Long, lazy days. Warm nights. Bright mornings and endless evenings, what’s not to like about summer in the Forest?
The New Forest is the place to go to get outside in the great outdoors and enjoy yourself all year round, but never more than in summer when the sun is blazing and the forest is thriving. Take a walk along our many waymarked paths through gladed woodlands, across the purple heather-clad heathland or along our beautiful coastline.
See if you can spot our adorable, free-roaming new-born New Forest pony foals and baby donkeys (although please just look, feel free to take photos from afar but keep your distance and don’t touch them - their mothers are very protective).
Cycle some of our off-road trails, ideal for families and those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of our towns and villages and roads. If you haven’t brought your own bike along then that’s not a problem, there are several places where you can hire bikes within the New Forest and our cycling pages give lots of information on suggested routes you can take.
Take to the sea from one of our 43 miles of stunning coastline for a true, open-water swim or, if that’s too cold, try a little yoga or mindfulness on the beach. Or how about a coastal picnic watching the sunset?
Family fun in the summer
There is a huge amount of family fun to be had in the New Forest during the summer months. The area is a popular holiday destination for the summer and our campsites in the New Forest and also our holiday parks in the New Forest are hives of activities, many of which offer children’s entertainment and family activities and opportunities for lots of outdoor fun. Plus, they are the perfect places to see the evening sky dazzling with stars, as we have very little light pollution here in the New Forest! You may even
It probably goes without saying that summer is one of the best times to enjoy our world-class attractions. Learn more about some of the interesting history of the New Forest while on our stunning coastline, which is a real sun trap, at Hurst Castle. A great day out for all ages and interests!
Animal lovers are super lucky in the New Forest - not only are we home to a huge amount of free roaming and wild animals, but we also have an excellent selection of nature and animal based attractions. Wander around New Forest Wildlife Park and fall in love with animals large and small. Or take a trip to Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park and enjoy a Heavy Horse carriage ride, interactive feeding tours, an amazing adventure park and so much more.
Paulton’s Park, with its roller-coasters and thrill-rides is a firm family favourite. The ‘Lost Kingdom’ is ideal for dinosaur fans and younger members of the family will no doubt enjoy exploring Peppa Pig World. New attractions are added each year and be sure to look out for summer holiday events.
Alfresco dining and tasty New Forest treats
Summer in the forest is a time for long drinks on the terraces and in the gardens of our award-winning hotels in the New Forest and also loads of restaurants in the New Forest. Sip champagne in the gardens at Montagu Arms Hotel, or luxury Lime Wood, or try taking afternoon tea outdoors at the five star luxurious surroundings of the Chewton Glen Hotel.
For full relaxation after a day of exploring the New Forest’s winding paths, head to one of our wonderful pub gardens. Serving chilled local drinks and the perfect food for refuelling, it’s a summer experience not to be missed.
Taste some New Forest ice cream from one of the ice cream vans you will find dotted around the New Forest or in our coastal towns and villages. Sample the sweet tastes of summer at Burley Fudge Shop (with seasonal specials each month as well as your usual favourites) or tempt yourselves to some homemade cakes at one of our cafes or tearooms in the New Forest.
Summer is also a time for fun, festivals and events; from Lymington Seafood Festival to New Forest Food Festival. There are many foodie events taking place all over our National Park that are perfect for foodies, or why not head to one of our regular markets to pick up some fresh seasonal produce? Ideal for rustling up a feast if you are staying here on a self catering break!
Outdoor adventures in the sun
Take to the waters of the New Forest for the ultimate outdoor adventures. Learn how to use a stand up paddleboard on a lesson at Keyhaven from The New Forest Paddle Sport Company (experienced paddleboarders can also hire boards to paddle to Hurst Castle), kayak or canoe along the Beaulieu River with New Forest Activities, wakeboard or take on the inflatable challenge at the New Forest Water Park. Our water sports will leave you feeling both energised and relaxed!
Use the summer months to indulge in some forest bathing, the Japanese art of appreciating the world around you. Research shows that even just being in a forest improves your mental and physical health.
Top ten things to do in summer in the New Forest
1. Go fly a kite! So long as your kite is under 2m then you’re good to go in the New Forest National Park. Best spots for this type of aerial activity are Stoney Cross Common and Wilverley Plain.
2. Swim in the sea (or at least go for a paddle). From gentle family beaches such as Milford on Sea, to the wild coastal beach of Lepe Country Park, to the tiny, secret scraps of sand and shingle near Lymington where you’ll be the only ones there, we have 43 miles of stunning coastline for you to enjoy. And, if you’re very, very lucky, there are a few places where you may just get to enjoy the day with the New Forest ponies as they like a dip, too.
3. Bring your dog along for a New Forest adventure. Don’t leave your four-legged best friends at home! The New Forest truly is a dog’s idea of paradise, with a whole world of new smells, sights and sounds to discover and enjoy. Plus we’re home to a huge choice of dog friendly attractions, activities, eateries, places to stay and our very own dog festival… Dogstival!
4. Get your foodie on at local festivals. From Lymington Seafood Festival, where you will find 100 stalls full of everything from fried calamari, oyster po-boys and divine chocolate hand-made in the New Forest - to New Forest Food Festival, a 2 day festival celebrating all of the incredible local producers of food and drink in the New Forest. Or head to the New Forest & Hampshire County Show and try delicious samples of local food while watching the country pursuits taking place in the main arena!
5. Watch the sunset. Take a blanket and some warmer layers and head out in the New Forest just before dawn, pick the perfect panoramic location and watch the sunsetting behind the extraordinary landscapes in the New Forest and see the nighttime nature come to life. It’s an experience you will never forget.
6. Walk across the stepping stones. Getting from one side of a stream to another is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Enjoy this at the brook near Rockford Green near Ringwood. But bring a change of shoes – just in case!
7. Enjoy fun outdoor adventures and activities! With New Forest Activities or Insight Activities! Ever wondered what it's like to canoe on the beautiful Beaulieu River, paddleboard on our calm seas or to throw an axe at a target or take on a tree-top adventure? Book loads of fun-filled activities with our local activity centres and providers, including New Forest Activities, Insight Activities, The New Forest Paddle Sport Company, Calshot Activities and Foxlease Activities Centre. Perfect for a family day out, or a couples adventure.
8. Head out on an open top bus tour! Forget a safari in Africa… hop on an open top bus and enjoy a tour of the New Forest. Spot roaming ponies, cattle and donkeys and see if you can spot any hiding deer or unique flora or fauna. Whizz around our quintessential villages and hop off at local pubs, cafes and viewpoints. Then hop back on to carry on the fun - The New Forest Tour is the best way to get around our National Park during the summer!
9. Cycle through our woodlands. With over 140 miles worth of approved off-road cycle paths, the New Forest is the perfect place to get out on your bikes and discover our stunning wildlife and nature.
10. Dine al-fresco. Whether you pack a picnic – just drop into some of our food stores to find locally-produced fare – or check out some of our hotels, restaurants and inns with fab outdoor eating spaces, you won’t want to miss out.