Situated to the west of Southampton and stretching almost as far as Bournemouth, the New Forest is a place of stunning beauty covering nearly 150 square miles.
Home to picturesque villages, beautiful walks and a mass of fascinating plant and animal wildlife, the New Forest – in fact over one thousand years old – is a a beautiful place for quiet relaxation but also has plenty to offer for a family day out. Try one of the many cycling routes – if you haven’t the space to bring your own bikes, there are excellent hire shops in Brockenhurst, Burley and Lyndhurst and the New Forest has designated on-road and off-road routes designed for cyclist saftey and for the protection of the land. Hire companies have bikes for all ages, including trailers and tag-alongs for younger members of the family.
Cattle and ponies graze freely in the New Forest – watch for the cattle grids if you are driving or cycling and stick to the speed limit on unfenced roads. If wildlife is your thing, try Marwell Zoo near the cathedral city of Winchester, the New Forest Wildlife Centre or the New Forest Reptile Centre.
The National Motor Musuem at Beaulieu is an excellent family day out, with more to see besides the cars including Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey, and the neighbouring village of Buckler’s Hard is a fascinating insight into life in the 18th Century. Family admission tickets are good value for both of these excellent attractions.
Accommodation is plentiful in the New Forest, with a mass of cottages to rent particularly in the large and pretty villages of Minstead and Lyndhurst. If you are looking for hotel accommodation, these are typically to be found on the perimeter of the New Forest and there are some fine choices for a luxury family break in the New Forest, perhaps unmatched by the amazing and luxurious Chewton Glen.