As the UK emerges from lockdown and many international destinations remain inaccessible, where’s better to enjoy a well-earned break than at one of the UK’s unique family-friendly destinations. Read on for a list of some of our favourites…
Cornwall has something for everyone – from pristine sandy beaches to archaeological remains set in rolling moorlands. Let’s look at Padstow, home to chef Rick Stein, a busy harbour town surrounded by cobble-stoned streets lined with a wide variety of gift shops, restaurants and galleries. Just up the coast are the beautiful villages of Mousehole and Port Isaac.
Mousehole, said to be the loveliest village in England by poet Dylan Thomas, is worth a visit for its harbourside restaurants and art galleries. Port Isaac make look familiar is the backdrop to the TV series and Movie Doc Martin. It’s a quaint fishing village with a beautiful harbour, lovely restaurants, and an easily accessible cliff-walk.
Moving to the north coast is Newquay, a diverse town that is loved by teenagers, surfers and families alike. Surrounded by sandy beaches, this harbour town has much to offer. Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay offer good surfing conditions and are also the perfect place to build some sandcastles. The Newquay Zoo and Aquarium are popular attractions for families, and it’s a handy coastal base for wider excursions.
Designated an area of outstanding beauty in South-West England, the Cotswolds is characterised by its attractive villages built from Cotswold stone and thatch. Families are spoiled for choice, from castles to classic cars and wildlife to watersports.
Blenheim Palace in Woodstock is one of the many places to visit in the Costwolds and is open all year round. It is the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Its gilded staterooms and extensive antique collection are a sight to behold. The palace sits on 2000 acres of land, allowing visitors to explore some of England’s finest countryside.
Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection, in Bourton-on-the-Water, is a treasure-trove for children and adults alike. There are seven galleries housed within an old water mill, filled with vintage cars, caravans and motorbikes over 90 years old.
Cotswolds Water Park in South Cerney is a perfect retreat to take a breather from the busy village life. 150 lakes in 40 acres of land are teeming with wildlife and birds. Walking trails, bird spotting hides and watersports will keep families entertained for hours.
Fairytale Farm in Chipping Norton is a magical place. It has six distinct areas with sensory and learning opportunities at every turn. The newly opened Wilderness Walk has families meandering through wildlife habitats. Jacks Yard, Alfie and Friends, Enchanted Walk and Fairy Dell will keep families entertained for the rest of the day.
North Norfolk has a unique, unspoilt coastline, home to the Deep History Coast. This place is ideal for a family seaside holiday thanks to its many award-winning beaches, including Holkham, Well-next-the-Sea and Brancaster. There are also at least six blue-flag beaches, including Sheringham, Cromer, Mundesley, Sea Palling, East and West Runton.
Now let’s head inland. North Norfolk countryside has deep agricultural roots, supplying local produce to the surrounding market towns and villages. Enjoy eating at one of the numerous pubs, restaurants or cafes. Freshly caught seafood and locally brewed beer are the specialities of the region.
The Broads National Park is Britain’s largest protected wetland and salt marsh. Walkers can see a wide variety of wildlife and birds during their trip.
The Lake District
The Lake District in the North West of England’s mountainous region offers an abundance of adventure for families. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy watersports and boating on one of the many lakes as well as fell walking through the countryside.
It is an area of natural beauty and a place of peace and tranquillity where families can unwind and reconnect. Towns of particular interest include:
Ambleside on the edge of Lake Windermere or car-free Hawkshead at Grizedale Forest. How about Kendal, home of the famous Kendal mint? Grasmere, Dent, Cartmel, Ravenglass and Seatoller. Each unique in its own way.
The Isle of Wight
A short hop and a skip off the south coast of England is the Isle of Wight, a small island steeped in history and once the summer home of Queen Victoria. She’s not the only renowned figure to visit the island. Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland whilst staying on the isle and it is said to have inspired parts of the story.
Blackgang Chine is the oldest theme park in Britain. It has an eclectic mix of attractions. Perched on the cliff-top, with breathtaking views, exciting rides and magically themed areas that will entertain the whole family.
The Needles are synonymous with the Isle of Wight and a destination not to be missed. A chairlift takes families past the multi-coloured sandstone cliffs with views of the pristine sandy beach below.
Walkers love the Isle of Wight! The Isle of Wight Coastal Path comes highly recommended, as does the Shanklin to Ventnor Coastal Walk. Both walks are suitable for everyone. They take walkers through harbour towns and forests, along cliff tops and beaches.
Majestic mountains, mythical lakes, remote beaches and wild landscapes entice families to the Scottish Highlands for a getaway off the beaten track.
A boat trip on Loch Ness is an adventure as families search for the elusive Loch Ness monster. Onboard blipping radars and scanning sonars add to the excitement. Cruising past the ruins of Urquhart Castle, shrouded in mist, creates a dramatic atmosphere.
If you also happen to find yourself near North Berwick, it may be worth looking up Mad March Hare Wild Dining. It is one of the many luxurious alfresco dining experiences that have popped up around the country. Not only is the setting spectacular as you find yourself surrounded by magical woodland, it is also covid-friendly as it’s outdoors. It may not be cheap but it’s unforgettable.
Campervanning as a family around the Highlands is an excellent way to explore this part of Scotland. It is convenient and easy. Stopping anywhere is permissible, and families are free to self-cater if desired.
There are numerous hiking trails in the Scottish Highlands. Some are less accessible to young families but, this does not mean all peaks are out of range. A gondola lift, gliding over treetops along the side of the Nevis range and up to Aonach Mhor, gives spectacular views at 2000ft. There are also mountain bike trails down from this peak for the older members of the family.
These destinations are ready to welcome families with open arms. The UK is stunning and happy to be open for business once more.