Rainy Day Ideas

No matter what the weather is, there's always somewhere exciting to visit in the New Forest, from indoor attractions and art galleries to community cinemas and nearby shopping centres.

Visitors to the New Forest have the choice of pretty villages in the heart of the forest or bustling seaside towns, so grab your raincoats and brollies and get exploring.

Below you will find some of our top suggestions for what to do on a rainy day here in the New Forest…

Enjoy one of our indoor attractions and activities

With the majority of its exhibitions indoors, Beaulieu makes a great place to visit on a rainy day. Shelter from the elements whilst learning about the fascinating history of the motor car, or by exploring the beautiful interiors of Palace House. The National Motor Museum is home to over 250 different vehicles from all ages of motoring history. The exhibits include the popular World of Top Gear area where cars made famous by the BBC series starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May feature.

Nearby Bucker’s Hard offers an indoor Maritime Museum, where you can discover more about the village’s shipbuilding history and WW2 connections. Another attraction full of interesting history is Eling Tide Mill Experience. For 900 years, millers have been using this fantastic Mill to grind wheat into flour. Visit their new interactive exhibition while you're there to find out even more about the Mill.

Find out more about the New Forest’s history by making a stop at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington or the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst. You will also find a wide-range of events taking place at these venues including workshops, art exhibitions and talks.

At the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, you can explore four halls of motorcycles from across the years. There’s also an onsite tea room as well as gift and craft shops.

Soak up the history at Breamore House, near Fordingbridge. This Elizabethan Manor House holds many treasures within it including the beautiful panelled Great Hall. Or shelter from the rain at Hurst Castle, originally built by King Henry VIII in Tudor times. Here, you can also take an audio tour of the site where you can learn about the castle’s history including its use as a prison and as defences during WW2.

Keep an eye out for Friends of The New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre days of openings throughout the year. It’s the ideal place to be for a couple of hours while the rain pours outside. Take a look around this amazing Heritage Centre full of interesting facts, interactive displays and wonderful memorabilia all about the history of the twelve airfields that were operational in the New Forest.

Calshot Activities Centre has a whole host of brilliant indoor activities, including a giant rock climbing complex, an indoor dry ski slope and a velodrome - it's the perfect location for lots of fun on a rainy day!

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 those first starting out in cooking to those that fancy creating something worth of MasterChef status. 

Let us entertain you

Every week, Hanger Farm Arts Centre hosts fantastic entertainment for everyone to enjoy, including comedy shows, live music, theatre productions and also cinema. They also hold fun-filled children's activities too, including during half terms and school holidays. This wonderful, modernised 17th century barn is the perfect place to head to when it's grotty outside.

Forest Forge Theatre is also another location in the New Forest that puts on brilliant shows and performances for residents and visitors to watch, both at the theatre and they also do a lot of touring at other places across the forest too. There are also weekly participation groups that you can join in with Youth Theatre, Tots, Minis and also Adult Drama Sessions.

Escape from it all at one of our spas

Who cares what the weather’s like outside if you are floating in warm water, indulging in a spa treatment or warming in the sauna? We have several magical spa hotels here in the New Forest that offer spa days to help you relax in even the most miserable weather. You can even watch the rain fall onto you from the outdoor hot pool at Lime Wood’s Herb House Spa.

Most of the hotels offer not only spa breaks but spa days as well so if the weather is not doing what you want it to then book a day out at one of our spas for a spot of relaxation.

Indulge in an afternoon tea

This quintessential British experience can be enjoyed whatever the weather. So why not book a table at one of our hotels or traditional tea rooms and spoil yourself with an afternoon tea? Fancy a tipple? Then why not upgrade your afternoon tea to one accompanied by a glass of champagne or prosecco?

Try our delicious local food and drink

There isn't anything that sounds more tempting when it's cold and raining outside than cosying up next to a roaring fire with your favourite drink and some real home-cooked food at one of our beautiful country pubs. With so many perfect pubs to choose from, you won't be stuck with choosing somewhere to go.

You could also warm up with a hot drink and a bacon sarnie or homemade slice of cake at one of our many cute, quaint cafes dotted around the New Forest. From up and down our high streets to being tucked away in the New Forest, there are also plenty of cafes and tearooms for you to visit and enjoy.

If you fancy putting on a nice shirt or a special dress and heading out for the evening but are being put off by the weather, don't let it stop you from diving into some wonderful food and drink at one of our fantastic restaurants in the New Forest. We are home to all sorts of tasty cuisine, from Italian to Thai, from Steakhouses to Indian, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Or if you fancy cooking up a delicious dish yourself, but want to use some of the New Forest's fantastic local produce, then head to one of our farm or produce shops. Such as Hockey's Farm, where you can find local meats, cheeses, veg, fruit, bread & loads more.

Explore some of our shops and shopping areas

Shelter from the rain by making a trip to The Furlong Centre in Ringwood. Although this shopping centre is outdoors, there are many shops you can pop into for a spot of retail therapy. Joules, Crew Clothing and Fat Face are just some of the names that can be found here.

Lymington makes a lovely stop for some shopping and a 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 tea rooms 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.

Follow Visit the New Forest on Instagram