Whether it’s walking in a winter wonderland or cocooning yourself in the warmth of one of our world-class spas, there’s no better place for a Winter Day Out than the magical New Forest.
Winter in the New Forest is a special time. It’s a season of rustling, frosted leaves; of snow and storms, dark, starry skies and dramatic, flaming sunsets.
Take your little ones on a walk and try and identify the bare trees from their structure alone. You should be able to identify oaks, ash, beech, hazel and horse chestnut. (More information on forestry.gov.uk)
Or make a real party of it by buying some delicious snacks at one of our local farm shops, and pop some soup in a flask. Then visit one of our beautiful places, Lepe Country Park, perhaps, or Anderwood near Lyndhurst, and enjoy a winter picnic.
If you’d like to learn a little more about the forest, Wild New Forest's New Forest Discovery three-hour guided walks are perfect. On December 2, 9, 16 and 23, starting at Millyford Bridge car park at Emery Down, the walk follows a route through the trees and amongst our special wildlife, with panoramic views across the forest. Costing £20 per person, the walk explores the area’s diverse history, from the Iron Age through to the heyday of the salt industry.
Rather be on the water? Grab a winter adventure with New Forest Activities’ festive paddle on the Beaulieu River to find Santa this Christmas. Enjoy a 90-minute guided tour of the river's beautiful nature reserve in stable, Canadian style canoes with the added excitement that you'll be meeting Santa on the river in his boat full of Christmas gifts! All children will receive a gift from Santa and there'll be toasty hot chocolate available to keep everyone warm. The paddle is suitable for all ages from 18 months and upwards with all equipment provided.
Prefer indoors? Winter is the perfect time to treat yourself before the Christmas onslaught and luckily, our tranquil spas can’t wait to look after you.
For a full day you can’t beat Reflections Day Spa at Shorefield Country Park, Milford on Sea, where they use brands such as REN, bareMinerals, Jessica and St. Tropez, to ensure the perfect massage, facial and manicure.
Over at New Park Manor near Brockenhurst, highly trained therapists will guide you through your spa experience, with a raft of blissful treatments as well as the use of the 16m pool, with panoramic views of the forest. There’s also a steam room, sauna and sanarium (which combines humidity with a slightly less intense heat of a sauna) to soothe you along. The rooms are imbued with aromatherapy scents, which help to re-balance, detoxify and refresh. Or just relax in the outdoor hot tub with a glass of champagne and watch the sun set over the wonderful landscape of the New Forest.
Macdonald Elmers Court’s Classic spa day starts at £75 and gives you views over the Solent coast and Lymington with plenty of opportunities to kick-start a fitness regime or just relax.
SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst will let you spa then tuck into something delicious at their Zen Garden Thai restaurant and you can add in a treatment, too. They also offer an unmissable Rhassoul Mud experience for two. The Herb House at Lime Wood’s Sundowner Package is £160 for two, with full use of the facilities plus a 60-minute de-stressing treatment and a platter from their Raw and Cured restaurant.
For a truly memorable pamper session, book a twilight slot at Chewton Glen, whose price includes full use of their spa and a 50-minute treatment.
You can also find beautiful spa treatments to book the Saltus Spa at Balmer Lawn Hotel.
But if you fancy a winter day out with a difference, visit the Balmer Lawn Hotel for its Christmas Fest – what they describe as the biggest party in the New Forest, hosted by The Lodge Kitchen & Bar.
Along with pizzas from the outdoor oven at their Apres Ski-themed restaurant, you can rock along to their live DJ who is playing from 5pm-11pm every night. Price is £35 minimum spend per person and The Lodge is open every day from 12pm - 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays in December.
And, if you’d like to do a little good, as well as enjoy a great day out, put Sunday December 5 in your diary. That’s the day of the annual Sammy Miller Museum Annual Santa Toy Run Ride In!
Visitors to the fabled motorbike museum in New Milton are asked to come dressed as Santa, by car, foot or bike, and to bring an unwrapped gift to support children’s charities. There will also be a Christmas Market in the Courtyard, supporting local businesses and running over the whole weekend, which lasts from 10am-2pm.
Don’t forget, too, that our major attractions Paultons Park, National Motor Museum and, a little farther away, Marwell Zoo are amazing spots to savour a winter’s day out. Bright lights, fabulous rides and amazing stuff to see come as standard with each.
*For more details on these, and lots of other ideas for a wonderful winter day out, check out thenewforest.co.uk