10 of the best UK staycation ideas for families

by Jan

Are you looking for UK holiday ideas?  With a beautiful coastline, amazing heritage and tonnes of family attractions the UK is perfect for a family holiday.  Plus, you don’t have the hassle or cost of travelling abroad.  In this post we share 10 of our best UK staycation ideas for families.

What’s more, we have tried and tested all these suggestions for holidays in the UK, so know that your family will love them.  We also share the top attractions in each area and the best things to do with children.

Read on for some holiday inspiration in England and Wales and best ideas for UK weekends away.

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Wimborne Minster, Dorset

view of cliffs, stones and sea, Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England

The first of our UK holiday ideas for families is to Wimborne Minster in Dorset.

Dorset is an excellent choice if you’re looking for inspiration for a UK holiday.  It has a jaw-dropping coastline, abundant with ancient fossils.  Yes, Dorset is home to the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, with an amazing geological history.

But don’t imagine that all the beaches are stony.  Dorset also offers long stretches of fantastic sandy beaches, that are perfect for a bucket and spade family holiday.

view of famous Hengistbury Head Beach huts, Dorset, England

Things to do near Wimborne Minster

Wimborne Minster is a small, market town and makes a great location for days out with kids in Dorset.

History lovers will enjoy a trip to Kingston Lacy, a 17th-century country mansion, just up the road from Wimborne.  Or you could head towards Wareham to see the ancient ruins of Corfe Castle.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Monkey World is a fantastic suggestion for a day out in Dorset with kids.  This 65-acre chimpanzee rescue centre has over rescued 260 primates, as well as a large adventure playground.

view of Durdle Door, blue sea, sand, Dorset, England

Wimborne Minster is a good base for getting to the many stunning beaches in Dorset.  You could head to Bournemouth, Sandbanks or Studland for long, sandy beaches.  Alternatively, venture further along the coast to Charmouth or Ringstead Bay to try your luck at fossil-hunting.

If your kids like crabbing, Mudeford Quay is the perfect place for beginners.  Or you may want to see the iconic Durdle Door, a majestic natural limestone arch near Lulworth.

Read more:  Amazing things to do on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset

If you’re keen on hiking, Wimborne Minister is only 10 miles from the New Forest.  Here you’ll be spoilt for choice for woodland trails or could enjoy some outdoor family fun at Moors Valley Country Park.

Read moreHow to spend 3 days in the New Forest

Boy smiling holding large crab caught at Mudeford Quay, Dorset, England

Accommodation near Wimborne

Chipping Campden, Cotswolds

Chipping Campden, Market Hall, Cotswold, UK

With its honey-coloured cottages, cosy tea houses and quaint villages, the Cotswolds is an ideal destination for a family holiday or weekend break for couples.  Explore the pretty village of Snowshill, the macabre-named Slaughters or Bibury, the most beautiful village in England.

Plus, with so much gorgeous countryside, walkers will be spoilt for choice.  If you’re feeling energetic, you could even try The Cotswold Way.  This national trail goes for 100 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all in one go!

Dovers Hill, Chipping Campden, Cotswold, UK

Things to do near Chipping Campden, Cotswolds

As well as exploring the rolling hills and quintessential villages, there’s plenty of things to do in the Cotswolds for kids.  Firstly, you should head to the pretty village of Bourton-on-the-Water to see the model village, Birdland, or the Motoring Museum.

If you’re travelling with animal lovers, the Cotswold Wildlife Park makes a great day out for all the family.  Or head to the Cotswold Farm Park, where you’ll see the TV farm in action.

In the pretty village of Snowshill, you can see the quirky collection of memorabilia in Snowshill Manor.  Or head to Batsford Arboretum to explore the stunning gardens.

If you love the countryside you’ll be spoilt for choice for family walks.  Take a hike to see the iconic Broadway Tower or up Dover’s Hill on the start of the Cotswolds Way.

Read more:  A perfect 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds

Accommodation in Chipping Campden, Cotswolds

Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsular

Two boys standing on beach looking out across Oxwich Bay at Sunrise, Gower Peninsula

Now, we couldn’t do a list of UK staycation ideas for families without a mention of Wales.  The first of our Welsh suggestions is the Gower Peninsula.  The Gower Peninsula is in south-west Wales and in 1956 became the UK’s first Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty.  Gower has a stunning landscape and some of the best beaches in the world.

There’s plenty of choice for charming seaside villages, but we chose Oxwich Bay, just 13 miles from Swansea.

Green cliffs, grey rock faces, blue sea and golden sands at Three Cliffs, Gower Peninsula

Things to do near Oxwich Bay, Gower

With its own nature reserve and long golden beach you’ll find lots of things to do with kids in Oxwich Bay.  Nature-lovers will love this area and sports enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them busy.

Firstly, try exploring some of the other beautiful beaches on the Gower.  There are loads to choose from, but we love Three Cliffs Bay or the stunning Rhossili Bay.  Furthermore, if you go in August, you may be lucky enough to see the sunflowers too.

If you don’t like sitting on a beach, you can do some fantastic family walks in Gower.  Plus, enjoy fantastic views from the Gower Coastal Path or even find a smugglers’ cave at Port Eynon.

View of Mumbles Promenade with Oystermouth castle in background, Gower Peninsula, Wales

Alternatively, there are lots of things to do in the Victorian seaside town of Mumbles.  You can visit Oystermouth Castle and Mumbles Pier or cross the causeway to the Lighthouse.  If your family likes cycling, hire a bike and cycle from Mumbles to Swansea.

Accommodation in Oxwich Bay, Gower

Upper Lydbrook, Wye Valley

Wye Valley View from Symonds Yat Rock, Gloucestershire, UK

Does your family love nature and the great outdoors?  If so, the Wye Valley is a perfect choice for a UK staycation.  This Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty straddles the border between England and Wales and comprises three counties.

Visitors love the Wye Valley for its amazing woodlands, the Forest of Dean, watersports on the River Wye and some fun family attractions.

Things to do near Upper Lydbrook

Lydbrook is a small village on the English side of the Wye Valley.  Its central position makes it an ideal base for exploring the pretty villages and tourist attractions in the region.

For the best views in the Wye Valley head up to the iconic viewpoint Symonds Yat Rock from where you’ll have a fabulous vantage point of the River Wye.  But, more adventurous families should get down on the river and canoe down the River Wye.

Alternatively, you could head to Beechenwood and follow the Sculpture Trail in the forest.  If you prefer two wheels to feet, you can hire bikes at the Cannop Cycle Centre.

Fallen trees and Scowls at Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean, UK

Without doubt, one of the best things to do in the Wye Valley with kids is a trip out to the Forest of Dean.  Here you can make a visit to Puzzlewood, a magical woodland near Coleford.  Afterwards, cross to nearby Clearwell Caves and make an underground tour of the caves that miners have been excavating for thousands of years.

Accommodation in Upper Lydbrook

Noss Mayo, South Devon

Views of boats through trees, Devon, UK

Of course, we couldn’t write about UK staycation ideas for families without mentioning Devon and Cornwall.  These two counties in the South-West are perfect for a family holiday in the UK.

With pretty, coastal towns, spectacular beaches, and rugged countryside, you have plenty of choice of somewhere pretty to stay.  However, we’ve picked the picture-box village, Noss Mayo in South Hams, one of the quieter areas of South Devon.

Noss Mayo is a charming, quaint village on the River Yealm estuary, across the water from Newton Ferrers.  It is home to two pubs, a quaint café, and several small shops.  It’s position on the water makes it a popular destination for sailors.

Stunning sea and cliff views at Hobeton, Devon, UK

Things to do near Noss Mayo, South Devon

Noss Mayo is close to some beautiful sandy beaches, such as the lovely Bantham or Bigbury-on-Sea.  At low tide you can walk from Bigbury across to Burgh Island.  However, you might prefer to wait until the tide is in, so you can travel on the iconic sea tractor.  Once on the island you can stop at Pilchard Inn, a former haunt of the local smugglers.

South Devon is also perfect for family hiking.  The South West Coastal Path passes through Noss Mayo and the views from the cliff tops are breath-taking.  Or you could head inland for some family hiking in Dartmoor National Park.

If you want to explore one of England’s most important maritime towns, Plymouth is only 6 miles away.  Plymouth is home to the UK’s largest aquarium, the National Maritime Aquarium.  Or Totnes is a fascinating historical town with a charming character.

Other choices for animal-loving families are the Otter and Butterfly Farm in Buckfastleigh, or nearby Dartmoor Zoo.

Accommodation in Noss Mayo, South Devon

Rye, East Sussex

Take a visit to East Sussex for magnificent castles, stunning white cliffs, and traditional seaside resorts.  Located on England’s South Coast, its three main towns are the popular staycation resorts of Brighton, Eastbourne, and Hastings.

All are easy to get to from London and make an ideal destination if you’re looking for a weekend break.   Just along the coast from Hastings is the picture-perfect village of Rye.

View of old houses, cobble street, Mermaid Street, Rye, Sussex

Things to do near Rye, East Sussex

Rye is a medieval market town near the coast in East Sussex.  It’s a delightful town with a quintessential old world charm.  Imagine cobbled lanes, half-timbered houses, and ancient pubs.

Don’t miss a trip to the famous Mermaid Street or browse the galleries in the quirky Strand Quay.  However, there’s also lots of things to do in Rye with kids.  Nature lovers should visit the Rye Nature Reserve, a wetland area and important wildlife habitat.  Or you could take a walk to the ancient Camber Castle.

If you travel along the coast, you can visit Camber Sands, a 3-mile sandy beach just east of Rye.

The Stade Fishing Boats pulled up onto shingle beach, Hastings, Sussex

Head in the other direction for a trip to the historic seaside town of Hastings.  On the beachfront Hastings has an aquarium and miniature railway.

Or you could take one of the funicular railways leading up to the clifftop.  Once on the cliffs you can visit the ruins of Hastings Castle or explore the caves in a Smugglers Adventure.

Although famous for the 1066 Battle of Hastings, the conflict actually took place in the nearby town of Battle.  Head here to see the ancient Battle Abbey and the spot where King Harold lost his life.

Wooden Archer statue drawing his bow, Battle of-Hastings, Battle, Sussex

Accommodation in Rye

You’ll also find good options for glamping at Freshwinds Campsite in Pett or Bluebell Coppice Campsite near Battle.

Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

Saundersfoot Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales

The second of our UK staycation ideas for families in Wales is in the seaside town of Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire.  Pembrokeshire has something for everyone.  Stunning beaches, castles, and family attractions.

Saundersfoot is a very family-friendly town about 5 miles from Tenby. It has a large sandy beach with rock pools, a harbour, and a vibrant town centre.

Puffin at Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Things to do near Saundersfoot

Saundersfoot offers a great choice of things to do with children.  For wildlife lovers there’s Folly Farm, Manor House Wildlife Park, or the Reptile Experience.  However, the ultimate day out is a boat trip to Skomer Island to see the hundreds of puffins and seals who live there.

If history’s more your thing, there’s plenty of castles including the fabulous Carew Castle & Tidal Mill or Pembroke Castle.

What’s more, Saundersfoot lies within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.  This magnificent park has miles of open countryside and a superb coastal trail.

You could enjoy a family walk from Saundersfoot to Tenby, where you’ll see the famous-coloured houses or take a trip out to Caldey Island.

Accommodation in Saundersfoot

Fakenham, Norfolk

Small Cruiser and Two Boys in Rubber dingy on the Norfolk Broads

With stunning beaches, historic houses, and family attractions, it’s no surprise that Norfolk is a popular destination for a UK holiday with kids.  Plus, it has its own National Park, the Norfolk Broads.  The Broads is a network of navigable lakes and rivers, which are perfect for a family staycation on a boat.

Fakenham is a market town in North Norfolk.  It is an ideal location for exploring the area and great days out with kids in Norfolk.

Read more:  30 best things to do in Norfolk with kids

Paraglider on Beach at Weybourne, Norfolk, UK

Things to do near Fakenham in Norfolk

Wet Pebbles with sea crashing behind, Norfolk Beaches, Weybourne, Norfolk

You can find some of the best beaches in Norfolk at Wells-next-the-Sea, Hunstanton and Brancaster Beach.  Or take a boat trip to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve, where you’ll see the largest Grey Seal colony in England.

Children will love the woodland trails and Go Ape at Thetford Forest.  Or, if you’re travelling with younger children take them to the fantastic adventure park, Bewildered.

If you enjoy historic visits, you could explore the estates of some magnificent stately homes in Norfolk, such as Sheringham Park and Blickling Hall.

Of course, you can’t visit Norfolk without a trip to the Norfolk Broads.  Head to Wroxham or Hoveton to hire a boat for the day and explore some of the magical waterways.

Read moreHow to spend 7 days on the Norfolk Broads

Accommodation in Fakenham, Norfolk

Glastonbury, Somerset

With ancient Roman cities, beautiful beaches and some incredibly famous cheese, Somerset is a superb idea for a UK staycation for families.  Somerset is a scenic, rural country in south west England.  It has a rich history, some spectacular landscapes and lots of great days out for kids.

View of Glastonbury Tor, Green fields and hill with tower on top with blue sky

Things to do near Glastonbury, Somerset

Best known for its famous music festival, Glastonbury is a quirky town with strong links to magic, legend, and folklore.  Its central location in the country of Somerset makes it an ideal base for exploring this rural county.  Of course, you can’t go on a day trip until you’ve climbed the hill to reach the iconic Glastonbury Tor.

One of the best things to do in Somerset is visit Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills.  Climb up the cliffs for fantastic views of England’s largest gorge or head underground for a tour of Cheddar Caves.  Afterwards you can pop in the village for some local Cheddar cheese or traditional afternoon tea.

Alternatively, if you’re a family of history lovers, visit the ancient city of Bath.  The Roman Baths is on the site of some unique thermal springs, used by Romans thousands of years ago.  This popular family attraction is now a World Heritage Site and makes a great day out with kids.

On that other hand, if your family likes hiking you can take a trip to Exmoor National Park.  Or for an cheap and easy day out, simply head to the beach at Minehead or Weston-super-Mare.

Boys looking at Roman Baths, Somerset, England

Accommodation in Glastonbury, Somerset

Matlock Bath, Peak District

Our final suggestion for UK holiday destinations with kids is the Peak District.

If you’re are looking for UK staycation ideas away from the coast, the Peak District is a great holiday destination.  With miles of beautiful, unspoilt countryside, the Peak District has plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Matlock Bath is a small market town on the edge of the Peak District and an ideal base for exploring the area.  Matlock Bath in Derbyshire was a small mining town until the discovery of thermal spring water in 1698.  It then developed as a fashionable spa town and popular tourist destination.

statues of cows, in pasture by cable cars, Matlock, Peak District

Things to do near Matlock Bath, Peak District

Now, you really can’t visit Matlock Bath without a visit to The Heights of Abraham.  Visitors have been flocking here since the Victorian times.  Part of the fun is the journey by cable car to get to the country park at the top.  Once there, you can tour the underground caves, explore the woods, and climb Prospect Tower.

Another of the best things to do near Matlock Bath is Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park, a 200-million-year-old natural limestone cave system on the outskirts of Buxton.  Explore the network of caves to see the ancient stalagmites and stalactites or take a woodland walk through Grinlow Woods.

View down to town of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

One of the best things to do with kids near Matlock Bath is visit Gulliver’s Kingdom, a family theme park with rides and attractions.  Alternatively, for families of animal lovers, pay a visit to Matlock Farm Park or the Peak Wildlife Park.

The Peak District has a stunning landscape which is perfect for walking and cycling.  One of the best family trails is the Monsal Trail, a disused railway track which starts at Hassop Station.  Another popular cycle trail is the Tissington Trail, which runs for 13 miles from Parsley Hay.

Old Bridge from Monsal Trail, Derbyshire

If you are looking for historic houses, the Peak District is home to the impressive Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.  As well as exploring the 105 acres of estate, kids can enjoy the adventure playground and farmyard.  Or you could visit the historic town of Bakewell and try some of the famous tart.

Accommodation in Matlock Bath, Peak District

We'd love to hear from you!

Have you tried any of these UK staycation ideas for families?  Where is your favourite place to go?

We’d love to hear your comments below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission. (Read our full Disclosure Policy)

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