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Things to do inNew Forest

Visitor information for New Forest in Dorset

  • New Forest
  • New Forest
  • New Forest
  • New Forest

There’s something rather magical about being deep in a forest – that sense of being at one with nature as you stand amongst trees that have seen hundreds of years pass through the familiar seasonal changes. And each of those seasons offers something different to admire: in winter the Forest is in dormant mode yet still beautiful on a frosty morning; as spring arrives nature wakes up and buds swell to the sound of the birds’ songs; summer brings out the purple heather and golden dwarf gorse; and as the autumn leaves turn gold and brown it’s arguably the finest time of year to capture on camera.

You’ll no doubt come across the ponies for which the New Forest is rather famous, but there are ancient rights of pasture still in use today so don’t be surprised if you come across farmed cattle, pigs or donkeys grazing along the roadside, or wild deer deep in the Forest.  

We have William the Conqueror to thank for the New Forest as he declared it a royal hunting ground where he would hunt for deer and wild boar with his guests. His son, William II, was killed by an arrow through his lung whilst hunting in the Forest; the exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery. 

The New Forest, designated a National Park in 2005, is home to what is believed to be the highest concentration of ancient and veteran trees in northern Europe, with some 1.000 ancient specimens having been recorded. The largest oak is the Knightwood Oak which has a girth of 7.38 metres and is more than 500 years old. But the Forest also has a vast area of heathland, much of which is covered in heather and gorse that supports many bird and reptile species. 

Getting about in the Forest under your own steam is a pleasure as there are plenty of traffic-free routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to follow. Cycles can be hired from a number of outlets, whilst there are riding stables dotted throughout the Forest. Enjoy a picnic at one of the tables provided at various sites; it’s a traditional pleasure that never fails to please all the family. 

As well as all the natural beauty of the Forest to enjoy, there are excellent family attractions and fascinating town museums to delve into, sports facilities aplenty and historic houses and gardens to visit – the list of things to see and do is seemingly endless. With forty miles of coastline on the southern edge, you can even combine a stay in the New Forest with a day by the seaside!  

Visit the Forest’s small towns and villages and you’ll find an array of small shops which are complemented by cosy cafes and character pubs serving up tasty snacks and meals. 

To make the most of your visit to this special area, call into the New Forest Centre at Lyndhurst. As well as having helpful staff on hand to answer any questions, there are lots of maps and guides which will help you navigate your way around.

Things to do in New Forest

Places to Go

Find places to go and things to do in New Forest using the options below.

You can also explore all of the venues on our New Forest Map.

New Forest Events

22 Jul 2022 to 24 Jul 2022
Netley Marsh Steam & Craft Show
26 Jul 2022 to 28 Jul 2022
New Forest & Hampshire Country Show
06 Aug 2022 to 07 Aug 2022
Beaulieu Supercar Weekend
13 August 2022
Ellingham Show
10 Sep 2022 to 11 Sep 2022
International Autojumble

Latest New Forest Features

9 May 2022
Queen's Platinum Jubilee Events in Dorset Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with us here in Dorset. Dress for the occasion in red white and blue and join in the fun to be had at events right across the county (scroll down for events listings). Little ones can dress up as princes and princesses and head for Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park where, as well as all the animals to see, there’ll be cream teas to enjoy – just be sure to pre-book! Fancy a celebratory picnic lunch with sea views? Then ... Read more...
16 Nov 2020
Shop for Dorset this Christmas Shop Dorset and it’s a win, win – not only will your gift please the recipient but by shopping locally online in these difficult times you’ll be helping our Dorset businesses. Below are just a few ideas for Christmas gifts and goodies. Cheesed off? – Well check out Delicious, the Weymouth deli that will deliver cheeses and wines to your Dorset door. Craig’s Dairy Farm Shop and Chalbury Food & Wine are open and well-stocked with tasty local ... Read more...
21 Oct 2020
Half-term Fun in Dorset So, it’s the October half term and you may be wondering how you’re going to keep the kids entertained in these restricted times! Well don’t worry, whether you are local resident or are staying in Dorset on a break, there’s lots to do throughout the seasons. Our Resort family has children of different ages and here are some of the things we plan to enjoy; perhaps you will too! Fossil Hunting – you may just discover the next big thing! Do be aware ... Read more...
14 Feb 2020
Things to do in February Half Term Monday 17th February marks the start of half-term. Dorset always has so much to offer whenever half-term comes around, whether that involves exploring the countryside and coastline, visiting some of Dorset’s best attractions, or attending local events, you won’t be let down. We’ve compiled a list of events, including some amazing offers followed by some features that we think can inspire your half-term fun. From visiting the cheeky monkeys at Monkey World or getting ... Read more...
24 Jul 2018
Stay Cool with Dorset's Indoor Attractions Dorset's beaches and public spaces provide plenty of opportunity to soak up the rays during a heatwave. But keep an eye out for Met Office advice and take care not to spend too long in the sun. If you're looking for indoor attractions, some shade and a cooler way to spend a day in Dorset, then take a look at a selection below. Get active with trampolining, children's soft play centres and indoor pools or explore some of the fascinating museums Dorset has to ... Read more...

More articles available in the features section.

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