If you are attending Cowes Week this August, make sure you take time to experience some of the best attractions on and around the Isle of Wight. From stately homes, vineyards and museums to spas and restaurants here's our guide to the best of the rest!
The Needles Rocks & Lighthouse
Recently voted as one of the most beautiful places in the UK, The Needles is the iconic image of the Isle of Wight.
As well as the stunning views of the Needles Rocks, Trinity Lighthouse and coloured sands, there are a range of other attractions at Alum Bay.
These include a chairlift ride across the beach and the sand cliffs, boat rides out to the rocks, miniature golf, a 4D cinema and demonstrations of glass blowing by some of the island’s craftsmen.
For children, there is a sweet maker and a range of amusements rides, including a carousel.
For more information visit www.theneedles.co.uk
Definitely one of the adults! The Rosemary Vineyard has free guided tours every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Over 30 minutes, visitors can learn about the wine making process and taste the finished product.
As well as English wine, the award winning vineyard also produces liqueurs, juices and ciders. These are all made on the estate from grapes and apples grown on the 30-acre site.
Light lunches and afternoon tea can be purchased from the onsite coffee shop. There is also a gift ship which stocks a range of goods produced on the Isle of Wight.
For more information visit www.rosemaryvineyard.co.uk
If you want to escape the sailing crowd, head to Shanklin Beach at the opposite end of the island from Cowes.
This is one of the Isle of Wight’s best known stretches of golden sands; it even has a traditional English seafront promenade with fish and chip shops and ice-cream sellers.
At the southern end of the esplanade, beach huts line the sea wall and there is the thatched Fisherman’s Cottage pub at the bottom of Shanklin Chine.
At low tide, you can walk from the beach around the headland to Luccombe Beach.
For more information go to www.visitisleofwight.co.uk
Learn more about the island’s rich geology and its fossil collection at Dinosaur Isle, a purpose built interactive museum above the Sandown Library.
Designed in the shape of a giant pterodactyl, the museum houses more than 1,000 fossils. An introductory exhibition gallery takes the visitor from the Ice Age of the recent past, back to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs lived.
This leads to the large dinosaur gallery, which has displays including skeletal re-constructions, life sized fleshed re-constructions and two animatronic dinosaurs.
Open all the year round, the attraction uses clever lighting, artwork, sound, smells and animatronic technology to create an exciting experience for young and old alike.
For more information visit www.dinosaurisle.com
Eat a Minghella ice cream
The Minghella family has been making ice creams on the the Isle of Wight for more than 60 years.
Their range of over 200 ice creams and sorbets has won more than 80 Great Taste awards from the Guild of Fine Food.
Made using milk from Guernsey cows, flavours range from chocolate brandy truffle, Christmas pudding and banana smoothie to the more traditional vanilla and mint choc chip.
You can buy a cone of your favourite flavour at the farm shop at Briddlesford Lodge Farm, where Minghella’s is based.
Alternatively, it is stocked by many shops on the island, including the Bliss Ice Cream parlour in Cowes and the cafe on Osborne Beach.
And in case you’re familiar with the name Minghella, the founders of the ice cream business are the parents of the film director, writer and producer Anthony Minghella.
He is best known for the films Truly Madly Deeply, The Talented Mr Ripley, Cold Mountain and The English Patient.
For more information visit www.minghella.co.uk
The favourite royal residence of Queen Victoria, Osborne House is just a short step away from the sailing action at East Cowes.
It is, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Isle of Wight.
Immerse yourself in the Victorian opulence and extravagant interior of the house, including the Indian décor of the Durbar Room.
Visitors can also explore the private royal apartments including the Queen’s bedroom and royal bathrooms, and The Swiss Cottage, a chalet that was specifically built for the royal children.
The walled Victorian garden and hothouses with exotic plants will keep green fingered visitors happy.
Don’t forget to take in the stunning views across the Solent as you walk through the extensive grounds.
For more information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk
Enjoy a meal at Thompson’s
With a focus on showcasing produce from the Isle of Wight, Thompson’s offers you some of the best cuisine on the island.
It is run by the youngest British chef to ever receive a Michelin star, Robert Thompson.
The contemporary ‘open kitchen’ restaurant offers a delicious modern British menu inspired by the flavours of the island and Robert’s experiences.
Expect light, classically inspired dishes, packed with intense, pure flavours; something that the chef himself would enjoy eating.
The restaurant offers a range of dining options. There is an eight-course tasting menu from £65 per person or the A La Carte experience.
Choices range from lobster poached in Café de Paris butter and harissa spiced rabbit to roasted rump of lamb or cigarette of local “green barn” goats cheese
There is also a lunch menu from £12 for one course. Try the local Laverstoke Park Farm mozzarella, confit leg of local chicken or salt baked carrot salad.
For further information visit www.robertthompson.co.uk
Walk the Warrior Trail
This 6 mile circular trail follows the route the real-life WW1 War Horse, Warrior was once exercised.
Dubbed the ‘Horse the Germans Could Not Kill’ by the newspapers of the time, the Isle of Wight’s most famous equine resident became something of a local hero when it returned to the island in 1918.
The trail runs from Carisbrooke Castle to the beach at Brook Bay, where Warrior was trained to confront the dangers of battle in the surf. Walkers can take in the picturesque villages of Mottistone and Brook, the island’s Neolithic Long Stone and sections of the coastal path.
The route can be done on foot, by bike and even on horseback.
For further information visit www.visitisleofwight.co.uk
Enjoy a spa treatment at The Cabin at Ventnor
Ventnor has a long history of being a spa town, with Victorian visitors coming for the mild climate and pure sea air.
If you fancy a bit of pampering head to The Cabin, which offers a range of spa and holistic treatments.
There are two treatment rooms – one is at beach level, while the other, The Crow’s Nest, is an exclusive cedar wood cabin with stunning sea views.
All treatments use certified organic products where possible. Full or half day packages are also available.
Located on the Western end of Ventnor Esplanade, The Cabin was a finalist in the UK Professional Beauty Awards 2016.
For further information visit www.thecabin-ventnor.co.uk
St Catherine’s Lighthouse
Overlooking the Solent on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, St. Catherine’s Lighthouse has long been a guide to ships approaching the Solent.
The distinct octagonal tower is also a waymark for vessels navigating in the English Channel.
Although the lighthouse no longer has resident keepers, it still requires care and attention to provide a beacon for sailors.
Tours of the lighthouse last 40 minutes and reveal how old-fashioned technology is still helping to save lives today.
Climb up the 94 steep steps to explore the very top floor, and hear some of the stories from the lighthouse’s past.
For further information visit www.trinityhouse.co.uk