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
1. NorthumberlandThe 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.
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.
It gets rave reviews for its beautiful clean beaches, and Bamburgh's imposing castle, dramatically positioned next to the sea, is perfect for imagining 'the olden days' of knights and queens. Alternatively, take a boat from Seahouses to the Farne Islands, or drive over the causeway to Holy Island. And don't forget Alnwick Castle, where many scenes in the Harry Potter films 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 plenty of lovely coastal walks. Or try rustic Bothy House, a cosy cottage in an acre of peaceful private woodland that sleeps six (get 7% off your stay here). It's near to Holy Island, and just 45 minutes from the Harry Potter castle. If you want more peace and quiet, Barn Cottage boasts stunning views over rolling fields, wide open skies and a lovely garden for the kids to play in.
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 counts 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 stayBodwen Corner Cottage is a lovely old Victorian property, which is in striking of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the Museum of Havenstreet (get 7% off your stay here). Or consider self-catering at Mumsnet Best winner Nettlecombe Farm. You could also stay in one of the four parks offered by Park Resorts, with Nodes Point and Thorness Bay offering glamping options.
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 Mumsnetter fave, 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 kids can follow the dinosaur trail at theme park Dinosaur World. There are plenty of English Heritage and National Trust properties, too.
Where to stay
Fisherman's Cottage, with its exposed beams and quaint kitchen, is a cozy base from which to explore the nearby quay of Wells-next-the-Sea, just 25 yards away (get 5% off your stay here). Cook's Cottage in Mundesley is close to Cromer, and is in walking distance of Norfolk's lovely sandy beaches (get 7% off your stay here ), while the Oystercatcher is in the an old Victorian walled garden, so great for playing outside, but is also just a short walk from the centre of medieval Little Walsingham.
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.
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 to the sandy beaches at Scarborough and has plenty of indoor play options, like a climbing wall, so good for older kids (or if it rains – which it wont, we're sure). Holmedene 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. Or if you'd like to go a bit more wild, opt for The Byre, located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with stunning long distance views over the rolling countryside (get 7% off your stay 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 miles and miles of beautiful trails, fishing, grass sledging and an indoor 'fun house'… 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're staying at home, boasts its own hot tub(!). Glencanisp on the other hand is a grand old house with open fires which sleeps up to six, and is in the centre of Aviemore, so in striking distance of plenty of activities. Hire mountain bikes and explore from Aviemore Woodland Lodges, or try spacious The Knock, which has spectacular views across the valleys (get 7% off your stay here). Cottages.com also has Cairn View park in the region and you can get 7% off your stay by booking through Mumsnet.
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 has loads of activities to keep your children busy, as well as being very close to Tenby, based in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (get 5% off your stay here). Or you could go for Glenvale, which is yards from a beach which has lots of rockpools at low tide, which is ideal for curious kids who love splashing about (get 7% off your stay here). Clydey Cottages, another self-catering option, has won a coveted Mumsnet Best Award.
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 good 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). 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 6 miles south of Weymouth, and close to Chesil beach, so there's lots of local wildlife you can spot from the garden. Hoseasons has a coastal park which is a mile from Swanage and comes with an exclusive 5% off for Mumsnetters, while Explorer House near Poole gives you easy access to the harbour, where you can take a boat trip to Brownsea island.
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 and St Michael's Mount, as well as 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 pootle on the beach 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. The Mackerel is very close to St Austell, Cornwall's biggest town, and its many beaches. There are also three properties in Cornwall with a Mumsnet Best Award: Bosinver Farm Cottages in St Austell, Coombe Mill in Bodmin and Tredethick Farm in Lostwithiel.
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 here). The Moors House looks like a quaint thatched roof cottage, but is much bigger on the inside, sleeping 10 people. It's also only a short walk to the village of South Zeal. Plus, there's two self-catering properties which have won Mumsnet Best Awards; Three Gates Farm in Huntsham, and North Hayne Farm Cottages in Bishops Nymphton.
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 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. 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of her birth so look out for special events. 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. Don't forget the Kendal Mint Cake!
Where to stay
Rustic lakeland cottage Crookthwaite has a big garden, is close to Ambleside if you're driving, or a short walk to Hawkshead if you're not (get 7% off your stay here). Get closer to the stunning lakes at Ullswater with Mell Fell View, which overlooks Northern Fells including Mell, Blencathra and Carrock. Park Resorts also has four resorts in the area, with three in Windermere and one in Kendal.