Growing up I lived a 10 minute drive from Beaulieu in the New Forest.  We drove past Palace House every weekend when we visited my grandparents.  There were school trips to the National Motor Museum.  I even went to a Radio One Roadshow in the grounds of the Motor Museum where I screamed really loudly at Jason Donovan and The Pasadenas.  Beaulieu and the National Motor Museum hold lots of happy memories for me, so when they contacted me and asked me to visit with my boys, I jumped at the chance knowing that my little petrol heads in the making would absolutely love it.
Here are 13 reasons why you should visit the National Motor Museum and a chance for you to win a family ticket
National Motor Museum

1 Cars.  Lots of them!

Now I must confess, I am a stereotypical girl when it comes to cars.  I can’t tell you what car any of my friends or family drive, but I can tell you what colour it is.  When my husband starts talking about cars (which is often) I tend to switch off and start thinking about handbags or Gerard Butler.  I know he is saying words but all I can hear is “blah blah blah.”  However, I live in a house full of boys, and both my sons are car mad.  There was no doubt that my boys would enjoy the cars in the National Motor Museum.  But if like me, a car is a thing with 4 wheels and an engine, the National Motor Museum still has lots to offer.
National Motor Museum
National Motor Museum
There are cars that you can get hands on with and sit in, costumes are even provided.   Even ametures like me can recognise cars like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  There are new cars, old cars, small cars, big cars, and even Formula 1 cars.  There is even a section dedicated to motorbikes if two wheels is more your thing.
National Motor Museum
National Motor Museum
The boys loved all the vehicles, but for me I loved the 1930’s street displays, with shop windows and garages that have so much to look at, and so much attention to detail.  It is like stepping back in time.  There are lots of staff on hand who are all real car enthusiasts.  Kids can get interactive and try on the different clothes people used to wear through the ages.
National Motor Museum
National Motor Museum
National Motor Museum
There is plenty of information on the history of cars and how they work.  Over 250 cars are displayed in the National Motor Museum, and each one of them is very very shiny!

2 The Luxury of Motoring display

This display is brand new and got my attention.  The most luxurious cars you have ever seen including aRolls-Royce Silver Ghost and Phantom.  The display shows the history of luxury cars and the people who own them.  There are also films you can watch about the design and cost of these vehicles.
The Luxury of Motoring focuses on the Lalique glass car mascots.  This is the first time a collection like this has been shown together.  The Luxury of Motoring display will be in the National Motor Museum for the rest of the year. 
The Luxury of Motoring display has been part funded by a grant which is an initiative to help English museums and galleries increase access, improve displays and enhance public spaces.  

3 The World of Top Gear

Fans of the show, old and new will love the Top Gear ‘tent’.  Featuring classics from the show such as the longest limousine and the car-boat.  There are TV screens playing clips from the show, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without a statue of The Stig.

4 See the famous cars from TV and Film

You are bound to recognise a few cars in the On Screen Cars display.  Big was particularly impressed with the flying car from Harry Potter, whilst Little liked Mr Bean’s mini!

5 Ride on a vintage open top bus

You can catch an open top bus to take you from the National Motor museum up to Palace House and Beaulieu abbey.  All of which are included in the ticket price for the National Motor Museum.  

6 All aboard the monorail

Another way to get around at the National Motor Museum is by the monorail.  This has been there since I was a kid and is always a highlight of any visit.  We went on it three times during our visit.  You can do a round trip around the grounds, or get off half way at the Palace House gardens.  There’s also a recorded guide to listen to as you travel.
Obligatory Monorail selfie

7 Eat in the Brabazon restauraunt

The Brabazon restaurant has a great menu, whether you are after a filling lunch, a light bite, or just a cup of tea and a bit of cake.  The restaurant is spacious and well equipped for kids with high chairs available and a kids menu.  We enjoyed fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding.  If like me your kids have an aversion to peas, they were more than happy to accommodate and swap for beans!  It was good value for money and warmed us up on a cold day in February half term.  

8 Explore Palace House

For all my visits to the National Motor Museum, I had never been to Palace House, so I was keen to have a nose around.  It’s an impressive building that always sparked my imagination as a child when we would drive past and see it across Beaulieu river.  The section of the house that you can walk around is incredibly impressive with ornate ceilings and many stair cases and painting.
The staff dress in Victorian costumes and are happy to answer any questions.  There’s even a Victorian kitchen and some eerie Victorian dolls.  
I was concerned the kids might be bored, but they loved exploring the house and it spurred many “Imagine if we lived in a house this big” conversations.

9 Visit Beaulieu Abbey

Visit Beaulieu abbey and learn about the history of the cictercian monks and how the abbey was destroyed.  You can walk around the remains of the abbey and enter the church, although we were there on a day a wedding was taking place but saw the Bride and groom emerge from the church from our vantage of the open top bus!

10 Let the kids blow of steam at the park

There’s a great park for the kids which includes a huge wooden bus complete with slide.  There are also electric cars which the kids can drive around a track (or crash a lot as Little did).  These were free too.  I would normally expect to have to pay for these at other attractions.  Our visit was in February half term so we had the luxury of no queues with it being an off peak time.
The big kids quite liked it too!

11 Treasure hunts for the kids

There are some great activities for the kids to do including a spy trail and a passport to collect stamps.  Big really enjoyed doing the spy trail even though he’s definitely not under 5 anymore!

12 It’s in the New Forest

I always feel quite privileged to have grown up in the New Forest.  You can always spot the tourists pulled over on the side of the road watching the ponies roam around.  To the rest of us they were often the cause of a traffic jam (the ponies, not the tourists!)  But there is so much to see and do in the New Forest and some really beautiful scenery to take in.  Just down the road from the National Motor Museum there is Bucklers Hard, a maritime museum and 18th century cottages.  You can take a boat trip down Beaulieu river.  There is also the market town of Lymington with fantastic shops and pubs and coastal views.

13 New Forest Ice Cream

New Forest Ice Cream is simply the best ice cream there is.  Even after spending my Saturdays as a teen scooping the stuff all day long for customers, and melting faster than the ice cream, it hasn’t put me off.  You cannot visit the New Forest without having a New Forest Ice Cream, which they happen to sell at the Brabazon restaurant.  As you can see Little quite liked it!
If that isn’t enough reasons for you to visit the National Motor Museum there is also the Secret Army Exhibition, the Palace House gardens, and the many events that the National Motor Museum hosts throughout the year, from fireworks, and Shakespeare, to Porches, Mini’s and Supercars.
Find out more about the national Motor Museum by visiting


The lovely people at the National Motor Museum are giving away a family ticket to one of my lucky readers so they can come and visit the National Motor Museum too.  For your chance to win enter below.

Family Ticket to The National Motor Museum

Terms and conditions
A Family ticket is for 2 adults and up to 3 children, or 1 adult and up to 4 children.  Children are from aged 5 – 15.  Under 5’s are free.
Tickets will be posted to you by recorded delivery.
Life, Love and Dirty Dishes is not responsible or liable for any failed delivery of the tickets.
Tickets cannot be exchanged.
Travel and accommodation not included.
We were given complimentary tickets to visit the National motor Museum.  All views and opinions are my own.
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The National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is a great family day out. Set in the beautiful New Forest, it's way more than cars, with a stately home and monorail there are so many reasons to visit.




Claire Kirby

16 Comments on 13 Reasons Why You Should Visit the National Motor Museum

  1. We went once when the boys were a lot smaller but would love to go again now they would appreciate it more. I’m with you on the car thing, although I am getting better at recognising the badges etc. I love the history behind the cars too.

  2. I never even knew this was a place, but my two would absolutely love visiting here! I love how the shops are set up to look like they are from a certain era, what a perfect way of sparking little imaginations.

  3. I have never taken the boys here! I should do really as I am sure Monkey would love it. I remember going on a school trip when I was little and being fascinated by the car that looked like an orange. We had to make models of our favourites and I made a paper mâché one! I am off to enter as hoping to be down this way in the Summer x

  4. This looks right up our street as my little one loves anything with wheels! Unfortunately, it’s a tad out of our way but definitely worth keeping in mind if we’re in the area. The play area sounds so good!

  5. This brought back lots of summer holiday memories for me too. Funnily enough though, as my Dad used to take us, I only remember the cars… I would love to go back and see the house one day! 🙂

  6. I remember Beaulieu really well from when I was little – I have such fond memories! All of these photos bring it all back – the electric cars for the kids to drive, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Abbey, and the house too. I think my son would absolutely love a visit – I’m entering!

  7. Love this! I have never been to the New Forest but have always wanted to. I know very little about cars all I can say is I have soft spots for VW Beatles and Chevrolet Imapalas (have to be 50s and turqouise). That made me giggle about screaming for Jason Donovan – he once came on stage in nightclub in about 1999 in Croydon – I was 18 and screamed!!

  8. WOW what a fun place to visit! I’d LOVE to sit in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The National Motor Museum is really nicely put together too, I like how they have it set up with petrol pumps and things too. If we lived in the area I’d definitely enter your giveaway!

  9. Oh Claire, this has taken me down a lovely nostalgic trip. We used to go to the New Forest for our family holidays and we always paid a visit to the Motor Museum in Beaulieu. I loved the cars and the litle street and the monorail! I’m entering your comp because we will be visiting the New Forest in May and I would love to take the children here!

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