The New Forest is certainly one of the UK’s most idyllic National Parks. Famous for its roaming wild ponies, quaint villages and several luxury hotels and spas. Spanning the two counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire, it is popular with walkers and cyclists. In addition, there are endless opportunities for active families here.
BabyBreaks has done the hard work for you and put together a selection of the best child-friendly Outdoor activities in The New Forest.
1. Walking or Cycling
Most importantly, the New Forest had more than 140 miles of cycling tracks and footpaths, covering ancient woodland, beautiful heathland, pretty villages and coastline. Moreover, there are thousands of free-roaming ponies, donkeys, cattle and deer to spot on your adventures. Popular starting points for walks include Burley, Beaulieu and Lyndhurst.
Families could for instance take a 2 mile stroll along the beautiful Beaulieu River, before heading to south to the old shipping village of Buckler’s Hard. Or, take the 1.8 mile Radnor trail towards Bratley Water (a popular picnic spot) and the Bolderwood deer viewing platform. You might spot them being fed by local rangers.
2. Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway
These spectacular gardens span 200 acres and are famous for their Rothschild Collection of colourful plants. Including rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. A beautiful place to visit on a sunny day, with plenty of space for the children to run about. Hop on the miniature Steam Railway for a 20 minute ride through beautiful scenery, then head to the adventure play area for even more fun. After that experience, finish the day at Mr Eddy’s Tea Rooms with a well deserved ice cream!
Address: Exbury, Southampton SO45 1AZ
Opening Hours: Gardens open March – November, 10am – 5.30pm. Railway open 12pm – 3.30pm .
3. Paulton’s Park
A family-focused theme park on the edge of the New Forest, Paulton’s Park offers over 70 rides and attractions, including Peppa Pig World. The latest additions to the park are the dinosaur-themed Lost Kingdom, and a safari area called Little Africa. Best suited to younger children, Paulton’s Park has won numerous awards including the coveted Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award for 2018.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 5:30pm
4. Horse Riding
The New Forest is synonymous with horses, with over 3,000 wild ponies roaming the beautiful landscape. Seeing all these horses is bound to get the kids asking you about lessons, and luckily there are lots of riding schools in the area, including in Burley, Brockenhurst and Fordingbridge . This activity is not just for the kids though, there are a wide range of experiences on offer at most riding schools, whether you are a complete beginner or a confident rider. Seeing the beautiful forest on horseback is certainly a spectacular experience, so why not try it out?
5. New Forest Wildlife Park
This fantastic wildlife park lets you get up close to an amazing array of animals in their natural habitat. Follow the woodland trails to spot otters, deer, wild boar, bison, grey wolves and wildcats. There’s also a tropical butterfly house open during the summer months (April – October.)
After seeing the animals, make your way to the amazing adventure playgrounds. Go Wild has a zip wire, log jumble, climbing ropes, and spider nets. However younger visitors (under 6 yrs) can enjoy sand pits, diggers, slides, climbing frames and swings at Mini Wild.
Address: Deerleap Ln, Southampton SO40 4UH
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 4:30 / 5:30pm (winter / summer)
In summary, visiting The New Forest with children is a great idea for a Family Break. The area features great kids-friendly restaurants, indoor attractions for young children and last but not least a great selection of accommodations that will satisfy parents with a large family or with their toddlers.
At BabyBreaks, we have kept a limited choice of activities, restaurants and hotels. So if you are looking to be inspired to visit The New Forest for your next family weekend, just visit our different The New Forest pages to find what this destination has to offer.
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