The New Forest is an area of immense natural beauty covering a huge area that extends across Hampshire. Its open pastures, forest and heathlands form the largest unenclosed natural areas of England. The wide swathes of open country are home to rare birds and mammals, and deer and wild horses are a common sight. Characterised by picture-perfect villages and thriving market towns, you can also find some excellent family attractions and places of historical interest.
Here is a light guide to some of the best attractions and family activities you can head to on your holiday in the New Forest. There’s something for children and adults of all ages to enjoy, including theme parks and animal reserves. Read on for inspiration.
The fantastic Beaulieu Estate is one of the New Forest’s biggest and best family day trip destinations. It’s the home of the brilliant National Motor Museum, which houses one of the largest and most diverse collections of automobiles in the UK. You can also tour the spectacular landscaped gardens or take the monorail to see the estate from a fun elevated perspective. The ornate and eye-catching Beaulieu House is open to the public too. Be sure to check the website to coordinate your visit with one of their scheduled events!
Visit the historic shipbuilder’s village of Buckler’s Hard. On the banks of the Beaulieu River, you can literally step back in time to discover what a shipbuilding village would have looked like. Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet of battleships for Trafalgar were built here, and the famous Gipsy Moth IV is occasionally moored here too. The latter was owned and sailed around the globe by Sir Francis Chichester in 1966.
Also located at Buckler’s Hard is a fascinating Maritime Museum where you can see a scale model of how the village may have looked during the 18th and 19th century. There is a lovely wide grass avenue for picnics and an apple orchard; you could also enjoy lunch and a drink at the on-site café or pub.
Children of all ages are in for a treat, as Peppa Pig World and Paultons Park is in the New Forest. Just off the M27, there are rides for the whole family and opportunities galore for your brood to meet Peppa Pig and her family. A rainy day won’t spoil the fun either, as you can enjoy George’s Spaceship Playzone – an indoor galaxy of fun and games with slides and climbing frames galore.
For larger juniors and grownups, Paultons is great for its sheer variety of rides and entertainment options. Including Peppa Pig World, the park has 70 rides and attractions such as the dinosaur hullaballoo of the Lost Kingdom. Check out the suspended rollercoaster known as Flight of the Pterosaur, moving dinosaurs and the Velociraptor coaster too! You’ll also encounter an awesome collection of exotic animals and birds in the 140 acres of lovely parklands. Oink!
Play on the beach and watch giant ships sail on The Solent at Calshot Spit. Much of the New Forest’s coastline is privately owned and inaccessible. However, if you head to Calshot you will love its pebble ridge which is fringed with beach huts and the outbuildings of a former naval base where TE Lawrence was once stationed. You can hang out with the family and watch the yachts and ferries float past – it’s a great place to watch Cowes Week and the Americas Cup too.
Calshot Spit is also home to the tiny Calshot Castle, a Henry VIII era sea fort defence where Southampton Water meets The Solent. There are good facilities at Calshot including a seasonal café, parking and WCs. The open sea views here are unforgettable!
A single day trip isn’t long enough to do justice to the New Forest. Why not stay in the New Forest with the family? New Forest Living have cottages in the New Forest big and small – so you can have quality time together in a two-bedroom cottage or invite the grandparents along and stay in a larger house. A holiday home gives you lots of flexibility to explore and enjoy the New Forest at your own pace.
Collab with New Forest Living.