1. Our Ancient Woodlands. The New Forest has the highest concentration of ancient trees than anywhere else in Western Europe. Our living St Paul’s Cathedral, you can see some of the best beeches at Brackley Inclosure, near Bolderwood.
2. The ponies. Native to the New Forest, these roaming ponies live wild, year-round, eating gorse, grass and holly. As there’s around 5,000, you’re sure to see some on your visit!
3. Top-rated hotels. Lime Wood near Brockenhurst scored No 18 in Conde Nast Traveller’s top 20 hotels for 2022. Check out its ‘classic columns, contemporary velvet sofas and striking art, including works by Tracey Emin’. Not to mention the yummy food.
4. Exbury Gardens. Visit these internationally-renowned gardens in the spring, when the rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees are in bloom, and you’ll understand why they’ve been described as ‘heaven with the gates open’. Autumn and summer are just as grand.
5. Our dark skies. Nearly 90 per cent of our skies are in the three darkest categories, which make us the perfect place to see the Milky Way, spot Orion and the winter meteor showers.
6. Afternoon Tea at the Chewton Glen. For a truly 5* experience, make sure to take tea at this beautiful hotel near New Milton, where the food, and the service, is out of this world.
7. Heavy Horses. Some of Britain’s most endangered equine species can be seen at Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park at Verwood on the Forest’s western edge. Along with its gentle giants, there are plenty of traditional fairground rides and adventure opportunities to suit the kids.
8. The New Forest and Hampshire Show. From July 25-27 you can catch top show-jumping, heavy horses and a feast of of fabulous foodie and craft tents.
9. The real Alice in Wonderland. 2023 marks 125 years since the death of the novel’s creator, Lewis Carroll, so take time to visit the grave of the girl who inspired it all. Alice Liddell, who became Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, is buried at St Michael and All Angels church, Lyndhurst.
10. The Rufus Stone. One of the Forest’s most famous landmarks, it’s a great starting point for a number of walks, as well as the chance (some say!) to spot the ghost of King William Rufus, who died after being shot by an arrow from a mystery archer…
11. Stay in a Shepherd’s Hut. There are a small number at Spot in the Woods near Ashurst, where you’ll be able to enjoy an away-from-it-all break with all the luxuries, plus the option of dining on-site or at the Master Builder’s Hotel in Buckler’s Hard. By arrangement, you can even bring your dog!
12. Hurst Spit. Brave the stony walk out from Milford on Sea to the spit’s tip and you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Isle of Wight. On the way back, marvel at the peace, beauty and birdlife at Keyhaven Marshes.
13. 140 miles of footpaths. Don on your walking boots and take on our hundreds of miles of wonderful footpaths in the New Forest. Explore our stunning landscapes and discover our incredible wildlife and nature along the way on a peaceful walk.
14. Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum. This New Milton landmark is a must-sea for bike lovers. They have four halls rammed with some of the world’s most important machines, as well as the memorabilia that goes with them. There’s also an onsite tearoom.
15. Buckler’s Hard. A quiet hamlet now, Buckler’s Hard was so important, it built the ships for Nelson’s Navy. Discover more about the village’s heritage and take a peek inside the preserved shipwright’s cottage.
16. Pannage pigs. Every September, our famous roaming porkers are let loose on the Forest, to snaffle up all the acorns, for around 2 months. The timing varies a little every season, so check 2023’s date with the Verderers.
17. Peppa Pig. Yes, the only place you can meet the world’s most popular pig in the UK is right here in the New Forest, at Paulton’s Park’s and Peppa Pig World.
18. Unique wildlife. The New Forest is home to lots of distinctive animals, flora and fauna. Much of our area is rich in wildlife and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
19. There’s nowhere better to cycle. Get on your bike (or hire one!) and enjoy a cycling adventure along our miles worth of cycle tracks in the New Forest, winding through our ancient woodland and across our beautiful heathland.
20. National Motor Museum and Palace House. A day ticket buys you the chance to get up close and personal with more than 250 historic and celebrity cars, from Sir Malcolm Campbell’s iconic Bluebird, to Del Boy Trotter’s Reliant Regal
21. SenSpa. Find out why people flock to Brockenhurst’s Thai-inspired haven of bliss and tranquillity by booking your own wellbeing break there.
22. Our secret coast. We’re most famous for our forest but our 43-mile ‘secret’ coast offers a wealth of wonderful experiences; from stand-up paddleboarding taster sessions, to ocean yacht sailing, to wonderful bathing and views.
23. Burley Fudge. Why? Just taste it, then you’ll know!
… And there are so many more reasons why you should visit the New Forest this year. For more details about all of these experiences, plus many more, visit thenewforest.co.uk