A traditional Tudor style beamed cottage covered in purple wisteria, with two giraffes stood outside
Photograph: Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve

The 11 best places for family holidays in the UK

Looking for an actually good family-friendly break in the UK? We’ve rounded up the best quirky, kid-friendly stays in the country

Advertising

Travelling with kids is, as you’d expect, nowhere near as simple as travelling without ‘em. Not only have you got other whole human beings to be responsible for, but you’ve got to keep them entertained. But ‘family-friendly’ doesn’t have to mean ‘soulless holiday park’ or ‘drab all-inclusive’. 

The UK is very much the all-rounder when it comes to family-friendly breaks. It’s the kind of place that brings out the kid in anyone, from its nostalgic seaside towns and expansive national parks to its rich, complex history. And these are the pick of the bunch: the absolute best places for a family holiday in the UK right now.

RECOMMENDED:
🏊The best outdoor swimming pools in the UK
🏔️The best road trips in the UK
🌤️The most stunning hidden beaches in the UK
🏰The best castles where you can actually stay in the UK
🌲The best tree houses you can actually stay in

For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines and check out our latest travel guides written by local experts. 

Best family breaks in the UK

1. Blackberry Wood, Sussex

It’s easy to see why securing a summer booking at this boutique campsite can be a little like getting your hands on a Glastonbury ticket. But while the Instagrammable woodland plots are a draw, it’s the highly coveted unusual lodgings – which range from a converted Routemaster and a grounded 1960s helicopter to a ‘curvy cabin’ and a pair of twisted, Disney-worthy treehouses – that will get your brood grinning. Activity-wise, a schlep or cycle up Ditchling Beacon from Blackberry Wood offers the reward of a striking Sussex panorama, while The Jolly Sportsman pub does a nice line in attentively cooked Sunday roasts.

Best for: Hardy, transport-mad youngsters.

2. Bournemouth Beach Lodges, Dorset

Seaside huts – even when they’re glorified cupboards – always have huge waiting lists and spark an oddly intense desire in people who don’t live near a beach. So you can expect a few envious glances if you manage to snag one of these new overnight beach lodges, right on the sand in Bournemouth. There’s just about room for six across each of the 15 slick, cleverly adaptable cabins, while wheelchair accessible and dog-friendly options are available. Plus, you can use an electric barbecue for sundown grilling. 

Best for: Watersports-loving junior beach bums.

Advertising

3. House in the Clouds, Suffolk

It may look like a crashed, balloon-free version of the house from Up, but this 1920s water tower – cunningly disguised by an architect as a floating abode – is actually a uniquely kooky bit of family accommodation. Spread out over five floors, the House in the Clouds comfortably hosts two or three sharing families and the top-floor games room gives you sweeping views of Suffolk during your fierce ping-pong battles. Plus, thanks to the influence of one-time Thorpeness regular JM Barrie, there’s a kid-pleasing ‘Peter Pan’ theme (and lurking model crocodile) at the neighbouring boating lake. 

Best for: Curious tweens with a taste for heights.

Historic splendour, manicured gardens set in rolling Yorkshire countryside, an adventure playground straight out of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, and the IMDb credits of a veteran thesp... Castle Howard is the country pile that does it all. The stately home itself, with its famous Sir John Vanbrugh-designed Great Hall, has appeared the BBC’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and ‘Bridgerton’ (Daphne landed a season 1 haymaker on hissable Nigel Berbrooke there, as Bridger-nerds will not need to be told).

Handily, the estate rents six super-comfy cottages full of luxe touches in the hushed hamlet of Welburn a few miles away. Ours, Chanting Hill Farmhouse, was pretty much the platonic ideal of a country getaway: a beautiful combo of elegant modern decor, oldie-worlde vibes, beds to sink into, and a living room you’ll never want to leave.

But leave we did, spending a deeply mellow weekend roaming the castle, sniffing about in the walled gardens (the dog, at least), adventuring across big rope bridges, and checking out the Tony Cragg sculptures in the grounds – all topped off with steak and sticky toffee pudding in the friendly village pub. A car is a very big plus here – York Station is a 25-minute taxi ride away – but for a family and pooch-friendly break, it’s bliss. Pop into the village’s café-deli, Dogh, to fuel up with a hearty brekkie and coffee to perk you up for a morning ramble.

Best for: Glorious countryside, stately grandeur and Skelf Island, an adventure playground to impress Young Indy

https://media.timeout.com/images/106148772/image.jpg
Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
Advertising

5. Loveland Farm Pods, Devon

Off-grid living and futuristic design collide in the form of these appealing geodesic Loveland Farm Pods, perched on farmland in distractingly pretty north-west Devon. Yes, there’s a compost toilet and a rustic surfer vibe (the dude-approved swells of Woolacombe are just an hour away), but the nine pods also feature kitchens, wood fires, modernist furniture, cool indoor tipis and the odd projector for atmospheric movie nights. If you do crave a touch more civilisation, Hartland’s time-warp village shops and welcoming coastal pubs are a short walk away.

Best for: Surf-crazy older kids.

6. The Farm at Avebury, Wiltshire

You’re never too young to be captivated by Wiltshire’s magical and mysterious neolithic landscapes. Stonehenge, of course, is the rock star. But a little way to the north, the whole family can get up close and mystical with the stone circle at Avebury: a cryptic ancient monument that’s so big that it contains a whole village (complete with pub).

Both of these Stone Age marvels are easily reached from The Farm at Avebury, a smart little farm stay housed in six converted stables – we stayed in Windmill Hill. Slightly older kids will love the ladders up to the mezzanine bedrooms, while younger ones will appreciate the communal courtyard with its array of ride-along plastic tractors – perfect for using up that last burst of energy after a big day out.

Best for: Any kid yet to reach the ‘it’s just a bunch of rocks’ phase.

Advertising
  • Attractions
  • Wildlife centres
  • London

Ah, Kent. Oast houses, windswept beaches and, erm, inquisitive tigers peering in your hotel window. Yes, at this conservation-minded safari park – one of the Aspinall Foundation’s two Kentish facilities – you can (safely) spend the night a few furry footsteps away from bears, rhinos, big cats and more. Rooms at Port Lympne run the gamut from swish, savannah-ready tents to lavish treehouse suites (complete with private golf buggy). Recover from feeding the giraffes by heading to nearby Hythe to catch a dinky steam train bound for the atmospheric shinglescape in Dungeness.

Best for: Critter-crazy pre-school tykes.

8. National Showcaves Centre, Wales

Okay, the showcaves themselves are an incredible experience for all the family, but we’re going to jump straight to the dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. The National Showcaves Centre for Wales (located in Brecon Beacons National Park) is home to one of the largest dinosaur parks in the world, where the coolest of all prehistoric beasts roam the land in search of salvation. Well, they stand around, but there aren’t many things cooler than an excellent dinosaur park. All kids love dinosaurs, too – that is a fact. The centre also has camping and caravan options for staying over.

Best for: Dino-lovers of all ages.

Advertising
  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • West Midlands

Budding knights (and their ‘Game of Thrones’-obsessed parents) will get a huge kick from staying at this medieval-themed camping village near Coventry. Thankfully, plague-ridden historical accuracy is abandoned in favour of plush double beds and in-tent Wi-fi, while all manner of thrilling Dark Ages activities (sword training, archery, fiery nighttime weapons displays) will keep even jaded teenagers amused. You’re close to Stratford-upon-Avon’s Shakespearean diversions, but the resort has so many attractions – including a terrific new Horrible Histories maze outside the castle – that you won’t need to stray.

Best for: High-octane history boys and girls.

10. Gladwins Farm, Suffolk

If you’ve ever found yourself in a city farm, idly fantasising about a hot tub and an industrial-strength gin and tonic, this huddle of nine Suffolk cottages may be the place for you. Set within a former agricultural site, Gladwins Farm marries eco-consciousness (an indoor pool is heated by a wood chip boiler) and child-friendly animal interaction (kids can collect chicken eggs) with swanky, parent-pleasing touches (a micro-spa and hot tubs). Bonus: Colchester Zoo is only 30 minutes away if you fancy something more exotic than the farmyard regulars.

Best for: Old MacDonald-loving toddlers.

Advertising

11. The Raft at Chigborough, Essex

A stay on a houseboat? Frankly, that’s amateur hour compared with this rugged, custom-built cabin floating near Essex’s newly ritzy Blackwater Estuary. A labour of love for the owners of the adjacent Chigborough Farm, The Raft’s a two-storey lodge that can snugly fit four and brims with inspired touches: a removable floor panel for a view of the lake, a separate hot tub accessible by rowing boat, a vintage telescope. Whether or not you catch dinner in the trout-filled water, it’s practically compulsory to stroll to the waterside Tiptree Tea Room for some cake.

Best for: Outdoorsy adolescents.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising