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Our top UK family holiday destinations holiday cottages

United Kingdom

Our top UK family holiday destinations

Elianne Reed 20 February 2020

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

The UK has huge holiday appeal for families. No flights or transfers with tired children, no worrying about intense heat (or indeed, intense cold), and best of all, the family dog can come too! Multi-generational vacations come easy with a journey by train or car across the beautiful countryside - whatever the location, you can choose the scenic route and make the most of your travelling days as well.

We have put together some of the best UK holiday destinations for families, whether you're planning for Easter, half term or the summer holidays. Choose from traditional seaside resorts to wild and unspoilt regions to get away from it all. If you are looking for some UK family holiday ideas, look no further. Happy planning!

WHIZZ DOWN TO CORNWALL

Famous for: Surfer beaches, azure seas and almost tropical sands

  • Discover the endless beaches of the Atlantic coast
  • Make memories at fascinating historic landmarks
  • Explore sub-tropical gardens and famous eco parks

Cornwall beach

Cornwall has always been a hugely popular holiday destination for families, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Packed with popular theme parks, animal farms and aquariums, iconic eco projects and maritime museums, as well as historic landmarks which kids will actually find interesting (the legend of King Arthur for one), you’ll be able to pack out your schedule in no time.

That’s without even mentioning the beaches – with the huge blankets of sand and aquamarine seas on the north coast, water sporty kids and teenagers will be in holiday heaven. The calmer beaches of the south are perfect for little ones or for days when the Atlantic swell of the north is unforgiving. Don't forget that there's a tidal pool in Bude on the northern coast - ideal for gentle bathing whatever the weather.

girl on surfboard

The west coast will thrill children who want to explore the ends of the earth (the most westerly part of the UK to you and us) with a trip to Land’s End - a family favourite. The more tranquil south coast, known as the Cornish Riviera, offers picturesque fishing villages and unspoilt smaller beaches, perfect for crabbing, rock pooling and family picnics.

Don’t forget the wild moorland and breathtaking coastal path along the 300 miles of coastline either – little walkers and cyclists will have lots of fun exploring these areas and discovering the wild ponies of Bodmin Moor – or why not join a pony trek instead and see the sights atop a trusty steed?

Trio Cornwall

THINGS THE KIDS WILL LOVE:

  • Meeting some fishy friends at the Gweek Seal Sanctuary
  • Learning all about exotic plants at the Eden Project
  • Getting up close to some animals at Dairyland Farm World
  • Delighting in the colours and forms at the Blue Reef Aquarium
  • Visiting Tintagel Castle to find out about the legend of King Arthur

TREAT YOURSELF:

Sample the best cream teas that the county has to offer – fluffy scones, homemade strawberry jam and Cornwall's own clotted cream on top. Bliss.

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HOP OVER TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Famous for: Vintage family fun, sandy beaches and sailing

  • Take family day trips to iconic Jurassic landmarks
  • Discover miles of fabulous cycle paths across the island
  • Have heaps of fun at the oldest amusement park in the UK

Shanklin Isle of Wight

Sometimes, you just need to cross a proper stretch of water to feel like you are on holiday. Bringing together the best of both worlds – taking the car and catching a ferry – will make the Isle of Wight feel like a proper holiday the moment you step aboard. A good old-fashioned family holiday awaits across the sea – traditional family beaches with amusements, colourful little bucket and spade shops, promenades and attraction parks as well as some great landmark attractions and botanical gardens.

The Isle of Wight is very much known for its sailing heritage at Cowes – come for the regatta or try some sailing out of season if you prefer things a bit quieter. While there are many places around the island for getting out and about on the water and discovering new water sports, Cowes is definitely top of the leader board if you are looking for a traditional sailing vacation. 

family at fair

The island is crammed with fun-packed holiday resorts that may well bring back a touch of nostalgia. Shanklin is one of the most popular with its own theatre and fun-packed esplanade, home to the natural wonder of Shanklin Chine and Shanklin old village, a quaint collection of thatched, island-stone cottages, gift shops and cafés. Next door and sharing its stretch of beach is Sandown, with its traditional seafront with amusement pier.

Those missing the sun will love the micro-climate of Ventnor with its secluded position under one of the island’s highest hills. Then there's the north-eastern town of Ryde which you’ll probably remember as the first port of call on the ferry ride over. Host to the UK’s oldest carnival in August, it is also connected by a 6-mile stretch of beach to the smaller coastal villages of Seaview and Bembridge, perfect for a cycle ride on a sunny day.

Trio Isle of Wight

THINGS THE KIDS WILL LOVE:

  • Taking the chairlift over the iconic rocks of The Needles
  • Making bottles of coloured sand at Alum Bay
  • Riding the Cliffhanger and Waterforce rides at Blackgang Chine
  • Doing some fun glass-blowing at Alum Bay
  • Discovering the 10,000-year-old, 32-metre-deep gorge of Shanklin Chine

TREAT YOURSELF:

Bring the story of Victoria and Albert alive at their summer residence in East Cowes, Osborne House – an exquisite Italianate palace with views to rival the Bay of Naples.

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DISCOVER THE JURASSIC COAST OF DORSET

Famous for: Dinosaurs, fossil hunting and iconic landmarks

  • Discover 185 million years of history at this World Heritage Site
  • Walk the South West Coast Path with its breathtaking sea views
  • Explore the five country parks and nature reserve of Brownsea Island

Durdle Door Dorset

Seaside holidays are made for the Jurassic Coast. Stretching 95 miles from Devon to Dorset, this heady headland of chalk and sand is a world away from the stresses of daily life. There’s something about Dorset with its unhurried vibe and sunny atmosphere that begs you to relax as soon as you get there.

Unpack your bags and ease your way into the Dorset way of life. Perfect for toddlers with its many safe, Blue Flag beaches, this family-friendly destination ticks all the boxes for a family holiday with the whole tribe.

Bournemouth beach huts

Mile upon mile of sandy beach studded with picture-postcard villages give this sleepy coastline its reputation as one of the best holiday spots in the south. If you want a bit more excitement, the vibrant towns of Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth are just a car drive away with their attractions, shops and restaurants. Make sure you sample some of the fantastic fresh seafood at the harbourside eateries and if you can, visit when one of Dorset's famous food and drink festivals are on to uncover lots of tasty local produce to cook at home.

If you love getting out on the water, head to Poole Harbour to set sail on a racer-cruiser yacht or take a leisurely boat cruise along the coastline. For a taste of the high life in Dorset, visit the exclusive enclave of Sandbanks in between Poole and Bournemouth often regarded as the Palm Springs of the south coast. 

Trio Dorset

THINGS THE KIDS WILL LOVE:

  • Swimming in the waters around the soaring limestone arch of Durdle Door
  • Charging up the hill to Corfe Castle to be king of all they survey!
  • Walking through time to discover the spectacular Jurassic coastline
  • Booking some dinghy sailing tuition at the Shell Bay Sailing Centre
  • Taking the ferry across to Brownsea Island to see the infamous red squirrels

TREAT YOURSELF:

Take a Champagne picnic to pretty-as-a-picture horseshoe bay, Lulworth Cove, and watch the sunset. Bathe in the cool waters and snuggle up in warm towels before heading back to your holiday cottage.

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GET OUT AND ABOUT IN NORTHUMBERLAND

Famous for: Magnificent castles, tranquil beaches and the outdoors life

  • Take bike rides through the woodland trails of the picturesque national park 
  • Walk the tranquil stretch of coastline dotted with dramatic castles
  • Breathe in the traditional seaside ambience of retro-chic coastal villages

Beach Northumberland

An old favourite with those in the know, Northumberland is one of the top UK destinations for family holidays. Home to amazingly clean beaches, it also has some fab boat trips – from Seahouses out to the wilderness of the Farne Islands to see the puffins and also to Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island.

Its stretch of coastline is also studded with romantic castles – Bamburgh imposing and bleak next to the sea, the 14th-century Dunstanburgh and, of course, iconic Alnwick, location of many a famous scene from Harry Potter.

Family having picnic

Like to feel the wind in your hair? The whole family will love a walk along Hadrian’s Wall where you can uncover Housesteads Roman Fort or just spend a fun day out at the Northumberland National Park. The Northumberland countryside, in general, is pretty fabulous for active families with its rolling hills, secret valleys and ancient settlements - it's not only one of the prettiest landscapes around, but it is also excellent walking and cycling territory for those who like to get out and about in nature.

Trio Northumberland

THINGS THE KIDS WILL LOVE:

  • Gazing up at the stars at the Kielder Observatory
  • Discovering Housesteads Roman Fort
  • Taking a boat trip out to the Farne Islands to see the puffins
  • Reading the history of Hadrian’s Wall and then walking part of it
  • Signing up for some quad biking across the park (older children only)

TREAT YOURSELF:

Take a stroll around the finest contemporary garden in the UK, The Alnwick Garden. The Duchess of Northumberland’s vision for a forgotten plot is now a modern inspiration with varied themes, sculptures and playful labyrinths.

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ENJOY A TRADITIONAL FAMILY HOLIDAY IN NORFOLK

Famous for: Steam railways, crabbing and messing about on the water

  • Grab buckets and spades and discover fantastic traditional seaside resorts
  • Hop aboard a boat and discover the beautiful Norfolk Broads
  • Chug across the countryside on a vintage overland steam train 

boys on boat

What makes Norfolk the place to holiday if you have kids in tow? Is it the stunning stretch of coastline, dotted with traditional seaside resorts and little fishing villages? The Norfolk Broads, with their infinite possibilities for fun on the water? Or maybe it’s the breathtaking countryside, encompassing both countryside and coast.

Whatever the magic of Norfolk, it has it in spades. Most families head for North Norfolk to upmarket resorts such as Wells-next-the-Sea, Cromer and Hunstanton; many of these still retain their traditional seaside charm but don't discount the smaller, out of the way coastal and inland villages which are just as lovely, if not so popular at peak times.

Beach Norfolk

While children won’t want to spend their whole holiday trudging around historic landmarks, there are some gorgeous National Trust and English Heritage properties to visit that they will love, including Sandringham, Blickling Hall and Holkham Hall. For something more kid-friendly, you’ll want to head to the adventure park and treehouses of Bewilderwood or see the life-size dinos at Dinosaur World.

You definitely won’t get any complaints about beach days when in Norfolk. Enjoy family picnics full of scrumptious food, ball games on the sands and rock pooling competitions before heading home with some fish and chips wrapped in paper - true Norfolk style! 

Trio Norfolk

THINGS THE KIDS WILL LOVE:

  • Crabbing at Wells-next-the-Sea Harbour or Cromer Pier
  • Choo-chooing across the countryside on the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway
  • Checking out the rides at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach
  • Meeting some new friends at the Sea Life Sanctuary at Hunstanton
  • Hopping on a pony at Woodland Park Equestrian Centre

TREAT YOURSELF:

Book a guided tour at the Queen’s Christmas residence, Sandringham, and view the absorbing collections of porcelain, jade and family portraits on view. It’s set in 60 acres of beautiful gardens so perfect for a family stroll.

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Base yourself at one of our large holiday properties and discover what's on offer across the UK. Our collection of family-friendly houses will be sure to provide the perfect place for a well-deserved trip with your whole tribe.

 

If you are looking for a luxury stay for a Easter, half term, summer holidays, a special occasion or just to spoil yourselves, have a flick through our big houses for luxury family holidays.

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