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Best UK family holidays 2024: top 10 destinations, according to parents

Planning a family holiday? There's a bevvy of beautiful beaches, gorgeous lakes and activities galore right here in the UK. And Mumsnetters have travelled the length and breadth of it. We've rounded up the best UK family holiday destinations that Mumsnetters rate to help plan your next trip.

By Rachel Erdos | Last updated Feb 16, 2024

A family walking along a beach in the UK

Airport security queues, excess baggage charges and lengthy resort transfers can test the most seasoned family travellers. Which is why many families prefer holidaying closer to home. Sure, it can be a gamble on the weather front but with a stunning coastline, historic sights galore, top family-friendly hotels, gorgeous national parks and fun attractions, a little drizzle shouldn't dampen your spirits.

And who better to help with trip planning than well-travelled Mumsnet users who have been there, stayed there and taken the kitchen sink with them.

We've put together a guide to best UK family holiday destinations for brilliant breaks.

Best UK family holiday destinations at a glance

1. Best overall: Northumberland

Northumberland scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"Fish and chips at Sea Houses. Cragside for culture. Alnwick Castle for history and fun stuff. Bamburgh Castle for history and culture and gorgeous beach. It's all gorgeous" - MumzeeSaz

"You'll 100% likely go back, again and again" - butterflymum

Our verdict

Northumberland has been a Mumsnet favourite for the past few years and we can't see that changing any time soon – the region has something for everyone.

The county gets rave reviews for its beautiful clean beaches. You can also take a boat from Seahouses to the Farne Islands or drive over the causeway to Holy Island.

Bamburgh's imposing castle, dramatically positioned next to the sea, is perfect for imagining 'the olden days' of knights and queens with little ones. And don't forget Alnwick Castle, where many scenes in the Harry Potter movies were filmed. For woodland trails, bike rides, and some much-needed peace and quiet, head to the picturesque Northumberland National Park.

Where to stay in Northumberland

Beadnell Towers is a boutique hotel in the cute fishing village of Beadnell, a five-mile drive from Bamburgh Castle. Rooms are stylish and the restaurant serves posh pub grub and fresh seafood. There are interconnecting rooms for families and it's dog friendly.

Read next: The best family-friendly hotels in Northumberland, as rated by parents

Beadnell Towers

Stay in Beadnell. Particularly Beadnell Towers if you want a hotel but there are Airbnbs and holiday cottages around too


Beadnell Towers

Beadnell, Northumberland

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Best cottages in Northumberland

Mumsnetters receive 7% off their stay when they book a trip to Northumberland with

  • Try rustic Tweed Cottage, a cosy cottage in a quiet location that sleeps five. It's about 40 minutes from Holy Island and is an ideal base for exploring the Harry Potter castle. Get 7% off your stay by accessing the Mumsnet members-only booking area

  • Seashell Cottage is in the quaint seaside town of Amble, nine miles from Alnwick. It's very close to the shore for lovely coastal walks

  • If you fancy a holiday in the grounds of an actual castle, why not try Haughton Castle Garden Cottage in the North Tyne valley? It can sleep four (plus one dog) and, although the castle isn't open to the public, the owners are happy to give tours to holiday home guests

2. Best for sunshine: Isle of Wight

Isle of wight scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"There are so many attractions, several of which can be done even if it’s raining. There are a number of hotels and self catering complexes specifically marketed at families with young children, and nearly every pub or restaurant has a kids menu" - Fivemoreminutes1

Our verdict

As you need to get a ferry out to the Isle of Wight, it can almost count as a trip 'abroad'. Beach lovers get vast stretches of sandy coast, plus rocky beaches ideal for paddling, and the entire island has a lovely old-fashioned feel.

There are walking and cycling opportunities galore and a surprisingly good section of nice restaurants and pubs, plus an array of attractions including Blackgang Chine, the Roman Villa, Osborne House and Carisbrook Castle (top tip: consider English Heritage membership if you're planning to visit more than one).

The Needles Rocks and Lighthouse is, quite possibly, the island's most famous attraction – and we can see why. With a chairlift that takes you to the beach, where you can see the rocks in all their glory, plus other fun activities such as a glass blowing demonstration at Alum Bay glass, there's more than enough on this tiny island to keep children entertained.

Where to stay on the Isle of Wight

Consider the Royal Hotel in Ventor or the North House in Cowes, according to Mumsnetters.

Read next: The best family-friendly hotels on the Isle of Wight

Royal Hotel Isle of Wight

I’d go to either the Royal at Ventnor or North House in Cowes. Both do very good food and are child friendly in a ‘not chicken nuggets’ way. Both have small, warm pools


The Royal Hotel

Ventnor, Isle of Wight

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Best self-catering accommodation on the Isle of Wight

Save on cottage stays with our exclusive 7% discount for Mumsnetters.

3. Best for traditional seaside fun: North Norfolk

Norfolk scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"Cromer has a large sandy beach, some excellent seafood, good spots for crabbing etc… It’s not too far from Bewilderwood, Sheringham (which has a steam railway), Mundesley (seal watching) and I’d also recommend a trip to Roarr dinosaur adventure" - Fivemoreminutes1

"Wells is lovely, has everything you need. I also love Sheringham, has quite an old fashioned feel, and perfect for children" - RavenT 

Our verdict

North Norfolk is a firm family favourite, with gasp-worthy beaches and traditional seaside resorts offering a plethora of quayside seafood (i.e. fish and chips) opportunities.

Popular spots along the coast include Cromer, Wells-next-the-Sea and Hunstanton. On the whole beaches are very accessible – just be sure to arrive at the car parks before 10.30am in peak summer months.

For other less sandy things to do, Bewilderwood is a fun adventure park with treehouses and marsh walks, while Dinosaur World offers a life-size dinosaur trail which kids will love. There are plenty of English Heritage and National Trust properties to explore too.

Where to stay in North Norfolk

The Grove in Cromer is a Georgian country house less than a 10-minute walk from the beach. It's family-run and much of the produce served in the restaurant is grown in the hotel grounds. There's an indoor swimming pool if the weather turns sour.

Read next: The best family-friendly hotels in Norfolk, as recommended by Mumsnetters

The Grove Cromer

As for hotels, look at the family rooms at The Grove


The Grove

Cromer, Norfolk

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Best cottages in North Norfolk

  • The Sail Loft is a waterfront apartment with a private mooring in the pretty village of Wroxham. Cromer and Sheringham are within easy reach and Norwich is a 10-mile drive away. Get 7% off your stay with a Mumsnet discount when you book through our Mumsnet members-only area

  • Saracens Retreat, one of the oldest cottages in Wickmere, sleeps five people and is within close proximity to the beaches in Sheringham (eight miles) and Cromer (nine miles)

  • The Old Stables is a cosy cottage near Cley-next-the-sea. Feeaturing beam ceilings and an enclosed garden, the property is within walking distance of the coast and offers views of Cley windmill.

4. Best for countryside and coast: Yorkshire

Yorkshire scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"North Yorkshire Moors are beautiful. We often rent a cottage in a little village (eg last time we went to Cropton). It's an easy drive to the coast, there's the steam trains and the whole area is just gorgeous" - SilverOtter 

"We went to Yorkshire this summer - such a memorable holiday. Stayed predominantly in Whitby which was lovely, then travelled from there to Robin Hoods Bay, York, Staithes and on the way back Scarborough. Just brilliant" - MondeoFan 

Our verdict

Yorkshire's a brilliant bet – it's got dales and moors, peaks, national parks and a breathtaking coastline to boot. Scarborough is great for young 'uns with a Sea Life Centre and penny arcades for rainy days, plus plenty of family-friendly beaches, picnic spots and a waterpark to explore when the sun is shining.

Where to stay in Yorkshire

A two-minute walk from the beach and within easy reach of Scarborough's North Bay, the Bike & Boot is a top choice for seaside stays. Family rooms are available and you can take your pet pooch along for the ride too.

The Bike and Boot Scarborough

We have had more than one successful stay in the Bike & Boot which is child and dog friendly and has a really nice atmosphere.


The Bike & Boot

Scarborough, Yorkshire

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Best self-catering accommodation in Yorkshire

  • Haven's Blue Dolphin resort is a short drive from Scarborough's sandy beaches and has plenty of indoor play options on site, including a climbing wall and an indoor pool – great if it rains (which it wont, we're sure) or for keeping older children entertained

  • If you'd like to get back to nature, opt for The Byre – located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with stunning panoramic views over the rolling countryside

  • Mumsnetters love Haven Primrose Valley near Filey for its fantastic facilities including multiple pools, an aerial adventure course and tennis courts. Families also enjoy access to a beautiful beach. This fun park features in our roundup of the best Haven holiday parks

5. Best for scenery: Scottish Highlands, Aviemore

Aviemore scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"Aviemore is a great year round resort. Loads of outdoor activities available, walking, ski-ing etc. Also Highland Wildlife Park, Reindeer Centre, go karting, steam train, Landmark (if open?), Inverness is not far away if you want cinema/bowling/shops/swimming etc - great flumes at the Inverness pool" - Chatwin

"There's a freshwater beach at Loch Morlich. It's a stunning place, but also well served with amenities and tourist things to do such as rent canoes, bikes etc, amazing walks, high ropes etc" - outdooryone

Our verdict

“There's nothing to do,” said no one on holiday in Aviemore, ever.

With wildlife parks, a mountain railway, outdoor adventure parks (think zip wires, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, gorge walking, kayaking and more) plus fishing, grass sledging and miles and miles of beautiful trails, Aviemore is perfect for an active family break. Frankly we're exhausted just talking about it. Five miles south of Aviemore sits Lock an Eilein, a small freshwater loch in Cairngorms National Park – a popular spot for many visitors surrounded by lots of walking trails.

Where to stay in Aviemore

For a rustic break with creature comforts, consider the Aviemore Woodland Lodges Resort and hire mountain bikes to explore the local landscape. Lodges feature kitchens and seating areas and there's a swimming pool with slides on-site, as well as a soft play centre and a cinema.

Read next: Where to stay in Scotland, according to Mumsnetters

Macdonald Lodges Aviemore

I'd recommend the Macdonald Resort. It’s in Aviemore itself so you can walk to restaurants etc.


Macdonald Woodland Lodges

Aviemore, Scotland

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Best self-catering accommodation in Aviemore

  • Secluded Suidhe Cottage is conveniently close to the water sports and wildlife parks of Kincraig. Or if you'd rather stay in, it also boasts its own hot tub

  • Glencanisp, on the other hand, is a grand old house in the centre of Aviemore with open fires, which sleeps up to six

6. Best for active families: Pembrokeshire

Tenby coast

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What Mumsnet users say

"My favourite part of the world. I love the castles - Pembroke Castle is incredible and Carew castle is great. Billycan is also very popular and has amazing fish and chips. Tenby is heaven on Earth. Lovely food in the Bay Tree and the cove. Don’t leave Tenby without a bag of Rolys fudge" - Noshowlomo

"Barafundle Bay has the most beautiful beach, and it's great for swimming. It's a long and very pretty walk from the car park along the cliffs" - Time40

Our verdict

Pembrokeshire is home to the UK's only coastal national park, so it's a great spot for an active family break – especially if you're taking teenagers with bags of energy.

Mumsnet users rate Tenby as a top place to stay with its fantastic beach, National Trust properties, boat trips and a dinosaur park – plus plenty of wet weather options for rainy days. If you thought whales and dolphins could only been seen in seas surrounding exotic islands or countries with Arctic-like temperatures, think again. Whales, dolphins and harbour porpoises can be spotted from the coast of Pembrokeshire during the summer months so it's well worth booking a boat trip to visit the waters nearby.

Where to stay in Pembrokeshire

Near Tenby Castle and a short walk from the town centre and Castle Beach, The Esplanade is a smart B&B with stylish rooms and a lounge bar. There are family rooms but note that cots aren't available so it's better for families with older kids.

Read next: The best family hotels in Wales, as rated by parents

The Esplanade, Tenby

We've stayed at The Esplanade a couple of times now and liked it. It's just outside the town walls and literally across the road from the beach


The Esplanade

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

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Best self-catering accommodation in Pembrokeshire

  • Haven Kiln Park Holiday Park, based in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, has loads of activities to keep children busy, as well as being very close to Tenby.

  • Manorbier Boat House is a gorgeous 1930s holiday home in the pretty village of Manorbier. With loads of period features and a large decked terrace, this family-friendly spot is well placed for some of Pembrokeshire's beaches and the harbour town of Tenby, and offers rural and castle views.

7. Best for natural attractions: Dorset

Dorset scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"Lots to do. Rural Dorset is beautiful. Corfe castle (National Trust). Swanage stream train railway. Durlston castle with activities in the summer holidays. Swanage (fish and chips) and boat trips, a nice beach and crabbing off the pier. Brownsea island (National Trust) is a lovely day out too. Go early and be the first boat onto the island to see the red squirrels before they hide!" - wonkygorgeous

Our verdict

If you're holidaying with small children, then Dorset is a great spot.

With old-fashioned seaside resorts in Weymouth and Swanage, the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, a wide open beach at Studland, fossil hunting on Chesil Beach, plus aquariums, Monkey World and plenty of National Trust and English Heritage properties, you won't be stuck for things to do in this beautiful county. You can relive the Enid Blyton books of your youth in Corfe – Blyton regularly visited the area and the castle is said to be the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in her book, Five on a Treasure Island.

Where to stay in Dorset

A 20-minute walk from the beach in the cute village of West Lulworth, the Castle Inn is a traditional Dorset pub with a thatched roof. There are 12 boutique rooms and a terraced garden offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Read next: The best family-friendly hotels in Dorset, according to Mumsnetters

The Castle Inn, West Lulworth

The Castle Inn in West Lulworth takes children, it was taken over and refurbished and has free parking as well


The Castle Inn

West Lulworth, Dorset

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Best self-catering accommodation in Dorset

  • A mile from the picturesque harbour town of Lyme Regis, Colombo Cottage is a cute holiday home in a converted stone barn. There's a riverside walk down to Lyme Regis and the property is surrounded by lush countryside.

  • Hoseasons has a coastal park which is a mile from Swanage and comes with an exclusive 5% off for Mumsnetters – book here.

Read next: The best travel cots for babies and toddlers

8. Best for beaches: Cornwall

Cornwall scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"The north coast of Cornwall is great if you like surfing/body boarding, beautiful big beaches. Newquay has a great surfer vibe (and the Ben and Jerrys ice cream parlour, which dd1 loves). But it does get very busy in summer. North Cornwall has the Eden project and the adrenaline quarry, which is great for teens" - Ohhelpicantthinkofaname

Our verdict

A UK holiday roundup that doesn't mention Cornwall? Impossible.

A perennial favourite on the Mumsnet forums, Cornwall has a breathtaking coastline and a wide range of attractions like Land's End, The Minack open-air theatre, St Michael's Mount and, of course, the Eden Project. Hayle is a popular destination, with its miles of sandy beaches. There's surfing lessons for older children and younger kids can explore in shallower water and do some rock pooling. And let's not forget the cream teas, pasties, and ice cream – Cornwall is a foodie favourite.

Where to stay in Cornwall

The Sands Resort in Newquay is geared up for families with two swimming pools, mini golf, tennis courts, a restaurant and a spa. It's a four-minute walk from the nearest beach.

Read next: The best places to stay in Cornwall, according to Mumsnetters 

Sands Resort, Newquay

The Sands Resort is great, we have just booked to go there for the third time. The staff are really helpful


Sands Resort

Newquay, Cornwall

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The best self-catering accommodation in Cornwall

  • If it's the Eden Project you're after, then The Ark is just a mile from the site and boasts its own tranquil garden haven, as well as a cosy woodburner

  • The Mackerel is very close to St Austell, Cornwall's biggest town, and its many beaches.

  • There are also three properties in Cornwall that come highly recommended by Mumsnetters: Bosinver Farm Cottages in St Austell, Coombe Mill in Bodmin and Tredethick Farm in Lostwithiel all come with the family seal of approval

9. Best for outdoor adventures: Devon

Devon scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"Love north Devon - Woolacombe and Mortehoe are lovely. Staunton Sands and Croyde beaches are fab too and IIRC all are dog friendly in parts. Incidentally, the best fish and chips I ever had were in Brixham when I was pregnant" - Wishihadanalgorithm

Our verdict

You'll be spoilt for choice if you holiday in Devon.

Up t'north you've got the stunning beaches of Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, plus the cobbled streets of Clovelly and the vast expanse of Exmoor to explore, while down south you've the considerable and varied attractions of Dartmoor, Plymouth, Exeter, Salcombe and Blackpool Sands.

Thankfully, cream teas are served north, south, and indeed everywhere in between.

While you're sampling the many baked delights, you could also squeeze in a visit to the Donkey Sanctuary or the Birds of Prey Falconry centre. Fancy getting up close and personal with puffins and seals? Look no further than Lundy Island, just off the coast of North Devon. Reach it by boat from Bideford or Ilfracombe.

Where to stay in Devon

Check out our guide to the best family-friendly hotels in Devon featuring recommendations from Mumsnet users in destinations including Exmouth, Salcombe and Exeter.

Sandy Cove

We love Combe Martin on the edge of Exmoor. Whatever your children's age, there's lots to do


Sandy Cove Hotel

Combe Martin, Devon

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Best self-catering accommodation in Devon

10. Best for exploring: Lake District

Lake District scenery

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What Mumsnet users say

"We love Bowness on Windermere... Lots to see and do, nice places to eat and an open top bus to other local towns such as Ambleside and Grasmere. Also, some great boat trips. You'll have a lovely time wherever you choose! Can't go wrong with the Lakes" - Cheshiremamalife

Our verdict

Don your walking boots and dust off the three-wheeler buggy at the UK's largest national park – the Lake District. Grab a map from one of the many visitor centres dotted around and head off exploring.

Popular attractions include the Grizedale sculpture trail, a steamer cruise along Ullswater, and a visit to Beatrix Potter's home in Ambleside. If you're up for something a little more strenuous, there's mountain biking, climbing, walking, kayaking and canoeing readily available.

If you're after a spot of downtime, take a cruise on the Derwentwater – and don't forget the Kendal Mint Cake. As the largest natural lake in England, Lake Windermere boasts fantastic views and a whole lot of fun. While you can definitely walk or cycle around the lake, we'd recommend grabbing yourself a rowing boat and going on a little family cruise.

Where to stay in the Lake District

On the edge of Lake Windermere, Merewood Country House Hotel dates to 1812 and features loads of original features. There's a fancy restaurant on-site but you're a five-minute drive from the centre of Windermere for alternative eateries.

Read next: The best places to stay in the Lake District, according to Mumsnetters

Merewood Country House Hotel

The Merewood Country House Hotel near Windermere is an amazing hotel!!! Food is fab, staff are so lovely and it’s a good location.


Merewood Country House Hotel

Windermere, Lake District

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Best self-catering accommodation in the Lake District

What's the best UK destination for a family weekend break?

While the place you pick for this year's family holiday will of course depend on family interests and budget, the best UK destination for a family weekend break according to Mumsnet users is North Norfolk.

With stunning beaches, beautiful coastal walks and some of the best fish and chips the UK has to offer, this area is ideal for children of all ages – and adults who want a bit of down-time away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.

Popular spots include Cromer, Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea and Blakeney.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there's nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet holiday forums to find out what UK destinations were being recommended by families.

We then did some online research, looking at what cities, regions and coastal spots had won accolades or been featured in 'best choice' lists across travel publications, and what family travellers said about them. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best UK holiday destinations for families.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

About the author

Rachel Erdos is an Editor at Mumsnet where she commissions, edits and writes content with a focus on family travel, product reviews and homeware roundups.

She has written hotel reviews, features and destination guides for top publications including the Guardian, Four Seasons Magazine, Travelzoo, Visit Britain and Visit London and loves nothing more than researching and writing about fun things for families to do in destinations near and far. She is often found trawling the Mumsnet holiday forums to find inspiration for her next trip.