Top New Forest attractions holiday cottages

Top New Forest attractions

Ed Roberts 15 March 2020

A true natural wonder with its acres of woodlands, heathlands and free-roaming ponies, the New Forest has been enhanced with some great places to go for days out. Whether you’re a historian or into sports, or have a whole family in tow, there is a huge variety of New Forest attractions for everyone, dotted amongst these beautiful landscapes.

We have picked some of the best days out in the New Forest, from adults-only brewery tours to action-packed theme parks for kids. We’ve found places where you can learn to paddleboard, get up-close to wildlife and discover mighty castles, meaning you’ll never be stuck for things to see and do during your stay. Here are some of our favourite New Forest days out, and if you haven’t already found somewhere to stay, just click the button below to browse our collection of New Forest cottages.

Best New Forest attractions for adults


Exbury Gardens is a beautiful spot to spend a couple of hours, wandering among colourful blooms and getting lost along its 20 miles of pathways. Close to the Beaulieu River, the gardens are home to the Rothschild collection of plants and flowers. There are no less than three separate woods to explore and a collection of ponds with carp and pretty water insects too.

If you feel like giving your feet a rest, ride the 12-gauge steam train along Exbury’s park railway and through the beautiful grounds. The tearooms at Mr Eddy’s are also worth paying a visit to for refreshments. Whether you're a garden enthusiast or simply want to admire some beautiful natural scenery, Exbury Gardens is one of the best New Forest days out for adults.

Exbury Gardens

Our guide to New Forest gardens offers some more beautiful spaces to explore.


  • Price: Adults from £11.50, children from £3.65, family tickets from £26.65, under-3s free
  • Opening times: 10am-5.30pm, from 20th March until 5th November only
  • Dogs are welcome on the lead
  • Wheelchair-friendly, with a buggy service offered to help explore the gardens
  • Shop, cafe and picnic areas on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available

Where to stay:


Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum is the best-preserved example of an 18th-century shipbuilding village in the world. Located on the banks of the Beaulieu River, it’s a grand day out for anyone with an interest in Maritime history, and a great rainy-day activity in the New Forest.

Buckler’s Hard is regarded as the birthplace of the British naval vessel. Many of Admiral Nelson’s Trafalgar fleet was built from oak trees felled in the New Forest. Much of the village's heritage can still be seen in the terrace of former shipbuilders' houses. Catch a boat downriver to birdwatch at the neighbouring North Solent National Nature Reserve too, if you have time. A guaranteed, excellent educational day out and one of our top New Forest attractions for adults.

Buckler's Hard Museum


  • Prices: Adults £6.90, seniors (60+) £6.40, children (5-17) £4.70, family tickets £19.70
  • Opening times: 10am-5pm from 25th March to 30th September, 10am-4.30pm from 1st October to 24th March
  • See accessibility statement on website for full accessibility details
  • Restaurant, cafes, shops and picnic areas on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities on site
  • Dogs welcome outdoors only

Where to stay:


After building up a thirst at all the top tourist attractions in the New Forest, adults can head over to the Ringwood Brewery for a refreshing tour and tasting. Discover how the award-winning beers such as Best Bitter, Fortyniner, Boondoggie and the revered Old Thumper are made: taste the malted barley, sniff the hops and see the beer fermenting in the Tun Room.

The tour experience lasts for around two hours and ends with a tutored tasting session and a complimentary drink. There’s also an opportunity to browse their shop which is packed with gifts, goodies, and great bottled and draught beers.

Ringwood Brewery


  • Prices: Adults £12, children (8-17) £6
  • Opening times: vary - check website for full details
  • See accessibility statement on website for full accessibility details
  • Toilets on site
  • Dogs welcome in the Brewery Store only

Where to stay:


Adventurous couples wondering what to do in the New Forest, should head to New Forest Activities in Beaulieu. An enticing range of thrilling excursions are on offer, from relaxing canoe tours of the Beaulieu River Nature Reserve to the action-packed combat experience of Battlefield LIVE.

High ropes courses, bushcraft, archery and sea kayaking are also on offer, so whether you’re looking for a couple of hours of fun or a full day of adventure outdoors, there’s plenty to do. And for those who just like to take it easy, the ‘Paddle to the Pub’ excursion is sure to be a hit.

New Forest Activities


  • Prices: Vary depending on the activity – check website for full details
  • Opening times: 9am-5pm
  • Picnic areas and Honesty Cafe
  • Toilets and changing rooms on site
  • Dogs welcome on canoeing and archery sessions

Where to stay:

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in the New Forest, why not pack a picnic and spend the day at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary? Located just outside Lyndhurst within the heart of the forest, a herd of fallow deer regularly gather to feed in the large meadow here. The best time to appreciate this magnificent sight is between April and September when the herd is fed daily by a local New Forest keeper.

A viewing platform offers a brilliant vantage point to observe these beautiful animals grazing – it’s not unusual to see more than 50 New Forest deer in loose groups, tails swishing, waiting to be fed. And amongst the conventionally marked fallow deer, a number of white bucks and does are often present too. There’s a large picnic area shaded by the tall trees where you can lay out your lunch and afterwards, you can enjoy a hand-in-hand woodland stroll, with three different circular trails to choose from.

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary


  • Prices: Free
  • Opening times: Open 24 hours
  • Three walking trails
  • Cycling trail
  • Picnic area
  • Toilets
  • Dogs welcome

Where to stay:

Best New Forest attractions for kids


For young families, Paulton’s Park and Peppa Pig World is bound to be the highlight of the week. It's one of the best days out in the New Forest for babies, toddlers and young children, and great whether the sun's out or it's a rainy day. Peppa Pig World features themed rides, like a ride in a car with Daddy Pig, fly in the clouds to Windy Castle or whizz around in Miss Rabbit’s helicopter. Elsewhere, the kids can meet the real Peppa Pig and her family, whilst playing in her house and other scenes made famous by her wonderful books and TV show.

Besides Peppa Pig World there is a whole host of rides and games for all the family throughout Paulton’s Park at large. See a live Justin Fletcher show, or check out Paulton’s newest spectacle, The Lost Kingdom Dinosaur Theme Park. It houses two large rollercoasters, animatronic dinosaurs, prehistoric-style family rides and a Jurassic period-inspired adventure playground. If Peppa Pig is key to your family holiday, take a look at our cottages near Peppa Pig World and you'll be just down the road from Peppa and her friends.

Peppa Pig World

Read our ultimate guide to Peppa Pig World to make the most of your day out.


  • Prices: Adults and children 1m and over £31.75, seniors £29.25, family tickets from £92.75, children under 1m free
  • Opening times: Vary - check website for full details
  • Wheelchair-friendly with many rides offering wheelchair access
  • Restaurants and gift shops on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities on site
  • Assistance dogs welcome only

Where to stay:


Looking for something active for the whole family? The New Forest Water Park is the best place in the region to get involved in a bunch of water-based activities. These include wakeboarding, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable floating obstacle courses and more.

It makes for great all-weather days out with the kids in the New Forest. Close to Ringwood and Fordingbridge, the waterpark is within an hour’s drive from anywhere in the New Forest National Park area.

New Forest Waterpark

We’ve found even more things to do in the New Forest in the rain in our guide.


  • Prices: Vary depending on activity
  • Opening times: Vary - see website for full details
  • Disabled access
  • Cafe on site
  • Toilets on site
  • No dogs

Where to stay:


Beaulieu – National Motor Museum & Estate is home to one of the best and largest collections of automobiles in the world and that alone makes it one of the best family days out in the New Forest. Among its collection of prestigious cars include vehicles from film and TV, including the Trotters' van, and the World of Top Gear exhibit.

Besides its vast collection of motor vehicles, the museum is located in gorgeous, landscaped gardens. You can also visit Palace House and the ruins of the local abbey. The estate has a monorail and a vintage double-decker bus to ferry you about the large estate if you don’t fancy walking. There are some great paths meandering in and out of the woodlands and walled gardens. Be sure to include a trip out to Beaulieu – a great destination for gardeners, kids and petrol heads alike.

Beaulieu Estate


  • Prices: Adults £24.75, over-60s and students £23.75, children £12.50, under-5s free, family tickets £64
  • Opening times: 10am-6pm in summer, 10am-5pm in winter
  • Wheelchair-friendly, with mobility scooters for hire
  • Restaurants, cafes, shops and picnic areas on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities on site
  • Dogs welcome in the grounds on a lead

Where to stay:


Located just outside of the New Forest, Marwell Zoo near Winchester, is a fun-packed family day out with plenty of fantastic wildlife to see. Spread across 140 acres, there are hundreds of different animals to meet, including rhinos, penguins, meerkats, snow leopards, cheetahs, hippos and tigers. The zoo has now opened a new exhibit, the Lemur Loop, where you can get up close to four different kinds of lemurs.

There's also plenty of other things to do, from strolling through the gardens to a scenic train ride and letting the kids run free in the five adventure playgrounds. The zoo is one of the best places to visit in the New Forest if you’ve got a variety of ages to please.

Marwell Zoo


  • Prices: Adults £19, children £15, under-2s free, students and seniors £16.50, family tickets £63
  • Opening times: Open from 10am, closing times vary - see website for full details
  • Assistance dogs welcome only
  • Wheelchair friendly, carers go free
  • Cafes, kiosks, picnic areas and shop on site
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities available

Where to stay:


When it comes to educational places to go in the New Forest with the kids, then Hurst Castle in Milford on Sea should definitely be on your list. Perched on the end of Hurst Spit, this dramatic New Forest castle was built in the 1500s by Henry VIII as an artillery fortress to defend the south coast from invasion. It was here that Charles I was kept as a prisoner in 1648.

Managed by English Heritage, there are dungeons, high walls and mysterious staircases to discover, and there are always plenty of family activities at weekends and during the school holidays. Exhibitions around the castle provide you with a chance to piece together its long and fascinating history, and the views over the Solent from the top of the towing turrets are simply breathtaking.

Hurst Castle

Discover more mighty fortresses with our guide to castles in the New Forest.


  • Prices: Adults £5.50, children (5-17) £3.50, students and seniors £5, family tickets £17, English Heritage members and under 5s free
  • Opening times: 10.30am-5.30pm seasonally
  • Wheelchair and pushchair access to the castle is limited as paths are uneven with loose gravel
  • Café on site
  • Toilets on site
  • Dogs welcome on leads

Where to stay:

Map of attractions in the New Forest

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If you're looking to stay close by and explore these New Forest attractions and the rest of what the national park has to offer, take a look at our full collection of cottages in the New Forest for some inspiration on where to base your next holiday.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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