The New Forest Tour is a brilliant way for families to make the most of the New Forest National Park. It's not just the ponies that enchant children in the New Forest... there's a wealth of things to see and do for all ages.
Best of all, under 5s travel free. You can also enjoy savings on meals, drinks and attractions across the Forest when you show your New Forest Tour ticket (see free on-board guidebook for details).
Here are some of the best of the New Forest's family-friendly attractions:
Exbury Gardens on the Green Route is a wonderful place to visit for young families. It has over 200-acres of gardens - world-famous for the Rothschild collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs. It is also home to the Exbury Steam Railway, a 12¼-inch gauge railway that provides a 20-minute circular journey through the changing landscapes of the gardens - keep an eye out for the giant animal sculptures.
If the sun's shining, you could jump on the Blue Route and head to the fossil-rich beaches of Milford-on-Sea and Barton-on-Sea. This part of the coast is criss-crossed by 'bunnies' - narrow, wooded gorges used by smugglers to hide their booty. If the area's history of smuggling kindles your kids' imagination, you can learn more at the New Forest Centre (free entry) at Lyndhurst, on the Green and Red Routes, or the St Barbe Museum in Lymington (Blue and Green Routes). In Burley (Blue and Red Routes) you'll find tales of witches and dragons, as well as roaming donkeys, tea rooms and cider and fudge to sample!
The National Motor Museum (at Beaulieu on the Green Route) is home to one of the UK's top collections of automobiles, with a range of exciting exhibits to fascinate anyone with even a passing interest: the older kids will love the Top Gear exhibition, and youngsters get the chance to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (right), amongst a collection ranging from F1 Grand Prix machines to the legendary Bluebird.
Also in Beaulieu, you could pay a visit to Fairweather's Learning Garden to gain inspiration for the whole family to grow your own fruit and vegetables - or if you fancy something more adventurous, New Forest Activities (20% off), on the village's High Street, can organise a range of fun family activities, including canoeing and archery.
For more things to do as a family check out the National Park website: http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20045/things_to_do/151/for_families