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Think the New Forest is all about ancient oaks, fantastic wildlife and breathtaking views? It certainly is - yet it also has so much more to offer than you might expect, especially for large groups of adults travelling on holiday together. This region provides the perfect backdrop for adrenaline junkies looking to reach new heights in the treetops or kayak the coast; there are luxurious spas scattered amongst the picturesque villages and towns; and it is also home to award-winning establishments where you can drink and dine with friends.
Travel along the New Forest’s stretch of coast, uncover the secrets of ancient structures or get involved in a little art or cookery. Adult groups looking for a fantastic trip together would find it hard to beat a holiday exploring the hidden corners and enjoying the excellent activities throughout this stunning region.
Feel inspired by browsing this list and use it to plan a wonderful group trip to the remarkable New Forest:
Cycle through the National Park ...
Before we investigate all the other fantastic activities on offer, it’s essential we start this list with the most popular activity for visitors to the New Forest which is cycling through the region. See the sights of the forest and watch trees whirl past as you cycle through this mesmerising region - then find the perfect spot for a rest.
Begin in beautiful Burley where there’s a cider farm, tearooms, gift shops, art galleries and a pick-your-own farm, making it a delightful village to spend your morning. Choose some delectable fudge from the fudge shop to take with you, hire bikes at Forest Leisure Cycling before following the trail out of Burley on a cycle ride beneath tall oak trees and over rushing rivers to Lyndhurst.
… or go for a walk
Explore a hidden treasure of the New Forest coast, Lepe Country Park. It’s a tiny space with plenty of natural woodland to investigate and even includes a beach with views across to the Isle of Wight.
From here you can venture further along the coast to Calshot Spit, a 1-mile long sand and shingle bank with a fabulous view out to sea where you can watch the yachts come in and glimpse the Isle of Wight in the distance.
If you’re after the more traditional New Forest surroundings of towering conifers and broadleaves discoverable further inland, take a look at our post of the best winter walks in the New Forest and you’ll uncover the beautiful Fritham Walk and the incredible Whitefield Moor.
Learn new skills at a cookery class …
Experience a luxury cookery class at Chewton Glen with top chefs including Tom Kitchen, Mich Turner and James Martin. Here you can cook up some steak, pad Thai or Atlantic seafood, or create delectable desserts or your own bespoke blended gin. Other local cookery classes are offered at Lime Wood Hotel offers but book ahead for both as places fill up fast!
… or let someone cook for you
Isn’t it lovely when someone else does the cooking? Even better if it’s an award-winning chef. Fine dining establishments are rife through this beautiful region so find an eatery that caters to your taste buds. The Jetty in Christchurch serves delicious seafood while Le Blaireau in Brockenhurst creates French dishes from locally-sourced produce. Take a peek at this list to uncover the best restaurants in the New Forest.
Clamber through the trees…
Those with a head for heights can swing from the trees and soar through the canopies at New Forest Activities. They have a Ropes Course for adult groups that includes puzzles (we all know that one member of the group who will enjoy the challenge so much, they’ll soon become utterly overcompetitive!) and the chance to wobble your way around the course on the low ropes.
For true adrenaline junkies there’s the Leap of Faith. Be prepared for adventure.
… or go sailing off the coast
Continuing the activity theme, you could get out on the open water by hiring a kayak at the historic Lymington Quay. Beginners can practice their skills in a secluded spot with relatively shallow water upstream beneath a railway bridge. Row past Lymington’s two historic marinas and keep an eye out for wildlife including waders and diving birds, bass jumping out of the water and if you’re lucky you might spot seals and porpoises. You could also try stand-up paddleboarding with the New Forest Paddle Sport Company, with sunset and moonlight paddles available, off the shore of Milford on Sea.
Fancy heading out into the ocean but without all the hassle of rowing your own boat? Then sail the New Forest coastline in a luxury yacht instead. Escape Yachting will take you out for a day trip that includes a meal, champagne and the opportunity for a sea swim. It’s a great way to get together with friends and see a beautiful part of the New Forest.
Let’s not forget one of the big draws to this stretch of course area, the proximity to the Isle of Wight. Take a ferry from Lymington and enjoy a day trip across to the island, do a little exploring then return home to dine on Lymington Quay.
Indulge in a spa …
Spoil yourself with a luxurious day of lounging by the pool and treat yourself to a little pampering. Careys Manor’s SenSpa offers world-class hydrotherapy facilities, ancient traditional methods and remedies, and state-of-the-art technologies to ensure total relaxation. Meanwhile, the spa at Rhinefield House includes a health suite with treatments, an eight-piece Technogym gym, indoor splash pool, sauna, steam room and spa pool, not to mention a separate outdoor pool in the gardens and sun terrace during the summer. True luxury!
… or discover the local arts and culture
St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington is a wonderful place to wander and take in the beautiful works by a range of local artists. They even have a calendar of events that includes classes where you may find a project that coincides perfectly with the dates of your time in the New Forest.
Travel to Brockenhurst to investigate the contemporary work found in Ytene Gallery or Beaulieu for the beautiful art in Beaulieu Fine Arts. Each of these three towns has a variety of delightful independent shops and cafes, so once you’re done pursuing the artwork you can stop for a cup of tea and maybe take out your own sketchbook and draw a couple of vignettes of the local scenery.
Go for a wine tasting …
Sipping a delicious wine on a lazy afternoon, this is the perfect thing to do on your holidays. Head down to Settle Ridge Vineyard for a tour and a tasting of the delightful wines they produce. This vineyard is in a beautiful location with a garden centre, farm shop and tearoom on-site. Fancy heading to a wine-inspired event? Read through this list for a little New Forest wine inspiration.
If wine’s not your thing then why not treat yourself to a beer or gin tasting instead?
… or spend an evening in a country pub
Perhaps you’d rather a delectable Sunday Roast? There’s certainly no shortage of pubs in beautiful locations throughout the region. Discover the High Corner Inn, a hidden gem discoverable at the end of a long gravel track; eat at the Drift Inn, a foodie paradise dedicated to supporting local producers; or dine at The New Forest a cosy and classic country pub.
We have yet another post that can provide insight into some excellent pubs in the New Forest - they’re all dog-friendly too!
Tour the New Forest National Park …
See everything the New Forest has to offer – we’ve only covered a small portion of the fabulous activities throughout the area from sports, dining, to arts and crafts, there’s more to this treasure trove than meets the eye. Other places we haven’t even mentioned yet include Lyndhurst, Fording Bridge and Ringwood. Hop onboard the New Forest safari bus to uncover all the best bits of the New Forest.
… or do nothing at all
For that evening when you fancy simply staying in and doing nothing except relax you need a beautiful holiday cottage where you can do as you please. Sit around the wood burner and indulge in your own wine tasting, uncover the local area before pampering yourself with a bath or get cooking in the kitchen and dine under the stars.
Take a peek at the fantastic cottages, holiday homes and apartments we have scattered across the atmospheric New Forest.