Beaulieu is the ideal destination for a day out with the grandchildren.
With an adventure play area, and lots of open space to let off steam, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for the whole day. Plus if you visit during school holidays, there are even more activities to choose from!
As you leave visitor reception, keep an eye out for the tree-top griffin. This mythical creature supports the Montagu family coat of arms and is one of several tree carvings around the grounds.
If the kids are hungry from the journey, stop off for a drink and snack in the Brabazon Restaurant, otherwise head straight to the National Motor Museum.
National Motor Museum
Start your day in the world-famous National Motor Museum, which is home to over 280 vehicles, some of which might be familiar from your own past.
With so many cars, it can be overwhelming to know where to start, but don’t worry! These are our top picks for your journey around the museum:
- Strike a pose! Climb behind the wheel of the 1904 Pope Tribune in Early Motoring.
- Get hands-on. Turn knobs and handles to discover how gears, suspension and engines work in Driving Change. Plus meet the talking crash test dummy!
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Everyone knows this one! The magical flying car is a family favourite with adults and children alike.
- Bluebird CN7. The fastest vehicle in the museum. Bluebird broke the land speed record when it reached 403.10mph. It can be seen in For Britain & For The Hell Of It alongside three other record-breaking cars.
- Mini Outspan Orange. A giant orange on wheels?!? Unlike Bluebird, this vehicle definitely isn’t built for speed – when it reaches over 30mph it has a tendency to roll!
- Peel P50. One of the cutest vehicles in the museum, this microcar doesn’t have a reverse gear. But that’s no problem – the driver can simply pick it up and move it using the handle at the rear of the car!
Now for something a little bit different… head to the Monorail for a high-level journey around the grounds, including a trip through the roof of the National Motor Museum.
Be warned – the ‘skytrain’ is extremely popular with our younger visitors, so they may not let you off until you’ve done several circuits!
World of Top Gear
Travel a full circuit on the Monorail and hop off at North Station to visit World of Top Gear, where you’ll find the cars that were modified, battered and generally ruined by the BBC’s Top Gear team.
Visit the Enormodrome to find out what it feels like inside the Top Gear studio. Then take a walk through the Challenge Gallery to see the challenge cars in the condition they were left after filming. Make sure you snap some photos in our selfie spots.
If you fancy some healthy competition, challenge each other to see whose driving skills are the best on the remote-control cars at the Test Track Challenge (a small extra charge applies). Kids vs grown-ups?
Advisory: The TV show occasionally features mild bad language and this is reflected on some of the caption boards and in the Enormodrome film. If you have any concerns about their suitability for your grandchildren, please ask a team member before you enter World of Top Gear and we’ll be happy to advise.
On Screen cars
Next door to World of Top Gear, you’ll find an ever-changing exhibition of TV and film favourites in On Screen Cars. See Mr Bean’s Mini, Del Boy’s Reliant Regal and the ‘flying’ Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets among others.
You may leave the exhibition singing some of your favourite theme tunes!
Time to refuel and recharge. Our recommendation? Head to Little Beaulieu, where you’ll find under-cover seating for a picnic or light bite from the café, all with a clear view of the adventure playground. The kids will love charging around the magical wooden palace while you relax and put your feet up.
If the weather is less than friendly, head to the Brabazon Restaurant to choose from a selection of hot and cold meals, sourced where possible from the Beaulieu gardens. The restaurant offers a ‘junior racer menu’ for smaller stomachs.
Mill Pond Walk
Time to go exploring (and walk off your lunch!) with a stroll along the Mill Pond Walk. The peaceful route will take you past ancient oak trees, but you might also be able to spot a variety of supernatural characters…
Challenge the kids to spot the fairy doors at the base of the trees lining the path. Plus keep an eye out for more tree carvings – a sprite, a legendary Green Man and a many-headed serpent can all be found along the walk.
Take a break at one of the many benches to rest your feet and enjoy views of the Mill Pond.
As you reach the end of the Mill Pond Walk, the majestic sight of Palace House will come into view.
As you enter the house, chat to the Victorian-costumed staff to find out what life’s like ‘below-stairs’ in a historic house.
Our highlights include:
- Dining Hall. Measure yourselves against the heights of the growing Montagu children pencilled on the walls each side of the fireplace.
- Victorian Kitchen. Find the menu board, written up daily from the kitchen diary of 1889. What was for breakfast in 1889? What did you all have for breakfast today? If you visit during school holidays you may see the cook and her maid in action.
- Secret Staircase. Peer up the narrow and winding steps. These would have made a wonderful hiding place for a game of hide and seek!
- Ghostly heritage. Spooky activity has been reported at Beaulieu for over 100 years, including sightings of the ‘Grey Lady’. Visitors who have seen her in the main house asked why the costumed guide wouldn’t speak to them! Let us know if you spot anything supernatural on your visit…
Secret Army Exhibition
During World War II, Beaulieu was a top secret training school for secret agents. Visit the Secret Army Exhibition to find out how they trained, what they learned and have a go at using a cipher wheel. Can you crack the codes and find out how a newspaper could be used to pass a secret message?
Grounds & Gardens
Take a breather and let the kids run off some steam in the grounds and gardens.
Head up the central path and visit the Victorian Flower Garden to see the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland topiary display. Enjoy the fragrant scents of the nearby rose garden while you challenge the children to name all the characters.
Cross over the path to the Victorian Kitchen Garden to see what the gardeners are growing. Depending on the time of year, you might see pumpkins, beans, lettuces and purple basil – which ones have you all tasted?
If you haven’t been yet (or if the kids are clamouring to go back!), head to our exciting adventure playground, Little Beaulieu. With plenty of secret passageways and hidden tunnels, speedy slides and even a zip wire, there’s so much to explore. But be warned – they may not want to leave!
Take a seat and relax with a sneaky cuppa while the children play – or join in and have a go yourself.
Largely ruined during the dissolution, Beaulieu Abbey was once the largest Cistercian building in England and is now an oasis of calm.
Stand in the ruined Abbey Church – this was originally the size of a cathedral and took 42 years to build. If started today, how old would the children be when just the Church was finished?
During summer holidays, settle down in the Cloister to see falconry displays. Then visit the Abbots Mews Exhibition to learn more about the story of falconry on the Beaulieu Estate.
Head indoors to the Monastic Life Exhibition to build a medieval arch and find out how the monks lived. Would you have enjoyed the typical meal of bread, cheese, pottage, fish, leeks and ale? Who will be first to spot the model which shows how the completed Abbey may have looked?
Many people’s favourite part of a trip to Beaulieu! Hop on the Veteran Bus for a trip back to the Brabazon Restaurant.
Pop into the Brabazon Restaurant to refuel before the journey home, then wave a last farewell to the griffin as you leave through visitor reception.
This itinerary is for guidance only. Vehicles and exhibits are occasionally removed from display for maintenance, so if you’d like to see something particular please check with us before you visit.
Some parts of the attraction and rides are not fully accessible for customers who use wheelchairs or have limited walking ability. Please see our accessibility page for more details. Our team will be happy to advise on alternative viewing or access points as appropriate.
Plan your visit with our interactive map of the Beaulieu complex.
Tickets & Information
Your admission ticket includes entry to all the Beaulieu attractions, including The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and more.
School Holiday Fun
Every school holiday we have even more fun themed family activities for visitors to take part in.