Dorchester is a fascinating mix of the modern and the traditional, so start by taking a trip back, way back into time at the award-winning Dinosaur Museum. It’s a roaring success in the middle of Dorchester – gateway to Dorset’s World Heritage Jurassic Coast, of course – which positively encourages children to touch a Tyrannosaurus Rex thanks to its commitment to hands-on learning and entertainment.
Slightly more cuddly is the charming Teddy Bear Museum, with over 100 years of teddy bears from all over the world to delight all ages. Get a Gold Saver Pass and you can take in both the dinosaurs and teddy bears, and visit three other small museums for no extra charge: The Tutankhamun Exhibition (a recreation of the tomb and treasures), the Terracotta Warriors Museum (inspired by the First Emperor of China’s famous Terracotta Army) and a superb collection of unwrapped Royal Mummies at The Mummies Exhibition.
But no visit to Dorchester would be complete without going full Thomas Hardy. The Dorset County Museum offers a recreation of his study, the intriguing story of his life and work and the world’s biggest Hardy archive. Book yourself on a Hardy walking tour taking in the famous ‘Casterbridge’ landmarks, or visit the properties maintained by The National Trust – Max Gate is the atmospheric Victorian home designed by Hardy and, a few miles away, Hardy’s Cottage preserves the celebrated author’s birthplace.