Beaulieu National Motor Museum is a surprising day out. You might expect it to be all about cars but that’s not actually all it has to offer.
We went as a family; 2 adults and 2 children (4 and 11 weeks). Children under 5 are free. We decided to take the monorail first so we could get our bearings in the park. The monorail was opened in 1971 and if I am honest is quite dated however the 10 minute ride was pleasant and gives you a Birdseye view of the park which is helpful in understanding where everything is and help you plan your day.
Next we went to the Top Gear exhibition, which my husband in particular enjoyed. There are lots of projects which Clarkson, Hammond and May made, as well as things from the newer series (which we haven’t watched). Then to ‘cars on screen’ which has a range of vehicles, including the Reliant Regal from ‘Only Fools and Horses’.
Next we went to the main National Motor Museum where you start at the oldest car and finish at the newest (a 2021 Suzuki), but in between are beautiful old vehicles, cars, buses, motorcycles, F1 cars, vintage VWs and more! Even for a non car person like myself these are interesting and some are even beautiful! The collection is vast and currently houses the cars from the new Bond film ‘No time to die’ which are very cool! Like most people you wander around ogling the incredibly expensive cars and wondering how different life would be if you owned a car like that!
It was also very fun being able to get onto an old style double decker bus and my son couldn’t believe that buses like that were around in London when I was at secondary school (much more fun than today’s buses was Dylan’s assessment!).
Next we went to the new playground which is fantastic for children and an excellent addition to ensure a family friendly attraction. Our son Dylan (4) could have happily spent all day in the playground! It’s great for exploring & very interactive.
There are lots of picnic tables around the grounds and some within the playground complex which was a bit more sheltered from the cold wind of the day.
We then visited the Abbey, learning about its history and monks, with some interactive elements for children. Lastly we visited the secret army exhibition about the spies trained at Beaulieu in WW2 which was incredibly interesting and thought provoking regarding Beaulieu’s history.
Our son really wanted to do the bus ride around the grounds but it was extremely busy at the end of the day so we didn’t get to do it. We also didn’t manage the exhibition inside the house or the Victorian Kitchen garden (due to the cold weather). I like the diversity of what’s on offer at Beaulieu. It’s a bit random but actually that’s what makes it interesting and the addition of the new playground works well to break up the museum elements for younger children.
Lots of people had brought their dogs and had it been a warmer day we may well have done & then explored the grounds further. The whole place is very buggy friendly. We had our 11 week old in the carrier as I didn’t know how buggy friendly the place would be but loads of people had buggy’s.
The only negative of the day I would say was the coffee which was burnt and that was disappointing as I needed a caffeinated drink by that point and for £3 I expected something reasonable, on a positive though they were able to cater to my non cows milk needs and had oat milk on offer! I would definitely recommend Beaulieu for those who live near (like us) or visitors to the area.