Exbury Gardens flowers in bloom

The days are starting to get longer, slightly warmer and hopefully drier!

With the prospect of some extra days off work over Easter and the May Bank Holidays, come to the New Forest and see for yourself the beauty of our changing seasons. Here are suggestions for New Forest spring breaks what to see and where to go.

Whether it’s a week-long stay or just a long weekend, a stay at our luxury cottage hidden deep in the forest will inspire you to slow down and appreciate a dulcet and gentle pace of life in total comfort.  

Best Instagram and Facebook photos in the New Forest

New born new forest foal

There’s no shortage of beautiful spots, free-roaming ponies and scenic settings close to Undercastle Cottage. Walks and cycle rides start the moment you step outside the front door. Our only rush hour in the forest is ponies and donkeys on the road nibbling the hedges – so be careful how you drive. If you’re a fan of Instagram and Facebook, you’ll see pages flooded by stunning New Forest photos capturing the imaginations of all those who visit.

Where to see bluebells in the New Forest

Take a stroll down along the tracks and forest paths this spring, and you’re likely to spot newly emerged bees, butterflies and colourful swoons of dragonflies and damselflies. Spring breaks also mean the arrival of picture-perfect carpets of violet bluebells. Royden Woods and Pondhead Inclosure are great spots to see them.

April and May herald the arrival of new-born foals, fawns and playful calves wobbling and bouncing around their mums. Pull-on your walking boots and head off to explore to the cheerful song of woodland birds. Pack a picnic or stop at one of the many delicious inns and historic pubs for a lovely lunch, and don’t be surprised to have to navigate past throngs of ponies and donkeys who frequently gather outside!  

Gardens to explore

The region has some amazing gardens to explore, which are especially vibrant at springtime. Go to Furzey Gardens for 10 acres of magical woodlands, with pathways meandering through bluebells, azaleas, primulas, rare plants and rhododendrons. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is a fantastic day out with 180 acres of plant collections including kaleidoscopic spring bulbs, Japanese flowering cherries and stunning magnolias.

Garden lovers should also make a beeline for Exbury Gardens to see huge planted beds and banks of flowers and botanical displays. The gardens are also world-famous for their collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, and if you’ve had enough walking, jump aboard their narrow-gauge steam train.

Attractions within 30 minutes of the New Forest

New Forest Activities canoe paddling Beaulieu River
Go on a guided tour along the river banks of Beaulieu River

If you’re staying at Undercastle Cottage, these attractions are within an easy half hour drive.

Beaulieu National Motor Museum, Palace House and gardens make a great day out. The famous National Motor Museum houses collections of motor carriages and motorcycles from the early years to modern-day. These include famous cars from the world of racing, record breakers and well-known vehicles from the world of film and TV. This spring sees the opening of ‘Little Beaulieu’, a huge adventure play park with a miniature ‘Palace’, wooden bridge and fun-filled activities.

Spend a day with New Forest Activities and learn some bushcraft or take to the trees on high ropes and low ropes courses and lessons in archery and woodland laser battle (it’s a bit like paintball – without the pain). Top of the bill for spring is a trip to explore banks of the Beaulieu River on sturdy Canadian Style canoes seating up to four. Set off along the river with your guide spotting wildlife along your way.

Old fashioned days at the beach

Undercastle Cottage is also a half-hour drive to the coast for old-fashioned days messing about on the beach. Avon Beach close to Christchurch is soft and sandy. A mile or so east is Highcliffe Castle and beach – the former home of the once London store owner Harry Selfridge which appeared on the TV series, Mr Selfridge.

The further east you head, the more pebbly the beach becomes, and with that, comes lots of fossil hunting opportunities! The beach eventually forms a pebble spit at Milford-On-Sea leading one and a half miles to King Henry VIII’s coast fortress, Hurst Castle with views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight, which at this point is just over a mile away.

Popular New Forest attractions with the children

Girl cuddling kid goat at Longdown Activity Farm
Lots of cuddles at Longdown Activity Farm for tiny tots (not forgetting olders siblings and Mum’s and Dad’s!)

Paultons Parkhome of Peppa Pig World Take the children to TripAdvisor’s #1 family theme park full of rides, interactive fun and characters for photo opportunities, shake hands and say hello. The park is aimed at primary aged little ones, but older brothers and sisters appear to enjoy the park as much as their siblings!  

Kids old and young LOVE feeding the ducks, kid goats and calves and have a little cuddle with baby rabbits and fluffy chicks at Longdown Activity Farm. If you’re lucky, you may even get a hug with some cute piglets! The farm has lots of animals to see, a very bumpy tractor trailer ride and large indoor and outdoor play areas.

Day trips within an hour of the New Forest

The TV series Monkey Life is filmed at Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre. You’ll love seeing these furry apes whooping and swooping about their enormous enclosures with frequent bouts of naughtiness! They also have a lovely outdoor play area for children.    

The Tank Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. Take part in lots of interactive exhibits, displays and detailed information that will appeal to all ages.

Marwell Zoo houses than 140 species and always a popular day out. This spring, the zoo will unveil the world’s first attraction to host an exhibition of supersized toy brick creatures such as the honey badger, a spitting cobra, blue-ringed octopus, tarantula and assassin bug made from over two million toy bricks.

Landscape of Stonehenge

Go and see the jewel in the crown of English Heritage and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient WorldStonehenge. See the monumental prehistoric stones, find out about their history and take a look around the world-class exhibition.

Head over to Portsmouth for the day. Start off at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and look around the famous ships and find out about Royal Navy history and visit the fascinating museum. Then pop into Gunwharf Quays, the designer outlet shopping emporium for a luxury bargain. Next door is the landmark Spinnaker Tower for impressive views, food, drink and entertainment. If you’re feeling brave, take a thrilling walk across the glass floor – the ‘Sky Walk’ a dizzying 100 metres above the harbour!

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Take a look at ‘About the area’ on our website and our blog for more ideas and inspiration of what to see and do in the New Forest.

Luxurious holiday cottage New Forest
Sun Terraces at Undercastle Cottage