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10 things to do in the New Forest area when it's raining!

10 Things to do in the New Forest area when it's raining

Rainy day ideas for Lymington and New Forest visitors and residents

One of the many great things about the New Forest area is that there’s always something to do - come rain or shine and all year round. Even on the soggiest of days, you’ll find plenty of indoor attractions and lovely things to do undercover. Or embrace the elements! Don your wellies and raincoats and you’ll also find a multitude of fun things to do outside.

Read on for our top 10 ‘all year round’ things to do when the heavens open!

st Barbe inside 800 low

1. Visit a museum

We’re blessed locally with some excellent museums, open every day and all year round.

St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery in Lymington makes a truly interesting day out. The museum engagingly explores the history of Lymington and the New Forest Coast, brought to life with stories from the local community - its collections and colourful, hands-on displays offer a fascinating insight into the area for all ages.

The Art Gallery's exhibition programme features a fantastically wide range of subjects and includes loans from the country's finest public and private collections together with the best of local art. Keep an eye out for regular art and craft workshops, plus fun events for children, especially in the school holidays. Recharge in the spacious and airy Old School Café, which offers complimentary wifi and delicious morning coffee, light lunches, and afternoon teas.

Jack Tuckers Garage at Beaulieu National Motor Museum

2. Spend a day at Beaulieu

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu will keep you entertained for hours, all undercover. With over 250 vehicles in its collection, the museum tells the story of motoring on the roads and circuits of Britain, from pioneering origins to the present day. From the earliest motor carriages to classic family saloons, displays include land speed record holders, motorcycles, a rustic 1930s country garage and 'Wheels' - a fun pod ride through motoring history. Fascinating for all - not just petrolheads (although they will absolutely love the World of Top Gear!)

Avoid the rain by catching the Veteran Bus or Monorail to explore Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and the interesting Secret Army exhibition which reveals Beaulieu’s history as a top-secret training establishment for special agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War Two. It's easy to spend a whole day at the award-winning Beaulieu and there's plenty of opportunities to recharge in the coffee shop and restaurant during the day.

The Malt Cinema Lymington

3. Seek out the local cinema

Keep an eye on the film schedule for The Malt Cinema at Lymington Community Centre, which shows a new, popular film every week, including Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. There are also regular Live Broadcast performances of ballet and opera - definitely worth watching out for - and dementia-friendly and child-friendly showings. Also at the Lymington Community Centre are monthly screenings of fringe and/or international films by Lymington Film Society. All of these are listed in our Events Calendar

afternoon tea hampshire careys manor

4. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is one of the most quintessential of English customs and no wonder – all those delicious sandwiches, fruit-laden slices, yummy scones and melt-in-the-mouth cakes. This summer you can enjoy a very special Honey Afternoon Tea at Careys Manor which celebrates the bees and reminds you it's still summer really! The New Forest is blessed with a number of excellent places to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea all year round - escape the wind and rain outside as you cosy up in front of a crackling fire and enjoy Afternoon Tea in the New Forest

Balmer Lawn Hotel Entrance Wellies

5) Head out for a welly walk

Even when the cold wind blows and the biting rain is horizontal there are some great locations for walks in the New Forest. As the Norwegians say, there’s no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothing! And what can be more fun than jumping in puddles together!

When the ground is boggy, seek out established paths, such as those at Wilverley Inclosure, Bolderwood (where you might see some deer from the viewing platform!) and Blackwater (part of the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, you'll see majestic Douglas Firs and Redwoods and a lovely arboretum too) 

Grab your wellies and raincoats for a bracing walk around the Lymington-Keyhaven nature reserve. Even on the wettest of days you’ll see fauna and flora aplenty - and at the Lymington end, warm your toes afterwards by the fire in The Haven with a delicious hot chocolate! Do check the tides and forecast before you head out, in case of weather warnings as there is little protection.

Careys Manor SenSpa Hampshire

6) Relax and unwind with a spa day

Escape the wind and rain with a Spa Day! We're blessed in the New Forest area with some of the country's leading spa retreats, where you don't have to be staying at the hotel to book in for some relaxing time out. Our favourites include SenSpa at Careys ManorHerb House at Lime Wood and the Spa at Chewton Glen.

Classes at the Chewton Cookery School The Kitchen New Forest

7) Try something new

Experience Hampshire is the gatekeeper for some of Hampshire’s best-kept secrets including some incredible, unique and genuinely interesting experiences. Use the Experience Hampshire website to save you time and stress when you need to find something that appeals to everyone on a rainy day!

Learn new cookery skills at The Kitchen at Chewton Glen, where there is a regular programme of classes and courses, some with celebrity chefs!

Fairweathers garden centre

8) Explore a garden centre

Ignore the rain and head for a garden centre to start planning your plot for the spring! Our favourite is Fairweather's in Beaulieu, where you'll find a wide range of plants, a well-stocked garden shop and an excellent café called Steph's Kitchen. Bring your brolly and head over the road to Patrick's Patch, an inspiring, educational and productive garden adjacent to the garden centre.

Exbury Gardens - steam engines

9) Take the train! 

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway is a New Forest family favourite attraction perfect for visitors of all ages. Even on a soggy day the magical atmosphere of Exbury has the power to lift the spirits, the many trees provide a degree of shelter, and dogs are welcome whatever the weather too.

A visit to Exbury is also an opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of a working narrow-gauge steam railway. The Rhododendron Line includes three engines and ten carriages, which embark half hourly from replica Victorian station Exbury Central and travel through a tunnel, over a bridge, around the new Dragonfly Pond and through the Summer Lane Garden. A short history of the gardens is included during the journey. It's a treat for all the family!

New Forest Activities in the rain

10) Get wet anyway!

Come rain or shine, with New Forest Activities you can explore the stunning Beaulieu River as part of a guided tour. Opt for one of the stable ‘Canadian Style’ canoes with space for the whole family, or for something a little more adventurous jump into one of the Kayaks and take to the water as you learn about and discover the Beaulieu Nature Reserve. 

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