Everyone knows Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas for the incredible beaches, dramatic coastline and abundance of green spaces to enjoy.
But while the hidden charms of our coastal towns may not be as well-known as our famous landmarks, they form some of the most cherished memories among our students and staff.
Read on to discover, in no particular order, a mix of autumnal hidden gems.
Enjoy food and drink delights
The arrival of autumn sees limited-edition flavours return to many cafes and restaurants across Bournemouth.
Just off the main high street is Shakeaway, an international milkshake bar that opened its flagship store in Bournemouth in 1999, serving up a wide array of flavours and combinations. Their limited edition autumn shakes include the ‘Harvest Hazel’, ‘Orange OMG’ and ‘Ravishing Ruby’; and as the names suggest, they feature a mix of seasonal fruits, chocolates and sweet treats.
What’s more, they can be made with fat-free frozen yoghurt (if you’d prefer) and served hot (what better way to keep warm on a chilly day).
Hot chocolates are pretty special in Bournemouth town centre too. There’s Flirt Cafe in The Triangle, with its playful collection of hot chocolates, South Coast Roast on Richmond Hill and Giggi's Gelateria in the Burlington Arcade (to name just a few).
If you fancy a change of scenery, head just 20 minutes east out of Bournemouth and you will come across the New Forest National Park, one of the UK’s most stunning national parks.
November sees the return of The New Forest Food and Drink Fortnight – the perfect opportunity to discover the local produce on offer (think cheese, fudge, honey and ale) and enjoy a variety of events.
Or if you have a sweet tooth, Burley Fudge Shop is offering a free tasting of its flavour of the month, Spiced Pumpkin Fudge, until 3 November.
Take an autumn walk
Bournemouth is well-known for its lively Lower Gardens but if you keep on walking (away from the beach), you will come across the Central Gardens, located just off The Square. The Central Gardens, a less busy option to the Lower Gardens, are the perfect place to enjoy the striking bursts of autumnal colours.
If you follow the stream through the Central Gardens, you will reach Bournemouth's Upper Gardens which go all the way through to Coy Pond in Poole. This area is home to hundreds of trees and plant species from Europe, Asia and North America and, as such, has a distinct worldly feel.
Other stunning walks to enjoy outside of Bournemouth include Upton Country Park in Poole (the incredible views over Holes Bay and Poole Harbour are a must-see) and Swanage Bay (we’ve heard that The Fish Plaice is worth a try too!).
Autumn is a busy time in the New Forest, with the New Forest Walking Festival running at the same time as Food and Drink Fortnight. Led by local experts, these guided walks will help you discover more about this incredible area.
Make sure you keep an eye out for pigs and piglets roaming the floor for acorns (an age-old tradition called pannage) and the 2,700 varieties of fungi (the New Forest is one of the best places in Europe to see them).
Pick your own pumpkin
There are loads of pumpkin picking spots to choose from across Dorset this Halloween.
Berry Hill Farm in Bournemouth is a popular option – or, venturing out a bit further, there’s Fordingbridge Pumpkin Picking Patch and Sopley Farm in the heart of the New Forest, and the Cat & Fiddle Farm just outside Christchurch.
Many of the pumpkin farms have hot drinks and snacks available too – so that you can make more of a day of it.