!
Plus there are aviaries full of exotic birds, penguins, various themed play areas and beautiful gardens. What more could a family ask for? The queues are short, the rides all perfectly pitched and varied, the staff are all smiley and helpful. The end result is a hugely successful day out for the whole family.
It's delight - I urge you to go!
Admission: Adults and over 1 metre £18.50, Under 1 meter free; Family ticket £70.00
Baby changing facilities: Yes; lots throughout the park and all of them well-equipped and clean!
Baby Care Room: feeding chairs, microwave to warm milk and wipes provided!
Buggy access: plenty of ramps and easy access throughout.
Refreshments: Waggoner's Restaurant. Children's lunch-box £3.95.
Things to do: Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, Romsey, SO51 OLP
What a find! If you look at the National Trust website, you get the impression that Mottisfont Abbey is a rather dry, unexceptional place for families to visit. However, that couldn't be further from the truth! It's awash with thoughtful activities and ideas to distract children. Seasonal trails in the house and garden are cleverly put together, Family Activity Packs are engaging and well presented. There is also a wonderful and brand new 1950's style ice-cream parlour serving tasty ice-cream cones (£1.30) and huge sundaes (£4.30).
Over the summer a delightful exhibition of Beatrix Potter's original watercolours will be on show (until 30th September). And, a special Beatrix Potter family trail will be on offer (£2) which includes a great goody bag as a prize!
Admission: Adult £7.60, Child 3.80, Family £19. Free to National Trust members.
Baby changing facilities: Yes
Bottle warmer and microwave: Yes
Buggy access: buggies admitted and hip-carrying infant seats for loan.
Refreshments: Kitchen Café. Children's boxes and hot meals available.
Children's Colouring: Yes in restaurant.
Picnic Tables: Yes and you can picnic anywhere except the rose garden.