Saturday, June 22, 2024

23 issues to do within the New Forest with youngsters

One of many loveliest spots in England, the New Forest is filled with fairly villages, picturesque walks and most excitingly for youthful youngsters, ponies which roam freely – to not point out a couple of donkeys.

My daughter looks at some of the ponies on the heathland during a visit to the New Forest with kids
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In addition to numerous possibilities to get open air and uncover the historical past of the New Forest Nationwide Park – proclaimed a royal forest virtually 1,000 years in the past – there are additionally loads of household sights within the New Forest, from museums and wet day enjoyable to a theme park, animal sights and extra.

Better of all, this actually is someplace which has one thing for the entire household, whether or not it’s toddler-friendly walks and Peppa Pig World, or automobiles, steam trains, distant castles and an opportunity for older youngsters and teenagers to get their coronary heart racing, with my 23 high issues to do within the New Forest with youngsters.

Peppa Pig World & Paultons Park

When you’re a mother or father, likelihood is you’ll already know of Hampshire’s high theme park, as Paultons Park is the house of Peppa Pig World. However together with the light rides and likelihood to satisfy Peppa and George in the event you’re visiting Hampshire with a toddler, there’s loads extra adrenaline-fuelled enjoyable.

A Grandpa Pig statue at Peppa Pig World in Paulton's Park - the best Hampshire theme park and a great family day out from the New Forest

There are greater than 70 rides, acres of grounds and animals to satisfy, in addition to a number of themed areas: Misplaced Kingdom is all about dinosaurs, whereas Critter Creek is nice for youthful ones, so there’s one thing for older and taller youngsters who need some adrenaline thrills in addition to much less scary choices.

Add in playgrounds, a discovery path and different occasions and reveals, and it’s very straightforward to fill your time out.

Take a look at my suggestions for visiting Peppa Pig World and Paultons Park.

New Forest Wildlife Park

When you’d prefer to see a few of Hampshire’s native animals, you’ll love the New Forest Wildlife Park which specialises in British wildlife – some, just like the gray wolves, are previous inhabitants whereas there are additionally deer, badgers, hedgehogs and extra, nonetheless to be discovered on these shores as we speak.

It’s additionally residence to 4 species of otter and 7 species of owl, plus some distinctly cute ferrets. Make a remark of the talks and feeding occasions all through the day, whilst you’ll additionally discover additional occasions and actions happening throughout holidays – plus there are journey playgrounds to burn off some added power too.

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a superb spot to see wildlife within the New Forest for households with younger youngsters.

The sanctuary has a spacious platform overlooking a meadow the place wild deer usually roam – no ensures although.

The platform is stroller-friendly and when the deer are round, there are some nice picture alternatives, in addition to info boards in regards to the deer and loads of house for youths to play. Bathroom amenities can be found within the automotive park.

You may as well discover Bolderwood‘s scenic grounds on considered one of three signposted, buggy-friendly walks, the place you may even see much more deer within the space’s lush woodlands – go to within the autumn and also you would possibly even spot among the pigs roaming the woodland like we did.

New Forest Reptile Centre

On the New Forest Reptile Centre, youngsters can rise up shut and private with varied species of reptiles, together with snakes and lizards, whereas studying about their habitats and behaviours.

House to a sequence of uncommon reptiles, the centre works to reintroduce them into the wild and defend their habitats – the probabilities of recognizing them out within the countryside are tiny, so it is a nice alternative to see something from adders and easy snakes to sand lizards.

There’s additionally a simple strolling route ranging from the Reptile Centre automotive park, so it’s straightforward to mix some indoor and out of doors enjoyable right here.

The Centre doesn’t open every single day, particularly throughout winter, so it’s price checking earlier than you set off.

My husband carries our toddler daughter on his shoulder around Longdown Farm in the New Forest - my review of our day out at Longdown Farm New Forest - one of the best days out in Hampshire with toddlers

Longdown Exercise Farm

This family-friendly farm is nice in the event you’re visiting Hampshire with toddlers and youthful youngsters – you possibly can bottle-feed the children (the newborn goats, that’s) in addition to seeing different small livestock, from ponies and pigs right down to rabbits and guinea pigs.

Youngsters can get correctly arms on holding among the smaller inhabitants of Longdown Farm within the animal encounters, plus there are locations to play exterior and indoors – which is nice for a wet day in Hampshire – and take tractor trailer rides.

Take a look at my evaluation of Longdown Farm with a toddler.

Biking within the New Forest

Among the finest methods to discover the New Forest with youngsters is by bike, taking a cycle experience on one of many off-road trails.

There are over 100 miles of marked routes via the woods, throughout the heathland and by the coast, together with some straightforward, brief trails that are supreme in case you have youthful youngsters – the two-mile route from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Laborious is a favorite, and the right solution to mix the 2 locations if each are in your listing to go to.

When you don’t have your individual wheels, there are many locations to rent bikes within the New Forest, together with youngster seats, tagalongs, trailers and extra for youthful youngsters.

Right here’s what we considered bike rent from New Forest Actions to cycle the path to Buckler’s Laborious

Recognizing the New Forest ponies

One factor the New Forest is most well-known for – and one of the memorable issues to see within the New Forest with youngsters – is the wild ponies which roam round.

There are over 5,000 within the forest, so the probabilities are you’ll see among the wild ponies (and donkeys) alongside the way in which as you discover, however a great place to identify them is close to Brockenhurst, round Beachern Wooden and the ford.

Me, standing by one of the New Forest ponies while holding my toddler - one of my top things to do in New Forest with kids

Beaulieu village is one other good place to search out them, particularly round Hatchet Pond and Culverley Inexperienced, or alongside the route in direction of Lymington. However Burley, Fordingbridge and Lymington itself are different good locations to attempt.

It’s price remembering that the ponies are semi-wild, even when they’re fairly used to individuals, they aren’t tame and might kick and chunk – all the time hold a respectful distance. It’s additionally unlawful to feed them.

Ponies with a foal sitting on the grass in the New Forest in Hampshire - one of the highlights of a visit to the New Forest with kids

Strolling within the New Forest

I feel it’s unattainable to go to the New Forest and never really feel tempted to tug on a pair of shoes and set off beneath the timber. Whether or not you’re on the lookout for a delicate amble with a restaurant on the finish of it, or to sort out one thing tougher, there are some attractive walks within the New Forest for households.

It’s very easy to mix a few of these walks with a go to to totally different sights as effectively: the Reptile Centre Discovery Path or the Bolderwood Deer Watch Path, which is straightforward sufficient even for little ones, and provides you an opportunity to identify deer too.

One in all my favourites is the Tall Bushes Path, simply off Decorative Drive: there’s a one-mile stretch which takes you previous the Large Sequoias as you stroll via a part of Blackwater Arboretum, or one other barely longer Tall Bushes Stroll with views of two monumental redwoods, and an opportunity to marvel at among the oldest Douglas fir timber in Britain.

You may simply be part of each collectively in order for you an extended stroll with older youngsters – or just stroll to your coronary heart’s content material.

Evidently, there are numerous strolling trails within the New Forest, too many to say right here, so wherever you keep and no matter stage of problem you fancy, there’ll be a fantastic choice to search out. It’s price downloading the New Forest strolling routes app which provides concepts close to your location too.

Canoeing/Kayaking on the river

Whereas strolling and biking are undoubtedly two of one of the best methods to see the New Forest with youngsters, they’re not the one solution to get round – you possibly can take a canoe or kayak out on the Beaulieu river or SUP and Kayak on the Keyhaven River.

Beaulieu is among the few privately owned rivers on the earth, and a straightforward one to discover from Buckler’s Laborious – in the event you’re fortunate you possibly can even spot seals whilst you’re out on the water.

It’s a tidal river, so it’s price getting recommendation from the consultants on one of the best time to exit – we tried New Forest Actions, which was appropriate even for a preschooler (in the event you had two adults within the canoe).

Children aged 12 and over can take out a single kayak (accompanied by an grownup) or there are double kayaks, in addition to household canoes and guided canoe journeys.

View along the Beaulieu river to the river in the New forest - one of the places you can get out onto the water in the New Forest with kids

New Forest Water Park

When you’re on the lookout for a enjoyable household time out within the New Forest with older youngsters and teenagers, don’t miss the New Forest Water Park in Fordingbridge.

The Water Park has an entire string of thrilling water sports activities for youngsters aged 10+, together with wakeboarding, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and open-water swimming. 

There are additionally two floating inflatable aqua parks for youths of all ages. Nonetheless, the park recommends that children beneath 11 be accompanied by an grownup. All youngsters should additionally have the ability to swim 50m with a buoyancy assist.

New Forest Bus tour

When you’re visiting Hampshire with younger youngsters, or just fancy an alternative choice to strolling (and don’t need to drive), the open-top New Forest Tour bus is a good way to find the Nationwide Park.

There are three totally different routes and if you’re exploring with no automotive, particulars on bus connections to Southampton, in addition to Bournemouth and Salisbury in the event you’re staying throughout the border in Dorset or Wiltshire.

The hop-on hop-off routes imply you possibly can discover alongside the way in which, and every reveals a special facet of the forest, from the wilder north-west to the coast within the south and a 3rd linking fairly Brockenhurst and Beaulieu. There are a number of day tickets if you wish to use the buses over your complete keep to discover all through the New Forest with youngsters.

The buses are seasonal in order that they don’t run throughout winter (understandably, because it’s lots much less enjoyable sitting on an open-top bus tour within the chilly and rain!)

Blue vintage Bugatti - the Beaulieu Motor Museum is a great place to visit on a rainy day in the New Forest with kids

Beaulieu Motor Museum

Whereas your ticket consists of a number of sights, together with Beaulieu Abbey and Palace Home with its costumed guides, it’s the motor sights which tempt most guests at Beaulieu: the Nationwide Motor Museum and the World of High Gear.

From among the earliest motor autos via to F1 automobiles and land pace file breakers, the museum actually is a journey via automotive historical past.

There are some possibilities to get arms on too, in addition to having the ability to meet the Beaulieu crash take a look at dummy, discover a Thirties storage earlier than heading over to see among the bizarre creations from the whole High Gear sequence, together with the problem automobiles.

Bucklers Laborious maritime museum & boat journey

Sitting on the banks of the Beaulieu River, Buckler’s Laborious is an 18th-century shipbuilding village the place lots of the ships for Nelson’s Navy have been constructed. 

View of the Beaulieu river and Bucklers Hard in the New Forest - kayaking on the river is one of my top things to do in the New Forest with kids

The picturesque village has a number of nice sights for households, together with a historic shipwright’s cottage and an enchanting maritime museum exploring native shipbuilding historical past. There’s a mannequin village, mannequin ships, hands-on exhibitions, and an academic quiz path for youthful guests.

When you’re visiting between Easter and October, the spotlight of Buckler’s Laborious is a river cruise alongside the Beaulieu river. Departing from the village pier, the 30-minute boat journey takes you to discover the realm’s lovely surroundings and wildlife, full with an onboard commentary. 

Hurst Fort

One in all Henry VIII’s forts defending the south coast, Hurst Fort sits on the fringe of a spit of land by the doorway to the Solent – again then a necessary defence, however today an opportunity to see some improbable views and really feel such as you’re removed from actual life.

The fort has been used as a jail for Charles I, has been a hideaway for smugglers, earlier than being strengthened for warfare with Napoleon (though it noticed most motion as a army hospital) and modernised once more as a Second World Struggle defence.

Aerial view of Hurst Castle at the edge of the spit of land running from the New Forest to the Solent - one of the unusual places to see in the New Forest with kids

Attending to the fort is sort of as a lot journey as wanting round – it’s both a two-mile stroll alongside the shingle spit or a ferry runs from Keyhaven.

St Barbe Museum and Artwork Gallery

St Barbe Museum and Artwork Gallery is a novel little museum in Lymington, that includes a various assortment of artwork and reveals associated to the historical past and tradition of the New Forest area.

The museum could be very family-friendly, with info boards for youths, a path led by knitted livestock, themed youngsters’s costumes to decorate up in, and an interactive reproduction pilot boat.

One other nice choice for a wet day within the New Forest for households.

New Forest Heritage Centre

Situated in Lyndhurst, The New Forest Heritage Centre is a improbable place to begin for households trying to discover the historical past and variety of the realm. The museum covers all the pieces from wartime tales to the well-known ponies and hyperlinks to Alice in Wonderland.

The central “Household Tree” is crammed with interactive shows and actions, whereas little ones can even take pleasure in themed costumes, constructing blocks, a puppet theatre, museum trails, and exercise and colouring sheets. Throughout faculty holidays, additionally they host craft occasions and youngsters’s workshops.

The centre is free to enter (although donations are welcomed), so it’s additionally a fantastic place to go to within the New Forest with youngsters on a funds.

Exbury Gardens and Steam railway

If your loved ones loves the possibility to hop on board a steam practice on vacation, there’s a beautiful choice within the New Forest for youths.

The little steam railway at Exbury Gardens follows a 1.5 mile route via the gardens themselves – generally known as the Rhododendron Line!

The grounds stretch for 200 acres in whole, well-known for his or her rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, in addition to the woodland surroundings, and you may hop off the practice part-way round if you wish to discover the northernmost a part of the gardens or just benefit from the journey again to the beginning.

View of the flowers and trees around a pond at Exbury Gardens - a ride on the small steam train through the gardens is one of the best things to do in Hampshire with kids

Foxlease Exercise centre

For extra adventurous households, the Foxlease Exercise Centre in Lyndhurst has an enormous number of thrilling out of doors actions for youngsters aged 4 years and older.

Owned by Woman Guiding UK, the exercise centre is open to the general public and affords actions together with kayaking, rafting, climbing, zip wire, abseiling, archery, and extra. There are set exercise days over the varsity holidays or to guide a non-public go to, you’ll must contact them instantly. 

There’s a lot to do at Foxlease that you may simply spend a couple of days right here – luckily, the property additionally has a number of campsites you possibly can guide, in the event you’re decided to pack all of it in!

Calshot Actions Centre

Sitting on the shores of the Solent near Southampton, Calshot Actions Centre is among the largest journey centres in Britain, with a improbable number of thrilling land and water-based actions for all skills and ages.

Exterior, you possibly can take pleasure in a variety of paddlesports, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and crusing within the massive lagoon.

Or indoors, you’ll discover a historic velodrome, dry slope snowboarding, excessive ropes, zip lining, and the tallest climbing wall within the south of England. Which implies you’re sorted rain or shine.

New Forest Journey Golf

At all times considered one of my daughter’s favourites, mini-golf is a good way to maintain youngsters entertained for an hour or two. And Lymington’s New Forest Journey Golf is one of the best within the area. The course sits on Goodall’s Farmland in the event you’re planning some pick-your-own-fun (scroll down for extra particulars), so you possibly can simply mix the 2 for a enjoyable household time out.

The family-friendly 18-hole course was constructed to reflect the New Forest, with the likes of Bucklers Laborious and Exbury Gardens depicted in miniature. You’ll additionally must navigate the Lymington and Beaulieu Rivers and experience the transferring Isle of Wight ferry over the Solent – difficult!

Lepe Lighthouse, otherwise known as the Millennium Beacon, at Lepe Country Park in Hampshire - one of the great places to get outdoors in the New Forest with kids

Lepe Nation Park & Seashore

Lepe Nation Park sits on the most south-easterly level of the New Forest Nationwide Park, with an extended stretch of pebble seashore and gorgeous views throughout the Solent.

The favored nation park makes for a peaceable household time out, with scenic walks via the protected nature reserve and alongside the coast, in addition to historic stays from the D-Day landings, a tranquil sensory backyard with a bug lodge, and several other journey playgrounds for youngsters. 

The park is free to go to however you have to to pay for parking. There’s a restaurant and cafe, a BBQ web site, a small store, and bathroom amenities inside the park.

New Forest seashores

The New Forest has a number of lovely seashores alongside its shoreline, however Milford on Sea must be our favorite.

The gorgeous village has an extended shingle seashore backed by rows of vibrant seashore huts, with a lot of house for youths to run round and discover, paddle within the ocean, and construct sandcastles at low tide. There are additionally some nice impartial eating places, cafes, and retailers on the town only a brief stroll away, making it the right spot for a calming household day on the seaside.

Colourful beach huts at Milford on Sea in Hampshire at sunset - one of the great beaches in the New Forest for families

For one thing extra lively, take a coastal stroll eastwards from Milford-on-Sea in direction of Hurst Spit, residence to Sixteenth-century Hurst Fort. The stroll takes round 40 minutes every means. 

Different family-friendly seashores within the New Forest embody close by Barton on Sea with its many fossil beds, and the extra peaceable Calshot Seashore

Decide your individual fruit and veggies

Time your go to proper and there’s one other beautiful choice for a household pleasant time out – visiting a pick-your-own farm within the New Forest with youngsters.

Goodall’s Strawberry Farm in Lymington is a superb spot to let youngsters discover and decide their very own contemporary fruit and greens. The farm is greatest recognized for its strawberries, however you may as well decide raspberries and cherries between Might and August. There’s a beautiful little cafe on web site serving cream teas and engaging truffles too.

Or in the event you’re visiting in October, Goodall’s additionally has pick-your-own pumpkins. Different pumpkin patches within the area embody the New Forest Pumpkins in Lymington and Fordingbridge’s Selecting Patch.

Days out close to the New Forest with youngsters

When you’re basing your self within the New Forest with youngsters, it makes a fantastic location for some days out exploring Hampshire and Dorset.


House to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Mary Rose, in addition to the Spinnaker Tower, it’s straightforward to fill a day within the metropolis in the event you’re on the lookout for a change of tempo from the New Forest with youngsters.

In reality, it’s straightforward to fill a day on the Historic Dockyard alone, discovering among the space’s naval historical past from the well-known Tudor wreck to The HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship on the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Warrior, the world’s first iron-hulled warship, in addition to others from the First and Second World Wars, not least a submarine.

However there’s additionally Portchester Fort on the outskirts, the best-preserved of the Roman forts alongside what’s generally known as the Saxon Shore, plus a string of different enjoyable issues to do for households.

For extra concepts of one of the best issues to do in Portsmouth with youngsters, take a look at my high picks, and my evaluation of the Spinnaker Tower

View of Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower from the ferry to the Isle of Wight - one of the fun days out from the New Forest with kids


The UK’s greatest cruise port isn’t simply someplace to hop on a ship and sail off into the sundown, with a lot of issues to do in Southampton with youngsters.

And town is simply half an hour away from Brockenhust, so it makes a simple day journey from the New Forest with youngsters. There’s improbable historical past to find, from the Mayflower to the Titanic, plus wartime plane and medieval partitions.

To not point out loads extra possibilities to get open air and plenty of sights for households, together with snowsports and an indoor journey park.

For extra concepts of one of the best issues to do in Southampton with youngsters, take a look at my high picks


Town of Winchester was England’s first capital however there’s extra to find right here past historical past, together with the not too long ago revamped Winchester Science Centre, which is improbable for youths.

The statue of King Alfred in Winchester - one of the great days out from the New Forest with kids

When you do fancy travelling again to the previous, you possibly can uncover a couple of thousand years of historical past from the Romans onwards within the Winchester Metropolis museum, spot the legendary Spherical Desk within the metropolis’s Nice Corridor (not really King Arthur’s but it surely does date again to the thirteenth century), observe the household path via the cathedral and see the ruins of a twelfth century fort.

For extra concepts of issues to do in Winchester with youngsters, take a look at my high picks

Marwell Zoo

The 140-acre Marwell Zoo simply exterior Winchester has over 1,200 animals to find, in addition to a stamp path for youths to observe alongside the way in which.

There are sometimes additional household sights and exhibitions in the event you want an added cause to go to (or return) – equivalent to Brickosaurs at Marwell Zoo, Lego dinosaurs dotted amongst the real-life inhabitants throughout considered one of our visits.

The zoo can be residence to 4 journey playgrounds, little street and rail trains, in addition to the animals themselves – from amur tigers to zebras, to not point out cheetah, purple pandas, penguins and extra.

Red panda sitting in a tree at Marwell Zoo - one of the easy day trips from the New Forest with kids who love animals

Itchen Valley Nation Park

With 440 acres of fields, water meadows and woodland to discover at Itchen Valley Nation Park, yow will discover some nice walks for households in addition to getting the possibility to go proper up into the timber.

On the Go Ape course, the Treetop journey is appropriate for all ages, whereas the Treetop problem is for ages 10+ (and a minimal of 1.4m tall).

Or in the event you don’t fancy the excessive ropes, there are additionally off-road bike tracks, trails to observe and several other play areas, together with an indoor play zone, The Holt, for youths aged six and beneath, in addition to two out of doors playgrounds for various ages.

There’s additionally the Play Path together with a large squirrel, climbing body and snail slide – this and the Forest Path are each pushchair pleasant in the event you’re visiting Hampshire with a child.

Moors Valley Nation Park, Dorset

On the border of Hampshire and Dorset, Moors Valley Nation Park makes one other excellent place to get open air with youngsters – and whilst you aren’t in need of walks within the New Forest, there’s an added draw for households.

As a result of lurking within the nation park is a fearsome monster, with a toxic wart on the tip of his nostril and purple prickles throughout his again.

One of many places for the string of Forestry England Julia Donaldson trails, it’s nonetheless residence to each a Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Youngster, alongside the youngsters’s Play Path, in addition to different household trails.

Plus, after all, loads of locations to stroll, cycle or watch the surroundings from a slim gauge steam practice – together with a extra adrenaline-fuelled choice on the Go Ape Junior Excessive ropes course, for anybody who fancies themselves the scariest creature within the wooden.


When you’re staying on the western facet of the New Forest, you’re really a lot nearer to Bournemouth than you’re to Portsmouth and Southampton, so it’s effectively price taking the chance of a time out on this seaside city.

In addition to the lengthy golden sandy seashore, you possibly can even fly over the waves (and make imagine you’re going to maintain going beneath) with the RockReef Pierzip Line, or sort out 28 themed indoor climbing partitions, a vertical drop slide, a excessive ropes aerial impediment course, and an indoor caving expertise on the journey centre.

The golden beach and blue-green seas along the Dorset coast at Middle Chine between Poole and Bournemouth - if you're staying in the western New Forest, Bournemouth is an easy day trip with kids

That’s not the one household attraction to tempt in the event you’re on the lookout for concepts of issues to do in Dorset within the rain with youngsters.

Proper on the seafront is The Oceanarium, with 12 themed environments the place you possibly can uncover penguins and sea turtles, together with dwarf crocodiles and otters (plus big numbers of fish, after all).

The city can be residence to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum in addition to Journey Wonderland, a household amusement park themed round Alice in Wonderland.

The place to remain within the New Forest with youngsters

When you’re on the lookout for self-catering lodging, New Forest Cottages has some beautiful family-friendly properties, together with concepts in the event you’re on the lookout for canine pleasant breaks and even cottages with swimming pools, in addition to places across the New Forest so that you’ll all the time be near a string of household days out.

Or Sykes Cottages additionally has a string of family-friendly locations to remain within the New Forest.

When you want the concept of a New Forest lodge with youngsters, there’s all the pieces from luxurious stays like Chewton Glen, which has a improbable youngsters’ membership, and New Park Manor, which is nice for households with younger youngsters and infants, to choices equivalent to Sandy Balls Vacation Village.

Disclosure: This submit comprises affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee

Pictures: Beaulieu, classic automotive, Bucklers Laborious, Hurst Fort, Exbury Gardens, Lepe Nation Park, Milford on Sea, Bournemouth courtesy of Depositphotos, all others copyright MummyTravels


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