New Forest Family Travel Guide

new forest ponies

The New Forest was where I went for my very first holiday as a child.  My parents owned a little caravan and would take me and the dog down to the New Forest camping for the weekend on a regular basis.  It sparked a lifelong love for the place and now I take my own children there too.  There is so much to see and do in the forest that it’s impossible to get bored.  I guess what I really love is the beautiful natural environment.  The New Forest isn’t about theme parks and tourist attractions.  It’s about walking, cycling, climbing trees, exploring the heath.  Our time there is spent enjoying each others company and being outdoors, running free and playing games.  That said, there are some fab places that are well worth a visit.  Take a look……..

Things To Do

Moors Valley Country Park is always top of our list when we head to the New Forest.  It is bursting with fun things to do including loads of trails through the forest.  One of these trails is a play trail with wooden play structures dotted along the way.  You can ride the miniature steam railway, hire bikes, have a go at segway or tree top trails.  There are also 2 huge parks and a beautiful lake to sit by and eat your picnic.  It really is a fab day out and you only have to pay for the car park!  Find out more on our review post here:    DOG FRIENDLY VENUE

Beaulieu Motor Museum is a very well known museum in the New Forest.  It houses over 280 vehicles from F1 cars to motorbikes, a vintage bus and well known movie cars.  There’s a fab monorail which is so much fun to ride on, plus you can see the Top Gear exhibition.  Entrance tickets include the Abbey ruins and Palace house so there is plenty to see and do.  Kids are well catered for with trails, play park, rides, dress up areas and more.  Book tickets in advance online to save money and if you don’t manage to do everything in one day you can return again for free within 6 days of your visit!

Despite passing the signs numerous times we hadn’t ever visited The New Forest Reptile Centre until June 2018.  This is an absolute little gem of a place!  It is free to look round (although you can pay a donation for the car park which all goes towards helping with the upkeep).  The centre houses many of the UKs native reptiles including sand lizards, adders, natterjack toads and more. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see animals which are rarely seen out in the wild.  You can find out more about the centre in this post: New Forest Reptile Centre          DOG FRIENDLY VENUE

On a previous wet camping visit the New Forest Museum was a lifesaver for getting us out of the rain for a while.  Again this place is free to visit which is great.  The museum is packed full of information all about the forest, its history, geology, wildlife and so on.  There is plenty to see and do with lots of hands on activities for kids.  It’s a great little place for families to enjoy.

If you are looking for something a bit more thrilling then Adventure Wonderland just outside Bournemouth is brilliant.  We loved the mix of outdoor rides and indoor soft play, making this ideal to visit in any weather.  Our kids had an absolute blast here and would love to go back.  As well as all the rides there is also a show and characters The Mad Hatter, Alice and Mr Rabbit around the park.   You can even use Tesco Clubcard vouchers to pay towards your entry fee!

Paultons Park is located in Romsey and is home to the very popular Peppa Pig World. We’ve visited several times over the years and its perfect for young families with lots of rides suitable for all ages. Clare from Travel Bugs has this handy post 5 tips for visiting Peppa Pig World.

Sara-Jayne from recommends visiting The Rufus Stone.  She says: ‘There are wild donkeys and ponies, a huge pub which serves cream teas and other food and has a garden with the biggest children’s wooden fort and a beautiful piece of the New Forest to explore! ‘  DOG FRIENDLY VENUE

Places To Eat

We had the most delicious lunch recently at The Cider Pantry in the lovely village of Burley.  The food is all locally produced and homemade so the quality is seriously good. There are regular seasonal specials so always something different on the menu and they do ‘light’ portions as well if you don’t want a large meal.  We highly recommend the macaroni cheese which was as good as my Nan’s (and no-one makes macaroni cheese as good as my Nan!!).  Be sure to try some of their very own apple juice too.  You can read more about The Cider Pantry here: Lunch At The New Forest Cider Pantry   DOG FRIENDLY GARDEN

cider pantry ploughmans lunch

Amy Shipham who blogs at  says the best place for a full English breakfast is The Old Farmhouse in the village of Burley.  We’ll be trying it out ourselves very soon!

Places To stay

If you plan to take the tent then Holmsley is our number one choice for camp sites.  We absolutely love the friendly staff and clean facilities.  There’s a play park for kids, shop and even a take away service!  We love it so much we can’t bear to camping anywhere else!  You can read more about Holmsley in this post here:  Camping At Holmsley Campsite In The New Forest    DOG FRIENDLY VENUE

cooking marshmallows at the campsite

For a more upmarket accommodation than a tent we love the Vinegar Hill Pottery B&B in Milford-On -Sea.  We personally prefer this as an adults only retreat however they do have a family room downstairs which can accommodate up to 4 people.  As this is ran by the potter and his family the rooms have beautiful touches such as handmade pottery sinks in the bathrooms.  Breakfast is made fresh to your requirements and delivered to your door each morning.  High chairs and cots are available on request.  It really is a lovely cosy family home.

Emma Tustian from says ‘Crown House Hotel in Lymington is lovely.’

And if it’s more of a family holiday park you are looking for then its well worth checking out Hoburne Naish in New Milton.  They have some lovely caravans and lodges to stay in.  The site club house and outdoor play areas have recently had a makeover and look fab.  There’s loads of entertainment for the kids and direct access to the beach.  You can read more about our stay here: Our Stay At Hoburne Naish Holiday Park       DOG FRIENDLY VENUE

Hoburne Naish holiday park

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