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 (currently closed for rebuilding) offers a recreation of his study, the intriguing story of his life and work and the world’s biggest Hardy archive. But you can still 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.