If there’s a better way to enjoy fabulous food and drink and get close to nature, then we haven’t heard about it yet!

Picnics are a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and they’re also ideal for spotting our free roaming animals, but the best bit has got to be the delicious food.

To make the perfect picnic basket, we suggest heading to a local shop and picking up some yummy local produce to add into your picnic. Whether it’s bread for the sandwiches, cheeses, meats or jams for the fillings, sausage rolls, cakes and other sweet treats, fruit or drinks to wash it all down, you’ll be sure to find it. You could even make your own charcuterie picnic basket full of fresh bread, cheeses, cured meats and chutneys, that have all been made locally in the New Forest.

Our markets are also fab places to pick up delicious produce for your picnic – they take place weekly at HytheLymingtonNew Milton and Ringwood.

When searching for anything to eat, be sure to look out for the New Forest Marque, your indicator of food that is both local and produced sustainably.

Many of our hotels and B&B’s will pack you up a picnic so ask yours in advance, if you’re staying there or, if you want to make it an extra special experience, you could even order a pre-made hamper, full of locally produced goodiesThe Forest Foodie create the best hampers, whether it’s a traditional picnic or afternoon tea you’re looking for, or for something a little more remarkable, check out their lobster, sparkling wine and fillet of beef options. Or try these other great New Forest hamper companies who’ll be delighted to sort your order. 

Once you’ve got your hamper sorted, the next question is where to throw down your tartan blanket?

Balmer Lawn, just north of Brockenhurst, is often named as a favourite place for picnickers. Perhaps this is because of the streams – a popular place to see the New Forest ponies, too - or because of the shade of the ancient oaks in this area.

The National Trust Northern Commons are another great place for a picnic – walk to Robin Hood’s clump on the Ibsley Common trail for shade and amazing views.

Blackwater on Rhinefield Drive has picnic tables, in case you don’t want to lunch at ground level and there are also tables at other forest car-parks on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bolderwood has a large, designated picnic area amongst the trees and there is also a grassy area, perfect for games like rounders, cricket and football.

Whitefield Moor near Brockenhurst is another beautiful spot, with walks around the nearby Ober Water stream.

And if you want to take your picnic beside the seaside, the beach at Lepe Country Park is also a sweet spot.

If you’re up early and it’s low tide, check out the coveted scrap of beach at Tanners Lane near Lymington. Or take yourself off to Hurst Spit where there is plenty of space to spread out beside the seaside.

Please take everything home with you, including all fruit peel and any litter. Secondly, never, ever leave food for, or feed, the New Forest ponies, donkeys or other free roaming animals. We know they look cute but human food is bad for them and it encourages them to come too close, which can lead to dangerous kicking and even biting when they don’t get their own way. Worse still, it can lead to accidents as they start to associate cars with food. Please note that barbeques are also banned in the New Forest, due to a high fire risk.

If you do go on a New Forest picnic we’d love to see a pic and who knows, you could become the winner of our Picnic Photo Competition! It’s taking place until the end of August and you can find out more details on our website.