We know we’re famous for our Great Outdoors.

But did you know that the New Forest’s Great Indoors is equally fantastic, too?

From art galleries to museums, spas to activity centres, we have some amazing places to spend some time when you’re visiting this magical part of the world.

Our largest indoor attraction is the amazing National Motor Museum and Palace House at Beaulieu. A day ticket buys you the chance to get up close and personal with more than 250 historic and celebrity cars, from Sir Malcolm Campbell’s iconic Bluebird, to Del Boy Trotter’s Reliant Regal, as well as seasonal exhibitions, including the one dedicated to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  And, when you’re all vehicled out, take a turn about Palace House and see how the Montagu family lived in days gone by or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the park from the monorail.

There are more machines to see at the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum near New Milton. They have four halls rammed with some of the world’s most important motorbikes as well as the memorabilia and equipment that goes with them, all lovingly researched, maintained and installed by their staff and volunteers. There’s also an onsite tearoom as well as gift and craft shops.

Find out more about the forest itself at the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst which has displays devoted to Forest life, as well as our unique social history. You will also find a wide-range of events taking place here including workshops, art exhibitions and talks.

For a little history and a lot of art, check out the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington. They are currently (Until March 17 2019) showing images from the British Wildlife Photography Awards, as well as their impressive permanent collection.

For history of the maritime kind, make time to visit Buckler’s Hard near Beaulieu. Discover more about the village’s shipbuilding heritage – they built ships for Nelson – and take a peek inside the preserved shipwright’s and labourer’s cottages which recently appeared on the Phil Spencer TV programme The History of Britain in 100 homes. You can also learn more about the village’s secret World War II connections.

Eling Tide Mill has stood at the centre of life in Eling for centuries and for 900 years millers have been harnessing the power of the tides in Eling Creek to grind wheat into flour. Visitors are now able to come and see the power of the tide turning and get involved and learn more about the Mill with their new interactive exhibition. Or head to Hurst Castle. It was built by Henry VIII to defend against the French but became a prison for another King, the doomed Charles I, following his capture by Oliver Cromwell.

While you’re in that part of the Forest, why not visit Rockbourne Roman Villa, where you can see a hoard of over 1,700 coins, a human skeleton and the ‘Breamore bucket’, a brass Byzantine bucket as well as the villa itself?

If you’d rather just chill inside, we’ve got that covered too. The New Forest is home to some of the UK’s top spas, each with their own individual treatments and ambiance.

SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst is Thai themed, from the food available at the Zen Garden restaurant, to their tranquil exercise studio. Many of SenSpa’s exclusive massages and treatments are Thai inspired too.

The Herb House at Lime Wood has stunning vistas of the outdoors while you exercise indoors and partake of treatments and delicious snacks inspired by the natural world.

Saltus Spa at nearby Balmer Lawn offers an ‘MOT for your body and soul’, or you can try the stunning spa experiences at Chewton Glen near New Milton, New Park Manor at Brockenhurst and Sandy Balls holiday village.

Active youngsters who don’t fancy braving the elements will find plenty to do at  ‘Wild Thing’ the indoor soft play area at Adventure Wonderland, near Bournemouth.

There’s also a fab array of inside things to do at Longdown Activity Farm, including an animal Encounter Barn, a Straw Den and trampolines, and an indoor soft play area.

Or why not test your skills in ClueCrypted Escape Room ideal for those days when it’s cold or the weather’s not playing ball. Here groups of two-six players can try and solve the clues required and test their wits and skill.

If you enjoy a pint or two then why not take a tour of the Ringwood Brewery and discover how their popular ales are produced? A two-hour tour finishes with a sample in the Pin Bar and your chance to pick up beers to take home from the brewery’s shop.

Don’t forget, also, that The Forest Arts Centre in New Milton will let you enjoy undercover cinema, concerts, comedy and theatre, with a large programme of events throughout the year.

Or book ahead to rustle up a culinary feast by embarking on a course at one of the New Forest’s cookery schools. You could even be taught by celebrity chef, James Martin on a cookery course at Chewton Glen Hotel’s very own cookery school, The Kitchen. Workshops run for all different levels of ability, from starter chefs to those that fancy creating something worthy of MasterChef.

And don’t forget to make times to visit our many beautiful shops and stores.

Ringwood’s Furlong Centre has Hobbs, Joules and Waitrose and Lymington makes a lovely stop for some shopping and cup of tea. Wander down the Georgian High Street and pop into the many independent stores and boutiques. There are plenty of coffee shops and tearooms along the way where you can enjoy a cuppa and a spot of cake.

Other top tips

We’d recommend that you buy a Go New Forest Card so you can save money through nearly 400 offers visiting some of our indoor attractions, tea rooms and activities that can be found here in the New Forest.

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