Things to do in the New Forest for families

There are a range of activities, attractions, and other fantastic things for families to do in the New Forest. You can explore the New Forest National Park or discover marine life at Oceanarium Bournemouth.

Family of four walking through trees together at Tattershall Lakes.

From acclaimed beaches and top attractions, like Peppa Pig World, to over 193,000 acres of forests and heathland to discover, there's ample entertainment to occupy the little ones for a day, a week, or even longer.

With world-class sites and endless natural spaces to uncover, you can easily plan your next family adventure. And with plenty more to discover with an Away Resorts holiday, why not find out more?

Take a look at our top picks for:

  • Top 5 ways to explore the New Forest outdoors
  • Top 5 attractions for family holidays in the New Forest
  • Toddler-friendly holidays in the New Forest
  • Top 5 beaches to visit near the New Forest


Top 5 ways to explore the New Forest outdoors:

One of the best things for families to do in the new forest includes getting in touch with your active side. Are you already an active family, or do you want to witness the beautiful sights of the region? Whatever your goal is, you can find that here with five ways to explore the New Forest outdoors:

New Forest National Park image

New Forest National Park

The park is renowned for its scenic landscapes, ancient woodlands, heathlands, and grassy plains. It is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The New Forest is a haven for wildlife, including deer, ponies, and a variety of bird species. The park is known for its semi-wild New Forest ponies, which roam freely throughout the area.

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A male enjoying some watersports at the New Forest Water Park.

New Forest Water Park

Head to the New Forest Water Park, which is between a 10–20-minute drive from our Sandy Balls accommodation. The water park likely provides a range of water-based activities such as wakeboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, and perhaps even inflatable obstacle courses.

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A young boy and female enjoying a day at Go Ape.

Go Ape Moors Valley

Soar to treetops by planning a family day out to Go Ape Moors Valley. Enjoy treetop adventures and zip-line experiences.

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A family walking across a bridge at the Moors Valley Country Park in Hampshire.

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

Choose to cycle, take steam-train journeys, or even try a treetop assault course to try something new on your next family-friendly holiday at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

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Furzey Gardens image

Furzey Gardens

Take an outdoor adventure to Furzey Gardens, where you can witness this secret woodland garden.The charming and whimsical Furzey Gardens and its tea rooms are run by the patrons of a local autism and learning disability charity.

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Top 5 attractions for family holidays in the New Forest:

You can tackle the great outdoors with family holidays in the New Forest and find some of the best family-friendly attractions to take your trip to the next level!

From the younger children to the older ones, all ages will be occupied with the variety of fun-filled attractions you can try out.

Peppa Pig World image

Peppa Pig World

At Peppa Pig World, part of Paulton Park, there are rides for the whole family, so you can all immerse yourselves in the world of Peppa Pig.

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Adventure Wonderland

Adventure Wonderland is currently closed for restructuring until Spring 2024, but when it's back, your whole family will have an unforgettable day out full of fun!

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Longdown Activity Farm image

Longdown Activity Farm

Get up close and personal at Longdown Activity Farm, where your children can get hands-on with the cutest of alpacas and pygmy goats, alongside so much more.

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Marwell Zoo image

Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo is perfect for all ages and is set across 240 acres of gorgeous South Downs countryside; it hosts a range of exotic animals and endangered species.

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Oceanarium Bournemouth image

Oceanarium Bournemouth

If you want to see marine life instead, the Oceanarium Bournemouth is the perfect day out to explore marine ecosystems.

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And with all of these things to do in the New Forest for families within a 20–45-minute drive from our luxury Sandy Balls holiday park, they're in perfect reach to make your family holiday extra special!

Toddler-friendly holidays in the New Forest

Toddlers are particularly hard to plan a holiday around, as you want to keep them occupied and ensure the whole family is having fun. With this in mind, we've put together a list of some great toddler-friendly holiday attractions in the New Forest:

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary image

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

If your little ones love their animals, this sanctuary is perfect for you to go on short woodland walks with the younger ones.

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New Forest Wildlife Park image

New Forest Wildlife Park

Find some of the best child-friendly exhibits, playgrounds, and petting zoos to keep the entire family occupied.

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The New Forest Heritage Centre image

The New Forest Heritage Centre

Find toddler play trails and mini forest play scenes to keep your little ones busy.

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Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park image

Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park

Find one of the last Heavy Horse Centres left in Great Britain. You can enjoy Heavy Horse Carriage rides, miniature pony cart rides, pony grooming, daily demonstrations and more!

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Little Beaulieu is a play area that will provide some fantastic entertainment. Along with a wooden replica of the Palace House for kids to explore, there are secret passageways, a treetop boardwalk, and a zip wire.

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Top 5 beaches to visit near the New Forest

]One of the best things to do in the New Forest for families that is easy, budget-friendly, and perfect for all ages is to visit the many beaches close to our Sandy Balls holiday park.

Here are five beaches to visit with the entire family so you can have days full of seaside picnics and beach games:

A young family playing in the sea at one of the many beaches in St Ives.

Lepe's Beach

This stony beach forms part of Lepe Country Park, in an Area Of Outstanding Beauty and less than an hour's drive from Sandy Ball's holiday park. You can see the Isle of Wight from here while taking gorgeous coastal walks.

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Branksome Chine Beach image

Branksome Chine Beach

This wide, sandy beach has some shingle areas, but you can take the whole family to tour the promenade, where you can stop off for a bite to eat after partaking in some family-friendly water activities, including kite surfing.

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Avon Beach image

Avon Beach

To top off the list, Avon Beach is great for families, young children, and those with disabilities due to the beach-level car park. You can even try out a range of family-friendly watersports!

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Southbourne Beach image

Southbourne Beach

Another Blue Flag beach close to Sandy Balls – between a 30-40 minute drive - is Southbourne. This is the perfect location if you want to escape the hustle and bustle at Bournemouth Pier.

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Rolling waves on a bright summers day at a lagoon in Dorset.

Alum Chine Beach

If you want to visit a Blue Flag award-winning beach, this one is great for staying with the entire family. If you have younger ones amongst you, they will mainly have a great time with the pirate-themed adventure playground.

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All these beaches and more are amazing locations, providing some great things for families to do near the New Forest. Plus, many are also dog-friendly! Just make sure to check out any restrictions before you visit.

The best things to do in the New Forest for families FAQs

There are so many things to do in the New Forest for families, but you may still have some questions in your mind to help you begin your holiday planning. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions!

What’s the best thing about the New Forest, UK?

There are so many things to do in the New Forest for families, which provides several family-friendly activities and attractions. From exploring the great outdoors to visiting attractions and enjoying indoor play, there really is something for every family member – no matter the age. With suitable accommodation options and seasonal activities, the New Forest is a highly recommended destination for families looking to create lasting memories in the UK.

How do you spend a day in the New Forest?

There are many ways to spend a day in the New Forest, whether getting active with some woodland walks or visiting Paulton’s Park for the day. Alongside this, you can start your day at Hurst Castle and explore the beautiful sites that surround the castle. Then, you can head to Hurst Spit to chill out at the seaside.

Beaches are some of the best ways to spend a day, and what’s even better is that there are plenty to choose from! Both you and the kids will love it.

What to do in the New Forest when it’s raining?

Come rain or shine, the New Forest is the perfect destination to visit in all weather types. Whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring down, you can find plenty of things to do in the New Forest for families. Here are some top things to do in the New Forest when it’s raining:

  • Visit the New Forest Heritage Centre
  • Take a trip to the Oceanarium Bournemouth
  • Head to Beaulieu

is the New Forest free to visit?

Yes, the New Forest is free to visit. There is no cost to walking in the New Forest, and the forest car parks are free too!

It’s free and perfect for family walks, so you don’t have to worry – take in the sights.

How many days should I spend in New Forest? 

The number of days you should spend in the New Forest can vary from perfect one-day trips to weekends or even longer breaks that you can plan. However, the ideal number of days to spend here is 2-5 to make the most of this location. However, you could spend even more, as there are plenty of things to do in the New Forest for families.

By staying at our renowned Sandy Balls accommodation, you can find even more things to do – making an Away Resorts trip the perfect way to spend quality family time together!

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