Those precious family days together...

Activities for the whole family to enjoy together in the New Forest

 Family canoeing in the New Forest with New Forest Activities


Holidays are so special!  Those precious days and long evenings with no work, jobs, responsibilities and commitments, homework or after school activity frenzies. A few days when the whole family can actually get to spend time together for a change!  Memories are made of these...

Family activities for the school holidays – and outside busy holiday periods too

So whether your self catering holiday has to take place during the school holidays or you have the luxury of holidaying with the little ones after school’s back, here are some suggestions for family friendly activities for you to enjoy together.

New Forest family activities on a budget

The activities we’ve chosen also bear in mind one of the probable reasons why along with flexibility, freedom, peace and privacy, you’ve chosen a self catering holiday – budget!

So, here goes with our list...

Take a canoeing trip en famille with New Forest Activities

New Forest Activities know very well that time spent as a family is extremely precious, so when you have the time to do something together, you want to make it count.  Whether you’re local or visiting for a short break or holiday, they have designed activities which will help you make the most of your family time.  For example, their Family Canoeing is an opportunity to try something new which works really well “en famille” and is also the perfect way to explore the beautiful Beaulieu River for a couple of hours or half a day.  Or if you have a whole day to spare you could combine canoeing with cycling on their Family Adventure Day.

Spend a family day on bikes

Family cycling in the New Forest with New Forest Activities

Speaking of cycling, of course that’s a lovely way to spend family time too.  There are plenty of routes which barely touch a road - particularly helpful when your children are at that wobbly stage!

And if you plan a route mainly on the gravel tracks through the Inclosures, you’ll get a nice mix of cycling: some serious exercise on the hills plus a matching amount of freewheeling down the other side, with plenty of level stretches too and most importantly, plenty of tempting places to stop for your picnic.

And if you’re not bringing your own bikes and need to hire:  as well as from New Forest Activities (to whom thank you for these lovely  photos) you can also hire a good selection of bikes including accessories and routes at Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst.

Feed the animals and take a bumpy free tractor and trailer ride at Longdown Activity Farm
Feeding the animals at Longdown

The lovely family-run Longdown Activity Farm is a fantastic family day for everyone, especially if you have small children.   It’s also extremely conveniently located, just off the A35 between Ashurst and Totton and within easy reach of most New Forest towns and villages.

All who wish to, old and young alike, can join in with the daily schedule of activities which run throughout the day. (Click for daily programme.) There’s no charge for animal feed, so there are no hidden extras to join in.

You can bottle-feed the kid goats and the calves, feed the ducks, meet the pigs, donkeys, and alpacas. You can have a cuddle with a baby rabbit, hold a chick - you may even get the opportunity to stroke apiglet! Depending on the season there are always some friendly animals waiting to meet you.

There are also lots of brilliant farmyard buildings to explore and three large indoor play areas which include a soft play area, lots of trampolines, and a huge straw barn for the children to run off their energy so this is also a good destination for a wet day.

Ground conditions permitting the highlight for many will be the free bumpy tractor and trailer ride – it’s REALLY bumpy apparently!  

Ride the Forest Bus and take a New Forest Tour

(until 10 September – so predominantly a school holiday opportunity)

The New Forest Tour is a lovely way to spend a leisurely family day, on an open top double decker bus with a bird’s eye view of the New Forest landscape and all the forest animals, with an audio commentary telling stories of the people and places of the New Forest while you relax and enjoy the ride.  You can make it as “active” or “activity filled” as you wish by hopping on and off where you fancy to explore villages or places in between.  There are three routes which “meet” at Lyndhurst and you can stay on the entire route, switch onto another route, or stop off and spend some time at one of the attractions along the way and re-join the route on a later bus when you’re ready.

Go Geocaching in the New Forest - it's completely free!

The outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices is one of those innovations for which we have to thank rather than curse those mobile phones!  Geocaching, where participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location, is one of those activities which began almost invisibly and has grown enormously in popularity over the years with the great big benefit that it’s effectively a totally free activity which can also be fabulous fun as a family.  And what a simple way to make a boring old “walk” into something exciting!

Membership is free.  Read the guide here and register ready to go exploring.   

Incidentally, one of the current New Forest geocaches is at Godshill -  what a wonderful location for an adventure filled forest ramble high up on Hampton Ridge. 

While away some happy family hours at the Loveliest Lido in the Land! 

Lymington Seawater Baths - or Lymington Lido!

Lymington Sea Water Baths, the oldest open air natural swimming pool in the UK,  is an inexpensive way to spend a few hours of family activity and fun together, especially if the weather obliges.  The pool is enormous, the water is really from the sea, it’s not too deep and there’s a paddling area too.  “Lymington Lido” as it’s become affectionately known also has a great view down Lymington River and across the Solent to the Isle of Wight (where  you can plan to spend another special family day together!)

The changing rooms have recently been renovated, wet suits can be hired and everybody can be kids together on - and falling off  - the enormous inflatables, plus there’s a handy kiosk selling ice creams and inexpensive cold and hot snacks. 

Woodland Cottage Brockenhurst

 Woodland Cottage with its gigantic indoor space for rainy days and a lovely big garden for sunny ones, is a perfect base for a family holiday in the New Forest, brilliantly located for activity! 

It’s on the edge of Brockenhurst, close to “Standing Hat” which is where a fantastic network of family friendly cycle tracks through the forest meet - enabling you to bike safely for mile upon mile towards Beaulieu or Lyndhurst, without having to touch a road!  

Take a look at all the photos of Woodland Cottage.  You can even take a virtual tour here .

And give us a ring on 01590 622449 or email us ( if you'd like more information about family friendly self catering properties in the New Forest which will give you a great base to explore and get active!




Contact us here.