The New Forest is one of the most beautiful regions of the UK with stunning countryside and breathtaking coastal walks to enjoy and explore. But sometimes the weather isn’t on side so where do you go and what do you do if outdoor pursuits and being at one with nature isn’t on the cards today? Below we’ve pulled together the ultimate list of New Forest indoor activities so that you can enjoy a great experience here in the forest, come rain or shine!
The New Forest indoor activities we have shared here in this post are all within the New Forest area. If you’re willing to travel a little then we have given a ‘further afield’ summary later on in this post.
So without further ado, here are our top 10 New Forest indoor activities…
Top 10 New Forest Indoor Activities
1. Beaulieu Museum
Beaulieu runs an all inclusive ticket price providing all day entertainment and great value for money.
The entry ticket gives access to The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House & Gardens, Beaulieu Abbey, The Secret Army Exhibition and also unlimited rides on the Monorail & Veteran Bus.
Here’s what you can visit in each of the five areas;
National Motor Museum
Walk through the museums 1.7 million exhibits, telling the story of motoring on the roads of Great Britain. Here you’ll fine one of the finest motor collections in the world – everything from vintage Austins and Aston Martins to a Ferrari Supercar to a Grand Prix F1 race cars!
World of Top Gear
This special exhibition pays homage to the worlds biggest TV car show. The World of Top Gear features vehicles from every era of the Top Gear challenges, including the infamous Reliant Robin Space Shuttle, as well as fresh, new exhibits from filming with Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff.
Palace House & Gardens
Once the gatehouse of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House has been in the Montagu family since 1538. Surrounded by the rolling countryside and Beaulieu River millpond, the house is a fine example of a Victorian country house. Inside you can learn about the families history and experience what life would have been like in this victorian home.
Discover the history of this marvellous 800 year old Abbey. The ruins are (of course) open air however there are exhibition halls to shelter from the rain!
The Secret Army Exhibition
During World War Two, Beaulieu was a top secret training establishment for special operations executives. Over 3000 SOE agents were trained here before undertaking daring and dangerous missions behind enemy lines.
The mile long mono-rail (the oldest in England) transports visitors between the north and south of the site. Running at regular intervals throughout the day its a great way to explore and learn some more about the attraction. If the rain eases off there’s also an open top veteran bus which makes regular journeys between the Palace House and the Brabazon Restaurant.
Tickets can be secured online at the best possible rate at least 24 hours in advance. Can’t manage to fit everything into one visit? You can return within the next six days for free! Stop by the Museum Information Deck or Visitor Reception before you leave to pick up your free return pass.
2. Liberties Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre
Liberty’s is home to a large collection of Birds Of Prey as well as a collection of Reptiles and other creepy crawlies.
The daily flying demonstrations take place indoors in the case of bad weather. They feature a variety of Birds of Prey including Owls, Hawks, Vultures, Falcons and Eagles. These fun and educational shows are a great opportunity to see some of these incredible birds in action.
During summer school holidays there is also a daily Reptile Show. The show features snakes and lizards and some of their resident creepy crawlies. Its a very ‘up close and personal’ event which is great fun!
3. Longdown Activity Farm
Get hands-on with a full day schedule of fun farmyard themed activities.
The indoor barns hold a range of different farm animals and there are feeding sessions with animals at regular intervals throughout the day. The Animal Encounter Barn features many different animals and offers visitors the chance to take part in activities such as holding a baby chick, holding guinea pigs, grooming rabbits, and meeting kid goats and piglets!
The bouncing barn houses straw bales and trampolines for plenty of indoor fun for kids. There’s also a large indoor soft play area and an indoor sand pit and interactive area for infants. If the rain eases at all there is also an outdoor play area, go karts, ride ons and crazy golf.
4. Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum
Sammy Miller is a true motorcycling legend. He’s 11 times British Champion, winner of over 1400 events… and still winning competitions more than 50 years after his first victory!
The Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum houses one of the finest collections of motorcycles in the world, including factory racers and exotic prototypes. This is a living museum with almost every motorcycle in the museum in full running order.
Bashley Manor Tea Rooms are a must visit whilst here at the museum. They serve delicious home made cakes and snacks and even have vegan options on offer!
5. St Barbe Museum and Gallery
The St Barbe Museum and Gallery is a really unique experience where you can discover the rich and diverse history of Lymington and the New Forest coast.
The history of the local area is fascinating from the development of Lymington’s industries via smuggling to its especially strong naval history during the world wars. There’s lots to see, do and learn. The Art gallery showcases the best art from across the region including exhibitions by nationally renowned artists.
The local volunteers working here deserve a special mention – they’re exceptionally friendly and always so enthusiastic! The onsite cafe receives regular rave reviews about its coffee and homemade snacks. It’s even been called out as ‘the best the coffee in Lymington’!
6. New Forest Heritage Centre
The New Forest Heritage Centre is a free-entry museum, gallery and reference library.
It is dedicated to sharing the history and traditions of this diverse and beautiful area. It shares a wide range of forest history, traditions, wildlife and conservation.
The museum run several temporary exhibitions throughout the year and also host activities for children during school holidays.
The museum is located in Lyndhurst High Street with pay and display parking nearby. There is a gift shop and cafe on site too.
7. ClueCrypted Escape Rooms
ClueCrypted is an exciting real life escape game designed for groups of 2 to 6 players. Based in New Milton, ClueCrypted offers an immersive escape room experience designed to test your mind and wits!
Locked in a secure room with just 60 minutes on the clock, your team must work together quickly and effectively to solve the puzzles and find the key to escape. The clues and their answers are there all around you. Will you escape in time?!
Book your session by following this link.
8. Hurst Castle
Built by Henry VIII in 1544, Hurst Castle is an artillery fortress created to protect the Needles Passage leading to the Solent and the (then rapidly growing) naval base at Portsmouth.
The castle was occasionally used as a prison – most famously when Charles I was held captive here in 1648. It was greatly modernised in the 19th century and remained in military use until 1956, playing an active role through both world wars.
Exhibitions around the castle allow you to piece together the eventful and exotic history of Hurst Castle. You can experience life in the castle through the times gone by – including what it was like to serve here as a solider during the first and second world wars.
9. Ringwood Brewery & New Forest Cider
Beer has brewed in Ringwood since the medieval ages and the Ringwood Brewery pays homage to that fact. Their brewery tour provides a detailed history of the art of beer making, witness how their famous brews are produced and enjoy the chance to sample some of their award winning creations.
Brewery tours run on selected days, all year round. Suitable for ages 8+. Pre-book your tickets here.
New Forest Cider
Drive into Burley, and look for the cider barrel by the village post office. Follow the directions and ta-da, you are now at the home of New Forest Cider!
From The New Forest Cider village store, you can try the unpasteurised, real cider straight from the barrels. There’s usually dry, medium, sweet, Kingston Black and Perry on offer as well as a selection of bottled ciders and the very popular Champagne method Cider.
The store is also home to a variety of traditional local produce, country wines and handmade pottery for visitors to purchase.
10. Book a Spa Day
If you are on an adults only trip then you’ll be very pleased to hear that the New Forest is blessed with several places to relax, indulge and spa the rainy day away!
The most popular spa venues in the New Forest are:
Careys Manor, Brockenhurst
Experience the magic of water and its therapeutic benefits with SenSpa’s world class hydrotherapy facilities. Rated the best spa in the South East for several years running, this spa experience is one of the finest. Find their range of spa packages options here.
Herb House, Lime Wood
Herb House Spa is a spa dedicated to natural well-being and inspired by its forest surroundings. Designed over three levels, Herb House has everything and more that you could want from a natural wellness spa. Find out more about the spa and treatments here.
Chewton Glen, Highcliffe
For a few very precious moments of calm, visit The Spa at Chewton Glen. The idyllic award winning setting lends to some really special ‘Me’ time. Wrap up in a crisp white robe and feel yourself totally unwind. Find out more about the spa and treatments here.
Nearby New Forest Indoor Activities
The New Forest is close to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Southampton which opens up a whole range of different indoor activities if you are happy to travel a little further.
In nearby Southampton, there’s a range of indoor activities to escape the rainy day…
- Museums: Solent Sky Museum, SeaCity Museum, Tudor House & Garden
- Mayflower Theatre
- WestQuay Shopping
- Oxygen Trampoline Park
- Steamship Shieldhall
- Exciting Escapes
I hope this post of the ultimate Top 10 New Forest indoor activities has given you plenty of inspiration for some indoor fun and adventures!