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5 Great Reasons to Book a Hampshire Staycation

By Sarah Frost – 29th March 2021
hampshire staycation near new forest

5 great reasons to book a Hampshire staycation


It’s becoming more and more popular to choose a UK holiday now, as seen by rising accommodation prices and sellout destinations. Locations such as Cornwall, Wales and the Lake District will always come to mind; but for somewhere a little less well-known why not try a Hampshire staycation?


This beautiful county, which I call home, has such a variety of places to keep you and the family entertained whilst on your holidays. Two thirds of it is covered by National Parks, there’s a varied coastline and numerous cities and towns to discover. 

So here are my top reasons to book a Hampshire staycation this year.



Location, location, location


Hampshire is in the centre of the South coast, making it really accessible from other areas of the country. The train links are really good, with all the major towns and cities (Southampton, Portsmouth, Winchester, Basingstoke) sitting on the line which runs from London down to the South West.

In fact, you could visit here from London in less than 45 minutes! You can even get a direct train from the Midlands and North by using the Crosscountry service which covers places such as Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham.

If you even wanted to fly down from somewhere like Scotland, North England, Ireland for example, then Southampton airport is really easy to get to. There’s also Bournemouth airport in neighbouring Dorset which is close if you were visiting the New Forest area.

And if you’re driving down, perhaps caravan in tow, then the M3 will get you where you need to be.



Forest fun


When you start researching your Hampshire staycation, you’ll most likely come across the New Forest.  The New Forest only became a National Park in 2005, but it has a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age. It’s a mixture of woodland and heathland, and home to many a New Forest pony so you do need to take care whilst driving through.

It’s an ideal base for your holiday as there is a multitude of campsites, holiday parks, self-catering accommodation and hotels. If you stay near one of the towns or villages such as Lyndhurst or Brockenhurst then you’ll benefit from being near amenities like shops and cafés whilst still remaining rural.

There are plenty of family-friendly activities here; one of my favourites is the New Forest Water Park. It has a huge inflatable obstacle course and play area on a lake near Fordingbridge which is great fun for children and adults alike. You can also go wakeboarding, kayaking and try a stand-up paddleboard or SUP. More information here https://www.newforestwaterpark.co.uk/ 

Other fun things to do include horse-riding and pony trekking through companies such as Brockenhurst riding stable. Or I would suggest hiring bikes (or bringing your own) and using Cycle Experience range of trails to see the best of the forest.

A long and varied coastline


We are fortunate in Hampshire to have a gorgeous coastline. If you like your holiday to include a beach visit then Hayling Island would make a good choice, as recommended in the MCS Good Beach Guide.

Lepe Country Park has a long beach which makes it really popular for families. It’s great for a paddle, and also has play areas, grassy space for sand-free picnics and the Lookout cafe.

If you like to see the sea, but prefer to be active rather than sit on the beach then I’d recommend the Southsea and Portsmouth areas. Southsea has that classic British seaside vibe; with Clarence Pier, a funfair, crazy golf, amusement arcades and plenty of food options.

There’s also Blue Reef Aquarium if the weather isn’t so great. You could even take a ride on the hovercraft to the Isle of Wight and spend the day there.


Portsmouth has the Historic Dockyard where you can see HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. The wreck of the Mary Rose is also here and you might enjoy a trip to the museum. And for any shopping fans, there is Gunwharf Quays which is a fantastic area filled with designer outlet stores, bars and restaurants.

If you take a trip up the Spinnaker Tower then you’ll see up to 23 miles on a clear day. Your ticket is valid all day so you could stay and watch out for the warships and cruise ships arriving; you can even abseil back down if you’d like!



Plenty of family-friendly attractions


Another reason to book a Hampshire staycation is the plethora of attractions and family days out. Paultons Park is regularly voted the UK’s No.1 family Theme park and it has over 70 rides throughout the main park and the ever-popular Peppa Pig World. In 2021 the new area of Tornado Springs is opening, which brings another 8 new rides.

If you’re animal fans then Marwell Zoo is a lovely day out. There are lots of species to see like giraffes, tigers, penguins and my favourites – the red pandas. You might even choose to stay in Marwell Hotel itself so that you’re even closer.

Other excellent animal attractions include Finkley Down Farm and Millers Ark Farm.

I’ve written about my top value for money ideas here and my number one recommendation would be Beaulieu – the National Motor Museum. In a nutshell, it has a motor museum, Top Gear exhibition, huge adventure playground, Abbey, beautiful gardens and a monorail. For more information do check out my blog all about it here.



It’s also perfect for a couples getaway


Not just for family getaways; there is lots to do for couples as well. Winchester would make a great base; with its big independent scene of bars and restaurants. If you enjoy more of a nightlife scene then head to Southampton. It has a lively atmosphere and there are lots of bars and clubs to help you have a fun night out. And if you just want to get away and relax, then why not head for some peace, quiet and luxury by staying somewhere like a Treehouse at Chewton Glen 

One of my favourite couples activities is a cocktail masterclass or tour of Bombay Sapphire gin distillery. It’s a beautiful setting on the River Test and all experiences include a complimentary drink at the bar. 

For a full 48 hours itinerary for a couples break then I’ve done the hard work for you here.


There are plenty of other reasons to book a Hampshire staycation so do come and follow me on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out.




Sarah xx

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