Things to do in the New Forest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Activities
The New Forest is a beautiful and unique area of southern England, renowned for its acres of woodlands, heathlands, and free-roaming ponies. The National Park has been enhanced with some great places to go for days out, offering a huge variety of New Forest attractions for everyone, from history buffs to sports enthusiasts, and families with children.
There are lots of New Forest things to do, and I have listed a lot of them. As well as listing what people believe to be the best things to do in the New Forest, if you head down to the bottom of the article, you will see my favourite New Forest activities.
In this comprehensive guide, we will take a deep dive into the best things to do in the New Forest, exploring iconic landmarks, outdoor activities, cultural and culinary experiences, and much more.
If you have visited The New Forest, and you have tried some of my favourite activities then please do get in touch and share some of your pictures.
Exploring the New Forest National Park
Explore the Forest on Foot
The New Forest is a walker’s paradise, with miles and miles of well-marked trails to explore. From easy strolls to more challenging hikes, the forest has something for everyone.
The forest is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, and you might even spot a wild pony or two. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views of the forest. And, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the famous New Forest Fallow Deer.
The New Forest National Park is the main attraction of the region and covers almost the entire area, spreading across parts of Hampshire, Dorset, and Wiltshire. This magnificent and beautiful park offers an array of hiking trails.
The National Park is like stumbling into paradise, where you can get lost in the forest, settle down to have a picnic, and spot deer, horses, and a ton of rare birds. The New Forest National Park is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, and there is something for everyone, from scenic picnic spots to quaint tearooms and local museums to postcard-perfect high streets.
Picnic Spots and Tearooms In The New Forest
The New Forest is an excellent place for a picnic, and there are many spots to choose from, each with its unique charm. Among the best are the Beaulieu Heath picnic site, where you can enjoy stunning views of the heathland and relax in a peaceful environment.
The Wilverley Plain picnic site is an excellent location for a family picnic, with plenty of space and a children’s play area. The Blackwater Arboretum is another great spot, with its beautiful collection of trees and picnic benches.
The New Forest is also known for its quaint tearooms, where you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or a light lunch. The Rosie Lea Tea Rooms in Brockenhurst is a must-visit, with its charming vintage decor and delicious homemade cakes. The Muffin Man Tea Shop in Lymington is another popular spot, offering a wide range of teas, coffees, and freshly baked muffins.
The New Forest is home to an abundance of wildlife, and there are many opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. The Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is one of the top attractions, where you can watch the fallow deer being fed daily during the summer months.
Outdoor Activities in The New Forest
There are lots of things to do in the New Forest, but for me, outdoor activities are the best, especially sailing.
The New Forest is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of activities to suit all ages and abilities. Cycling is a popular activity, with many trails to choose from, including the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, the Brockenhurst Loop, and the Burley to Brockenhurst Link.
For a more adventurous experience, try paddleboarding along the Beaulieu River or kayaking at the New Forest Water Park. The Go Ape high ropes course in Moors Valley Country Park offers an adrenaline-fueled experience, with zip wires, rope bridges, and Tarzan swings.
Go Horse Riding In The New Forest
Horse riding is a perfect way to explore the New Forest. Whether you’re an experienced rider or a beginner, there are plenty of stables and riding schools in the area that offer guided tours through the forest. Riding through the forest on horseback is a unique experience, and you’ll get to see parts of the forest that you might not be able to access on foot. And, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a herd of wild ponies.
Go Cycling In The New Forest
Cycling is a popular activity in the New Forest, with over 100 miles of well-marked cycle trails to explore. The forest has something for cyclists of all abilities, with easy, flat routes for beginners, and more challenging trails for experienced cyclists. Cycling is a great way to explore the forest’s stunning scenery, and there are plenty of bike rental shops in the area if you don’t have your own bike.
Go Kayaking In The New Forest
Kayaking is a great way to explore the New Forest’s stunning coastline. There are plenty of kayaking tours available in the area, which offer guided trips along the coast and through the forest’s waterways. Kayaking is a unique way to experience the forest’s wildlife and scenery, and is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Go Paddle Boarding in The New Forest
Paddle boarding is a popular activity in the New Forest, with plenty of opportunities to take to the water. There are a number of paddle boarding tours available in the area, which offer guided trips along the coast and through the forest’s waterways. Paddle boarding is a unique way to experience the forest’s wildlife and scenery, and is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Go Sailing In The New Forest
Sailing is a popular activity in the New Forest, with plenty of opportunities to take to the water. There are a number of sailing clubs in the area that offer lessons and rentals, and the forest’s stunning coastline provides the perfect backdrop for a day out on the water. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a beginner, the New Forest offers something for everyone.
Go Fishing In The New Forest
Fishing is a popular activity in the New Forest, with plenty of opportunities to fish in the forest’s rivers and lakes. The forest is home to a diverse range of fish species, including trout, salmon, and pike. There are plenty of fishing tours available in the area, which offer guided trips and equipment rental.
Geocaching is a popular activity in the New Forest, with plenty of hidden caches to discover throughout the forest. Geocaching is a unique way to explore the forest and is suitable for all ages and abilities. There are plenty of geocaching tours and events available in the area, which offer guided trips and expert advice.
Go Camping In The New Forest
Camping is a popular activity in the New Forest, with plenty of campsites and caravan parks to choose from. Camping is a great way to experience the forest’s stunning scenery and wildlife, and there are plenty of activities and attractions nearby to keep you entertained. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a beginner, the New Forest offers something for everyone.
Places To Visit In The New Forest
Beaulieu is a charming village located in the heart of the New Forest. The village is home to the Beaulieu Estate, which includes the famous Beaulieu Palace House, the National Motor Museum, and the Beaulieu Abbey. The Palace House is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and is open to the public for tours. The National Motor Museum is a must-visit for car enthusiasts and features over 250 vehicles, including classic cars, motorcycles, and even a flying car.
Lymington is a beautiful coastal town located on the western edge of the New Forest. The town is known for its charming Georgian architecture and its bustling marina. Take a stroll along the High Street, which is lined with independent shops and cafes, and visit the Lymington Sea Water Baths, which is a natural saltwater lido that is open to the public throughout the summer months.
Visit the New Forest Wildlife Park
The New Forest Wildlife Park is a must-visit for animal lovers. The park is home to a diverse range of exotic and native animals, including wolves, otters, deer, and lynx. The park is committed to conservation and education, and visitors can learn about the animals and their habitats through interactive exhibits and talks.
Visit the Exbury Gardens
The Exbury Gardens are a must-visit for garden enthusiasts. The gardens are home to over 20,000 plants, including rare and exotic species from around the world. The gardens are open to the public throughout the year and offer guided tours and events.
Cultural and Culinary Experiences In The New Forest
The New Forest is not only about outdoor activities and wildlife watching. There are also plenty of cultural and culinary experiences to explore.
Museums and Galleries In The New Forest
Visit the Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum
The Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. The museum is located in a historic shipbuilding village and tells the story of the village’s shipbuilding history. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits and take a guided tour of the village, which includes a visit to the historic shipyard and the village’s 18th-century cottages.
Visit the New Forest Centre
The New Forest Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of the forest. The centre is located in the town of Lyndhurst and tells the story of the forest’s history, from its ancient origins to the present day. Visitors can explore the centre’s exhibits and take part in guided tours and events.
Visit the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum
The Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum is a must-visit for motorcycle enthusiasts. The museum is located in the village of New Milton and features over 400 motorcycles from around the world, including rare and vintage models. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits and take part in guided tours and events.
The New Forest is famous for its local produce, including game, seafood, and dairy products. The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst is a popular place to sample the best of the region’s cuisine, with its kitchen garden, smokehouse, and paddock of pigs. The hotel’s restaurant serves uncomplicated British home cooking using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The New Forest also has a thriving brewery scene, with several breweries producing high-quality beers. The Ringwood Brewery offers tours and tastings, giving visitors an insight into the brewing process and the chance to sample some of their award-winning beers.
New Forest Iconic Landmarks
The New Forest has several iconic landmarks that are worth a visit, each with its unique charm and history.
Beaulieu Palace House and Abbey
Beaulieu Palace House and Abbey is a magnificent stately home with a fascinating history, dating back to the 13th century. The house and grounds are open to the public, and visitors can explore the beautiful gardens, the medieval ruins of Beaulieu Abbey, and the Palace House, with its impressive art collection and period furnishings.
Hurst Castle is an artillery fortress established by Henry VIII in the 16th century. The castle is located on a shingle spit that extends 1.5 miles from Milford on Sea, and visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight. The castle has been used as a prison for seventeenth-century captives and was modernized during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870s. The castle is now open to the public and managed by English Heritage.
Visit the Highcliffe Castle
The Highcliffe Castle is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts. The castle is located on the coast and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior and take a guided tour of the castle’s history and architecture.
New Forest Activities
There are lots of New Forest things to do, but I have put together my favourite New Forest Activities. I hope you enjoy and agree that these are some of the best things to do in The New Forest for a great day out.
Paultons Park: A Family Adventure
Paultons Park, home to the famous Peppa Pig World, is a highlight for families visiting the New Forest. It boasts over 70 attractions, including gentle rides, themed areas, and an array of exciting amusements.
Exhilarating rides for all ages
Themed areas, including Peppa Pig World
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu: A Motorhead’s Paradise
The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is a must-visit for car enthusiasts. It houses an extraordinary collection of vintage and modern vehicles, including James Bond’s iconic cars.
An extensive collection of vintage and modern vehicles
Interactive exhibits and informative displays
Beautiful surroundings, including Beaulieu Palace Gardens
Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary: Wildlife Wonder
Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe fallow deer in their natural environment. The viewing platforms provide up-close encounters with these majestic creatures.
Stunning panoramic views of the deer meadow
Well-marked walking trails
Educational displays about the local wildlife
Longdown Activity Farm: A Day Out on the Farm
Longdown Activity Farm offers an engaging and educational day out for families. From animal encounters to tractor rides, there’s a host of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Interactive animal encounters
Indoor and outdoor play areas
On-site farm shop offering local produce
Liberty’s Owl, Raptor & Reptile Centre: Meet the Birds of Prey
Liberty’s Owl, Raptor, and Reptile Centre is an intriguing destination for animal lovers. The centre is home to an array of fascinating creatures, from owls and hawks to reptiles.
A diverse collection of birds of prey and reptiles
Educational displays and interactive exhibits
Regular feeding and flying demonstrations
New Forest Reptile Centre: Slither into the Wild
The New Forest Reptile Centre offers a unique opportunity to learn about the native reptiles in their semi-natural habitat. If you’re lucky, you might spot a rare smooth snake or an adder!
A variety of native reptiles in a semi-natural environment
Educational displays and interpretive signs
A safe and accessible viewing area
The New Forest is a beautiful and unique destination that offers a wide range of activities and experiences for everyone. From exploring the National Park and wildlife watching to cultural and culinary experiences, there is always something to see and do in the New Forest. Whether you’re a history buff or an outdoor enthusiast, a family with children or a solo traveller, the New Forest has something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a longer holiday.