Southampton is a great city for leisure activities. Whether your definition of leisure is to shop until you drop, to get active and compete in sports, to have fun or perhaps relaxation is at the top of the list, there’s plenty of places to visit across the city.
If it’s one thing Southampton isn’t short of that’s shops. From Bedford Place at the top end of town, stretching through to the Below Bar at the southern end, there is something to suit every style and budget.
Shops range from well-known high street names including John Lewis, Next and Marks and Spencer, to independent boutiques, specialist shops and market stalls.
Westquay Shopping Centre is Southampton’s largest shopping complex with over 100 stores spread over three floors. You’ll find clothing stores for all ages, shops for accessories, games and gifts. If you’re feeling peckish during your shop then head up to the third floor where you’ll find a whole level dedicated to food, including the Handmade Burger Co. and YO! Sushi.
The Marlands Shopping Centre offers a great range of shops from independent boutiques and well-known shops including the Disney Store! You’ll also find crafts, toys, perfumes and coffees amongst the good selection of clothing stores. The café’s selling sweet treats and dlicious beverages are great fuel to keep you going. Bedford Place is north of the city centre and has the atmosphere of a bygone era, in what is probably the last bastion of small independent boutiques and quality businesses.
You can mix your shopping with an eating experience at Southampton’s markets on a Friday and Saturday from 9am-5pm. Held in the pedestrianised area at the Bargate monument these markets offer a selection of food stalls and general market stalls.
A great feature of shopping in Southampton is the late night opening of many of its shops. Regular late nights for many shops are Thursday evenings, however Westquay offers late night shopping until 8pm every weeknight, and to 7pm on Saturdays
Shop for fun!
If you enjoy fun and quirky shops then you must visit:
>> Forbidden Planet – perfect for sci-fi fans (Hannover Buildings).
>> Disney Store – a dream for Disney fans! The Marlands).
>>Beatnik Emporium – vintage and retro clothing and accessories (Above Bar Street).
If you like your big-named brands then you’ll find plenty of your favourite stores in Southampton, here’s where to find them:
>> Westquay Shopping Centre in the city centre.
>> Southampton High Street north of the Bargate.
>> Debenhams in Queensway.
There’s nothing like something a bit different from a local independent shop, here’s where to find them:
>> The Marlands Shopping Centre in the city centre.
>> East Street below the Bargate.
>> Bedford Place at the very north end of town.
>> Oceans Southampton is an independent gift shop with a range of souveniers.
Southampton has always enjoyed a great relationship with sport. From the home of Hampshire Cricket at the Ageas Bowl which hosts 41 days of domestic cricket and three England Internationals in 2017 to premiership team Southampton Football Club who will be launching The Southampton Cup (5th 12th August), a brand new eight-day international youth football tournament, which is being hosted in Southampton and the surrounding area, involving boys’ and girls’ teams from across the globe. If you are inspired to get in involved, get fit and get active, then there is plenty of opportunity across the city for all the family.
Go Ape Southampton: Live life adventurously and take on a Tree Top Adventure like no other including high ropes crossings, Tarzan Swings and Zip lines. Or enjoy Tree Top Junior, a high ropes course designed for mini Tarzans.
With Rees Leisure organising some of Southampton’s top sporting events there is plenty of reasons to get fit; the ABP Marathon is running its first full marathon in 2017 after the success of its 10K and half marathon, Cycle Southampton is an exciting new action packed weekend coming in September 2017, and for those that love the water Southampton Sailing week takes place in May 2017.
Being by the water the sailing community in Southampton is abundant and access to various water sports is plentiful. Whether you want to learn to sail, dive, kayak or row, there is a place that will show you how. SWAC, Calshot and Andark are just a few of the Southampton based centres in and around the city.
Feel free as a bird at the ultimate trampoline park playground, Oxygen Freejumping. This is a great way to burn off some energy and great fun for all ages!
At Southampton’s Alpine Centre you can ski without the snow with mixed ability sessions, snowblading and snowboarding. Another great way to get active and explore the city is by bike. There are several places you can hire bikes to explore Southampton, the Isle of Wight and The New Forest. Whether your start in Southampton and hire your bike from Town Quay, or take the ferries over to the Isle of Wight or Hythe and pick up your bikes there.
If it’s your brain you like to exercise then you’ll want to try Exciting Escapes new Escape Rooms in Southampton! As the time ticks down you and your friends need to solve the puzzles and mysteries found in the room to find your escape!
If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city Centre:
>> Head to one of the seven formal parks across the city with rose gardens, fountains and sculptures.
>> The 326 acre Southampton Common has plenty of routes and paths for walking, running or cycling.
If your looking for energetic family fun:
> Bounce to your heart’s content at Oxygen Freejumping.
>> Work as a team to solve the puzzles at Exciting Escapes.
>> Explore the play facilities at Houndwell Park.
A base for exploration
There is loads of family fun to be found across the city but Southampton is also a great base for exploring Hampshire and the south coast.
Fifteen miles west of Southampton is the New Forest, a national park of open heath, ancient woodlands and plenty of family attractions. Here you’ll find the world-famous Beaulieu home of the National Motor Museum, Palace House and World of Top Gear. A short journey down the road and you’ll discover Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum on the banks of the Beaulieu River. The New Forest is also home to the New Forest Wildlife Park offering a lovely family day out with plenty to see from Otters to Wolves!
Take a Red Funnel ferry or the Red Jet to the Isle of Wight for a day visit or relaxing break. The stunning island destination is a short distance from Southampton with unspoilt scenery and a wealth of family attractions including Dinosaur Isle, Britain’s first purpose built dinosaur museum and visitor attraction.
To the east, approximately 25 miles from Southampton lies the historic waterside city of Portsmouth, home of Fort Nelson. Strategically positioned on Portsdown Hill Fort Nelson is a historic monument and home to the Royal Armouries National Collection of Artillery.
Travelling up the M3 you come to the historic city of Winchester and home to the Winchester Cathedral one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Just on the outskirts of Winchester you’ll find Marwell Zoo where you can get close to wonders of the natural world, and for a more adult day out and for Gin-lovers the Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Whitchurch is a must!
Described as the beautiful breathing space between the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, and less than ten miles east of Southampton, the Hamble Valley is a picturesque area of coast and countryside with waterside villages along the River Hamble.
Recharge those batteries
Whatever your reasons for visiting Southampton you may need to recharge those batteries and kick back for a while.
Places to do this are ample, whether it’s relaxing in one of the city’s peaceful parks, indulging in one of the many ice cream parlours, or enjoying a warming beverage in one of the coffee houses. For a really laid back vibe the hotels in Southampton offer the perfect place to relax and indulge in life’s little luxuries. Not just a place to rest your head, you can often enjoy an Afternoon Tea, a Spa break or a fine meal in their restaurants.
On the outskirts of the city and the edge of The New Forest, Hotel Terravina is a secluded retreat from the busy city centre. Owned by Master Sommelier Gerard Basset, the hotel is a wine-lovers dream. Complete with a dining experience you’ll be hard-pushed to forget, it’s a taste of luxury in Southampton.
If you need to truly unwind then many of Southampton’s hotels offer spa facilities. The Grand Harbour Hotel offers several spa packages in its Health Club, which include luxurious treatments and use of the pool and spa facilities. Chilworth Manor sets the scene as a picturesque Edwardian Manor, with spa facilities and a 1 Rosette Restaurant where you can also enjoy Afternoon Tea; it’s the perfect place to recharge those batteries.