Earlier in June, we spent a few days in the Test Valley and we had such fun. It is definitely an area we fell in love with. It feels like you are in the depths of the countryside but then it is only a 10 or 15-minute drive to a major town or the motorway. I'd highly recommend the area for a short break, either as a couple or with your family.
Here is just a taster of some of the many, many wonderful things you can get up to in the Test Valley when you have your kids with you (and of course, many of them are suitable without kids too)
1. Walk the Test Way. This runs alongside the Test River for 44 miles and it is divided up into eight sections so you can navigate it easily. Many parts pass through gorgeous market towns and villages, where you can stop for a nice drink.
2. Stop off at Paultons Park/ Peppa Pig World. Depending on how big your kids are will dictate which part of the park you visit and if you have kids of both ages, don't worry as the entrance fee covers both parts. We have visited a number of times but not for a few years and the girls are keen to go back and experience the new Tornado Springs area.
3. You're sure to have a great day if you visit Marwell Zoo, as there are 140 acres filled with hundreds of animals and five adventure play parks to enjoy and explore. We last visited in 2015 and the giraffes were a highlight for us.
4. Be a daredevil at Romsey Rapids. Why not take a pirate wash under the tipping bucket, climb up to the crow's nest and whizz down the long slide, enjoy the rapids and relax in the jacuzzi. For toddlers, there is a pirate ship and a toddler slide in the toddler pool area. There is also mini-golf onsite for afterwards.
5. See some living history at the Whitchurch Silk Mill, which was built in 1813 and has been a working museum since 1990, preserving winding and weaving methods with traditional machinery.
6. Explore the fascinating history of army aviation at the Army Flying Museum, near Stockbridge. This one is on our hit list for the future as my son loves all things military. There is over 35 aircraft on show and the museum scans 100 years of history of the British Army in the air.
7. Enjoy a day at the Hawk Conservancy Trust. We had an amazing day there recently and I recommend you stay for all three flying shows throughout the day as each is quite different and special. Make sure you enjoy lunch in the Feathers Restaurant too as the food was good and reasonably priced.
8. Have afternoon tea at Kimbridge Barn, which has the River Test running right through its grounds. It doesn't look like they serve any ordinary afternoon tea, this one includes locally caught chalk-stream smoked trout sandwiches, mini Opera cakes and cheesecake, and even a little treacle tart.
9. Walk the Romsey Heritage Trail. You can print off the free map and leaflet from the Visit Hants website. The trail is a short walk around the interesting market town of Romsey, taking in the Abbey, Town Hall and King John's House.
10. Run wild at National Trust Mottisfont. We love NT sites as they always have something going on for the kids, like natural play parks, activity trails and the like. Mottisfont is a popular place to play pooh sticks with its wooden bridges and gushing river and there is a 1600 acre wider estate with woodland and farmland to explore.
11. Check what is on at the Lights, Andover and book in for a quirky show, exhibition, workshop or open-air pantomime.
12. Book a nights stay at the Michelmersh Manor Farm and feed the animals there. You can even stay in a shepherds hut if you fancy something a little different. We stayed there for a few nights recently and had the most wonderful time.
13. If you have smaller children they will love a couple of hours at Frankies Fun Factory in Romsey. Soft play is always a winner for a rainy day and it is great to let them run off some of their energy.
14. Take a history lesson and go back in time to the Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort. This is a beautiful area to explore and you have a great vantage point to see the countryside for miles.
15. The Longstock Park Water Garden attracts a variety of wildlife and is a great place to spot a heron or kingfisher. The seven acre water based garden is quite different to most you'd visit and 40 different species of waterlily create quite a spectacle.
16. Finkley Down Farm is a must visit for those with pre-school or primary aged kids. All the family can get hands on with the farm animals and there is a play park, soft play, mini tractors, trampolines, crazy golf and even seasonal water play.
17. One for the older kids is Thruxton Motosports Centre where they can experience racing days in various cars on the race circuit. Or other times you can attend a race meeting, maybe for superbikes or British trucks. Check out their current diary of events.
18. Explore the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. There is a massive variety or garden areas and woodland here and spotted throughout are activities for the children to enjoy and get involved with - play areas, balance beams and natural musical instruments.
19. On the outskirts of the Test Valley is Eastleigh where you'll find a VUE cinema and lots of great restaurants. Why not take in a film as the seats cost just £4.99 each which is excellent value.
20. If you like a bit of a thrill then why not do one of the treetop courses at Tree Runners in Andover. Very similar to Go Ape you can go from tree to tree by the use of Zip wires, snowboards and tarzan swings.
There we go, loads of ideas of things to do in the Test Valley, some just for families with kids and many suitable for everyone. We had a wonderful stay in this area and I'm sure you'll enjoy exploring it too.
Have fun, Mich x