23 issues to do within the New Forest with children

One of many loveliest spots in England, the New Forest is full of fairly villages, picturesque walks and most excitingly for youthful children, ponies which roam freely – to not point out a number 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 probabilities to get outdoor 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 children and youths to get their coronary heart racing, with my 23 high issues to do within the New Forest with children.

Peppa Pig World & Paultons Park

When you’re a mum or dad, chances are high 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 probability to satisfy Peppa and George for those who’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 children who need some adrenaline thrills in addition to much less scary choices.

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

Try 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 immediately.

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

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a good 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 typically 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 teenagers to play. Rest room amenities can be found within the automotive park.

You can even discover Bolderwood‘s scenic grounds on certainly 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 may even spot a number of the pigs roaming the woodland like we did.

New Forest Reptile Centre

On the New Forest Reptile Centre, children can stand up shut and private with numerous 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 shield 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 clean snakes to sand lizards.

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

The Centre doesn’t open day-after-day, particularly throughout winter, so it’s value 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 for those who’re visiting Hampshire with toddlers and youthful children – you possibly can bottle-feed the children (the child goats, that’s) in addition to seeing different small livestock, from ponies and pigs all the way down to rabbits and guinea pigs.

Kids can get correctly fingers on holding a number of 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.

Try my assessment of Longdown Farm with a toddler.

Biking within the New Forest

Probably the greatest methods to discover the New Forest with children is by bike, taking a cycle journey on one of many off-road trails.

There are over 100 miles of marked routes by the woods, throughout the heathland and by the coast, together with some simple, brief trails that are best you probably have youthful children – the two-mile route from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Onerous is a favorite, and the proper approach to mix the 2 locations if each are in your checklist to go to.

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

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

Recognizing the New Forest ponies

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

There are over 5,000 within the forest, so the possibilities are you’ll see a number of 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 seek 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 value remembering that the ponies are semi-wild, even when they’re fairly used to folks, they aren’t tame and may kick and chew – at all times maintain 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 believe it’s inconceivable 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 mild 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 completely different sights as properly: 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 among my favourites is the Tall Timber Path, simply off Decorative Drive: there’s a one-mile stretch which takes you previous the Big Sequoias as you stroll by a part of Blackwater Arboretum, or one other barely longer Tall Timber Stroll with views of two monumental redwoods, and an opportunity to marvel at a number of the oldest Douglas fir timber in Britain.

You can simply be part of each collectively if you need an extended stroll with older children – 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 issue you fancy, there’ll be an awesome choice to seek out. It’s value downloading the New Forest strolling routes app which supplies concepts close to your location too.

Canoeing/Kayaking on the river

Whereas strolling and biking are positively two of the most effective methods to see the New Forest with children, they’re not the one approach 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 planet, and a straightforward one to discover from Buckler’s Onerous – for those who’re fortunate you possibly can even spot seals whilst you’re out on the water.

It’s a tidal river, so it’s value getting recommendation from the consultants on the most effective time to exit – we tried New Forest Actions, which was appropriate even for a preschooler (for those who had two adults within the canoe).

Youngsters 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 youths, don’t miss the New Forest Water Park in Fordingbridge.

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

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

New Forest Bus tour

When you’re visiting Hampshire with younger children, or just fancy a substitute for 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 completely different routes and if you’re exploring and not using a automotive, particulars on bus connections to Southampton, in addition to Bournemouth and Salisbury for those who’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 exhibits a distinct 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 children.

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 contains 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 a number of the earliest motor autos by to F1 automobiles and land pace file breakers, the museum really is a journey by automotive historical past.

There are some probabilities to get fingers on too, in addition to with the ability to meet the Beaulieu crash check dummy, discover a Nineteen Thirties storage earlier than heading over to see a number of the bizarre creations from the entire High Gear sequence, together with the problem automobiles.

Bucklers Onerous maritime museum & boat journey

Sitting on the banks of the Beaulieu River, Buckler’s Onerous is an 18th-century shipbuilding village the place most 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 interesting 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 Onerous is a river cruise alongside the Beaulieu river. Departing from the village pier, the 30-minute boat journey takes you to discover the world’s lovely surroundings and wildlife, full with an onboard commentary. 

Hurst Citadel

One among Henry VIII’s forts defending the south coast, Hurst Citadel sits on the fringe of a spit of land by the doorway to the Solent – again then a vital defence, however lately an opportunity to see some unbelievable 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 struggle with Napoleon (though it noticed most motion as a army hospital) and modernised once more as a Second World Battle 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 nearly as a lot journey as trying 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 teenagers, a path led by knitted livestock, themed youngsters’s costumes to decorate up in, and an interactive duplicate pilot boat.

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

New Forest Heritage Centre

Positioned in Lyndhurst, The New Forest Heritage Centre is a unbelievable start line for households trying to discover the historical past and variety of the world. The museum covers the whole lot 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 get pleasure from themed costumes, constructing blocks, a puppet theatre, museum trails, and exercise and colouring sheets. Throughout college holidays, additionally they host craft occasions and kids’s workshops.

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

Exbury Gardens and Steam railway

If your loved ones loves the prospect to hop on board a steam prepare on vacation, there’s a stunning choice within the New Forest for teenagers.

The little steam railway at Exbury Gardens follows a 1.5 mile route by the gardens themselves – referred to 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 prepare 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 kids aged 4 years and older.

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

There’s a lot to do at Foxlease that you could possibly simply spend a number of days right here – luckily, the property additionally has a number of campsites you possibly can e book, for those who’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 unbelievable number of thrilling land and water-based actions for all talents and ages.

Outdoors, you possibly can get pleasure from a spread 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

All the time certainly one of my daughter’s favourites, mini-golf is a good way to maintain children entertained for an hour or two. And Lymington’s New Forest Journey Golf is the most effective within the area. The course sits on Goodall’s Farmland for those who’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 Onerous and Exbury Gardens depicted in miniature. You’ll additionally have to navigate the Lymington and Beaulieu Rivers and journey 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 & Seaside

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

The favored nation park makes for a peaceable household time out, with scenic walks by 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 kids. 

The park is free to go to however you’ll need to pay for parking. There’s a restaurant and cafe, a BBQ website, a small store, and bathroom amenities throughout 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 beautiful village has a protracted shingle seashore backed by rows of vibrant seashore huts, with a number of house for teenagers to run round and discover, paddle within the ocean, and construct sandcastles at low tide. There are additionally some nice unbiased eating places, cafes, and outlets on the town only a brief stroll away, making it the proper 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 energetic, take a coastal stroll eastwards from Milford-on-Sea in direction of Hurst Spit, house to Sixteenth-century Hurst Citadel. The stroll takes round 40 minutes every method. 

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

Choose 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 children.

Goodall’s Strawberry Farm in Lymington is a good spot to let youngsters discover and choose their very own contemporary fruit and greens. The farm is finest identified for its strawberries, however you may as well choose raspberries and cherries between Might and August. There’s a stunning little cafe on website serving cream teas and attractive truffles too.

Or for those who’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 children

When you’re basing your self within the New Forest with children, it makes an awesome 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 simple to fill a day within the metropolis for those who’re on the lookout for a change of tempo from the New Forest with children.

In actual fact, it’s simple to fill a day on the Historic Dockyard alone, discovering a number of 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 Citadel on the outskirts, the best-preserved of the Roman forts alongside what’s referred to as the Saxon Shore, plus a string of different enjoyable issues to do for households.

For extra concepts of the most effective issues to do in Portsmouth with children, try my high picks, and my assessment 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 largest cruise port isn’t simply someplace to hop on a ship and sail off into the sundown, with a number of issues to do in Southampton with children.

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

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

For extra concepts of the most effective issues to do in Southampton with children, try my high picks


The town of Winchester was England’s first capital however there’s extra to find right here past historical past, together with the just lately revamped Winchester Science Centre, which is unbelievable for teenagers.

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 multiple 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 truly King Arthur’s but it surely does date again to the thirteenth century), comply with the household path by the cathedral and see the ruins of a twelfth century fort.

For extra concepts of issues to do in Winchester with children, try 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 teenagers to comply with alongside the way in which.

There are sometimes further household sights and exhibitions for those who want an added motive to go to (or return) – similar to Brickosaurs at Marwell Zoo, Lego dinosaurs dotted amongst the real-life inhabitants throughout certainly one of our visits.

The zoo can also be house 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 prospect to move 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 for those who don’t fancy the excessive ropes, there are additionally off-road bike tracks, trails to comply with and several other play areas, together with an indoor play zone, The Holt, for teenagers aged six and beneath, in addition to two out of doors playgrounds for various ages.

There’s additionally the Play Path together with an enormous squirrel, climbing body and snail slide – this and the Forest Path are each pushchair pleasant for those who’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 outdoor with children – and whilst you aren’t wanting 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 areas for the string of Forestry England Julia Donaldson trails, it’s nonetheless house to each a Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Little one, 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 prepare – 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 truly a lot nearer to Bournemouth than you might be to Portsmouth and Southampton, so it’s properly value 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 consider 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 for those who’re on the lookout for concepts of issues to do in Dorset within the rain with children.

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 large numbers of fish, after all).

The city can also be house 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 children

When you’re on the lookout for self-catering lodging, New Forest Cottages has some beautiful family-friendly properties, together with concepts for those who’re on the lookout for canine pleasant breaks and even cottages with swimming pools, in addition to areas across the New Forest so that you’ll at all times 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 children, there’s the whole lot from luxurious stays like Chewton Glen, which has a unbelievable children’ membership, and New Park Manor, which is nice for households with younger youngsters and infants, to choices similar to Sandy Balls Vacation Village.

Disclosure: This publish comprises affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee

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


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