At the heart of the forest is Lyndhurst, a small town that is pretty much the 'capital' of the area. But there are no comparisons to cities here, it's a beautifully rural retreat where New Forest ponies wander freely across the roads, along the streets and even poke their heads through open windows.
To the west of the region the New Forest Wildlife Park provides a more than a day's worth of fun and activities for families and in the south west, Beaulieu is famous for its motor museum. But don't just head there for the flash cars, there are gardens and heritage sites to meander through as well as riverside beauty spots.
Further south, Bucklers Hard is an unusual attraction closer to the coast, but with a cafe, heritage centre, activities and boat trips there is something for everyone. Plus it's not far from Exbury Gardens, which are exquisite in season.
On the New Forest south coast, you'll find the North Solent Nature Reserve and Lepe Country Park, and plenty of beaches with views out over The Solent. Lymington is the harbour town on the south coast where, if you're into sailing and beautiful yachts, you'll enjoy the perfect maritime holiday, especially if you're lucky enough to be there during Cowes Week or for the Round The Island Race in September. Head out along the spit to Hurst Castle for the best views of the Needles, otherwise there are beach cafes a-plenty, most with beachside play-areas for the children, all along the bay.
Back inland, the New Forest is filled with fun for activity-seekers; cycle hire, horse riding and walking trails abound through beautiful woodland routes and over moorland dotted with ponies, cows and wildlife.