Want to spend a staycation in the New Forest? Then this is the post for you.
The New Forest is located in the south of England and in my opinion is one of the best parts of the UK. Okay I may be a little biased as I spent my childhood growing up in here but what is not to love about horses roaming in the wild, the beautiful landscapes, the country pubs and an abundance of trees and green spaces. It is the perfect place to visit for a staycation no matter what time of year it is. In winter it feels a little bit like a winter wonderland with frost glistening on the trees, in spring the whole forest starts to come alive with shoots and leaves appearing on the trees, in summer it is just the most beautiful place to enjoy the sun and autumn is such a gorgeous time for a walk in the crisp air and crunchy leaves.
The New Forest is easily accessible from London by car as well as train (there are a few stops which land you directly in the New Forest). What’s more, it will only take you two hours from the big smoke. Of course it is also pretty easy to get to from the rest of the south of England too. The New Forest has a few main towns/villages but the parts that will really blow you away are the middle of no where views.
Let’s get stuck into this little guide.
A Guide to a Staycation in the New Forest
Things to do | Where to stay | Key spots to visit
Key spots to visit
This is one of the bigger towns in the New Forest and easier to access because it has it’s own train station. Lymington is split into two parts really, the high street with many chain shops and cafes and then the Quay with quaint cobbles streets and independent shops and cafes. The high street is set up the hill and the Quay is set down the hill. Unlike some New Forest towns this one is not in the middle of the forest and feels more like a costal town than some of the others I’ll mention in this list but most importantly it still has New Forest ice cream and gorgeous cakes.
I’d recommend a stop a Drifters for said ice cream or cake.
I found this place on TripAdvisor because it has gluten and dairy free options. Although I never actually sampled the cake and went for sorbet ice cream instead I can confirm it did look good. The shop itself is pretty small and doesn’t have a seating area but for a summer’s day it’s perfect.
Lyndhurst is one of the more popular villages in the New Forest and in the summer seems to be teaming with activity. The town itself is full of gorgeous cafes, cute shops and plenty of B & Bs. Just on the outskirts is the open forest where horses and cows roam wild and you can take plenty of walks across the forest. Lyndhurst is located in the heart of the National Park and would be a good base for exploring if you have a car.
There are so many wonderful cafes but I’d suggest Peggy May’s Cafe for breakfast.
We went here for breakfast and it was delicious. The service was quick and friendly and there was a steady stream of people coming and going as we dinned. Their cakes on the counter also looked amazing so if you’re after a sweet treat this could also be your place. They had plenty of gluten free options too.
This is one of my favourite villages in the New Forest and no matter which way you go to get there the drive is beautiful too. Burley is very quaint and small, with an interesting variety of witchcraft shops. They are the sort of shops you can browse for hours but you never want to buy anything from. It’s also in the heart of the New Forest with horses, cows and donkeys able to just roam around the village roads.
Burley is also the only spot in the New Forest with a hostel.
The YHA hostel is located just out of the village but houses probably the most affordable accommodation of the New Forest. They have dorm rooms and camping so come summer you can take your pick.
This is one of the larger villages of the New Forest and is probably one of the prettiest. It has a small and cute high street with plenty of independent shops to browse. Beyond that are plenty of eateries, cycle hire shops and some of the most well known hotels of the New Forest. This is also one of the easiest places to get to in the New Forest as it has a train station with trains straight from London. It is a spot that certainly shouldn’t be missed.
Fancy treating yourself this staycation? Head to Carey’s Manor.
Carey’s Manor is one of the best hotels in the New Forest and boasts excellent spa facilities which are open for day guests as well as hotel guests. You can head there for a full day of pampering or just a quick treatment before heading back outside.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of different options for staying in the New Forest and your choice may be influenced a little by the time of year.
I grew up camping in the New Forest, we’d go about 30 minutes down the road, set up the caravan and enjoy a weekend away. It was perfect, little travel was involved but we felt like a million miles away from home. Some of my favourites include: Holmsley, Setthorns, Denny Wood Campsite and Green Hill Farm.
The New Forest is known for some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the New Forest. They tend to all have a very cosy and homely feel to them with open fires and big furniture. A lot of the hotels used to be manor homes before and you can still tell this in the decor. Some of the stand outs include: Rhinefield House Hotel, Carey’s Manor, Burley Manor Hotel and Chewton Glen Hotel.
Airbnb or B & B
This is probably the best option for staying in the New Forest as it is much more affordable and good any time of year. Each village in the New Forest has a range of option for you to take advantage of but each will be cute, homely and offer you a more local experience to the New Forest. Search Airbnb or Booking for a New Forest B & B.
No guide is complete without sharing some of the most unique accommodations and I’m lucky enough to have lived in the same village as this little gem. Located on the outskirts of the New Forest in Woodgreen, near Fordingbridge is a converted methodist church with is incredible. Having been inside when it used to be a church and then having a tour of the place once it had been transformed it really is amazing. Such a unique opportunity to make your staycation in the New Forest that little more special. It sleeps up to four and you can book the Woodgreen Methodist Church here.
Things to do
The New Forest is a place that is made for being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air so that is exactly what I suggest you do during your staycation here.
There are an abundance of walking trails in the New Forest which take you to some of the most beautiful spots around without cars in view. Be sure to ask your accommodation on information and hopefully maps on your local trails. Thankfully they are well sign posted and the paths a generally pretty large so easy to follow. Some trails will be in closed enclosures but some will be out in the open so be aware for horses and cows roaming.
Much like the walking trails the New Forest is also hugely popular for cycling and it will also allow you to cover much more ground. Many of the roads are safe for cyclist but there are plenty of trails that allow for bikes meaning you should barely need to head onto the road. If you don’t own a bike that’s fine, there are plenty of bike shops which hire out bikes and have detailed information on the routes you can take.
Heading to the New Forest on a beautiful day? Then make the most of the outdoors and combine one of the above activities with a picnic. Most villages in the New Forest have a least one village shop which will have ample choice for your picnic including many local produce. Don’t fancy a walk or cycle? Don’t worry there are plenty of spots you can drive to and enjoy a picnic. Just remember to take your rubbish home with you as it will harm the wild animals otherwise.
New Forest Water Park
This is one of my favourite activities in the New Forest for a summers day! The water park is home to a huge aqua park, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and wake boarding. You can book hourly slots for any of these activities and don’t worry if the weather isn’t a boiling day, they have wetsuits for hire.
I can’t write a list of things to do in the New Forest without including the pubs. There is probably at least one pub in every village of the New Forest if not more and in my experience they are all pretty awesome. Expect quaint interiors with open fires for the winter and huge beer gardens for the summer. The best way to visit the pubs is to cycle between them but if that’s not your thing then they are all accessible by car if you don’t have one within walking distance.
Need some more ideas? Then check out this post. Or if afternoon tea is your thing then I’ve got a whole list to try.
Thinking of heading for a staycation in the New Forest? Let me know below.
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