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Shaftesbury and the surrounding area has a whole wealth of activities and attractions, including:
English heritage (including castles)
National trust land (downs)
Beaches (20 miles away)
Shaftesbury itself has a weekly market every Thursday, a flea market every Tuesday in the town hall, a Farmers Market on the first Saturday of the month, regular Pickwick fairs, and films, plays and art exhibitions in Shaftesbury Arts Centre.
In Shaftesbury itself
Shaftesbury Abbey, Churches, Gold Hill, a stunning cobbled lane on a steep hill (try the cafe at the top!), Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury Arts Centre, art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and playgrounds.
Surrounding Shaftesbury (under 15 minutes drive)
A range of country pubs (with good food), animal market, Compton Abbas airfield (great lunches / breakfast), Wardour castle, Pytt House walled gardens, The National Trust downs, Salisbury Plain, Bush Farm bison centre, and Easy Knoyle (birthplace of Christopher Wren and good pub grub).
Around a 20-30 minute drive
Stongehenge, Longleat safari park, Larmer tree gardens, Stourhead (House and gardens), Salisbury (including its stunning cathedral, museums and medieval history), Old Sarum, Sherbourne (with its castle and school), and Wilton House (including great children’s playground).
Around a 30-50 minute drive
Moors Valley country park and forest (including high wires/cycling), the Jurrasic Coast (where you can go fossil hunting), Studland (with Dorset's oustanding sandy beaches), the classic city of Bath (with shops and spas), Corfe Castle, Monkey World and Tankland.