You cannot come to Lymington without seeing the New Forest, as it is right on the doorstep. Stretching across most of Hampshire, I think this forest is the most beautiful and distinctive in England, especially in the Autumn.
There are hundreds of things to see, like the Rufus Stone (for more info on this kind of thing look up 'Lyndhurst' or 'Brockenhurst' on VT) or the deer watching enclosure at Bolderwood
If you have a car, I recommend driving along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive as you wont get a prettier view of the forest from the road than here, also you will be able to see Rhinefield House, an old country house hotel that used to be owned by Richard Branson.
At last the Forest has become a National Park, although there are mixed feelings. Only half of the Lymington River has been included, but people who work down there are pleased about this as it would have affected dredging rights, etc. The tiny fishing village of Keyhaven has been included (a good thing!), though this separates it from its parish sister of Milford on Sea.
Also, they left out a fairly major area on the Eastern border, meaning that another huge container port will probably be built, ho hum...
However, all in all it is a VERY good thing for the forest, and will protect this ancient ground.
Every Saturday, Lymington hosts a market that stretches along the entire high street, causing a part of it to become access-only to cars (the residents are trying to push for the whole road to be pedestrianised on Saturdays, because the market gets so busy, especially in the summer). Even if you don't plan to but anything, you should visit the market if you're in the area. It sells everything from fruit and veg to clothes to furniture to cds to work by local artists and it's also a good opportunity to check out the shops.
Beware in the summer holidays though as you may have to wrestle through the crowds to get anywhere.
Look up when you are walking about, especially in the High Street. The Buildings are all very different from each other and when you look above the shop fronts at the facia above, you can find all kinds of differences, such as gargoyles, unusual windows and balconies.
On the last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of every July, the New Forest Show takes place just outside Lymington, in the grounds of New Park Farm in Brockenhurst (drive along the A337 from Brockenhurst towards Lyndhurst and it is on your left).
This is a fabulous event that includes showjumping, animal showing, forestry activities, dog shows, beer tents and hundreds of stalls for local and national businesses, charities and forest groups.
Tickets are £12 per adult and £5 per child if pre-booked, or £30 for a family ticket. Parking is free or you can catch the bus from Lymington (see my Wilts & Dorset buses tip).
Lymington was well known for smuggling in years gone by due to the winding river and many subterranean passages from the quay. It is now a haven for yachting enthusiasts, who enjoy the advantages of the double tides with it's marina edged with shops full of sea faring clothes and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Cobbled streets and 17th century houses make Lymington a must for visitors.
This is a good-looking pub and its location on the quayside is unrivalled. The Ship purports to be Lymington's oldest pub, which it probably is, but the present-day incarnation is so obviously a pubco creation which doesn't, to my mind, do it any favours..
I had a pleasant enough pint and chat with the Norwegians whose photographs I'd taken for them outside but it's not a John pub.
This is a no-nonsense, friendly, little boozer owned by the Wadworth brewery. Despite its big screen showing Sky sports it is actually quite a civilized pub with reasonably-priced, spot-on, beer, welcoming landlord and convivial locals. I only had a quick pint which I enjoyed in the characterful beer garden out back and shot the bull with a couple of fellow smokers but that was enough for me to recognise this a potential John pub.
I didn't eat here but they specialise in the "Piemaster" range of pies which at 5 quid are excellent value for money.
It was of course the crazy ladies who made this pub memorable but even without them I liked it and so it'll get a mention under restaurants too.
The Angel purports to be Lymington's oldest pub, dating back to the 13th century when it was a coaching inn, and despite having been modernised still has a lot of character. Staff were friendly, the beer was good and the crazy ladies were just that, as well as being sexy. After they'd gone I decided to eat here and thoroughly enjoyed a crispy hunk of belly pork, washed down with another pint - comfortable pub!