Top 10 UK family holiday destinations
Planning a family holiday? Don't overlook the glorious getaways right on your doorstep – here are the UK destinations that Mumsnetters really rate
Northumberland has been a Mumsnetter fave for the past few years and we can't see that changing any time soon – the region has something for everyone.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.
The county gets rave reviews for its beautiful clean beaches, while 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 – bliss!
Where to stay
- Seashell Cottage is in the quaint seaside town of Amble, 9 miles from Alnwick, and is full of colourful shops and very close to the shore for lovely coastal walks. Book here.
- Or try rustic Bothy House, a cosy cottage in an acre of peaceful private woodland that sleeps six. It's near to Holy Island, and just 45 minutes from the Harry Potter castle. Get 7% off your stay by booking here.
- If you want more peace and quiet, Barn Cottage boasts stunning views over rolling fields, wide open skies and a lovely garden for kids to play in. Book here.
2. Isle of Wight
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.
The Isle of Wight has the considerable bonus of being reached via ferry, and therefore very nearly counting 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/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).
Where to stay
- Bodwen Corner Cottage is a lovely old Victorian property, which is in striking distance of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the Museum of Havenstreet. Get 7% off by booking here.
- You could also stay in one of the four parks offered by Park Resorts, with Nodes Point and Thorness Bay offering glamping options. Book here.
3. North Norfolk
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.
North Norfolk is a firm family favourite, with gasp-worthy beaches and traditional seaside resorts offering a plethora of quayside seafood (ie 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.
For other, less sandy things to do, Bewilderwood is a fab 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
- Fisherman's Cottage, with its exposed beams and quaint kitchen, is a cozy base from which to explore Wells-next-the-Sea, with the quay right on your doorstep. Get 5% off your stay with a Mumsnet discount when you book here.
- Cook's Cottage in Mundesley is close to Cromer and within walking distance of lovely sandy beaches. Get 7% off by booking here.
- The Oystercatcher has a Victorian walled garden – great for children who want to play outside – and is just a short walk from the centre of medieval Little Walsingham. Book here.
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.
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, penny arcades, a family-friendly beach and plenty of parks. Pack your swimmers and head to Scarborough’s newest attraction, the Alphamare water park – a multi-million pound attraction with plenty of slides, a water playground, heated outdoor pool and a spa area.
Where to stay
- 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 indoor pool – so great if it rains (which it wont, we're sure) or for keeping older children entertained. Book here.
- Holmedene cottage sleeps eight, making it ideal for bigger groups, and is close to both the fishing village of Filey, and an RSPB nature reserve with puffins and kittiwakes. Book here.
- 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. Get 7% off your stay with Mumsnet discount partners – book here.
5. Scottish Highlands, Aviemore
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!
“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, climbing wall, archery, clay pigeon shooting, gorge walking, kayaking and more) plus fishing, grass sledging, an indoor 'fun house', and miles and miles of beautiful trails… Aviemore is perfect for an active family break. Frankly we're exhausted just reading about it.
Where to stay
- Secluded Suidhe Cottage is conveniently close to the watersports and wildlife parks of Kincraig, or if you'd rather stay in, 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. Book here.
- For a more rustic break, stay at Aviemore Woodland Lodges and hire mountain bikes to explore the local landscape. Book here.
- Cottages.com also has Cairn View park in the region, and you can get 7% off your stay by booking here.
Probably my favourite part of the country – there's so much space on all of the beaches, and so many to choose from.
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.
Mumsnetters 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.
Where to stay
- 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.
- Or you could go for Glenvale, which is yards from a beach with lots of rockpools at low tide – ideal for curious kids who love splashing about. Save 7% by booking here.
- Clydey Cottages, another self-catering option, has a coveted Mumsnet Best Award with high praise for its facilities and friendly atmosphere. Book here.
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.
If you're holidaying with small children, then Dorset is a great spot: 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 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) and stop at the pop shop in town for lashings of ginger beer all round.
Where to stay
- 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. Book here.
- Hoseasons has a coastal park which is a mile from Swanage and comes with an exclusive 5% off for Mumsnetters – book here.
- Explorer House near Poole gives you easy access to the harbour, where you can take a boat trip to Brownsea Island. Book here.
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.
A UK holiday round-up which doesn't mention Cornwall? Impossible. A perennial favourite on the Mumsnet Talk boards, Cornwall has breathtaking coastline, family-friendly beaches and attractions like Land's End, The Minack open-air theatre, St Michael's Mount, and the Eden Project – which, as of March 2017, has a new canopy walkway.
Hayle is a popular destination, with its miles of sandy beaches, where there's surfing lessons for older children, while 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
- 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 cozy woodburner. Book here.
- There are also three properties in Cornwall with a Mumsnet Best Award: Bosinver Farm Cottages in St Austell (book here), Coombe Mill in Bodmin (book here) and Tredethick Farm in Lostwithiel (book here) all come with the family seal of approval.
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.
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.
Where to stay
- Hoseason's Ladram Bay holiday park is packed with things to do and is near to the lovely Jurassic Coast, which is great for family walks. Get 5% off your stay by booking here
- The Moors House looks like a quaint thatched roof cottage, but is deceptively big on the inside, sleeping 10. It's also only a short walk to the village of South Zeal. Book here.
- Devon is also home to two self-catering properties which have won Mumsnet Best Awards: Three Gates Farm in Huntsham (book here), and North Hayne Farm Cottages in Bishops Nymphton – book here.
10. Lake District
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.
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. Or if you're after a spot of downtime, take a cruise on the Derentwater – and don't forget the Kendal Mint Cake!
Where to stay
- Rustic lakeland cottage Crookthwaite has a big garden, and is close to Ambleside if you're driving, or a short walk to Hawkshead if you're not. Get 7% off your booking *here.*
- Get closer to the stunning lakes at Ullswater with Mell Fell View, which overlooks Northern Fells including Blencathra, Carrock and, of course, Mell. Book here.