Family Days Out in the New Forest

Whether you have a young family, older children, or simply want the entire family to spend a day together, you will find the perfect options to suit everyone in the stunning New Forest National Park and surrounding district.

From world-class museums to top visitor attractions, to a 40-mile ‘secret coast’ and 193,000 acres of forest and heathland to explore, there’s more than enough to keep the young ones entertained for a day or a week - or two!

Animal Attractions

Feed some adorable animals, enjoy a tractor ride or cuddle a baby rabbit at Longdown Activity Farm. See if you and your family can spot the native reptiles that can be found at the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst.

Get close to a big variety of species at the New Forest Wildlife Park including otters, deer, wildcats and owls. Meet some of the Shire horses at the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park, near Verwood.

Slightly further afield but within easy reach of the New Forest is Marwell Zoo, set in 140 acres of Hampshire parkland, near Winchester. The zoo is home to zebras, penguins, snakes and many more species of animals.

Theme Parks and Show-Stopping Days Out

Visit the world-famous National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. Find Mr Bean’s famous green mini, ride the monorail and take a spin on 'Wheels'; a pod ride journey taking you through 100 years of motoring and make sure you also check out the World of Top Gear. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits. Look out for family events taking place in the school holidays and themed car days, including the popular Supercar weekend.

And of course, any family has to visit Paultons Park, which is also home to the ever-popular Peppa Pig World! Enjoy over 70 rides and attractions, including the twists and turns in Tornado Springs, meet and greets with Peppa and Friends, or how about going back millions of years to when dinosaurs were around in the Lost Kingdom? There are also some animals and birds that you can discover including the popular penguins. 

Discover our Fascinating History

Go back in time and visit Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum where you can learn all about the history of this fascinating ship-building village. Look out for family events and trails during the school holidays and book onto one of the Beaulieu River cruises that leave from the village’s jetty.

Head to the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst with loads of interactive and fun games and activities in the great museum explaining all about how the amazing New Forest works and the locals that live here. Equally, at the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington, families can take part in a wide range of events and activities in the school holidays, focussing on the New Forest’s maritime heritage and coastline.

Discover Hurst Castle, built by King Henry VIII to protect the south coast from invasion. Here you can also find out about the castle’s use as a prison and also during WW2. There are lots of events and activities for all the family and Hurst Point is a great place to watch passing ships and boats. It’s well worth taking the Hurst Castle Ferry from Keyhaven as well for some great views and a bit of bird spotting along the way. Children will also no doubt enjoy playing on the pebbly beach which leads from Milford on Sea to Hurst Castle (along Hurst spit).

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

How about taking a walk through the beautiful gardens at Exbury Gardens? Keep your eyes peeled for wonderful wildlife, and enjoy the spectacular wealth of beautiful flowers and plants. Make sure you take a trip aboard the Exbury Steam Railway, a 20-minute 12 ¼ inch gauge journey through the gardens, a popular addition for both younger and older visitors!

Look for fairy doors and have fun in the children’s play area at Furzey Gardens in Minstead and explore the hidden secrets in this enchanting informal woodland garden. Take to the forest for some outdoor fun at Moors Valley Country Park on a Family Fun Trail with the Highway Rat!

Make a trip to Lepe Country Park with its family friendly beach. Embark on some of their nature activities or simply have fun building sandcastles! Other beaches can also be found along the New Forest coastline, making great places for a day out.

Hire bikes from Burley, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst and other places within the New Forest and explore our extensive cycle paths, there are over 100 miles of great off-road and traffic-free routes that the whole family can enjoy.

Take a walk on the wild side and see some of our fascinating wildlife. New Forest ponies roam freely across the open moorland, how many can you spot? Embark on one of the family friendly trails at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary and check out the deer viewing platform. You may even be lucky enough to see one of the Forestry England rangers feeding the deer if you visit at the right time.

Hone your riding skills whether you are an advanced horse rider or have never been on the back of a horse at one of our equestrian centres, such as Burley Villa School of Riding. Seasoned riders can also have the opportunity to go on a countryside hack.

If watersports are your thing then be sure to check out the New Forest Water Park with its kayaking, wakeboarding and inflatable fun or New Forest Activities for their family friendly kayaking (as well as many other outdoor activities!). 

Insight Activities has loads of brilliant activities for families at their stunning woodland location, including archery, crossbow shooting and axe-throwing! Get that adrenaline running and have tons of fun. 

Whatever you decide to do whilst you’re here, the whole family are guaranteed to have a fantastic, fun time in the New Forest. Take a look at all our family attractions below to discover more!

Saving Money on Family Days Out in the New Forest

A great way to save money on days out, activities, accommodation and places to eat and drink is to purchase one of our Go New Forest Cards for just £10. These cards give you some great money-saving discounts which will help make your money go further.

Wild New Forest - Wildlife Explorers Walk

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