Toddler friendly holiday in the New Forest

Toddler friendly holiday in the New Forest
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We have just come back from a lovely week long toddler friendly holiday in the New Forest.

Pre-baby we weren’t really a staycation kind of couple. We had the odd nice weekend in Edinburgh or London, but as a lover of sun, I always preferred to holiday abroad. We have been abroad with my family loads, but once Miss Belle came along we decided we’d try holidaying at home with my in-laws. I was apprehensive because they prefer to be on the go all the time, whereas I prefer to chill, but in the interest of fairness, and with the promise of baby sitting, we gave it a go. Last June we went to the Cotswolds. This year we chose a cottage in Burley in the New Forest. We chose it because 1) it looked nice, 2) it was a good location and 3) it was on a farm, so guaranteed to provide some entertainment for Miss Belle, who’s new favourite word is Baa Baa.

Beautiful New Forest!

I’d never been to the New Forest before and didn’t really do that much research pre-trip, mostly because my husband always takes over and plans what we do. He reads the Lonely Planet guide to wherever we are going for about a month before the actual trip. I’ve learnt to just let him get on with it. Most of the time he finds good places to visit or eat, though there have been a few misses along the way. So, we arrived last weekend and other than expecting a forest and knowing it was about half an hour from the coast, I didn’t really know what else to expect. And, if you’ve not been, wow, it is beautiful!

New Forest holiday

We pulled off the motorway and ventured right into the countryside and I knew we’d made a good choice. As we approached the village and went over cattlegrids there were wild horses, ponies and cattle roaming about! Who knew this was a thing!? They caused the odd traffic jam, casually strolling down the roads, and the ponies were so tame. As we drove through Burley most of the houses had cattlegrids at the end of their drives. Amazing! Every time we drove past we wound the window down so Miss Belle could see and her little face lit up. It didn’t get old all holiday. She loved it.

Toddler Friendly Holiday In The New Forest

Lovely coastline and pretty villages

We also happened to luck in with the weather. It was an awesome sunny week to holiday in the UK and be outdoors. On Sunday we got up and had a walk around the village then went to Lymington on the coast. It was another hit for Miss Belle who shouted and signed ‘boats’ allllllll day. We just had a wander around, had an ice cream and went to a playground. It was a lovely spot and I’d definitely go back.

Toddler Friendly Holiday In The New Forest


On Monday we went to Portsmouth to the historic dockyard which has several old ships and the Mary Rose Museum. I am not a museum person. I hate standing around with an aching back all day trying to retain a load of information (which I always fail to do). And I don’t particularly like History as a subject either – I did Geography for my GCSEs. Anyway, we went on HMS Victory which Lord Nelson was captain of. It was interesting to have a look around an old war ship but you had to constantly duck so you didn’t hit your head. There were really steep steps which wasn’t ideal for carrying a small person, and generally it was a bit hard work with a walking-only-holding-your-hand toddler, but my husband and the inlaws enjoyed it, and actually so did Miss Belle.

Toddler Friendly Holiday In The New Forest

We then went to the Mary Rose museum, and even I was blown away with that. How can you not be? A ship that sank over 400 years ago, brought back up to the surface and put together again after being half buried in the sea bed. Mental! It is definitely worth a visit whether you are interested in history or not. I almost found the whole excavation of it more interesting than the fact it was Henry VIII’s ship. We didn’t have time to do HMS Warrior or the submarine that is there but our ticket is valid for a year, so it’s another reason to go back.

Days out

What else did we do? Well it wouldn’t be a toddler friendly holiday without a trip to the beach. We went to Boscombe on a day forecast to be 24 and sunny. We got there and it was substantially windier than I had predicted, but we persevered and bought Miss Belle a bucket and spade (we’d forgotten one) and went to the beach – for all of about 15 minutes before a storm came. Still, there were sandcastles briefly, we she tried to eat. Naturally!

Toddler Friendly Holiday In The New Forest

We then sheltered from the rain under the pier and watched the lightening. We made a run for it just as the heavens truly opened and we all got soaked. Ah, memories. Still, we had a nice lunch afterwards at the Urban Reef cafe. We walked to Bournemouth when the sun came back out, so that Miss Belle could have that all important 30 minute nap. 30 minutes! Nap longer child!!

The highlight of our holiday

On Wednesday we hired bikes and cycled 18 miles to Brokenhurst and back. The weather was glorious and it was my favourite day of the holiday. We put Miss Belle in a trailer because we thought that might be more nap friendly than a seat. She still only had about 30 minutes. She loved watching us all cycle past and looking at the views and animals. We stopped off for a delicious cream tea. The scenery was brilliant and I thought to myself how lucky we are in this country to have some super places to visit. (Or live, if you’re really lucky, and loaded. House prices there were MENTAL.) Poor Daddy had the trailer (and by the end of the day, three rucksacks). Matt’s parents are 68/71 and I’m amazed they biked so far (though they did both fall off, which was hilarious. Don’t worry they weren’t hurt!)

Toddler Friendly Holiday In The New Forest

Good food

It was our third wedding anniversary whilst we were away. We had booked a table to go out for a meal. However, Miss Belle who is normally such a good sleeper, either really hated her room, her brightly coloured travel cot, or just knew we had plans, because she was a nightmare to put to bed every night. Some nights took an hour of us rocking her, patting her tummy, or just sitting by her cot. Only on the last night of the holiday did I manage to settle her and walk out of the room with her awake and not crying. I thought she was just unsettled because of the new surroundings but she even did this last night back at home. Maybe she was overtired? Who knows. I’m hoping she’ll settled down now we are home… Watch this space.

Anyway, we did manage a night at the village pub. And, we changed our anniversary dinner reservations to lunch on the last day and went to The Pig in Brokenhurst on Friday. It’s menu is called the ’25 mile’ menu because 80% of the produce is sourced within 25 miles. They go out foraging, have a huge walled kitchen garden, and create a different menu every day. It was delicious and a lovely fitting end to our holiday.

A great toddler friendly UK holiday destination

We hope to go back next year, and even go to Peppa Pig World (GULP) which is only about 30 minutes away. So there you are. If you are looking for a staycation you will definitely be able to find a toddler friendly holiday in the New Forest.

Where else would you recommend holidaying at home? Leave your thoughts in the comment box, I’d love to know so I (I mean my husband) can investigate.

Toddler friendly holidays in the New Forest - read about what we did when we went away to the New Forest with our toddler #UK #HolidaysWithKids #NewForestHolidays



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  1. 20th September 2016 / 4:36 pm

    I live so close to the New Forest so all of these places are favourites of mine. Lymington is beautiful and a lovely harbour to walk around. Paultons Park (Peppa Pig World) is fine…try and go earlier in the week out of term time if you can, it tends to be busier at weekends and bank holidays! I have been going there since before Peppa invaded! It’s a good fun day out though. #bigpinklink

    • thisismenow
      20th September 2016 / 5:02 pm

      Ah thanks – my daughter has only just started watching the odd episode so I thought it’d be a waste this year, but next year I think she’d get more out of it. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. 20th September 2016 / 9:20 pm

    Such a beautiful place the New Forest and so much to do, I’ve not been since my kids have got older, must take them there 🙂

    • thisismenow
      20th September 2016 / 9:27 pm

      Yes I never knew how great it was. It’s definitely a new favourite destination of mine. Thanks for reading.

  3. 21st September 2016 / 10:18 pm

    This sounds like a brilliant holiday!! What beautiful photos. I always found that my kids were exhausted on holiday and slept terribly for the time we were away and when we got back for a few days until they adjusted back to their routine. They’re much better now they’re older though. Thanks for sharing with the #bigpinklink

    • thisismenow
      22nd September 2016 / 8:04 am

      Yeh she’s settled down the last few days so I’m sure it was just that… Although I also wonder if she’s teething as she’s had such a sore bum too! Poor thing! Being a toddler is hard!! Thanks for reading xx

  4. 22nd September 2016 / 3:53 am

    It looks like a beautiful place, it looks wonderful. #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. 22nd September 2016 / 1:59 pm

    Sounds like a great holiday (apart from the getting soaking wet bit!). Glad you finally made it out to celebrate your anniversary, I love the idea of them getting so much of the menu from close by. #FamilyFun

    • thisismenow
      22nd September 2016 / 4:04 pm

      Yeh it was a really nice place – I think they have a few others somewhere in the south. Just search The Pig. Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. 22nd September 2016 / 4:15 pm

    This looks like a lovely break away . The area looks beautiful and I’d love to to go to the Mary Rose museum. We’re just about to invest in a bike trailer so I’m glad to hear your toddler got on well with it.
    Potty Adventures

    • thisismenow
      23rd September 2016 / 3:49 pm

      Thanks David. Yes the trailer was a success and we are now thinking of getting one, but I’m a bit of a fair weather cyclist so may wait until the Spring! Thanks for reading.

  7. 23rd September 2016 / 3:52 pm

    Id love to go to the New Forsest one day. You sell it so well! We tend to holiday in the Lake District and up into Scotland, although we did North Wales earlier in the year. There is so much to do in the UK that we’re not even going to bother taking our kids abroad until they are old enough to look after themselves! Thanks for linking up to #familyfun you’ll be more than welcome again next week!

    • thisismenow
      23rd September 2016 / 4:00 pm

      Ah thanks! I’ll be back!
      Yes we need to do Wales and Scotland but everywhere is so flipping far from Norfolk! As she gets older it will get easier to do longer car journeys too. This one was 4 hours and just about bearable! X

  8. 23rd September 2016 / 8:53 pm

    Sounds and looks like you had a really fab time! I’ve never been but after reading this I’m sure I’d love to visit it! Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

    • thisismenow
      23rd September 2016 / 9:10 pm

      Oh definitely go sometime if you can, it’s gorgeous. Xx

  9. 23rd September 2016 / 9:23 pm

    Wow looks like you had a busy time! We’re the same, we were never really the staycation type but having had two babies in 11 months we have started holidaying here a little more. That being said we have still dragged them abroad with us several times, because we’re mental. haha. Anyway I love the New Forest and if you have the weather the UK can be a beautiful place to be. Glad you all had a greta holiday. Thanks so much for linking at #FamilyFun. Hope you can come back again next week xx

    • thisismenow
      23rd September 2016 / 9:27 pm

      Thanks very much. Wow two babies in 11 months! Yes we were so lucky with the weather, it made it for us. Really hoping to go back but we also need to explore some other UK destinations too. I think maybe Northumberland way next if we can break the journey at my parents in Yorkshire. Thanks for having me at #FamilyFun, will be back next week xx

  10. 23rd September 2016 / 9:36 pm

    Sounds like it was a wonderful holiday! I’m actually a massive fan of holidaying in the UK, there are so many nice places. The New Forest is really stunning. Going a bit further towards Sandbanks and Swanage is also nice – go to Brownsea Island for the day! Also, if you liked the Cotswolds then the Peak district is also a nice place to visit. #familyfun

    • thisismenow
      23rd September 2016 / 9:40 pm

      Oh thanks for those suggestions we will check them out for next time. We have had a long weekend in the Peak District with my family 3 or 4 years ago and it was lovely – I loved the hills and the scenery. I think you’re right, there are so many great places. We are lucky! Thanks for reading X

  11. 7th April 2017 / 9:57 pm

    I love the new forest and haven’t been for ages. Sounds perfect for my 2.5 and 1 year old. Sand, boats and horses? What’s not to love?!

    • thisismenow
      10th April 2017 / 2:26 pm

      Exactly! We can’t wait to go back in the summer. This time we’re off to Peppa Pig World too – eeeek!

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