“Where are you studying? Oh, Bournemouth? Lovely beach there.”
It’s true, we do have a lovely beach. Apparently, its even won some big awards for being lovely. But sometimes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and for the 360 days of the year that aren't gloriously sunny weather it's kind of the worst. So here’s a list of cool things you can do in Bournemouth that don’t involve swimming about in a body of water that's basically a giant fish toilet, getting sand in all your nooks and crannies, sunburn, and seagulls hounding you for your chips.
Learn how to scale indoor rock walls, or try your hand at slacklining. The Lookout Café on the top floor also serve a great range of home-cooked food and fiiiiiine coffee. AUB Climbing society have a discount on admission to the climbing center if you’re interested in taking it up weekly.
Molly’s Den is a vintage, retro, and antiques emporium. They specialise in antique furniture, records, vintage clothing, collectables, and much much more. They also serve a cracking coffee, bonus!
Coffee & Dice serve top quality coffee and are filled to the brim with board games of all different sorts and varieties. Grab some friends (or even turn up on your own, they have a cool little system where folks who turn up on their own can join in with other groups’ games) and discover a new social game that isn’t Ring of Fire!
If you like your golf pint-sized, then look no further! For the past two years AUB Fine Art students have collaborated with the mini gold course to create wild sculptures and mini golf obstacles, so keep your eye of for that.
If you like your golf pint-sized AND abandoned, then this one is for you. The old mini golf course (which originated in 1931 and is one of the oldest courses in the UK) is derelict and totally un-playable, but there’s something rather nice about seeing nature reclaim it.
Shoot your pals with laser tag guns in the dark while a playlist of late 90s/early 00s trance/club music plays. It sounds surreal, and it is, but it’s a truly winning combination.
This outdoor velodrome is just a 5 minute walk from campus, and when its not booked out it’s completely free to use. Bring your bike and have a go at tackling the banked track (or bring a skateboard and do cool skateboardy stuff).
Learn to surf at the best surf school in Bournemouth. AUBSU have a special offer set up with our Give it a Go programme that gives students the chance to purchase 5 surf lessons for just £50! (Ok technically this one involves a bit of beach, but it was kind of too cool to miss off the list…)
Hop on the train at Bournemouth to Brockenhurst and suddenly you’re in the heart of The New Forest! Hiring a bike from Brockenhurst (or bringing your own) is the best way to take in some of the stunning forest scenery.
The Crooked Book sells second-hand books, furniture, antiques, and coffee, meaning it’s the perfect place to spend an hour or so if you have nothing else on.
Bag of Holding describe themselves as “purveyors of quality geeky games and toys”, and we like that. They also regularly collaborate with our very on Board Game Society to hold board game sessions here on campus.
RockReef is situated on Bournemouth Pier (so you may end up having to look at the beach, sorry folks!) and features 25 climbing walls, a highline obstacle course, a vertical drop slide, and the PierZip – a zipline over the sea!
These folks are passionate about cycling and coffee, so they combined the two to create a place that repairs/sells bicycle parts and serves up freshly roasted coffee. If you’re planning some cycle rides with some buds then this is a great pit-stop!
Café Boscanova serve up really bloomin’ good coffee and brunch. They’re also fans of our student publication, BUMF, which is a perfect read when accompanied by Boscanova’s chill tunes and perfectly roasted coffee.
Tiny cosy bar? Yes. Seemingly endless whiskey list? Hell yes. Fab selection of local folk/rock musicians taking to the stage? You got it. Smokin’ Aces ticks all the boxes.
Chez Fred is highly regarded by locals as one of the best places to get fish and chips, and for a seaside town that’s a pretty high accolade. Jack Black once ate here – so if it’s good enough half of Tenacious D to fill their boot then its good enough for us!
Drink coffee, eat your weight in vegan treats, and pet some cats. The Pause crew are all about promoting animal welfare, ethical eating, and volunteering and community projects – what a good bunch of eggs!
Espresso Kitchen is quaint and cosy and serves one of the best coffees available in the centre of Bournemouth and there’s not really much else we can say about it.
Sunrise Organics is a vegan/organic health food store, selling everything from food and snacks to toiletries. They also sell delicious takeaway snacks from the Sweet Greens Organic Vegan Kitchen, so its always worth popping in if you’re in the area.
Flirt is a rather unique and splendid café and bar in the Triangle. Not only do they sell a fine selection of coffees, cakes, snacks, light meals, and locally-sourced beers and ciders, but they also hold regular quiz nights, karaokes, book clubs, chess sessions, knitting groups, live music evenings, and much much more!
Mad Cucumber have combined a love of home-cooked vegan food with books and board games to create a wonderfully chill little café.
If you’re in Winton, then we highly recommend making Wistmans your number one stop for coffee. They make one of the finest coffees in Bournemouth, and you can purchase some of the local artwork (featuring some of our own AUB students’ work!) right off of the walls. Wil, one of the owners and in-house artists, is also a graduate of little ol’ AUB, which is pretty cool too!
Little Pickle is situated just between Boscombe and the antique shops of Pokesdown. Their menu is full of locally-sourced ingredients, and their walls are adorned with local artwork.
Though its name suggests size and grandeur, the Colosseum is actually the smallest cinema in the UK. It shows a selection of films from the 50s, 60s, and 70s as well as cult classics. It’s situated in the basement of The Vintage Lounge, which is also worth having a mosey about in too!
The Russell-Cotes Museum is an exotic Victorian villa jam-packed with art and sculptures. Students can visit for just £4 with a valid student ID card.
Compton Acres is one of the most important ornamental gardens in the UK. We’re not entirely sure what that means, but we DO know that it is one lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon wandering about in, and that the Japanese Gardens are especially wonderful!
The BNSS is open on Tuesdays, 10-4, and their collection of natural science things includes preserved stuff in jars and a real-life mummy, which is pretty neat!
Visit the burial ground of the author of Frankenstein in a beautiful old medieval churchyard. There are maps and information boards at the church which can point you in the direction of both Mary Shelley’s grave, as well as some of the other more interesting memorials.
Durdle Door is a geographical wonder created by erosion 140 million years ago. It’s a stunning place to visit on a sunny day or evening. (It’s technically on a beach but we’re willing to overlook that on this occasion for the sake of nature at its finest).
Brownsea Island is a National Trust island here in Dorset. It’s where the Scouting and Guiding movement started in 1907, and is the best place to go to see stunning wildlife – including rare red squirrels.