Including what to do at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Run by Hampshire County Council, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is a huge arboretum that is over 70 hectares. This is the best and most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen!
Started by plantsman Sir Harold Hillier in 1953, this is an outstanding attraction that is perfect for the whole family. Hilliers is open all year round and is known for its natural beauty whatever the weather and its quest for children to explore.
The garden center is on the same site as the gardens. As you drive in you’ll see the option to turn left for parking for the gardens or straight on for the garden center.
As you walk in past the visitor pavilion, you’ll see the toilets and the entrance. It is flat here but further along, it is very hilly.
All the paths main paths are tarmacked though so are great for buggies.
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is open 7-days a week from 10am to 6pm.
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Tickets for Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Currently, you do need to book all tickets in advance. This is for members and non-members. We would suggest you have a look at their membership as it offers great value for the whole family. We have had one for four years now and they’ve only put the price up once, and that was by two pounds.
You can book online in advance and they email you the details ready for your trip.
Directions for Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
From central Southampton, it will take you 20 minutes to get to the gardens. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens address is Jermyns Lane, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0QA.
Car parking at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
They have two huge car parks at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. The main car park is on the left. It’s free to park all day.
If you are looking for disable car parking spaces then keep going straight onwards.
Explore Sir Harold Hillier Gardens for children
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens has loads to discover as a family. Not only is there loads of woodland to explore with breathtaking views but the gardens also have off-the-beaten-track trails you can follow.
Make sure you visit the treehouse which offers fun for all ages. It has a climbing wall and a slide going down the side of the hill.
The magic carpet swing and huge playpark are great for primary school-aged kids. There are loads of benches to sit and watch the kids play.
Going in the other direction is the huge pond. Stop here to spot as many fish and pond life as you can. As you pass make sure you have a go at the pipe chimes, they make a great noise!
The bamboo forest is a great place to play hide and seek and there are loads of wooden plank walks you can take for that extra bit of fun.
There is so many places to run around and play. They have over 180 acres of landscape to pay on. We love running around the Acer Valley in the summer as they offer shade in the warmer months.
Centenary Border has over 22-yard bays that puts every other plant collection to shame. Run up and down this flat grass area and enjoy the tranquil feel.
Food at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
You can get a wide range of food from the main visitor pavilion. This includes teas, coffees, hot meals, and sweet treats like ice cream. They have loads of seating outside on the grass but you are free to picnic anywhere as long as you take your rubbish home with you.
If you keep walking to the right, you should come across Jermyn’s House and Tilia Tree Café. The house is used for offices now but the cafe is a great halfway point if the kids are getting hungry. You can get sandwiches, hot drinks and sweet treats here.
They have loads of benches outside the cafe but we like to walk a little further up to the Heather Garden and enjoy our treats there. It’s normally pretty quiet and a great place to let the kids run free. There’s a slight hill here that the kids love to roll down to!
There is also a block of toilets behind Jermyn’s House which are tucked away.
Which way to walk when visiting Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
If this is your first time visiting Sir Harold Hillier Gardens then you may not know the best route for the kids. The route we use is easy to take and uses as few hills as possible which means it’s great for all ages.
Start at the visitors center and turn left towards the Winter Garden and walk through to the Tree House. From here you can take a slow walk to the wooden playground and swing. This is a great place for snacks as there is loads of picnic benches and spaces for blankets while the kids play.
Then, walk back the way you came, past the visitors center towards the National Collection Glade. This is where you will find the wind chimes. After this is a slight hill going downwards towards the pond. Follow this main path past the pond, remembering to have a go at the wobbly bridge and the bamboo planks that take you to different discreet areas.
Next, walk past the Bog Garden and see what you can spot. The boardwalk takes you through a tunnel that is fun for the whole family. It feels like you are the only one there or like you are in Jurassic Park!
From here, keep following the main path to Jermyn’s House and Tilia Tree Café. This is where we normally stop for lunch, either at the cafe or a little further on at the Heather Garden with a picnic. This is a great time for a quick toilet break too.
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We then follow the main path towards Summer Meadow which has a huge amount of tall trees and shrubs that are great for a game of hide and seek. If you keep following this path, it will take you straight back to the visitors center.
We then have a drink or snack here and then go to the Dragonfly area which is right behind the offices. They have little pond dipping activities here on certain days plus the hill is great to run up and down, you can see the kids for miles.
If you enjoyed this post and would like some more ideas on things to do in Hampshire then head over to the Things To Do section here on Things To Do In Hampshire With Kids where you’ll find over 50 day out ideas in Hampshire that the whole family will enjoy. You could also pop over and follow our Facebook page here or our Hampshire days out Pinterest boards for lots more ideas on what you can do as a family in Hampshire; Days Out For The Kids in Hampshire and Cheap and Free Days Out in Hampshire.
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