#1 – Marwell Zoo
An array of animals spread out generously over 140 acres, Marwell Zoo is the perfect day for anyone of any age! A non-profit organisation, the profits go towards the care for the in-park animals and to endangered animals across the world. Marwell Zoo is also home to Ricky the Humboldt Penguin, who suffers from a condition which causes his feathers to moult during seasons they’re not supposed to! This famous penguin sports his own wetsuit to keep him warm, complete with his very own name.
#2 – West Quay
When you’re a Sotonian hearing the phrase: “you’re so lucky to live near WestQuay” is constant. The new section of West Quay focuses on entertainment and dining adding a whole day of fun to the three floors of shops. West Quay and the neighbouring shops provide entertainment in all forms, for all people, at all times of the day.
#3 – Riverside Park
Snaking from Eastleigh to Bitterne, Riverside park is a mix of a river and green fields. If you’re a dog-lover, an avid duck-feeder or a keen Pokemon Trainer, at Riverside you will be spoiled for choice.
#4 – Lakeside
A large lake situated behind a cake and mini railway station, Lakeside is a sight to see. Wildlife flourishes at every turn and the green stretches on for what feels like miles. Here, you can also find an oversized bench, if you fancy a photo opp and feeling like a Borrower!
#5 – Southampton Common
Packed with families, friends, BBQs and dogs over the summer months, the fields of the Common are plenty big enough to cater for all. Some weekends the Common is home to festivals and fairgrounds, other weekends just dog walkers and families. However you like to spend the weekend, the chances are the Southampton Common will cater for it.
#6 – Bolton’s Bench
Located on the outskirts of Lyndhurst, Bolton’s Bench sits at the very top of a hill overlooking the New Forest. New Forest ponies and cows frequent the area, just used to people enough to approach you in the hope of food. It’s not uncommon for your car to be blocked in by a few inquisitive horses, particularly if it’s in the shade and a summer’s day! A particularly hilarious memory of mine here is having a picnic with my family, only to be interrupted by a hungry horse snatching away our blanket, stealing a packet of crisps and biting my cousin on the knee!
#7 – Bolderwood
Bolderwood is more than just a field with incredible scenery. Bolderwood has a deer sanctuary! With a viewing platform staged far enough back to give the deer privacy, viewers can enjoy the deer going about their day. The area looks absolutely stunning in the sun and once I was lucky enough to see two male deers battling for dominance! Unfortunately, the day I chose to visit and take photos, their behaviour was relatively tame.
#8 – Romsey Rapids
A sports centre, mini golf course, swimming pool and gym complex, Romsey Rapids is a hub for exercise. The swimming pool isn’t just a pool, however, it includes a flume and a rapids ride from one pool to the other. Hours of fun can be had at Romsey Rapids, I spent many a weekend splashing about in their pools!
– It’s highly inappropriate for me to take photos at a swimming pool, so I hope you’ll forgive the lack of photos on this one!
#9 – Lepe Beach
One of the many beaches stretching along the south coast, Lepe Beach holds a special place in my heart. Days have been spent here with friends, family and my boyfriend throughout my whole life and a lot of memories of my childhood, adolescence and young adult life centre around Lepe Beach. From the BBQ area to the tasty café to the ice cream van, food is a large feature here too. Though a stony beach, the views from the surf make up for it.
#10 – The Happy Cheese
A pub in the heart of Ashurst, The Happy Cheese stands out from the rest of the pubs in the area (and there are many) not only because of its name. The food comes in humungous portions for a reasonable price and is unbelievably delicious. The inside is huge and decorated in the old-timey, traditional pub attire. Other pubs in the New Forest are just as great but among The New Forest’s, The New Forest Inn’s and The Forest Inn’s, The Happy Cheese definitely stands out.