Back in July I was invited to opening of the new World of Top Gear attraction at Beaulieu National Motor Museum.
We had an amazing day but as it fell on a school day the kids were not able to join us so I promised them we would visit again over the school holidays.
The Beaulieu Estate, is set in the New Forest and was first opened to the public in 1952. Originally it was the Palace House that welcomed visitors, until a small display of veteran cars outgrew the family home and led to the creation of a separate motor museum.
Today, there is lots to see – the Palace House and Gardens, the historic site of Beaulieu Abbey along with a museum, and of course the National Motor Museum which houses a number of motoring themed exhibitions including the fantastic World of Top Gear.
Top Gear is one of those TV programmes we all sit down to watch as a family, marvelling at their madcap creations, cheering on the mad challenges and wishing we were the ones hurtling around the racetrack and if you’ve ever wondered what happened to the cars that were battered, modified and generally ruined by the BBC’s Top Gear team, then Beaulieu Motor Museum have lovingly gathered them up and displayed them for us all to admire and even climb aboard.
With vehicles from every era of the Top Gear challenges, World of Top Gear is now bang up to date with a brand new studio in the Enormodrome and fresh, new exhibits from filming with Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid including the sleek-looking Ssangyacht and high-mileage taxis from the recent Kazakhstan road trip from last series.
There is much more to Beaulieu though and we then headed into the main museum which has a collection of more than 250 vehicles.
There is plenty to do for all ages, whether you visit to admire the vehicles of yesteryear, see legendary F1 cars and land speed record breakers for the speed freaks or incredible examples of pioneering motoring for the history-buffs.
There is plenty to keep the kids amused too with interactive exhibits showing how each component of cars work from safety features to tyres and brakes.
One of the kids favourites activities was the Wheels ride where you climb into a pod and take a fascinating audio-visual journey through the history of motoring.
Outside the museum there is also plenty to do and see, including a monorail which gives you a wonderful view as you pass through the museum and around the estate.
As well as the house and museum there are also beautiful landscaped gardens to admire……
…..lots of pathways to race or wander along……
and some fun cars for the kids to practice their driving skills.
Opposite the cars is a large motor-themed play area.
The kids could pretend to out fuel in their car, drive a tractor and even clamber aboard a huge wooden bus themed climbing frame.
There was also more traditional play equipment including a roundabout, slides and swings.
We wanted to explore the Abbey but it can be hired for functions and there was a wedding going on that afternoon so we paused for an ice cream instead.
We also got to uncover Beaulieu’s history as a top-secret training establishment for special agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War Two in a separate exhibition.
You could easily spend a whole day at Beaulieu as there is so much to see and do for all the family.
Family tickets are priced £49 in advance or £64 on the door.