Travel Guide to Southampton
For centuries, Southampton has inspired travellers from all over the world to come and explore its many delights.
Southampton boasts of a rich maritime history punctuated by stirring dramatic events involving the Titanic and the Mayflower. It is also a renowned destination for the very latest entertainment venues around and for cutting-edge modern marvels in technology. At the same time, Southampton is known as the Green City because of its abundant parks and open spaces.
On almost every count, Southampton is an excellent place to visit, don't you think? And we've only touched the tipped of the iceberg. Here are even more reasons to plan that Southampton visit now.
For history buffs, Southampton is a great place to relive England's golden age of seafaring, what with such a history of impressive ships such as the Mayflower and Titanic as well as QE2, all members of the maritime hall of fame. Southampton has over a dozen buildings and museums devoted to the deep blue sea.
Strolling down the dock area leads visitors to Leisure World, an impressive and vast complex on West Quay Road that offers a host of entertainment options, such as bars, pubs, restaurants, a casino, nightclubs such as Ikon and Diva, a live entertainment bar called Jumping Jaks and the 13-screen Odeon Cinema. Built in the late 1990s, Leisure World attracts an average of 40,000 visitors per week.
For a look back at Southampton's rich history, especially its more prosperous years, the place to visit is the Tudor House Museum on St. Michael's Square in Bugle Street. It is one of the most widely recognized and historically significant landmarks in Southampton.
This museum, which has been around for over five centuries, features quaint old kitchens, Tudor-style gardens, a Minstrel’s Gallery and the famous ghost of Ann Boleyn, which is a favourite attraction of children. According to historical accounts, Ann Boleyn lived in the Tudor House during her marriage to Henry VIII. Legend has it that her ghost continues to haunt the Museum until today.
At present, Tudor House Museum's timbered building is the centrepiece of St. Michael's Square. Over the years, it has housed a number of the town's leading citizens, including the building creator, MP John Dawtrey, former Chief Justice of England Sir Richard Lyster and the renowned artist George Rogers.
Tudor House Museum is currently undergoing structural repairs and renovations at a cost of £2.3 million from 2007 to 2010. Its aim is to restore the museum back to the height of its grandeur. The restoration budget was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£1.598 million grant) and the Southampton City Council (£590,000).
If you have a thing for airplanes, you will surely enjoy yourself at the Hall of Aviation, which features an extensive archive of British Aviation history, particularly on Hampshire, The Solent and the Isle of Wight. There are virtually thousands of aeronautical books, magazines, photographs, paintings, artefacts, maps, drawings and reports dating back to the pioneering days of flight. There is comprehensive information on the Supermarine Aviation Company and its aeroplanes such as the legendary Spitfire, which was built in Southampton, as well as original drawings of the first planes. There are also extensive records and paraphernalia from 25 aviation manufacturers such as A.V. Roe, Cierva, Cuncliffe Owen and Follands. Among the exhibits is a real Sandringham flying boat, a Spitfire and 13 other impressive aircraft.
In terms of more modern offerings, Southampton has restaurants galore as well as a great many bars and pubs where party animals can enjoy themselves until the wee hours of the morning. Most people you meet on the street are extremely gracious and hospitable, while the entertainment venues are excellent and exude great style.
If you feel the need to escape the city and ensconce yourself in more natural surroundings, then beyond the city boundaries if a place called New Forest. It is close enough to Southampton to be accessible while surrounding villages such as Alton and Winchester are so laid back that visitors usually feel they have stumbled across an entirely different locale.
Surrounded by the Solent, River Avon, River Blackwater and Southampton Water, the New Forest National Park is comprised of 220 square miles of natural beauty. It is easy to see why William I dubbed the area as a royal forest in 1079. The park if also famous for its wild ponies, while cattle and pigs are also raised on site by some of the 34,000 people who live in towns and villages in the park. There's much to be said for a slower pace of life, especially in a place that is so picturesque.
Southampton truly has so much to offer, regardless of what you're hoping to do or see. So schedule that vacation to Southampton now and find out what you've been missing.