• With Kids in the Westcountry

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Abbotsbury, between Weymouth and Bridport, West Dorset

Pretty gardens with exotic and unusual plants from all over the world

Sculpture trail

Buggy-friendly pathways

Café with indoor and outdoor seating

Baby change facilities

Small children’s play area

Free parking

Under 5s go free

The village of Abbotsbury has got a lot going on for families – it has two major attractions, Abbotsbury Swannery and Abbotsbury Subtropical gardens; as well as its own stretch of beach, a fantastic adventure playground, and tea rooms galore. It’s about halfway between the seaside towns of Weymouth and Bridport just at the foot of the steep hill of the famous ‘Coast Road’, which has amazing views over Chesil Beach.

Today was an opportunity to meet with grandparents post-lockdown and Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens was the ideal venue with a bit of something for everyone out in the fresh air.

With plenty of free parking, easy pushchair access around much of the site, and a large café with courtyard seating and baby change facilities, life is made easy for visiting families. There are acres of colourful and exotic gardens to explore, with winding paths, bridges and hidden sculptures (many of them easily recognisable characters from Beatrix Potter books etc) to look for as you go. Even better – kids under 5 go free!

My children enjoyed examining the flowers for the first 15 minutes or so, but once they’d reached the end of their plant attention span they equally enjoyed pond dipping for tadpoles and rolling down the lawns - it was a nice place for us all to wander around with plenty to explore.

At the end of the trail around the gardens, the café provides a generous choice of drinks, cakes and ice creams, with lots of child-friendly outdoor seating and indoor seating / full menu to return later in the year.

We noticed a small children’s playground behind the café, accessed from within the plant shop area – this was closed today due to the venue’s COVID policy but no doubt will reopen in time.

At the time of writing (April 2020), arrival timeslots and tickets were to be booked online in advance.

Tickets are priced as follows*:

Under 5’s – FREE

Children 5-15yrs - £5.00

Adults 16+ - £10.00

Dual ticket offer – If you fancy extending your day by visiting the neighbouring attraction Abbotsbury Swannery, you can save 25% on the Swannery entrance fee by booking tickets in the same transaction.

*Please check here for up-to-date pricing as at the time of writing, tickets were discounted.

Opening hours:

7 days a week, 10.00 – 17.00 (last entries 15.00)

Extending your visit – Abbotsbury Adventure Playground

I had planned to visit Abbotsbury’s highly renowned adventure playground after we’d finished at the Gardens - a 3-minute drive away in Abbotsbury village according to the sat nav - but I couldn’t find it! So that gives us another good reason to return soon – I will report back once I’ve figured out where it is..!

Update… here’s how to get to Abbotsbury adventure playground:

The address is 2 Seaway Lane, accessed from West Street via Hannah’s Lane.