Ideas & Inspiration
With unparalleled nature and outstanding views, let us inspire you with suggestions for exploring the New Forest further.
Whether you are here for just a day visit or longer, our itinerary ideas can help you to plan those must-see destinations or some of the key highlights you won’t want to miss on your trip here.
Our National Park is a haven for wildlife with our iconic New Forest ponies roaming freely amongst the heather-clad heathland. Our coastline is ideal for walking, nature spotting and for water sports and you will find plenty of walking routes taking you through our quintessentially English villages where you’ll come across thatched cottages, quirky architecture and an intriguing history that’s waiting to be discovered.
New Forest whatever the season (or weather)
Rain, sun or snow, whatever the weather we have loads of great ideas for how you can spend your time in the New Forest! Don’t let a rainy day stop you, we have plenty of ideas for indoor activities from museums to indoor activity centres. On a hot day, why not take to our waters whether by kayaking along the Beaulieu River, tacking some inflatable fun at a water park or setting sail onto the Solent.
The New Forest is a destination that you can enjoy at any time of the year, with many activities and attractions in the New Forest open all year round. It’s easy to get here too, we have regular direct trains which take just 89 minutes from London Waterloo and excellent road links too.
In the spring, the New Forest comes to life with the fresh greens of the leaves and the rich blues and purples of our bluebell woods. This is the perfect time to spot the newly born foals, calves and fawns and hear the birdsong from the trees in our ancient woodland. Late spring also sees the gardens at Exbury awash with colour as the azaleas and rhododendrons bloom amongst the woodland.
Summer brings with it blossoming flowers, countryside walks and balmy evenings sat outside with a pint of local ale. It is an ideal time to try out some of our watersports or to head to one of our super family friendly attractions such as the New Forest Wildlife Park, Longdown Activity Farm or the New Forest Reptile Centre.
During autumn, the colours of the New Forest are probably at their most vibrant with the rich tones of gold and orange dominating our ancient woodlands. You’ll often see the pigs out on the commons at this time as part of the annual pannage. This tradition dates back many centuries and is when the pigs are released into the Forest to roam for the fallen acorns. Acorns are poisonous to the New Forest ponies so this tradition helps to keep the herds healthy. Take some beautiful walks during the autumn months and take in some of the sights away from the busier summer months.
Winter should not be forgotten, think fresh walks along the coast path, cosy fireplaces and the chance to enjoy some festive fun at some of our attractions. Look out for Palace House, Beaulieu dressed in traditional Victorian fare over the Christmas period and families will love the festive theme at Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park. Many of our hotels in the New Forest offer Christmas and New Year breaks which can include your traditional Christmas dinner, themed evenings and even gala dinners with lots of fizz over New Year’s Eve. Or, if you fancy getting away from things over the winter months then why not rent your own traditional cottage in the New Forest for a secluded break?
The romantic forest
Once visited, the New Forest holds a special place in everyone's heart forevermore, with its magical ancient landscape and romantic history. Perfect for weddings or honeymoons, the New Forest has several wedding venues from luxury, country hotels catering for up to 400 guests through to intimate weddings in unique settings. You will be sure to enjoy a romantic break here.
Famous connections and starring roles of the New Forest
One of the earliest mainstream productions to be filmed in the New Forest was Enid Blyton’s ‘The Famous Five’ between 1978 and 1979. Whilst parts of the television series were shot in Dorset and Devon, the vast majority of outdoor scenes were filmed in The New Forest. Other notable features include Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Discover more about what has been filmed for the big screen and TV here in The New Forest. More recently, Channel 4 has aired a four-part series called ‘A Year in the New Forest’ which focussed on the four seasons, our wildlife and the people that live here.
As well as Film & TV there are loads of famous literature and literary connections that are based in the New Forest or were written by the author whilst in the New Forest, including the fabulous Alice in Wonderland.
There are a variety of famous people who were born, buried and worked in the New Forest, including the creator of crime fiction character Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is buried in Minstead churchyard, near Lyndhurst. Florence Nightingale lived in Embley Park, Wellow and is buried in St Margaret’s churchyard, East Wellow. Naturalist and TV presenter, Chris Packham calls the New Forest home as well.
Meet our friendly locals
Meet the locals whilst you’re here! From the Commoners whose stock graze freely in the New Forest, to the wonderful producers of our local fayre - from fruit and vegetables to New Forest-grown wine, these are just some of the people you might bump into during your time in the forest.
Bring your whole family along (even the dog)!
Thinking about bringing the family dog on holiday to the New Forest with you? We think that’s a great idea! The New Forest is the perfect place for a trip away without having to leave your four-legged friend at home, with dog friendly accommodation, places to eat and drink and attractions, plus 193,000 acres of woodland and 40 miles of coastline to explore, they will absolutely love their time spent here!
To showcase just how dog friendly the New Forest is, the New Forest is home to its very own festival for dogs… Dogstival! It’s a celebration of everything brilliant our four-legged best friends bring to our lives and the ultimate day out for anyone who is bonkers about dogs. Expect dazzling displays, activities to try, delicious treats, fantastic gifts, experts talks and more - all in the heart of one of the UK’s most dog-friendly areas. Visitors can expect over 200 quality stalls catering to a dog’s (and humans!) every need, as well as lots of wonderful goods, gifts and artisan food and drink from New Forest producers.
Enter our amazing giveaways to win some top New Forest prizes
Keep an eye out for our monthly prize giveaways that you can enter for a chance to win loads of prizes including free tickets to our attractions, overnight stays at our wonderful hotels and vouchers for wine-ing and dining.
The New Forest for business
The New Forest is also a great place to hold meetings and conferences, from 10 to 50+ people there are plenty of venues who are happy to host! Where better to meet and come up with fantastic business ideas than surrounded by nature in our National Park? There are also lots of options for brilliant team-building activities and days out!
Take a look through these pages to help inspire you for your next New Forest visit. We also recommend that you have a read of our blog for some interesting information about the New Forest and loads of ‘Top 10s’ to give you ideas on what to see and do whilst on a break here!