The best kids’ days out in the New Forest

Days out, Family, Activity

Posted by Kate Atkin on 13th June 2022

The best kids’ days out in the New Forest

The New Forest offers a wealth of fun days out with the kids and is a wonderful place for families to enjoy quality time together. Explore the great outdoors and marvel at the acres of woodlands and heathlands, discover local history at one of the fascinating museums or laugh your socks off at one of the many visitor attractions. There are so many activities to choose from, whether you're looking to find fun within nature, or get your adrenalin kicks.

If you're looking for things to do in the New Forest for families, take a look below at some of the best kids’ days out, which are all within close proximity to our New Forest holiday cottages.

New Forest cottages

The best things to do in the New Forest with kids

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Theme parks and activity centres in the New Forest

Paulton’s Family Theme Park and Peppa Pig World, Ower, near Southampton

Paulton’s Family Theme Park and Peppa Pig World, Ower

A huge highlight for any child on their holiday in the New Forest is to meet Peppa Pig and her friends at Peppa Pig World in Paulton’s Family Theme Park. This award-winning attraction has seven themed rides that babies, toddlers and young children will love; ride in a car with Daddy Pig, fly the clouds of the Windy Castle, take a flight on Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter and enjoy a trip on Grandpa Pig’s Boat. 

As well as these fantastic rides, delight little ones with a photo opportunity as they meet Peppa Pig and George for cuddles and fun. Children can explore some of the great landmarks of the TV cartoon show such as Peppa’s house, the library, and the school to name a few, then feast on a delicious snack from Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Café or try one of Miss Rabbit’s ice creams at her parlour.

If that’s not enough, explore over 70 rides and attractions within Paulton’s Family Theme Park; see a live Justin Fletcher show, come face to face with walking dinosaurs in the Lost Kingdom, splash the day away in the Water Kingdom, or challenge the family to an exciting round of Adventure Golf. When it comes to New Forest things to do with toddlers, it can't be beaten!

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Opening times vary, please check website

Pricing: Online tickets in advance - Adult/Child (over 1m) £39.75, Under 1m Free, Family from £116.75

Southampton cottages

New Forest Waterpark, Fordingbridge

Having fun at the water park

Make a splash at New Forest Waterpark, the UK’s first outdoor floating inflatable aqua park and arguably the most adventurous New Forest attraction for families. Experience a thrilling 80-metre-long course including two trampolines, monkey bars, flippers, slides, a swing, climbing wall, a giant iceberg and much more. 

They also offer wakeboarding, paddleboarding and kayaking, perfect for an active family looking to enjoy some adventure and water-based activities. It's a great choice for a rainy day activity, as if you're going to get wet anyway, you may as well have fun while you do! If you're looking for New Forest kids activities to make happy memories to last a lifetime, this has got to be on your itinerary.

Suitable for: Ages 6 and above – check the website for restrictions

Opening Hours: See website for Wake Park opening times and Aqua Park opening times

Pricing: Aqua Park £20.00 per person, per hour; Main 5 Pylon Cable Wakeboarding £35 per hour; Single Kayaks £20 per hour; Double Kayaks £30.00 per hour; Stand-up Paddleboards £20.00 per hour; wet suit hire and equipment for wakeboarding is extra.

Fordingbridge cottages

Go Ape Moors Valley, Ringwood

Go Ape Moors Valley, Ringwood

Little monkeys will love swinging through the trees at Go Ape Moors Valley, offering 1,000 metres of high ropes and adrenaline-filled adventure courses. Brave a fun-filled three-hour course in the heart of the Hampshire woodland with activities ranging from rope ladders to skateboard zip wires, the Big U, a double Tarzan Swing and the perplexing Pendulum Pass. 

They even have a brand-new forest Segway experience where you can zoom off into the rolling countryside. Of all the things to do in the New Forest for families, this one is sure to get the kids' seal of approval! Safety gear is of course mandatory, and the trusty team are always there to guide you through the course.

Suitable for: Nets Adventure minimum age 1 year; Treetop Adventure minimum height 1m; Treetop Adventure Plus minimum age 6 years and minimum height 1.2m; Treetop Challenge minimum height 1.4m

Opening Hours: Open all year (reduced sessions in winter), various times

Pricing: Treetop Adventure from £20, Tree Top Challenge from £33, Treetop Adventure Plus from £25, Forest Segway from £35, Nets Adventure from £20

Ringwood cottages

Museums and heritage attractions in the New Forest

Buckler's Hard Museum, Beaulieu

Montage of photos of Bucklers Hard

If you're looking for New Forest kids' activities which are educational as well as enjoyable, this one's for you. Step back in time and discover the best-preserved example of an 18th-century shipbuilding village in the world at Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum. Children will be amazed to find out what it was like to live and work in this unique village, home to the ships built for Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar. 

Characters are brought to life in the educational museum with historic displays and exhibitions, living history, fun quizzes and hands-on activities. Follow the fun woodland trail and learn about the trees used in shipbuilding and if you’ve got time, catch a boat downriver to birdwatch at the neighbouring North Solent National Nature Reserve. It's one of the most interesting things to do with kids in the New Forest that the whole family will appreciate.

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: 10am-4pm from 1 October to 8 April, 10am-5pm from 9 April - 30 September. Last admission to indoor areas 30 mins prior to closing

Pricing: Adults £5.90, Seniors (60+) £5.40, Children (5-17) £4, Family tickets £16

Bucklers Hard cottages


Beaulieu, Brockenhurst

Beaulieu is an award-winning family day out with one ticket granting access to countless, stunning attractions suitable for children and adults to enjoy a great day out together. Be amazed by over 250 vehicles in the world-famous National Motor Museum; from legendary F1 racers and land speed record breakers to classic cars dating back to 1875, it houses one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world. 

See iconic cars from some of the most memorable and ambitious challenges from the TV show in World of Top Gear and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the cars and grounds from the ‘Skytrain’, a high-level monorail which passes right through the roof of the museum.

One of the highest-rated family activities in the New Forest, the attractions are located in the gorgeous, landscaped gardens of Beaulieu Estate, where you can also see the magnificent rooms and treasures of Palace House and the ruins of the local abbey. Kids will particularly love burning off some energy on the Dipstick’s Driving Circuit, the World of Top Gear Test Track Challenge or the Mini Motor Play Area.

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: 10am-5pm from 1 January to 27 May, 10am-6pm from 28 May to 11 September, 10am-5pm from 12 September onwards

Pricing: In advance -  Adults £23, Kids (5-16) £12, Seniors (60+)/Students £22, Under 5s Free, Family (two adults, three kids or one adult, four kids) £59

Beaulieu cottages

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, Exbury, near Beaulieu

Exbury Gardens

Kids will love getting back to nature at Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, with beautiful gardens, an enchanting woodland full of unusual plants and 20 miles of meandering paths to get gloriously lost in - try the Family Trail. 

Hop aboard the Steam Railway and enjoy a delightful 20-minute journey through the gardens where children can spot Exbury’s woodland creatures made from moss including rabbits, deer, a squirrel and owl; a lucky young passenger will be invited by the guard to wave the green flag to the driver to commence the journey. 

Visit Mr Eddy’s Tea Rooms to purchase a pick-your-own children’s lunch box and enjoy a relaxing picnic by the Jubilee Pond with its lazy koi carp and hovering dragonflies, an endless source of fascination for little ones. The Adventure Play Area featuring an Explorer Tower, Sky Walk Trail and Bird’s Nest Swing is ideal for children aged 5 to 11, whilst younger visitors will enjoy the Play Hut, Bucket Swing and climbing apparatus.

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Open daily from 19 March to 30 October from 10am-5.30pm (or dusk, if earlier), last admission 4.30pm

Pricing: Gardens: Adults from £11, Child £5.50, Under 3s free. Railway: Adults and children £5.50, Under 3s free

Beaulieu cottages

Animal parks and sanctuaries in the New Forest

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, Newtown

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, Newtown, near Lyndhurst

Spend a sunny afternoon at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary and witness the magnificent sight of fallow deer grazing in the meadow. Between April and September, the herd is fed daily by a friendly local New Forest keeper so they are well accustomed to the presence of observers. There is an easy-to-reach wooden viewing platform for the whole family to watch the spectacle and a large grassy lawn, perfect for a picnic or a game of football or rounders afterwards. 

One of the best things to do in the New Forest with kids who enjoy spending time outdoors, there are a variety of graded walks amongst the tall trees, so there's something to suit everyone, from toddlers to grandparents!

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Daily daylight access most of the year

Pricing: Free admission

Lyndhurst cottages

Marwell Zoo, Winchester

Zoo animals

Unleash your little one’s wild side with a visit to Marwell Zoo, located in a stunning 140-acre park in Winchester. There are hundreds of different animals to meet including ring-tailed lemurs, gentle giraffes, waddling penguins and bat-eared foxes. Daily talks and animal feeds are a fun way for kids to get closer and learn more about their favourites, and there is a road train if little feet get tired to make sure they don’t miss a thing.

There are several adventure play areas where kids can climb like monkeys and swing like lemurs, and a wide range of food and drink outlets for parents to enjoy a well-earned break. What’s more, the knowledgeable zoo keepers are always on hand to help little guests learn all about the incredible range of exotic and endangered species. It's a lovely choice if you're looking for things to do in the New Forest for families that are educational as well as fun!

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Varied opening times, please check website

Pricing: Adult (17+) from £22.48, Child (3-16) from £18.88, Under 2s free, Concession from £20.23

Winchester cottages

New Forest Wildlife Park, Ashurst, near Southampton

New Forest Wildlife Park, Ashurst, near Southampton

Experience a wildlife adventure deep in 25 acres of unspoilt woodland at the New Forest Wildlife Park. Get up close to indigenous species in their natural surroundings; see sika, fallow and roe deer roaming freely throughout the park, excitable otters at feeding time, and a whole host of other fascinating animals including wolves, bison, Scottish wildcats, wallabies, adders, polecats and ferrets to name a few.

Friendly keepers are always on hand to provide further information, giving regular informative talks and feeding demonstrations throughout the day. There is also the opportunity for kids to take part in incredible Keeper Experiences, where they can become one of the team for the day and learn more about their favourite animals’ daily lives and habits.

Little and big kids alike will love the fantastic adventure playgrounds, ‘Go Wild’ and ‘Mini Go Wild’, full to the brim with zip wires, climbing ropes, swings, spider nets, sand pits and diggers – an unforgettable family day out!

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Autumn/winter - Monday to Sunday 10am-4.30pm (or dusk), spring/summer - Monday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm

Pricing: Adult £13.50, Child (3-15) £10.25, Family of four £40.50, Senior £12.50, Disabled Adult/Child £12.50/£8.25, Serving Military personnel (with ID) £12.50

Southampton cottages

Outdoor places to explore in the New Forest

Lepe Country Park, Exbury, near Beaulieu

Lepe Country Park

One of the most enjoyable things to do in the New Forest with kids is to simply get out into nature and explore! Lepe Country Park is a lovely place to keep the whole family entertained with attractive beaches to build a sandcastle and paddle in the sea, scenic coastal walks, cliff tops to fly a kite and an adventure playground to let off some steam.

Pack a picnic and take in the spectacular views or visit the tearoom and indulge in some delicious locally sourced produce. Explore the beautiful landscape on a countryside walk, use the hide for a spot of birdwatching, or join in one of the family fun events that run throughout the year. It’s the perfect place to get out into the fresh air and enjoy some good old-fashioned fun in the countryside.

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Open every day - car park and WCs open 7am-10pm, The Lookout cafe 9am-6pm, visitor desk 10am-4pm

Pricing: Entry free. Parking October - March: 1 hour £2, 2 hours £3.50, 4 hours £4.50, all day £6. April - September: 1 hour £2.50, 2 hours £5, 4 hours £7, all day £9. 

Beaulieu cottages

Moors Valley Country Park, Ashley Heath, near Ringwood

Moors Valley Country Park, New Forest

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest is a beautiful natural attraction, with 1,000 acres of managed woodland packed with activities to suit all ages. Whether you choose one of the many scenic walking routes, take to two wheels to explore the cycle trails or head straight for the adventure play areas, you're sure to find hours of outdoor fun here.

There's cycle and mobility hire should you need it, and attractions such as a model steam railway, golf and pitch and putt and the Go Ape centre mentioned earlier in this article - plenty for more than a day's worth of adventure! There are regular organised activities, so head for the Visitor Centre to find out what's on while you're there.

All that adventure will take a toll on your energy levels, so head for the restaurant to recharge your batteries or stop for an ice cream. The gift shop is stocked full of goodies to remind you of your trip.

Suitable for: All ages

Opening Hours: Open every day except Christmas day, from 8am - closing times vary, please see website

Pricing: Entry free but vehicle charges apply. Please see website for details.

Ringwood cottages

View all New Forest attractions on a map

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Escape to the New Forest

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