Things to Do in the New Forest

There are plenty of things to do in the New Forest whatever the season. If you love to get active and be in the great outdoors on holiday then there are lots of brilliant activities on hand! 

Walking is a top activity here in the New Forest, from a simple stroll through the trees to a long-distance hike encompassing our stunning landscapes, quaint towns and villages and beautiful coastline. There are over 140 miles worth of walking paths in our magical National Park.

For more exhilarating activities, explore the forest on horseback, cycle along off-road trails that criss-cross our heathlands and woodlands or try out new adventurous activities and watersports.

Create fantastic memories with family and friends on unforgettable days out at local attractions. From farms and gardens to museums, historic houses and even theme parks, the New Forest has a huge choice of fun-filled attractions. 

Take a look below as we show you more of the exciting things that you can do here in the New Forest…

What are the Top Family-Friendly Things to Do in the New Forest?

There are many brilliant days out that are perfect in the New Forest for families. From farm trips to theme parks, we have it all. Check out our family-friendly webpage to see all the fantastic things to do we have to offer. 

What are the Top Dog-Friendly Things to Do in the New Forest?

There's no need to leave your dogs at home when you come to the New Forest. We have a huge variety of things to do where you can bring your dog with you! They can join you paddleboarding or kayaking, wander around local gardens and, of course, join you on brilliant walks and cycle rides through our woodland and heathland. Take a look at our dog-friendly webpage to find woof-tastic days out in the New Forest. 

What are the Top Free Things to Do in the New Forest?

You can access our 140 miles worth of walking and cycle paths for free in the New Forest, giving you an infinite amount of days out exploring the forest and discovering our wonderful wildlife and nature - even the Forestry England car parks dotted around the New Forest are free! Spend the day at our secret coastline, enjoy a picnic, build a sandcastle and have a dip in the sea! We also have some attractions in the New Forest where you don't have to pay, or where entry is by donation only, including New Forest Heritage Centre, Sopley Farm, Hockey's Farm, Furzey Gardens and Fairweather's Garden Centre

Activities for All Types of Adventurers

Here in the New Forest, we love to get outdoors whatever the weather. With so much gorgeous forest on our doorstep, it’s hard not to - and with so many amazing activities in the New Forest it's so easy to do!

If walking in the New Forest is your thing, you’re in luck, there is an extensive footpath network in our area. Whether you fancy a short stroll along the coast path, a long-distance trail or simply a wander through the open forest, we have over 140 miles of walking paths and tracks to take on in the New Forest. Take a look at and download our suggested walking routes or pick up a local map and make your own journey. If you don’t fancy organising your walk yourself then there are a variety of guided walk companies, such as Wild New Forest, that are on hand to take you around the area and help you discover the charm of our National Park. 

Cyclists will love the opportunity to go off-road with miles of fantastic gravel tracks, taking you away from the traffic, so you can get those wheels turning and discover wonderful views along the way. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own bike, there are plenty of places to hire bikes within the New Forest and with excellent rail links to get here you won’t find it difficult to get out and about car-free.

Keen equestrians can enjoy the opportunity to explore the bridleways around the New Forest or hone their riding skills at one of our riding schools and equestrian centres. There are even places to stay where you can bring your own horse along to stay! Or how about a horse-drawn carriage ride with Burley Wagon Rides?

Why don’t you try out something new with New Forest Activities, including canoeing, kayaking, archery and loads more! All of the fantastic watersports take place on the beautiful Beaulieu River Nature Reserve. Or explore the New Forest in style with New Forest Classic Car Hire

For the adrenaline seekers New Forest Water Park is a must, think wakeboarding, aquapark and banana rides - you get the picture. Or, if you prefer more sedate watersports then there are several places where you can take part in kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing or yachting.

Escape Yachting offers luxury trips across the Solent aboard their spacious and sleek yacht. You can also soak up the views of the luxury cruise liners from the Hythe Ferry as it crosses Southampton Water or on the Wightlink ferry as it journeys from Lymington to Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight. 

Try something new with Insight Activities' Medieval Trio, a fun-filled day of woodland archery, crossbow shooting and axe throwing in their beautiful, rural location based in Fordingbridge; ideal for family groups or stag and hen parties. Calshot Activities Centre is also a brilliant location to visit for some action-filled activities. With activities indoors including a huge climbing complex, a dry ski slope and a velodrome, and outdoor activities including sailing and a low-ropes course, there are loads to choose from! Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre is also a great location for fantastic activity experiences, with so much to choose from to try out and fall in love with doing.

Golfers will be able to practice their game at various golfing hotels or golf clubs here. You can even try your hand at fishing at some of our freshwater lakes, from a fishing boat trip or by casting off from some of our beaches.

Attractions and Days Out for All the Family

We are home to some famous attractions in the New Forest including the super family-friendly Paultons Park, Home of Peppa Pig World and the internationally-renowned National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. At Paultons Park you can expect over 70 rides and attractions including rollercoaster rides, a 4D cinema, water rides and a small zoo. Within Beaulieu, enjoy discovering more about the history of motoring and motor sports, learn about the Victorian way of life at Palace House and the life of the monks who resided in Beaulieu Abbey.  

Exbury Gardens draws in the crowds, particularly in spring and early summer with the stunning display of world-famous azaleas, rhododendrons and woodland flowers. Visitors both young and old will also enjoy a ride aboard the miniature steam railway as it whisks you on a 1.5-mile journey around the gardens. Furzey Gardens is another remote, more informal woodland garden, full of breathtaking views and dozens of enchanting fairy doors!

The 18th-century shipbuilding village at Buckler’s Hard provides not only breathtaking views along the Beaulieu River but also the opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum and soak up the village’s rich history. Boat trips also run along the river in peak season!

Soak up both views and the history of Hurst Castle. The castle sits at the end of Hurst Spit, a two-mile-long bank of shingle which extends eastwards from Milford on Sea into the Solent. The castle has a rich history and was built by King Henry VIII to defend the south coast from invasion.

Discover more about what makes the New Forest such a special area on a visit to the New Forest Heritage Centre in the ‘capital’ of the New Forest at Lyndhurst. Here you will find a free-to-enter museum, exhibition area and a wealth of information on the history of the New Forest. Look out for lots of interesting family events and activities in the school holidays as well.

History buffs will enjoy visits to Breamore House and Countryside Museum, near Fordingbridge, set in a historic little village untouched by time. Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, near New Milton, is home to one of the world’s biggest collections of motorbikes. Nearly all the bikes are restored to full working order and there are regular bike meets.

Learn more about the history of the New Forest at Eling Tide Mill. Longdown Activity Farm is a working farm near Ashurst which is a great family day where children can handle and feed the younger, smaller animals. New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst is a great place to spot wildlife, such as bison, wolves, otters, owls and foxes. There are keeper talks and feeding sessions so all the family can get involved.

See how many of our native species of reptiles you can find on a trip to the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst. Here you can look out for adders, grass snakes and sand lizards. 

Enjoy an amazing New Forest experience with Brockenhurst Donkey Walks! Relax on a walk with one of their furry friends, while exploring the beautiful nature and wildlife in our National Park and even seeing some of the free-roaming donkeys, ponies and cattle along the way. 

If you're looking for some evening entertainment, head to one of our lovely local cinemas or we also have some theatres and live music venues showcasing some fantastic shows, such as Hanger Farm Arts Centre.

Book lots of incredible days out in and around the New Forest with Experience Hampshire! Offering hand-picked local experiences, helping you find the perfect days out with friends and family. 

Indulge Your Senses

Relax and unwind at one of our day spas in the New Forest, or stay at one of our spa hotels and enjoy treatments in some truly stunning surroundings.

Save Money Off Your Days Out in the New Forest

Take a look at some great special offers from our businesses just for visitors to this website!

We also recommend that you buy a Go New Forest Card. This gives you lots and lots of money-saving offers off attractions, activities, places to stay, shops and eating out. Nearly 400 offers are available for cardholders, and all this for just £10.

Take a wander through our website and let us inspire you with all the things you can do here in the New Forest…

Things to Do Highlights...

Lymington Seafood Festival Banner 1 2024

New Forest Show Banner Ad 2024 V2

New Forest Food Festival Banner 1

What's On Highlights...

Follow Visit the New Forest on Instagram