One of many loveliest spots in England, the New Forest is filled with fairly villages, picturesque walks and most excitingly for youthful children, ponies which roam freely – to not point out a couple of donkeys.
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In addition to numerous possibilities to get outside 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
For those who’re a father or mother, 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 mild rides and probability to satisfy Peppa and George for those who’re visiting Hampshire with a toddler, there’s a lot extra adrenaline-fuelled enjoyable.
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 reveals, 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
For those who’d wish 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 at the moment.
It’s additionally dwelling 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, when 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 usually roam – no ensures although.
The platform is stroller-friendly and when the deer are round, there are some nice photograph alternatives, in addition to info boards in regards to the deer and loads of area for teenagers to play. Bathroom services can be found within the automotive park.
You may also discover Bolderwood‘s scenic grounds on certainly one of three signposted, buggy-friendly walks, the place you might even see much more deer within the space’s lush woodlands – go to within the autumn and also you may even spot among 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.
Dwelling to a sequence of uncommon reptiles, the centre works to reintroduce them into the wild and shield their habitats – the possibilities of recognizing them out within the countryside are tiny, so this can be a nice alternative to see something from adders and clean snakes to sand lizards.
There’s additionally a simple strolling route ranging from the Reptile Centre automotive park, so it’s simple to mix some indoor and outside enjoyable right here.
The Centre doesn’t open every single day, particularly throughout winter, so it’s value checking earlier than you set off.
Longdown Exercise Farm
This family-friendly farm is nice for those who’re visiting Hampshire with toddlers and youthful children – you’ll be able to bottle-feed the children (the child goats, that’s) in addition to seeing different small cattle, from ponies and pigs right down to rabbits and guinea pigs.
Kids can get correctly palms on holding among the smaller inhabitants of Longdown Farm within the animal encounters, plus there are locations to play outdoors and indoors – which is nice for a wet day in Hampshire – and take tractor trailer rides.
Try my evaluation 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 means of the woods, throughout the heathland and by the coast, together with some simple, quick trails that are ultimate you probably have youthful children – the two-mile route from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Exhausting is a favorite, and the right technique to mix the 2 locations if each are in your record to go to.
For those who don’t have your personal wheels, there are many locations to rent bikes within the New Forest, together with baby 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 Exhausting
Recognizing the New Forest ponies
One factor the New Forest is most well-known for – and one of the crucial 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 probabilities are you’ll see among the wild ponies (and donkeys) alongside the way in which as you discover, however place to identify them is close to Brockenhurst, round Beachern Wooden and the ford.
Beaulieu village is one other good place to seek out them, particularly round Hatchet Pond and Culverley Inexperienced, or alongside the route in the direction of Lymington. However Burley, Fordingbridge and Lymington itself are different good locations to strive.
It’s value remembering that the ponies are semi-wild, even when they’re moderately used to folks, they aren’t tame and might kick and chunk – all the time preserve a respectful distance. It’s additionally unlawful to feed them.
Strolling within the New Forest
I feel it’s unimaginable to go to the New Forest and never really feel tempted to drag on a pair of trainers and set off beneath the timber. Whether or not you’re searching for a delicate amble with a restaurant on the finish of it, or to deal with one thing more difficult, 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 offers you an opportunity to identify deer too.
One in all my favourites is the Tall Timber Path, simply off Decorative Drive: there’s a one-mile stretch which takes you previous the Large Sequoias as you stroll by means of 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 among the oldest Douglas fir timber in Britain.
You may 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.
For sure, 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 an important choice to seek out. It’s value 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 positively two of one of the best methods to see the New Forest with children, they’re not the one technique to get round – you’ll be able to take a canoe or kayak out on the Beaulieu river or SUP and Kayak on the Keyhaven River.
Beaulieu is without doubt one of the few privately owned rivers on this planet, and a straightforward one to discover from Buckler’s Exhausting – for those who’re fortunate you’ll be able to even spot seals when you’re out on the water.
It’s a tidal river, so it’s value 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 (for those who 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.
New Forest Water Park
For those who’re searching 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 an entire 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 children beneath 11 be accompanied by an grownup. All youngsters should additionally have the ability to swim 50m with a buoyancy support.
New Forest Bus tour
For those who’re visiting Hampshire with younger children, 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 in case you are 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’ll be able to 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 children.
The buses are seasonal so that they don’t run throughout winter (understandably, because it’s so much much less enjoyable sitting on an open-top bus tour within the chilly and rain!)
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 by means of to F1 automobiles and land velocity document breakers, the museum actually is a journey by means of automotive historical past.
There are some possibilities to get palms on too, in addition to with the ability to meet the Beaulieu crash take a look at dummy, discover a Nineteen Thirties storage earlier than heading over to see among the bizarre creations from the whole High Gear sequence, together with the problem automobiles.
Bucklers Exhausting maritime museum & boat journey
Sitting on the banks of the Beaulieu River, Buckler’s Exhausting is an 18th-century shipbuilding village the place lots of the ships for Nelson’s Navy have been constructed.
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.
For those who’re visiting between Easter and October, the spotlight of Buckler’s Exhausting 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 stunning surroundings and wildlife, full with an onboard commentary.
One in all 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 an important defence, however nowadays an opportunity to see some incredible 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 navy hospital) and modernised once more as a Second World Conflict defence.
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 may be very family-friendly, with info boards for teenagers, a path led by knitted cattle, 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 incredible start line for households seeking to discover the historical past and variety of the realm. The museum covers every little thing from wartime tales to the well-known ponies and hyperlinks to Alice in Wonderland.
The central “Household Tree” is stuffed 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 faculty holidays, in addition they host craft occasions and kids’s workshops.
The centre is free to enter (although donations are welcomed), so it’s additionally an important place to go to within the New Forest with children on a price range.
Exbury Gardens and Steam railway
If your loved ones loves the possibility to hop on board a steam prepare on vacation, there’s a beautiful choice within the New Forest for teenagers.
The little steam railway at Exbury Gardens follows a 1.5 mile route by means of 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 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.
Foxlease Exercise centre
For extra adventurous households, the Foxlease Exercise Centre in Lyndhurst has an enormous number of thrilling outside actions for kids aged 4 years and older.
Owned by Lady 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 college holidays or to e-book a non-public go to, you’ll must contact them instantly.
There’s a lot to do at Foxlease that you would simply spend a couple of days right here – thankfully, the property additionally has a number of campsites you’ll be able to 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 without doubt one of the largest journey centres in Britain, with a incredible number of thrilling land and water-based actions for all talents and ages.
Exterior, you’ll be able to 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
At all times 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 one of the best 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’ll be able to 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 Exhausting and Exbury Gardens depicted in miniature. You’ll additionally must navigate the Lymington and Beaulieu Rivers and journey the shifting Isle of Wight ferry over the Solent – tough!
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 seaside and gorgeous views throughout the Solent.
The favored nation park makes for a peaceable household time out, with scenic walks by means of 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 resort, and several other journey playgrounds for kids.
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 services throughout the park.
New Forest seashores
The New Forest has a number of stunning seashores alongside its shoreline, however Milford on Sea must be our favorite.
The beautiful village has a protracted shingle seaside backed by rows of vibrant seaside huts, with numerous area for teenagers 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 quick stroll away, making it the right spot for a soothing household day on the seaside.
For one thing extra energetic, take a coastal stroll eastwards from Milford-on-Sea in the direction of Hurst Spit, dwelling to Sixteenth-century Hurst Citadel. The stroll takes round 40 minutes every approach.
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 personal fruit and veggies
Time your go to proper and there’s one other pretty 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 decide their very own contemporary fruit and greens. The farm is finest recognized for its strawberries, however you too can decide raspberries and cherries between Could and August. There’s a beautiful little cafe on web site serving cream teas and engaging desserts 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 Choosing Patch.
Days out close to the New Forest with children
Dwelling 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 searching for a change of tempo from the New Forest with children.
In truth, it’s simple 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 Citadel 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 children, try my high picks
The UK’s largest cruise port isn’t simply someplace to hop on a ship and sail off into the sundown, with numerous issues to do in Southampton with children.
And town is simply half an hour away from Brockenhust, so it makes a simple day journey from the New Forest with children. There’s incredible historical past to find, from the Mayflower to the Titanic, plus wartime plane and medieval partitions.
To not point out a lot extra possibilities to get outside 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 children, try 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 lately revamped Winchester Science Centre, which is incredible for teenagers.
For those who do fancy travelling again to the previous, you’ll be able to 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 really King Arthur’s however it does date again to the thirteenth century), observe the household path by means of 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
There are sometimes further household sights and exhibitions for those who want an added cause 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 dwelling to 4 journey playgrounds, little highway and rail trains, in addition to the animals themselves – from amur tigers to zebras, to not point out cheetah, purple pandas, penguins and extra.
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 for those who 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 teenagers aged six and beneath, in addition to two outside 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 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 outside with children – and when 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 areas for the string of Forestry England Julia Donaldson trails, it’s nonetheless dwelling to each a Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Baby, 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.
For those who’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 value taking the chance of a time out on this seaside city.
In addition to the lengthy golden sandy seaside, you’ll be able to even fly over the waves (and make imagine you’re going to maintain going beneath) with the RockReef Pierzip Line, or deal with 28 themed indoor climbing partitions, a vertical drop slide, a excessive ropes aerial impediment course, and an indoor caving expertise on the journey centre.
That’s not the one household attraction to tempt for those who’re searching 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’ll be able to uncover penguins and sea turtles, together with dwarf crocodiles and otters (plus enormous numbers of fish, after all).
The place to remain within the New Forest with children
For those who’re searching for self-catering lodging, New Forest Cottages has some pretty family-friendly properties, together with concepts for those who’re searching for canine pleasant breaks and even cottages with swimming pools, in addition to areas 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.
For those who favor the thought of a New Forest resort with children, there’s every little thing from luxurious stays like Chewton Glen, which has a incredible children’ membership, and New Park Manor, which is nice for households with younger youngsters and infants, to choices similar to Sandy Balls Vacation Village.
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Photos: Beaulieu, classic automotive, Bucklers Exhausting, Hurst Citadel, Exbury Gardens, Lepe Nation Park, Milford on Sea, Bournemouth courtesy of Depositphotos, all others copyright MummyTravels