Come rain or shine, one of the many great things about the New Forest is the fact that there’s always somewhere really exciting to visit. From indoor attractions and stately homes to relaxing spas and brewery tours, there is plenty to do under cover if the heavens decide to open. There’s also an abundance of fun wet weather activities outdoors that make the most of the beautiful countryside and coast, so be it a drizzle or a deluge, you can grab your raincoats and brollies and get exploring.
Make the most of your holiday with our top suggestions for things to do in the New Forest in the rain:
Visit a museum
A rainy day is a perfect occasion to soak up some history and culture and there are a plethora of museums in the New Forest where you can shelter from the elements and learn something new at the same time. The New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst runs a fascinating programme of New Forest themed exhibitions and events throughout the year and is crammed with interesting information about the region.
With the majority of its exhibitions indoors, Beaulieu in Brockenhurst is another great choice for a day out when the weather isn’t on your side. As well as countless treasures to discover within the Palace House itself, the estate is home to the National Motor Museum which boasts over 250 different vehicles from all ages of motoring history from the earliest motor carriages to F1 racers, alongside the popular World of Top Gear experience. If you have a passion for motorcycles, we also recommend the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum in New Milton with over 380 bikes on display – one of the finest collections in the world.
If naval history is more your thing, the traditional maritime museum and 18th century shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard will keep you dry as you gain an insight into its World War II connections. Alternatively, you can discover tales of smugglers and boat builders at the St Barbe Museum which provides hands-on displays documenting the unique past of Lymington and the New Forest Coast.
Tour a brewery
If the weather takes a turn for the worse and you enjoy your ales, then a tour around one of the New Forest’s breweries should certainly be on your to-do list. Beer has been brewed in the town of Ringwood ever since medieval times, so a two-hour tour and tasting at the iconic Ringwood Brewery is sure to delight. Open throughout the year, a ticket includes an up-close look at the fermentations at work before a choice of complimentary drink in the bar.
For those who prefer cider, a visit to New Forest Cider in the pretty village of Burley is both informative and refreshing, with the chance to sample the unpasteurised, real cider straight from the barrels.
Wet weather walks
Instead of hiding away when the rain starts to fall, why not embrace the beauty of the New Forest when there are fewer people around? As well as the famous ponies, this National Park with its forest, pastureland, river valleys and heath, is home to five types of deer as well as a plethora of wildlife which are best spotted when it’s quiet.
Pop on your waterproofs and wellies and discover miles of waymarked walking and cycling trails with the promise of a cosy café or pub to warm up in afterwards. Our guide to the ‘best walks in the New Forest’ features some great options, or you can pick up trail maps and information from the New Forest Visitor Centre in Lyndhurst during your stay.
Escape from it all in a spa
Who cares what the weather’s like outside if you are cocooned within an indulgent spa, feet up, being wonderfully pampered? There are a wealth of luxurious spas in the New Forest offering treatments guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated in no time. Carey’s Manor in Brockenhurst, Herb House in Lime Wood, New Park Manor on the way to Lyndhurst and Chewton Glen in New Milton all offer plenty of opportunities for serious relaxation, to name just a few.
Indulge in an afternoon tea
Whatever the weather, there’s always time for tea and cake; a wet day just makes for a better excuse! Picture-postcard villages and towns such as Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, Burley and Beaulieu all offer quaint tearooms serving a mouth-watering selection of finger sandwiches, scones laden with cream and jam and indulgent pastries accompanied by a warm pot of tea or a glass of fizz – you’ll soon be hoping it rains more often!
See some animals
When the heavens open and you’re holidaying with children, a great rainy-day activity in the New Forest is to visit one of the area’s animal parks that offer indoor areas to play. Longdown Activity Farm has lots of fun hands-on activities throughout the day and the animal-handling barn gives little ones the chance to bottle-feed a kid goat or calf, hold ducklings and baby rabbits and say hello to the piglets. A trampoline barn, soft play area and a huge straw barn ensure plenty of opportunities to let off some steam in the dry.
Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre gives daily aerial displays in the all-weather indoor flying area and has a reptile house with all manner of creepy crawlies, while the seasonal New Forest Reptile Centre has displays inside and out, including a Reptile Discovery Trail where you can see native lizards, snakes, frogs and toads.
Canoeing and kayaking
Don’t let a spot of rain dampen your fun in the New Forest. Throw on your wet weather gear and head to the New Forest Activity Centre which offers a wide range of activities to do regardless of the conditions outside. Discover hidden creeks along the Beaulieu River on a canoeing or kayaking trip, play a muddy game of laser tag in Battlefield LIVE or take part in one of their family and woodland adventure days.
Cosy up in a cottage
While there are many things to do in the rain in the New Forest to keep you happily entertained, for those wet and windy days when you fancy simply staying in and doing nothing except relax in the warm and dry, one of our cosy New Forest cottages may be just what you need. If you can’t bring yourself to venture outdoors, make the most of your holiday cottage – some have swimming pools and games facilities which will have you hoping for an excuse to stay in!