13 Things to do in the New Forest
If you’re looking for things to do in the New Forest then you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice.
The New Forest is huge and spans over the counties Dorset and Hampshire. 150 square miles of woodland surrounding quaint little villages and luxury hotels.
Whatever you are looking for in a family vacation or a quiet trip away you will find in the New Forest. Apart from the obvious things you can do in the New Forest such as go for a walk and go camping. We thought we would put a list together of the more unique things you can do when visiting the New Forest.
Here we list our favorite things to do in the New Forest.
1. Take your dog for a ramble
With 159 miles of woodland to explore your dog is going to absolutely love his stay here. This is one of the most obvious things to do in the New Forest but as dog lovers, we thought it was necessary. There are plenty of places to see and things to do in the New Forest for anyone who is visiting with their dog. There are so many places to take your dog for a run from raw areas of the forest not touched my man to areas of the forest where pathways have been carved out for walkers to comfortably walk their way through the trees.
Watch your dog around the New Forest Ponies and free-ranging Livestock
There is much wildlife here and ponies wander free so it is imperative that you keep your dog either on a lead in some areas of make sure they are good at recall. A dog worrying any of the horses or livestock can face a hefty fine.
The ponies in the forest, although they wander free are actually owned by people who reside in the forest districts. these residents have commoners’ rights and this means they are able to put their livestock on the forest to wander.
If you plan a day out in the New Forest please do not feed any of the animals you find there including the donkeys, pigs, horses and ponies because they are looked after by their owners and feeding them can make them become food aggressive. It also encourages them to migrate to the roads where people call them over from their car windows to feed them. Alot of these poor animals then end up getting run over by cars at night who cannot see them. Its really not good for the animals in any way to stop and feed them, so please dont.
2. Go for a hack
There are quite a few horse riding stables in the New forest that both offers hacks out into the forest and riding lessons. Taking a leisurely hack on horseback is the perfect way to see the sights and one of my most popular things to do in the New Forest. horses can go to places that cars and people can’t quite get to so it’s the perfect way to explore the area.
A few of the favorite riding stables in the New forest that all offer hacks out are the following:
Burley Riding Stables
Burley riding stables is in a beautiful area of the New Forest. You’ll get to ride right out into the stunning forest area of Burley and meet free-roaming donkeys, horses, and ponies on your trip.
They cater to all riding abilities so there is no need to worry about being an expert in the saddle.
Bagnum Riding Stables
Bagnum is perfectly situated with direct routes right out into the forest around Ringwood. There are absolutely no roads you will need to go on it’s all forest. They offer riding lessons as well as 1-hour hacks and sometimes they offer hacks of a longer duration which includes stopping off for lunch. Perfect for all the family and all riding abilities. Check out their website to see what they have on.
3. Go for a Cream Tea
There are some really yummy places to go for an authentic cream tea experience. Some of my favorite places to go which serve the best cream teas and homemade cakes are the following.
Burley tea rooms
This is a really traditional tea room in the stunning village of Burley. With its thatched roof and old village style this really is a lovely place to go for a cream tea or a chunk of freshly made cake. After you have had your fill you can then take a wander to the village shops and see the unique witches’ shops they have in Burley. Or you could go to Burley Manor and sit and watch the deer in the deer park.
The Old Station Holmsley tea rooms
These quaint tea rooms were once a railway station in Holmsley. The station was closed down many years ago but the tea rooms have remained. today they serve delicious homecooked lunches and reasonable prices and have delicious homemade cakes. They also do an incredible cream tea.
4. Take a helicopter ride over the forest
Now, this really is a unique experience and one of the most unique things to do in the New Forest. There aren’t many people who think of taking a helicopter ride out over the forest and seeing from up high the stunning wood below.
The trip doesn’t need to cost the earth either with quite a few helicopter tours being at reasonable prices.
Do a quick search on Google and you’ll find many helicopter tours taking place within the New Forest.
5. New Forest Wildlife Park
Take a walk around the New Forest Wildlife Park and meet many different types of otters such as the Giant Otters and short heard Asian Otter., Deer, Pole Cats, and Ferrets Grey Wolf’s foxes, Kangaroos and different types of Wild cats.
Get up close and personal at feeding times when you can get close to these amazing creatures. Why not give tree frog a stroke?
Purchase a ‘Keeper Experience’ ticket and get to experience what it’s like taking care of these amazing animals for the day.
6. Liberty’s Owl and Reptile Center
Visit Libertys if you want to have a day mesmerizing at a large number of birds of prey on display. In the summer months, there are free daily bird flying displays to watch. After getting up close with these stunning birds you can visit the reptile and snake house and see how many different types of reptile and snake species you can see.
Why not purchase a ticket to their Falconry and Owl Experience Days and get a feel of what it would be like to own one of these magnificent creatures. For small children, there is also a sand pit to play in and for lunch, you can stop off at the in-house Cafe.
Please note all displays are subject to weather conditions.
7. New Forest Deer Safari
Fancy a trip on a tractor through a Deer park to meet all of the resident New Forest Deer?
This unique experience and one of the most unique things to do in the New forest, sees you leave from the stunning Burley Manor House in Burley and travel through the grounds on a tractor to meet the free-roaming deer in the manor’s Deer Park.
Stop off afterward for lunch or a cream toea at the stunning Burley Manor and sit and watch the Deers in front of you out of the beautiful windows.
8. Fly a Hawk
Visit Forest Falcony near Salisbury for a real bird experience. One of the most popular things to do in the New Forest for holidaymakers. Get your opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds. Learn how to fly a Hawk and take part in flying them out into the forest. This really is a magical and unique experience, one which the whole family are sure to never forget.
You’ll not only get to meet Hawks. Forest Falcony also has Eagles, Owls and Kestrels all of which you’ll get to fly.
There is also a new and exciting member a Golden Eagle.
9. Visit the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm and Park
Are you a lover of Shire horses? Then you’ll have a great day out at the Heavy Horse Farm. Every on of these beautiful horses can be seen out and about pulling carriages around the new forest. Each year at the New Forest Show they are on display in all of their glory. The New Forest Show which is held once a year is also one of the great things to do in the New Forest.
Go and meet these beautiful animals and get to feed and stroke them. This farm doesn’t only have Heavy horses though. You’ll get to meet many different types of animals you can interact with and feed and stroke them. This is a great family day out and it’s for a good cause. Every penny you spend goes towards taking care of these beautiful animals.
- Heavy Horse-drawn carriage rides
- Educational talks delivered with passion
- Heavy Horses harness presentations
- WWI fields trench display
- Miniature pony carriage rides
- Tractor and trailer rides
- Close encounters in Pets Corner
- Explore vintage vehicles and exhibits
- Farm keeper feeding tours
- Vintage rides and adventure play areas
- Undercover play barns
- Smokey Joe’s Café and Rosie’s Gift Shop
10. Feed the Swans at Abbotsbury Swannery
Ever been to a Swannery? Well now is your chance. This is a lovely day out and one of the great things to do in the New Forest on your visit.
The best time of year to visit is when the Swans have had their chicks, this is usually around springtime, but really anytime in the summer you plan to visit is a good time. There’s a gorgeous cafe there too which you can stop at and have lunch and a nice walk to follow where you’ll get to see the Swans.
11. Go up the top of Christchurch Priory and take in the view
Visit the stunning, historical Priory in Christchurch and take one of the tours up the top of the priory steps and take in the stunning view.
Afterward, stop for a yummy cream tea at the Priory Cafe. Some of the Priory tours have cream teas included in the tour price.
From here it’s just a short 5-minute stroll to the Christchurch harbor and the town center.