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

Days out, Family, Group

Posted by Elianne Reed on 13th March 2021

Rainy day in the New Forest

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.

For even more inspiration check out our guide to days out in the New Forest with kids, and activities for lovers of the great outdoors. 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, or begin browsing our cottages throughout the New Forest National Park and Hampshire.

New Forest cottages

New Forest Centre Museum

New Forest Centre Museum

A trip to the New Forest wouldn’t be complete without learning all about its fascinating history. The excellent New Forest Centre Museum is right in the heart of the forest and is packed full of interesting displays and activities that explain the story of the national park in ways that children can understand. It's one of our favourite things to do in Hampshire when it's raining because it keeps children engaged and helps you learn about everything you'll be able to see and experience when the sun comes out!

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. To learn more about the wild creatures of the New Forest read our blog.

Where is it? Lyndhurst SO43 7NYt

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

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



It’s always good to give the children a bit of history and culture on holiday and a rainy day is a 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. At Beaulieu, there's not only a wealth of history and countless treasures to discover inside, but 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, a 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? Beaulieu SO42 7ZN

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

Outburst Salisbury

Outburst Salisbury

Head to this Outburst Salisbury's huge activity centre 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, whilst older children will love the suspense and excitement of the Laser A Combat section. Play as a family on the 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 SP1 2JG

When is it open? Daily from 9.30am until late

How much is it? From £3.95 per person

TeamSport Indoor Karting Southampton

TeamSport Indoor Karting Southampton

Stretch those legs and get moving with some fun indoor karting. It’s no mistake that TeamSport Indoor Karting'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 reasonably-priced 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 on-site snack bar and discuss who in the group is top of the leaderboard - definitely one of the most exhilarating indoor things to do in Hampshire!

Where is it? Eastleigh SO50 6RR

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)

Exciting Escapes

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. It's got to be one of the best ways to exercise your brain when you're looking for things to do in Hampshire on a rainy day.

One is decked out in a 1950s style and the other in a 1980s 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 SO16 4FB

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

How much is it? £20 per person

Breamore House and Countryside Museum

Breamore House and Countryside Museum

Everyone loves a snoop around someone else’s home, no matter what their age, and when it’s one as stunning as Breamore House it’s even more enticing! Wander around the beautifully decorated rooms, adorned with a variety of historic paintings, artefacts and furniture. On the same site is the Countryside Museum which has full-size replicas of a farm worker’s cottage, smithy, wheelwright’s shop, brewery, dairy and more.

Children will be fascinated by what life was like before the advent of electricity, and the collection of steam-powered farm machinery is sure to be a hit too! If the weather brightens up, test your sense of direction in The Great British Maze which also has an adventure playground.

Where is it? Fordingbridge SP6 2DF

When is it open? July – September: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. October: Tuesdays and Sundays. Please see website for opening times.

How much is it? Adults £4, Children (5-15 years) £3, Under 5s free, Seniors £3.50, Family ticket £10.

Eling Tide Mill Experience

Eling Tide Mill Experience

For over 900 years, Eling Tide Mill has harnessed the power of Eling Creek to grind wheat into flour, and to this day, visitors can watch the water wheel and millstones turning. The visitor centre opposite the mill is packed with information and artefacts, making it one of the more educational things to do in the New Forest when it's raining!

Inquisitive children (and adults!) will love getting hands-on with the interactive models, and a programme of family events will add even more interest to your day. Extend your visit with a bite to eat or coffee in the cafe - perfect to dodge the showers and wait for a chance to head outside for a walk along the river.

Where is it? Eling

When is it open? Seasonal opening times, please see website for details.

How much is it? Adults (16+) £6, Children £3.50, Concessions and seniors £4, Family ticket £15.

Sprinkles Gelato

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. Jammie 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!

Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum

Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum

If your kids are interested in all things bike, zoom off to the Sammy Miller Motorcycle 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 tea room to refuel after a busy day. An added bonus is the mini farm where you can meet all sorts of fluffy friends, including sheep, donkeys and alpacas. There aren't many other things to do indoors in Hampshire which can offer animals and powerful machines!

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

Wacky Warehouse Vine Inn

Wacky Warehouse Vine Inn, Romsey

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

Map of rainy day attractions in the New Forest

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

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New Forest holidays

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.

New Forest family cottages

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.