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Best UK holiday destinations for families

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 Sep 16, 2022

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, 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 in 2022 and 2023. 

1. Northumberland

Northumberland scenery

"The Northumberland coast wins for us every time. If you stay in Seahouses you have all the traditional seaside stuff on the doorstep – but we tend to go for a holiday cottage in one of the pretty villages dotted around" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to see in Northumberland

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. 

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

MissLC

Beadnell Towers

Beadnell, Northumberland
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Best cottages in Northumberland

Mumsnetters receive an extra 7% off their stay when they book a trip to Northumberland with Cottages.com.

  • 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
  • Or 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
  • 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. Isle of Wight

Isle of wight scenery

"It's never too busy, has some lovely things to do and see, and great places to eat. Steephill Cove is one of my favourite places in the whole world" (Mumsnet user)

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).

What to see on the Isle of Wight

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.

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

LemonRoses

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. North Norfolk

Norfolk scenery

"For a traditional, family seaside holiday, you can't beat Wells-next-the-Sea. It's a bit posh, a bit tacky – in all the right proportions! The beach itself is great for kids; large, sandy with colourful beach huts and a big island of sand dunes" (Mumsnet user)

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.

There are plenty of English Heritage and National Trust properties to explore too.

What to see in North Norfolk

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.

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. 

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

Fivemoreminutes1

The Grove

Cromer, Norfolk
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Best cottages in North Norfolk

  • Thorpe Forest Lodges allows you to feel at one with nature – without sacrificing your creature comforts. 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 Corrie's Cottage is within the prestigious development of the Old Vicarage – with it's 2.5 acres of communal ground for children to roam in – and is just a short walk from the centre of medieval Little Walsingham

4. Yorkshire

Yorkshire scenery

"You can't beat Yorkshire. There's Filey for a more traditional, sedate seaside experience, then there's Scarborough – still traditional (think donkey rides) but a bit more lively with lots of arcades along the seafront" (Mumsnet user)

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 and parks to explore when the sun is shining.

What to see in Yorkshire

Pack your swimmers and head to one of Scarborough’s newest attractions, the Alphamare water park – a multi-million pound water park with plenty of slides, a water playground, a heated outdoor pool and a spa area.

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.

Bunty55

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
  • Or, 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

5. Scottish Highlands, Aviemore

Aviemore scenery

"Don't forget that there is a beach there – it's not unusual to be swimming in the loch in blazing sunshine while overlooked by snow-capped mountains!" (Mumsnet user)

“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.

What to see in Aviemore

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.

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

gracielooloo

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. Pembrokeshire

Tenby coast

"Probably my favourite part of the country – there's so much space on all of the beaches, and so many to choose from" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to see in Pembrokeshire

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.

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

Barbeasty

The Esplanade

Tenby, Pembrokeshire
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Best self-catering accommodation in Pembrokeshire

  • Hoseason's Kiln 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. Book here for 5% off your stay.
  • Clydey Cottages, another self-catering option, is often recommended by Mumsnetters with high praise for its facilities and friendly atmosphere

7. Dorset

Dorset scenery

"We went to Weymouth last year which has a real old-fashioned seaside holiday feel. There are even donkey rides on the beach. Lots to see and do in the area – my son is constantly asking to go back" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to see in Dorset

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.

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

FiveGoMadInDorset

The Castle Inn

West Lulworth, Dorset
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Best self-catering accommodation in Dorset

  • Delimara is on a lovely peninsula on the Jurassic Coast, six miles south of Weymouth and close to Chesil Beach, so there's lots of local wildlife to spot from the property's garden
  • Hoseasons has a coastal park which is a mile from Swanage and comes with an exclusive 5% off for Mumsnetters – book here.

8. Cornwall

Cornwall scenery

"Bude in Cornwall gets our vote. Fabulous wild beaches – or more tame ones if you prefer. Much emptier than other parts of the Cornish coast, and only just over the Devon border so not too far to drive" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to see in Cornwall

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's paradise.

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.

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

traintracks

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. Devon

Devon scenery

"We had a great holiday here when our kids were small – we stayed at a caravan park right on the beach, and not far from lots of attractions. We went back last year to Ilfracombe which had lots to do and see, plus wonderful beaches nearby" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to see in Devon

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

Sleepthief

Sandy Cove Hotel

Combe Martin, Devon
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Best self-catering accommodation in Devon

10. Lake District

Lake District scenery

"I love the Lake District, and so do my children. We're going on our first foreign holiday in more than 10 years this year, but it was very much booked on the condition that we can manage a week in the Lakes too" (Mumsnet user)

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.

What to do in the Lake District

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.

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.

Youmadorwhat

Merewood Country House Hotel

Windermere, Lake District
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Best self-catering accommodation in the Lake District

  • Get close to the stunning lakes at Ullswater with Mell Fell View, which overlooks Northern Fells including Blencathra, Carrock and, of course, Mell
  • Parkdean Resorts also has four locations in the area – three in Windermere and one (owners only) in Kendal

What is the most visited place in the UK?

According to a survey by Visit Britain, London is, unsurprisingly, the most visited place in the UK for inbound visitors.

Of our top 10 UK family holiday destinations, Yorkshire features highest on Visit Britain's list with its main city, York, coming in at number 13. YouGov profiles data also reveals that York is the most popular city among Britons.

What is the best all-inclusive family resort in the UK?

Butlin's is the only all-inclusive family resort to have won a coveted Mumsnet Rated badge.

Out of 180 Mumsnet users, 87% said that they would visit Butlin's again with their families and 86% would recommend Butlin's to a friend.

“I would definitely recommend the Wave Hotel apartments. We have four children so need a lot of space to avoid being on top of each other. These apartments are lovely and spacious and very clean.”

“Butlin's is brilliant! I have been going there since 1993 after being introduced to it by my husband when were first started dating. He's been going there with his family since the 70s. Obviously it's a very different place now, but it still seems like a second home to us.”

“We go there a lot. The offers make it unbeatable value and my son adores the activities programme."

What is 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 vibrant destination 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.

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