The south coast of England leaves us spoilt for choice when it comes to National Parks, with Dartmoor and the South Downs on either side of the New Forest National Park. So when it comes to choosing where to take a trip it can be hard. But the New Forest certainly won’t disappoint, with its vast forest and abundance of wildlife.
With Southampton being a port city, it’s unsurprising that there are maritime museums here, but we’ll actually start at the Solent Sky Museum, which showcases the aviation history of Southampton, from Spitfires to Harrier Jump Jets.
After this, continue your education at the SeaCity Museum, which has amazing artifacts for you to view, whilst you learn about the history Southampton played in the infamous Titanic voyage. Before you set off on your trip through the New Forest, you can relax at the Tudor House and Garden, which gives a great insight into Tudor life and it has a beautiful garden display to observe too.
New Forest Wildlife Park
From Southampton, you now drive west into the New Forest National Park for 20 minutes. Leave the city via the A35, before taking a left onto Deepleap Lane and you’ll find yourself at your first stop, the New Forest Wildlife Park. This wildlife park is great for all animal lovers and showcases a great array of wildlife from across the world.
From European Bison to the Northern Lynx, you can enjoy learning about these animals and their habitats. Take the opportunity to observe feeding times and speak to the animal keepers, who take great care of their furry and feathered friends.
North Solent National Nature Reserve
Next on your list is the North Solent National Nature Reserve. After leaving the wildlife park, you now travel south, down Deerleap Lane, for about 30 minutes, towards the coast. The road names will change along the way, but it is easy to drive there as you’ll always be going in the same direction. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy a walk in an area that covers 820 hectares.
You can choose whether you want to walk amongst woodland, heathland or across meadows, as there are various trails to choose from. The wildlife and plant species on show will leave you fascinated and give you an opportunity to see animals in their natural habitats. A great place to stretch your legs, the fresh air from The Solent will rejuvenate your senses.
The next part of your journey takes you to Brockenhurst, where you can rest your head for the night and reflect on the day’s activities. Drive back along the same road that took you to the nature reserve, until you see signs for the B3055, which will take you to the rest of the way.
Once you’ve arrived at your accommodation, there is a family-run vineyard down the road, which is highly recommended. Their farm shop offers free wine tasting every day, whilst you can also arrange for a paid tour that takes you through the vineyard. These take up to one and a half hours to complete and must be pre-booked to ensure there is space. Before you set off on your journey, you can buy a couple of bottles of locally made wine, which act as a perfect gift for loved ones.
The final destination on your road trip is Bournemouth, which is about a 35 minute drive west from Brockenhurst. Leave the small town via Burley Road, which will bring you back to the A35 and eventually the A338, before you reach Bournemouth. Having a really nice beach, a trip to this town wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t go and dip your feet in the English Channel.
A trip to the Oceanarium is also perfect if the weather is playing up. Here you can experience the mysteries of the ocean and see a range of sea life up close and personal. Finish off your trip with a visit to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, an impressive manor house with great art exhibitions.
You’ve now finished your journey through the New Forest, unless you have decided to extend your stay that is! From Southampton to Bournemouth, you’ve managed to take in some history, enjoy local wildlife, stretch your legs and have a drop of wine. This trip isn’t particularly challenging for a car, so a saloon would be an adequate car for you to complete it in. There is a SIXT branch In Southampton, conveniently located, where you can get your journey underway too.