What would the perfect holiday escape mean to you?
Beautiful beaches and a fascinating coastline to explore? Acres of wild, open countryside to walk and cycle in? Stylish, insta-worthy hotels and romantic rental cottage hideaways, or a holiday parks that have got the lot?
Whatever the perfect holiday escape for 2024 means to you, you’ll find it in the magical New Forest. Named as one of the world’s Top Ten National Parks, we have a unique landscape, where around 5,000 ponies and donkeys roam freely through some of Europe’s most important Ancient Woodland, as well as wildlife-rich heathland, and we’re home to a 40-mile ‘secret’ coast.
Want to get the kids into nature? From wanders to bike rides; tree-climbing, to beachcombing, there are endless ways they can enjoy year-round natural play. Older children can learn to canoe or kayak with some of our excellent activity providers, or master the art of archery, just like Robin Hood.
We’re wonderful for wildlife – some of the UK’s rarest reptiles live here - and we’re also home to all five species of deer found in the British Isles, as well as badgers, foxes, and even the occasional visit from the Isle of Wight’s famous white-tailed eagles!
Go self catering at some of our beautiful cottages, book a week at one of our award-winning holiday parks, experience getting closer to nature on a camping or glamping trip, get to know the forest staying at a local B&B or check out the amazing facilities at our child-friendly hotels. For 5* luxe, the Chewton Glen runs activities for younger guests, or, for some fantastic tailored packages, try New Park Manor near Brockenhurst, which specialises in luxury family stays, reopening in April 2024 after a big refurbishment.
Furry friends are also well-catered for in the New Forest, too, with many hotels, B&Bs and cottages accepting dogs, and plenty of fantastic spots to walk them. For the best fun ever, make sure your stay coincides with Dogstival in June, when there will be another two-day feast of fun and frolics for pooches and their owners, taking place at Burley Park.
Image - Montagu Arms Hotel
Talking of walking, we have more than 140,000 acres of heathland and forests, with 140 miles of waymarked tracks and footpaths, where you can enjoy easy-to-follow short strolls or long distance trails. You’ll take in everything from secret war-time airfields, to Iron Age settlements and cosy, welcoming pubs.
Our cycling offer is amazing, too. We have more than 100 miles of cycle routes - around 98 per cent are off-road and range from the simplest of trails suitable for wobbly learners to Blissford Hill, the New Forest’s equivalent of Mount Ventoux, where the gradient is a leg-shaking 25 per cent!
No bike? No problem – we have some excellent bike hire companies, who can rent you anything from off-roaders to road bikes as well as trailers, tag-alongs and even inclusive bikes for people with disabilities.
If your perfect escape includes a bit of well-deserved me-time, then check out our world-class spas, from the tranquil Herb House at Lime Wood Hotel with its sensational forest views. For Thai-inspired treatments and all-round sumptuousness, SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel is a must-visit.
Image - Lime Wood Hotel
If being on the beach is your thing, you’ll find miles worth of them on our coastline, from sandy shores for bucket-and-spaders, to salt-marsh wildlife havens and sea-swimming spots with great parking and facilities.
And, if your New Year’s resolution is to enjoy some new experiences, make sure you check out the ones available in the New Forest.
Fly along a zipwire and take the kids on a treetop adventure at Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre. Get closer to our native species at the New Forest Reptile Centre during the summer, where you’ll be able to see adders and lizards up close, or, year-round, see some of the world’s most amazing wildlife at Marwell Zoo or New Forest Wildlife Park. Lovers of heavy horses will adore the chance to see them at work at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park near Verwood, and little ones will welcome the chance to get closer to livestock great and small at Longdown Activity Farm near Ashurst.
Image - New Forest Wildlife Park
Petrolheads will adore the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum near New Milton, or the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu. If you prefer gardens, however, you won’t want to miss the jaw-dropping beauty of Exbury Gardens, or Furzey Gardens, with their beautiful planting and fairy-door trail.
And finally, if your perfect escape involves thrills without spills, then make sure you include a day to visit Paultons Park. Consistently voted by its visitors as one of the UK’s top family theme parks, Paulton’s provides everything from the Storm Chaser, the only ride of its type in the UK, to another one-off – Peppa Pig World.
Image - Paultons Park
We hope the above has given you a few great ideas for creating your perfect escape to the New Forest in 2024. For even more inspiration, plus some amazing offers and deals, browse through our website.