Dorset County in Southwest England stretches along the English Channel west of Isle of Wight. Unique to Dorset is its Jurassic Coast where cliffs expose millions of years of geological history to the naked eye and exemplary fossil specimens are hunted by researchers.
When the light is just right in summer, the sandy beaches in Dorset County recall the Mediterranean, not the Channel.
Dorset remains largely rural with barley farms and dairies covering much of the inland area.
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Things to do in Dorset
Sure, Dorset has the standard lineup of castles, gardens and walking paths you’d expect most everywhere in England, but here you can also visit the Monkey World ape rescue centre, a 65-acre park housing rescued and endangered apes, along with the Tank Museum, displaying the world’s finest collection of armoured vehicles.
Adventure seekers will enjoy sailing aboard the Tallship Moonfleet.
Top Destinations Around Dorset
Bournemouth – The largest city in Dorset, this has been a popular tourist destination since the late 1800s. Why? It’s beaches consistently rank among the best in the world.
Bournemouth also hosts an annual Oktoberfest!
Dorchester – An annual cider festival marks a highpoint on the calendar with museums for dinosaurs, teddy bears and one sharing the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Bloody Assizes.
Christchurch – Birdwatchers will enjoy scanning the estuary at Christchurch Harbour while families will enjoy Christchurch Quay which has a splashpark, children’s play area, concerts in summer and boats for hire.
A combo tram, punt and gondola tour around town will introduce you to areas for further exploration.
Poole – Take to the water with a Poole Harbor and Islands cruise; relaxing while taking in new perspectives on Jurassic Coast.
Weymouth – King George III was a frequent visitor to Weymouth in the 1700s and it’s easy to understand why. The Georgian seafront takes its inspiration from him.
When the weather isn’t cooperating, visit Sea Life Weymouth for a look at otters, rescued sea turtles and the world’s smallest penguins.
Swanage – Walking to the end of Swanage Pier, a Victorian era icon, is a must for anyone visiting. The adjacent beach is just as highly recommended. So too is a ride on the historic steam powered Swanage Railway which offers stunning views of William the Conqueror’s Corfe Castle.
Lyme Regis – Situated on the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, and known as “The Pearl of Dorset,” Lyme Regis was founded more than 1,200 years ago by monks from Sherborne. There are many trails and bridleways here to explore, and guided fossil tours are popular.
Burton Bradstock – This pretty village along the Jurassic Coast is known for its iconic sandstone cliffs. A break in the cliffs reveals the National Trust owned Hive Beach with stunning views east and west along the Jurassic Coastline.
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