From our miles of wild heathland and forest, car-free cycle tracks, free-roaming ponies and Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park, the New Forest practically invented ‘family friendly’.
So if you’re coming to take advantage of all the family fun on offer, here are ten of our top places to stay. Take your pick from:
1. New Park near Brockenhurst. With crèche facilities for the under-eights, a listening service so mums and dads can dine like adults in the restaurant and a snug zone, with beanbags, a comfy sofa, books, board games and movies, New Park turns family-friendly into an art form. Older children will love the Blue Room chill-out zone with table football and video games and new parents will adore the Baby Kitchen, with steam steriliser and bottle warmer.
2. Oakdene Forest Park, Avon Forest. With entertainers for younger children, activity areas and playgrounds, plus indoor and outdoor pools, Oakdne, is perfect for families who want a campsite feel but with all the home comforts. Young ones will love the Oak Bar’s shows, and older kids won’t be able to resist the VRoom, where they can put on a Virtual Reality mask and enjoy a thrilling adventure to the depths of the ocean or outer space.
3. Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst. Family bedrooms are a feature of this large, friendly hotel, as are rooms with interconnecting doors – perfect for older children. The Saltus Spa provides a space for much-needed adult R&R while the young people can try their hand at giant games, swimming in outdoor and indoor pools, playing in the large gardens or on console games which are available from reception.
4. Matley Wood Campground near Lyndhurst. A small, secluded campsite in a beautiful woodland setting that’s perfect for that first family camping adventure. Surrounded by oak trees, you’ll find free-roaming ponies and access to miles of cycle and walkways to take you throughout the forest.
5. The Pig at Brockenhurst. Plenty of grounds for your little ones to run around in as well as smaller option food for little gourmets. Wellies are lined up in the entrance hall for instant outside play and a local nanny can be hired with a week’s notice if adults fancy an undisturbed evening by the fire.
6. New Forest Safari Campers. With their Smartie colours, fold-out interiors and the chance they give for a total adventure, kids will adore staying in one of these classic campers. Picnic where you fancy, stay overnight at one of the forest’s campgrounds (there are more than 20 to choose from) or pitch up by the sea; it’s the original family road trip.
7. Holmsley campsite near Bransgore. Perennially popular with kids (maybe because the site is manly flat grass) Holmsley occupies part of what used to be Holmsley Airfield in WWII. Surrounded by ancient trees on all sides, and sitting next to a large heathland, it takes advantage of the beauty and outdoor escapes the New Forest has to offer.
8. Sandy Balls, near Fordingbridge. Set into 120 acres of the Forest, Sandy Balls is the perfect family getaway offering a number of experiences from luxury glamping and lodges, with activities for children including parachute games, rounders, tots’ sing-along, woodland survival, clay play, swimming pools and chance to try lots of different sports.
9. Chewton Glen, New Milton. Like everything else it does, Chewton Glen has the family thing spot-on, too. Their Children’s Club keeps little ones entertained while giving mum and dad a well-earned break and every weekend and during the school holidays it offers supervised fun in the mornings and afternoons. There is painting and puzzles, train-sets and story-time to delight younger guests, as well as board games, toys, and, if your young one loves to cook, why not book them onto a kids’ cookery class in The Kitchen?
10. Hoburne Naish, New Milton. With cliff-top views and miles of sandy beaches, Hoburne Naish is perfect for families who love the seaside. While the kids can have a ball with Sammy the Seahorse at the children’s club, mum and dad can relax in the sauna, or enjoy a quiet drink at the bar.
PS Families can also save money with the Brand New Forest Card – the key to unlocking hundreds of discounts across the forest – while supporting local businesses. For just £5, card holders can save at a host of attractions, activity centres, eateries and shops.