Just over two hours south-west from London and 40 minutes from Southampton, the New Forest National Park area is an ideal place for a weekend. It's packed with attractions as well as walks in this nature-rich area.
A great place to visit for kids of all ages, the Oceanarium is on the Bournemouth waterfront opposite the Pier.
Otters, Sharks, Penguins and fish from all over the world call this place home.
You have plenty of viewing areas for most of the tanks including looking into the tank of sharks, fish, stingrays and turtles. Downstairs you can go through the tunnel seeing these animals close up.
Feeding time is best time to visit as you not only get an education about all the creatures in the tank but they are very active.
The Penguin enclosure is another place to get up close with these cute little animals. You can view them swimming on top of the water as well as having a viewing area downstairs watching them fly through the water. You can also enjoy a snack in the cafe and have them come up to you separated only by glass.
You get all the usual fish and tidal pools and it's a great place for education as you see so many aspects of sealife including The Abyss, the darkest parts of the oceans.
The New Forest Wildlife Zoo may be a small zoo in area, but it makes up for it in animal diversity and is a great place to spend the afternoon on your weekend.
With many types of Otter here, you are always finding these cute animals running about and swimming.
A new addition in 2019 is the Butterfly House where not only butterflies flutter by but all the stages of butterflies life are represented.
You can walk through an area where Deer roam, see Bison, Grey Wolves, Red Foxes Pine Martens and Scottish Wildcats among others.
Once again talks and feeding times are best for seeing the animals closer and more active.
There are plenty of playgrounds for the kids dotted around the park and places to eat or bring a picnic to enjoy.
Another great educational wildlife park, the Liberty Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre is great for kids and adults alike.
Another small park, there are all different birds of prey and very informative talks. The shows and talks go for at least half an hour and are very educational. In the Reptile talk, you see reptiles up close with handlers walking through the group showing them off.
You can have a Falconry Experience where you really get up close with the birds taking food from your hand. This option is only open to over 16's though.
The bird show is well worth the visit. Owls, falcons and Alaskan Bald Eagles literally fly over your head as they go from handler to post around the field.
From not hearing the Owl flying over to feeling the power of the Alaskan Bald Eagle is truly is a great experience especially as you are so close.
If you like birds this is the place to be. You get to learn a lot about the birds and reptiles in a short amount of time.
Driving through the New Forest National Park you must keep to the speed limit of 40mph. Ponies and Deer are the big wildlife which calls this place home and the roads are included in their roaming.
There are many car parks off the road to stop and walk through the woods and across the hills.
Cycling is also a big pastime in this area, with many cyclists taking to the roads, back roads and tracks.
With many attractions to do, this is a great place to enjoy a long (or short) weekend in the New Forest Area. Make sure that you book early as it is very popular especially on long weekends.