Ten things to do with kids on a rainy day in the New Forest

Days out

Posted by Elianne Reed on 16th November 2018


The New Forest is not only renowned for its abundance of magical woodland with free-roaming wild ponies, cattle and deer at every turn, but it is also the perfect destination for a family holiday. While having lots of beautiful countryside and coast to explore, it is also a great place to be if the heavens open and you find yourself looking for something to do undercover. From planetariums and indoor adventure centres to motorcycle museums and stately homes, you will be sure to find something fun to do that keeps you warm and dry.

Make the most of your holiday in the New Forest with our top ten suggestions of things to do with kids on a rainy day:

1. TeamSport Indoor Karting Southampton

Electric TeamSport Indoor Go Karting in Hampshire

Stretch those legs and get moving with some fun indoor karting. It’s no mistake that this activity’s nickname is ‘Supersonic Southampton’ – the speedy track, hairpin bends and double apex corners will get you up to Formula 1 speed in no time! Make it more exciting for the children by buying trophies or medals beforehand – you can get cheap ones from party sections at major supermarkets and it will really make for a special occasion. Finish off by grabbing a tasty pizza or hot dog at the onsite snack bar and discuss who in the group is top of the leaderboard!

Where is it? Eastleigh

When is it open? Opening hours are subject to change so check beforehand for details

How much is it? From £20.00 per person (minimum age is 8)

2. New Forest Centre Museum

A trip to the New Forest wouldn’t be complete without learning all about its fascinating history. This excellent museum right in the heart of the forest is packed full of interesting displays and activities that explain the story of the National Park in ways that children can understand. A great place to start is at the Impressions of the New Forest National Park film show which sets the scene for your visit. Discover everything you want to know about the New Forest Ponies and find out why you shouldn’t feed them even if they come up to you! Make sure you try the Family Fun Tree interactive exhibit and then pop into the gift shop afterwards to buy a souvenir or two to remind you of your visit to the museum. Then see if the children can remember everything they’ve learned on the drive home through the forest!

Where is it? Lyndhurst

When is it open? Daily from 10am-4pm

How much is it? Admission is free although donations are welcome

3. Beaulieu

It’s always good to give the children a bit of history and culture on holiday and a rainy day is the perfect occasion to do it. When the sun is shining, it’s not always easy to keep little ones interested inside historical buildings, so make the most of the bad weather to explore one of the UK’s most interesting stately homes. With not only a wealth of history and countless treasures to discover inside, there is also the National Motor Museum for car enthusiasts with over 250 vehicles on show including Formula 1 racing cars which kids will love. Hop aboard the monorail to see the cars as you travel across the roof of the museum, perfect for tired feet! Little ones can play in the Mini Motor Play Trail which has swings, climbing frame and fun Little Tykes cars. Also visit the Secret Army Exhibition and the World of Top Gear where you can see the iconic cars from the TV series, left in exactly the same condition as they were at the end of filming.

Where is it? Brockenhurst

When is it open? Summer - daily 10am-6pm and winter, daily 10am-5pm

How much is it? From £24.75 per adult and £12.50 per child

4. Outburst Salisbury

Head to this huge activity centre for all the family where you will find a full-size bowling alley, a multi-level indoor adventure play zone with climbing structure, and a special zone for toddlers. Young children will love clowning about in the play centre with slides, ball pools and climbing wall, and older children will love the suspense and excitement of the Laser A Combat section. Play as a family on the brand new full-size bowling lanes and then head to one of the many restaurants and cafes nearby to have a well-earned meal.

Where is it? Salisbury

When is it open? Daily from 9.30am until late

How much is it? From £3.95 per person

5. Exciting Escapes

Who doesn’t like a bit of Sherlock Holmes on their holiday? Rustle up a team of between two and six amateur sleuths and head for one of the two adventure rooms at Exciting Escapes. One is decked out in a 1950’s style and the other in a 1980’s style, but both ask you to solve clues and puzzles during an hour-long investigation – make sure you concentrate as this is your only way out! Better for older children who can communicate and make logical decisions, this is a really good afternoon out and a great way to bring family members together on holiday.

Where is it? Southampton

When is it open? Tuesday-Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday 9.30am-10pm, Sunday 9.30am-8.30pm

How much is it? £20 per person

6. Virtual Warfare Laser Combat

Leave the Xbox behind and discover your inner soldier in this exciting military warfare game where tactical team-based combat comes alive. You are split into teams which go to war over 11,000 sq. ft. of ground with an amazing 130ft shooting distance; wicked visual and sound effects make it far more real than any game! The full laser combat is better for older children and adults but children as young as five can have their own fun with specially adapted kit. There is a café and soft drinks machine onsite to recharge your batteries after being at war with the family!

Where is it? Salisbury

When is it open? Throughout the week but check beforehand in case it is closed for private bookings

How much is it? From £12.50 per player – additional charge for extras

7. Island Planetarium

Great for children of all ages, the Island Planetarium is a brilliant place to have an adventure while stimulating young imaginations. Reach for the stars as you shoot through time and space, discovering everything you need to know about our fascinating planetary system. While there are woodland and coastal trails onsite if there is a break in the weather, there is more than enough to do inside, including the Underwater Archaeology Centre, the Marine Aquarium and a great little model railway. The planetarium offers daily shows as well as Stargazing Evening and Weekend events, and the spectacular Solar System Trail. You will learn about how stars form and then die as well as the never-ending possibilities of space and the solar system. Make sure you don’t miss the highlight of the complex – the Astrodome 360 Star Theatre, which gives you the trip of a lifetime from the moon’s surface throughout the depths of space – definitely one to remember for Physics class when term starts.

Where is it? Yarmouth

When is it open? Most days, 10.30am-3.30pm (please check beforehand for seasonal opening hours)

How much is it? Planetarium exhibition and show £4.00 per person – additional charge for shows and events

8. Sprinkles Gelato

When the rain has poured water on your plans and you are in need of a treat, head to the seaside town of Bournemouth for a trip to the famous Sprinkles Gelato. Over 200 flavours of cool icy gelatos await your taste buds along with a huge selection of scrumptious handmade desserts. Jammy-dodger and Oreo topped cupcakes, toasted pink and white marshmallows with chocolate sauce, mint and strawberry ice-cream cones with a multitude of sauces and sprinkles… the list is never-ending! You would be mad not to somehow fit in one of the wonderful waffles and pancakes on offer - ask the friendly staff about what sort of exciting combinations you can try. There is also a selection of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options so those with allergies or who do not eat gelatine won't miss out. Our only advice is to come here at the end of your trip as otherwise you’ll want to come back every day!

Where is it? Bournemouth

When is it open? 9am-11pm

How much is it? This depends on how many scrumptious things you order!

9. Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum

If your kids are interested in all things bike, zoom off to this brilliant museum, filled with amazing bikes such as the Velocette, the 1950 Bicilindrical and the Moto Guzzi V8. Named after its owner, the former championship rider and 11 times British Champion Sammy Miller, the museum was set up in 1964 with just a few of his old bikes. He then went on to acquire over 350 bikes and it has since become one of the best motorcycle museums in the world. The bikes don’t just sit on display, many are still used today in classic bike events. Great for all ages, there is also a children’s play area for little ones and craft shops and a tearoom to refuel after a busy day. An added bonus is the mini farm where you can meet all sorts of furry friends, including sheep, donkeys and alpacas.

Where is it? New Milton

When is it open? Daily 10am-4.30pm but only weekends during the winter

How much is it? From £8.50 per adult and £3.00 per child

10. Wacky Warehouse Vine Inn

On a rainy day, there is no better place to be than the Wacky Warehouse! It is full of fun things to do and has a brilliant indoor adventure play area, heavily padded and bright to stimulate little minds. Tiny tots have their own special area with soft blocks and toys they can sit on so that they are away from all the bouncing around of the older children. The centre also holds some interesting arts and crafts sessions (check dates beforehand), which is a great way to keep little hands busy when they have tired of all the activity.

Where is it? Romsey

When is it open? Midday until late evening – check beforehand as the centre is sometimes closed for party bookings

How much is it? From £3.75 per person and £2 for tots club


Plan your family holiday in the New Forest by finding your favourite indoor family attractions from the list on the map below.

If you’re looking to stay close by and explore these indoor attractions in the New Forest, take a look at our full collection of cottages in the New Forest for some inspiration on where to base your next family holiday.

*Prices are correct at the time of publishing; however, they are subject to change.

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.