Thursday, 27 August 2015

#HiddenGems of Bournemouth

I grew up in Cornwall and have never lived further than 15 miles from the coast, so I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have the beach on my doorstep. In fact we mostly visit the beach outside of the traditional season for a bracing walk to blow away the cobwebs away from the summertime crowds.

Our usual beach area of choice is Bournemouth, although we always start in Southbourne to the east of Bournemouth and head towards Poole and the uber-posh Sandbanks. This is a long walk, however there is plenty of parking along the coast and transport links are good between Christchurch, Bournemouth & Poole.

Here are my five hidden gems around the Bournemouth area that we either regularly visit, or that are on our list to explore this year!

Bournemouth Upper Gardens - Parallel to Branksome Wood Road
Top -
Bottom (both) - 
Bournemouth's gardens are split into three areas and stretch from the seafront, up through the town and to the boundary with Poole. The Lower Gardens, closest to the seafront, have lots of events and attractions in and around them so can get busy, particularly in the summer. Head up into the middle and upper gardens and the crowds thin out and the planting becomes more informal. You will find red bridges criss-crossing the stream throughout the garden, along with a Victorian Water Tower built in 1885.

Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum - Russell Cotes Road BH1 3AA

Images from Russell Cotes Gallery website

Originally called East Cliff Hall, this house was built in 1897 as a birthday present to the wife of the hotel owner, situated next door. Annie Russell-Cotes then donated the house to the people of Bournemouth in 1907 and her husband donated his extensive art collection. You can now visit not only the four galleries, but also large sections of the beautiful house and gardens too.

Bournemouth Vintage Emporium & Tearooms - 1172-1180 Christchurch Road BH7 6DY

Images from Vintage Emporium Facebook page
Lose yourself in this huge warehouse, home to over 50 different traders selling clothing,jewellery, furniture, books and everything in between. When we've been before we've come across childhood toys, retro sportswear and a book on weight lifting poses, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger! If it all becomes a little too much pop into the adjacent tea room for a well earned sit down and feast your eyes on the beautiful lampshades handing above your head - be warned the homemade cakes sell out fast, so a morning visit is advisable!  

Conto Lounge - 418 Wimborne Road, Winton BH9 2HB

Image from Conto Lounge website
We came across this cool, Americana cafe/bar when we were heading to a spa day. The laid back vibe is reflected in it's interior and layout, there are plenty of traditional wooden tables and chairs for cosy twosomes up to large groups dissecting last night's activities! The menu takes you through the whole day from healthy breakfasts, to american brunch items and burgers as well as hearty meals and a selection of tapas for those long, lazy lunches. Service is with a smile and no pressure to eat up and ship out! Children are entertained with a selection of games & toys and the bar staff are happy to heat up milk & food as necessary. (Other "lounges" can be found thoughout the country)

Sandbanks Beach Cafe - Banks Road, Poole BH13 7QQ

Image from Sandbanks Beach Cafe website
Admittedly more Poole than Bournemouth, this cafe is worth the walk (or drive). Park along Banks Road (arrive early, Pay & Display in operation) and head over to the beach, the cafe is found just past the crazy golf courses. This Cafe is large, light and airy. The coffee is gorgeous and the homemade cakes are to die for! As well as the usual cafe fare, Sandbanks also serves up lunch options such as battered squid, pulled pork sandwiches & sharing boards - they also hold an alcohol license so you can enjoy a cold glass of wine with your lunch! Walk off your lunch with a stroll around Banks Road and Panorama Road to lust at the multimillion pound beach homes.

Of course this is only a small snapshot of what Bournemouth has to offer. With the New Forest only a stone's throw away, Bournemouth is the perfect place for a long weekend. Travelodge has a range of hotels to suit every budget in and around Bournemouth, just waiting for you!

Where would you head to for a long weekend? Let me know if you have your own #HiddenGems for Bournemouth too!

This is a collaborative post with Travelodge

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