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Toddler Friendly Holidays In the UK: 8 Great Staycation Ideas

I started writing this post before a certain virus necessitated travel restrictions across the world. I had been busy researching and booking toddler friendly holidays in the UK that we planned to spread throughout the year but, while we have postponed these trips for now, it seems staycations might be the main way most of us getaway in the second half of 2020. (Hopefully.)

So, for anyone planning a UK holiday with a young family, I thought it might be handy to share my list of toddler-friendly staycation ideas. Some are places we’ve already been to and loved, some are UK breaks we’ve booked and hope to get to soon.

Best UK breaks with toddlers

True to our typical travel style, all the accommodation options feature more than a few creature comforts. I err firmly on the glam side of camping. Think: chic shepherd’s huts, remote luxury lodges, glamping pods and the odd treehouse.

I plan to come back and add to this post with more details as and when we get to visit more places, and will of course add to it if my research throws up any more great UK staycation ideas.

(Feel free to send some my way too, we’re still a bit new to this whole travelling with a toddler thing!)

Please observe the government guidelines with regards to travelling during the Covid-19 Pandemic. This post is intended to provide inspiration for where to go when it’s safe to do so.

This post is not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned but does include some affiliate links, including the Airbnb Associates programme.

Best UK holidays for young families

Dorset & Jurassic Coast

What to do

Durdle Door by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

We were due to visit Dorset at Easter to check out the dramatic Jurassic coastline, cosy inns, seaside towns, one particularly pretty street in Shaftesbury made famous by the Hovis advert and West Bay, where they film the Broadchurch TV series.

Shaftesbury by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Toddler-friendly activities in Dorset include coastal walks between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door (perhaps with the little one in a child carrier or travel buggy!), Monkey World (an ape rescue centre near Wool) and ice creams on the sand at some of the gorgeous Dorset beaches such as Weymouth, Swanage or Bornemouth.

Where to stay

Dorset local and all-round expert, Emily Luxton recommended the Parkdean Resort in Warmwell to us for its handy location between Weymouth and Lulworth. I’ve got my eye on one of their recently renovated lodges with a hot tub on the veranda for a longer break. We’ve also booked a couple of nights in this cute cabin in Cruxton for a countryside escape.

Cotswolds

Lower Slaughter by Ivy Barn on Unsplash

What to do

The first staycation we ever did with our baby was to The Cotswolds. We flitted from one postcard-worthy village to the next, enjoying cream teas and farm-to-table brunches along the way.

Toddlers will love the Cotswolds Motoring Museum & Toy Collection (home of Brum) and Birdland Park & Gardens in Bourton-on-the-water, while parents should treat themselves to lunch, retail therapy and maybe even a massage at Daylesford Organic Farm.

Jane Austen fans might recognise the nearby village of Lower Slaughter as the backdrop for the latest movie adaptation of Emma. Come for a wander here followed by lunch by the fire at The Slaughters Country Inn.

Experience Freedom glamping pod Moreton-in-Marsh Cotswolds
Our Cotswolds glamping pod

Where to stay

We stayed in a cosy glamping pod in Moreton-in-Marsh, which can sleep up to 2 adults and 2 children in bunk beds. (Ask to have the sofa removed if you need to fit a travel cot in.)

We loved the location of these pods, which are within walking distance of the charming village but look out over fields. The campsite the pods are on is small and friendly, with pop up food trucks making an appearance on weekends.

Cornwall

Porthcurno Beach by Charisse Kenion
Porthcurno Beach by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

What to do

After researching a previous post I wrote about the prettiest places in Cornwall, I’ve become obsessed with visiting the UK’s sunny southern county. Dotted with historic harbour towns, wild, untouched beaches and bays that look like they belong in the Bahamas, Cornwall is one of the most popular places in the UK for a family staycation.

Port Isaac by Ian Woolcock
Port Isaac by Ian Woolcock/Shutterstock.com

If the weather and travel restrictions allow, later this year I’d love to take our toddler for a dip at Kynance Cove or Crantock Beach, sample the fare at one of the 4 Rick Stein restaurants in Padstow (or Padstein!) and hop on the scenic railway from St Erth to St Ives.

Where to stay

We have made a refundable booking for September in a luxury Scandi cabin on AirBnb, located in the hills between St Ives and Penzance. If the trip goes ahead I’ll update you on how our stay went with a toddler in tow.

Image thanks to AirBnb

I also have my eye on Carbis Bay Cabins near St Ives for a subsequent trip as I’m sure there will be many over the next couple of years.

Devon

Stylish Family Holiday Home in North Devon - The Salt House

What to do

Cornwall’s neighbour (or is it rival?) Devon has just as many beautiful golden beaches to its name. We took a trip to Ilfracombe when Miles was under one and spent our time indulging in Devonshire Tea in quaint thatched cottages, while exploring the coastline, including the award-winning Woolacombe Beach and surfing hotspot Croyde Bay.

Nelly May's Parlour Ilfracombe

Toddler-friendly days out in Devon include River Dart Country Park, which has playgrounds, assault courses, a play lake with a pirate ship and more, and the the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which runs between Paignton and Kingswear.

Where to stay

We stayed in the very stylish Salt House Devon in the heart of Ilfracombe, which offers views of both foodie Fore Street and Damien Hirst’s iconic Verity statue.

Salt House Devon Stylish Holiday Home

With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it’s very child-friendly, not least because it also comes with a washing machine, dishwasher and lots of handy plastic crockery and cutlery for the kids.

It’s set out over 3 levels so you may want to enquire about stair gates, but I’m sure the hosts will be more than willing to help – they are the type of owners who leave boogie boards and buckets in the hallway.

Port Lympne Safari Park, Kent

Image thanks to The Aspinall Foundation

A couple of friends have stayed at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve with their families and their positive experiences persuaded me to add it to our wish-list.

Found in Kent, and therefore handy to get to for those of us that live in London and the South East, the reserve is home to over 900 animals, including bears and giraffes.

You can explore the reserve on a safari truck, delight toddlers with the Dinosaur Forest and stay overnight in luxury accommodation, which includes luxury lodges, tents and a treehouse.

Port Lympne is a registered charity so all profits from the parks and short breaks go back into their conservation work, more of which you can read about here.

Where to stay

The luxury lodgings, some of which come with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lion and rhino enclosures, don’t come cheap so are definitely something we’ll be saving for a special occasion.

The reserve also has some more affordable glamping pods and shepherd huts, which can sleep up to 4 people and start at £139 per night.

Image thanks to Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve

I’ve got my eye on something in the middle of the two, which is a luxury shepherd’s hut at Hog Deer Creek. These cosy huts offer views of the animals at a nearby watering hole, with all the creature comforts of an ensuite bathroom, log burner, TV, mini fridge and Nespresso machine, which is much more my cup of tea!

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

What to do

Brecon Beacons by Samuel Thompson on Unsplash

I’m determined to raise a little bookworm which is why the home of The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts* (also known as the ‘Woodstock of Words’) features on this list.

*The 2020 festival is being held online between the 18th and 31 May but hopefully we can go in person in 2021.

The quaint market town of Hay-on-Wye is filled to the brim with bookshops including Rose’s Books, which specialise in rare and out-of-print children’s books that make wonderful gifts. Then, if you can tear yourself way from the bookshops and beer gardens, there are outdoor pursuits galore in the surrounding countryside. More adventurous families might enjoy hiking, biking or hiring a canoe to explore the Brecon Beacons and River Wye.

Where to stay

I seemed to have developed a hobby of pinning pictures of glamping sites and cottages in the Wye Valley.

Image thanks to sugarandloaf.com

Top of my list is this Shepherd’s Hut near Usk with a fire pit and honesty shop where you can stock up on local produce.

Peaks and Pods, Yorkshire

It’s quite a drive for us to get to Yorkshire but I’m certain it will be worth it for a proper cuppa and a stay at Peaks and Pods in Settle. I came across these luxury glamping pods on a dairy farm in a newspaper article and the rural location coupled with cosy accommodation really appealed to me.

Image thanks to Peaks and Pods

These fully-equipped handcrafted pods come with kitchenettes and bathrooms and if you go with the Gold Level Top Pod you’ll get a hot tub, swing seat and fire pit too. (£150 per night for weekends and school holidays.)

Image thanks to Peaks and Pods

Located on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the stunning Forest of Bowland and the enchanting Ribble Valley, there are lots of scenic trails and picturesque villages to explore on the pod’s doorstep. Plus, the list of places to eat on the Peaks and Pods website had me drooling.

Peak District

What to do

You’ll frequently find the Peak District referred to as one of the best UK holidays for young families and it’s easy to see why.

Peak District National Park by Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The UK’s first National Park is packed full of scenic walks and stately homes that you can combine with family fun such as riding a steam train in Ecclesborne Valley, scaling the Heights of Abraham in a cable car and giggling on the rides at Gulliver’s Kingdom, a theme park designed specifically for children aged between 2 and 3.

One of the most popular family days out in the Peak District is the Crich Tramway Village, where you can walk down a recreation of a period street and ride on vintage electric trams.

Of course, this sweet tooth won’t be able to resist a visit to Bakewell, home of the delicious Bakewell Pudding and a lively Farmers Market where livestock are auctioned on the last Saturday of the month.

Where to stay

I’ve seen lots of recommendations for Landal Darwin Forest, a 5 star lodge holiday park that is set within 47 acres of stunning woodland between Matlock and Bakewell in the Derbyshire Peak District. They have 137 lodges that sleep between 2 to 8 people and come with generous verandas, some with hot tubs.

I hope this provides you with some ideas on where you can enjoy a great UK break with toddlers. Let me know if you have any favourite places you think should be on the list.

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Featured image thanks to Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

About Author

Travel blogger and freelancer writer who loves boutique hotels and brunching. I've been blogging for 10 years, visited 60+ countries and called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (oh so briefly) New York home at various points during the last decade. Now travelling with a baby and trying to make it as stylish and stress-free as can be!

4 Comments

  • Jan (@chimptrips)
    May 15, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    A great reminder of how many beautiful places we have in the UK. My son enjoyed spotting some of the lovely places we’ve been.

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      May 15, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      That’s awesome! I always said I wanted to see more of the Uk and now I can’t wait to.

      Reply
  • madhu sharma
    May 30, 2020 at 9:02 am

    Wow I really want to explore UK ..it’s so beautiful .Dorset is in my list ..thanks for adding more to my list

    Reply
    • Jayne Gorman
      May 30, 2020 at 9:25 am

      It’s top of mine too. Hopefully we get to see it soon.

      Reply

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