The New Forest offers more days out than you can count – whether you’re heading out on your own, with the family, or a group of friends. You can explore more than 500 square kilometres of woodland and heathland, head to a local museum to discover the incredible history, or head to one of many attractions dotted across the area.
Getting to and around the New Forest couldn’t be easier – with regular trains running between London and Weymouth all day. Head to Brockenhurst for bike hire and an easy way to get around, and just drop them off when you catch the train home again.
Family Days Out in the New Forest
Meet Peppa Pig at Paulton’s Park
Nearest station: Southampton Central (change for X7 bus)
Paulton’s Park is a highlight for any child on holiday in the New Forest. With more than 70 rides and attractions, ranging from meeting dinosaurs face-to-face in the Lost Kingdom, getting a soaking in the Water Kingdom, or challenging mum and dad to an exciting round of Adventure Golf.
But for the little ones, meeting Peppa Pig is a day well spent – whether it’s riding in a car with Daddy Pig or tucking in at the Big Tummy Café, taking a trip on Grandpa Pig’s Boat or enjoying one of Miss Rabbit’s ice creams.
Make a splash at New Forest Waterpark
Nearest stations: Christchurch (12 miles, 20 minutes by taxi), Salisbury (change for the X3 bus)
The UK’s first outdoor floating inflatable aqua park – a thrilling 80 metre course, with two trampolines, monkey bars, flippers, swings, climbing wall, giant iceberg and more. Nearly 30 years of entertaining the local area means that the team at New Forest Water Park know their stuff, and it shows. If obstacle courses aren’t your thing, there’s wakeboarding, paddleboarding and kayaking to entertain you.
Spend a sunny afternoon at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
Nearest station: Brockenhurst (40 minutes by cycle)
There are few sights more majestic than watching fallow deer at play, and Bolderwood offers an amazing opportunity to get close. Between April and September the herd is fed daily by a keeper, so they’re used to visitors and happily graze while you watch from the viewing platform.
The large grassy lawn is perfect for picnicking, or a game of football or rounders afterwards – and an excellent variety of walks amongst the tall trees means a day can be spent here quite happily.
Days out with friends in the New Forest
Go Ape Moors Valley
Nearest station: Bournemouth (11 miles, 15 minutes by taxi)
There are fewer ways more fun to experience the New Forest than 11 metres up in the air! Go Ape's four treetop adventures test your nerve and your skill, and you’ll find all your thrill-seeking needs catered for – with the benefit of friendly, trained safety staff to look after you.
But if heights aren’t your thing, then there’s always exploring on an all-terrain Segway – just about the most fun you can have on two wheels in the forest.
Try your hand at medieval sports
Nearest station: Bournemouth (16 miles, 25 minutes by taxi)
Whether it’s learning to siege a castle, or just releasing some pent-up frustration with axe-throwing, Insight Activities have a selection of engaging and exciting activities to keep everyone interested. You can try your hand at medieval archery with an ArcheryGB instructor, or try zombie-hunting with a rifle crossbow!
Alternatively, try your hand at building a catapult and storm the castle under the watch of an expert guide – perfect for a stag or hen party!
Days out for grown-ups in the New Forest
Nearest station: Brockenhurst (10 miles, change for the New Forest Open Top Bus Tour or travel by cycle)
Exbury Gardens is a beautiful spot to while away an afternoon – with 20 miles of pathways and a spot along the Beaulieu River. Hosting the Rothschild collection of plants and flowers and with three separate woods to explore, it’s an excellent chance to get lost amongst the colours of the season.
Of course, it’s not all about walking. If you feel like giving your feet a rest there’s the Exbury Park Railway – a narrow gauge steam train running through the grounds. Visit Mr Eddy’s for a great selection of cakes and treats.
Buckler’s Hard Museum
Nearest station: Brockenhurst (8 miles, 15 minutes by taxi or travel by cycle)
Perfect for anyone with an interest of maritime history! Buckler’s Hard is considered to be the birthplace of the British naval vessel, and many of the ships forming the fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar were built from oak trees that grew nearby.
You’ll still find plenty of the heritage on dry land, though – Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum is said to be the best-preserved example of an 18th-century shipbuilding village in the world, and a terrace of former shipbuilders’ houses still stands.
Keen twitchers will also enjoy catching a boat downriver to the nearby North Solent National Nature Reserve too.
The New Forest is full of treasures to satisfy all tastes – so if you’re planning a trip, see how you can save money on your tickets and plan your journey.
Remember that masks must be worn on board our trains, and social distancing guidelines are in place – you can find out more on our coronavirus travel information page.