view of terrace and building at Lime Wood

Grown up things to do near Lymington and the New Forest

Round-Up for the Grown-Ups! 

Summery things to do near Lymington and the New Forest, for adults including kids at heart

lime wood garden another viewFancy doing a few different things this staycationing summer? This week it’s the turn of the adults, as we round up our favourite places to visit and things to do near Lymington in the New Forest this summer.

Most of the emphasis at this time of year is on activities for the children whilst parents continue to work, and of course also on staycationing and visiting families looking for things to do together. So this time we're focusing on the rest of us! The adults who don't have families or whose children have grown and now even if they haven't fled the nest prefer to make their own entertainment. And the silver surfers who'd normally be in Portugal right now. In fact just about anybody who's past school age and has a yen to make memories and a mark in the proverbial sand this strange summer.

This selection has been curated from a list of our own favourites plus those of a significant number of other New Forest business folk we asked - who all seemed to wish for similar treats and experiences for any "holiday days" they would be able to take! 

(Please bear with us, we're still adding suggestions and links but need now to publish to send our this week's newsletter!)

Find out what's on in the Lymington and New Forest area!

At any time you can see what's on day by day in our New Forest Events Calendar. Find inspiration also in our Things to Do section, which includes Places to VisitWalks and Leisure Activities. And if you've not already subscribed to receive our FREE Weekly What's On newsletter, emailed every Friday morning and full of the latest New Forest events, news and information, subscribe here:


From boat trip to culture fix, garden visit to long leisurely lunch and much more: our favourite grown-up things to do on summer holiday days in the New Forest

yacht at anchor at sunsetAll aboard - get afloat!

Set sail without responsibility, for lunch or dinner somewhere special on the Solent

We've talked lots over the years about these fabulous "escapes" with Escape Yachting - and tasted them in real life too (see review article here). The key thing to know is that in our experience, as soon as you step aboard the magic takes over. You'll be invited to take the helm for a while if you're so inclined but we recommend deferring to those who are and finding a comfortable spot where you can luxuriate in the feel of being afloat in capable hands, where it's woderful how all to-do lists and other responsibilities literally float away!

Lunch and dinner Solent cruises with Escape Yachting 

Feast your eyes, on a cruise to the Needles and back

Meanwhile there's another new and easy way to enjoy the fun and freedom of being afloat with all the pleasure and none of the stress, with a Needles Cruise with Coral Star. (Ask me sometimes why I laugh out loud at a word association between Needles and Pins.) Don't forget your camera, and in the new living-with-Covid age in which we're all sooo much more aware of our natural surroundings, dare we suggest the binoculars too! Coral Star is licensed and the service is excellent so you can punctuate your voyage with the odd tipple as well.

Needles Cruise with Coral StarAlum Bay Isle of Wight

Go back in time, with a day of simple pleasures on the Isle of Wight

For one of our favourite New Forest days out, of all times and even faced with the choice of any place: don your walking boots or trainers, pack your backpack with picnic and swimming things, and with or without your bike jump on the ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth Isle of Wight. Follow that scenic route along the Yar valley to Freshwater, head up onto Tennyson Down and thence all the way along that oh so springy turf admiring spectactular views on both sides, to the Needles. Make your way back via Totland and Colwell, perhaps stopping for a dip, maybe a drink if you're lucky at the Hut, or just head on into Yarmouth for a drink or an ice cream and enjoy the picturesque harbour scenes whilst waiting in the easiest and friendliest queue ever, for the ferry back to Lymington.

We always start to get in the mood and finish too from high on the ferry deck, first enjoying the spectacle of all the boats in the river and then across the Solent gazing around in all directions at arguably as fabulous a 360 degrees view as you'll find anywhere!

The delights of the Isle of Wight, courtesy of Wightlink video

Go kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding... 

We were reminded of the pleasures of kayaking on a recent adults-only mini-break in South Devon; it's just as good here in the New Forest - it's just the time we need!

Hire a double (or single if it's just you!) kayak on a calm day or evening, and paddle somewhere pretty, be it in Beaulieu River or at Milford on Sea and on Keyhaven River - it's all just so relaxing and beautiful. 

Kayaking with New Forest Activities

Check out SUP Styles too - on Lymington River.

Get your culture fix peregrine falcon sculpture at Beaulieu

Book now for the wonderful Solent Music Festival 20-26 September

This will be a treat to anticipate in September. The Solent Music Festival was founded in 2013 with the aim of attracting the highest possible calibre of classical music performances to Lymington and so with the hard work of Sam and Sophia it has come to pass, with a variety of nightly concerts of different genres taking place throughout the week in lovely relaxed, friendly style in beautiful St Thomas Church.

All on our doorstep too!  Click here for details of all the concerts and book now!

Even better whilst enjoying around a beautiful garden

The sculpures in the grounds of Beaulieu really are worth seeing, if you can make time for a visit. The Thursday evening specials are over now, but you can combine of course with a visit to the Motor Museum and all the attractions which attract you! Until 30 August.

Sculptures at Beaulieu

We also went recently for the first time in a long time to Exbury Gardens, and can thoroughly recommend it. It's much bigger than you imagine,everybody spreads out and it doesn't feel crowded. We were after the azalea and rhodendendron season, in fact it wasn't very colourful the day we were there but it's just a wonderful place to wander, with more hills and perspectives than you'd expect too, in fact you can get quite lost, both literally and in your daydreams! Different zones within have very different characters, including the winding route down to the the marshes of Beaulieu River where you can stand or sit and admire the view down the river and across the Solent and west as far as the Needles.

We were reminded by our contributors about Furzey Gardens. We remembered it for the fairies which our small children loved but of course, it's also a fabulous grown-ups place for wandering and meandering too!  

Just go for a walk!

We just love walking as do many of our friends and as too do many of the folk who come visiting to our holiday let, whom we ask when they leave what they most enjoyed. Invariably that's the answer - just walking,and they remark how utterly different it is here to most other places in the UK. The freedome of just being able to walk where you want to, when you want to, be it up on the ridges or the heathlands in the open when the weather's fine or taking shelter in the trees when it's not... constantly taking pleasure in the sights and sounds all around, including those early in the morning and late in the evening of the ground nesting and water living birdlife. Generally just walking, leisurely, not too fast, admiring all the flora and fauna of the forest. It's easy for locals in a hurry to get somewhere to forget how special this all is. When we have time to spare just walking can be the greatest pleasure - as many more have found during the lockdowns of the last year too.

Take an energetic walk along Hurst Spit

Walks along the beaches and sea wall (officially signposted as the Solent Way) are popular all year-round - especially the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve that winds its way from the Lymington marinas and Sea Water Baths to Hurst Castle. We especially love to walk along Hurst Spit: depending on weather and energy levels (including those of canine companions) one can park at Mount Lake and simply march to the Castle and back again enjoying spectacular views the whole way (they're totally different in each direction!) or make it a round trip with the old fashioned ferry, which turns this walk into a Keyhaven River Cruise too.

Wander in a more leisurely manner along the river:  Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard

The riverside walk from Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard (where you can just have an ice cream or take the time to explore the museum too) and back is a favourite for families too but when you can simply meander and enjoy the scenery in your own time it's even more special. 

New walks to explore this summer...

We've also just come across this new selection of "historic" walking routes which look really interesting and which we intend to try ourselves this summer! 

Selection of historic walking routes in the New Forest

Take a break for lunch, tea and cocktails 

Lunch long and lazily at Lime Wood

lime wood amuse boucheIn current times famous for its cuisine thanks to the Hartnett Holder & Co partnership and for its luxury ie expensive DFL (down from London!) connotations, Lime Wood was formerly the Parkhill House Hotel and is set in a historic country estate featuring forest and field views. For those of us more mature locals who long ago celebrated special occasions at Parkhill, a visit back to these dreamy grounds has additional significance. If it interests you, you can read more about the history of this beautiful estate courtesy of the New Forest Explorers website.

Post lockdown in July 2021 with the recruitment crisis in hospitality hitting the headlines not just in the forest but nationwide, our reception by the welcoming staff for a special treat for us, ordinary weekday lunch for them, was exceptional. The unexpected and beautifully presented amuse bouche pictured was only the beginning. Lunch was superb.The price was perfectly reasonable in fact it reminds one how it's worth spending that little bit extra to get so much more!

Lime Wood Hotel - luxurious country house hotel and spa

One of our contributors tells us that lunch at the new and totally revamped Forest Park Hotel in Brockenhurst is also a special occasion - it's now on our list to try! 

And of course you all know already that lunch or dinner in the new outdoor indoor Lodge Kitchen & Bar at the Balmer Lawn Hotel is a very suitable "adults only" treat too!

Balmer Lawn Hotel - choice of relaxed informal or more elegant dining

Take time for Tea! 

Visit fairytale Rhinefield House for tea, or for the ultimate in R&R it's recommended by one of our contributors to combine with a Spa Day there. It's a lovely place to end up too after a visit to admire the Tall Trees nearby.

Out of a fairytale: Rhinefield House 

Let's drink gin!

"Gin at Matthew's Hotel", aka the Thatched Cottage Hotel in Brockenhurst, was proposed by several of our contributors - and we were going to mention it anyway.

It's not often you get the chance to learn lots about gin at the same time as drinking it, but you will courtesy of Matthew's knowledge and skills pairing gins and tonics. If you don't believe us you have got to try it! You may wish you could just stay the night but you'd need to have organised that beforehand - the rooms will almost certainly be fully booked!

Thatched Cottage Hotel and Gin Bar, Brockenhurst

And a few more suggestions

Ride a Tandem

For some time on my list of things to do before the inevitable, so this is a personal reminder too, to hire a tandem and go for a different kind of bike ride - hopefully staying upright!  We'll be hiring from Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst, which over many years has provided a fantastic service including multiple bike delivery to our home when multiple guests came to stay one autumn weekend

Cyclexperience Bicycle Hire

Take up Tennis

If every summer you watch Wimbledon (possible again this year thankfully) and think I could do that, there's a really easy way to find out if it's for you by joining Tennis 21 at Lymington Tennis, for a 30 days trial membership of £1!  Doesn't matter what level you are...


A round of golf with a view

If golf is your thing, for exercise or relaxation or both, we recommend a visit to Lymington Golf Centre which also includes New Forest Adventure Golf - fun for an adults giggle and depending on your personality, potentially stiff competition too! You can often simply pay and play, and because the course sits high on its hill the fabulous views of Lymington River and out over the Solent are an additional treat. (And pick a few strawberries and buy some delicious jam at Goodalls on your way out!)

Lymington Golf Centre and New Forest Adventure Golf and Goodalls Pick Your Owncalshot beach hampshire

Simply swim in the sea!

Sea swimming is popular with the hardiest locals all year round and in the summer the beach-hut-lined beaches make a scenic, colourful sight. Who needs the Mediterranean when you can bask in the sunshine at Calshot, Milford and Highcliffe! The water is far cleaner too - the water quality at all of the New Forest's beaches has been rated Excellent by the Environment Agency.

Read our guide to New Forest Beaches!

Swim from Milford Beach

Open water swimming is becoming a great big favourite thing to do for many adults. And maybe you don't have a (now eye wateringly expensive!) beach hut but hey! And the great thing about a steeply sloping shingle beach is that it's easy to make a comfy perch for sitting, it doesn't take Barton beachages to wade in to the water and in fact within a few steps from the shore you can safely attempt to make headway against the tide then turn and briefly speed with it, and swiftly switch back before you go too far! The best part is that when you clamber (yes the tender footed may need shoes!) back up the beach to get changed, you don't get sand all over everything!

Swim at Lymington Lido too!

Lots of adults have been spotted recently having big fun on the inflatables at Lymington Seawater Baths which reminds us that it's great for swimming proper "lengths" (aka widths) too!

Lymington Seawater Baths

Mark and Hugh on open water swimming

Go to a concert!

Some lovely concerts are in the offing into the autumn too, courtesy of Brockenhurst Music Society


See also:

What will you do on your New Forest holiday? 

Things to do in the New Forest area over the summer holidays

And, remember to mention when you're out and about this summer!




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