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Toddler Friendly Holidays In the UK: 8 Great Staycation Ideas

I’ve spent A LOT of the last few months daydreaming, scheming and researching toddler friendly holidays in the UK that don’t err too far from my pre-child travel style.

(I definitely prefer the glam side of camping – I’m not coming unless there’s an en suite!)

To my surprise and delight, I found that Blighty has a lot to offer a young family looking for a stylish holiday. I discovered chic shepherd huts in Kent, cosy glamping pods in Cornwall, and cool pods with hot tubs in Yorkshire, to name a few.

So, for anyone planning a UK holiday with a young family, I thought it might be handy to share my list of best UK breaks with toddlers that offer a little luxury, some family-friendly fun and a truly unique stay.

Toddler friendly holidays in the UK - best UK breaks for young families

We’ve booked a few of these UK staycation ideas already so I’ll add to this post with more details as and when we get to them. Feel free to send some my way too, we’re still a bit new to this whole travelling with a toddler thing!

Click here for some helpful travel advice from Visit England on travelling safely and respectfully in the current climate.

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

Toddler Friendly Holidays In The UK – Best UK Breaks For Young Families

Dorset & Jurassic Coast

What to do

Toddler friendly holiday destinations in the UK include Dorset
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.

Toddler friendly holiday destinations in the UK include Dorset
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

Cotswolds - One of the best places for a UK break with a young family
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 toddler friendly family holiday.

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’re due to stay in this luxury Scandi cabin hidden in the hills between St Ives and Penzance in late summer and I also have my eye on Carbis Bay Cabins for a beach break next year.

Check out more incredible cabins, huts and barn conversions in Cornwall that I found on Airbnb.

Toddler friendly cabin in Cornwall
Image thanks to AirBnb

Devon

Devon - Toddler friendly holiday destination in the UK

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 a baby 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 things to do 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.

Devon - TBaby friendly holiday destination in the UK

With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it’s very family-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

Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve - Best UK breaks for young families
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.

Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve - Best UK breaks for young families
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

Toddler friendly holidays in the Uk
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.

Where to stay with a young family in Wales
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.

Peaks and Pods Yorkshire - Best UK breaks for families
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.)

Peaks and Pods Yorkshire - Best UK holidays with kids
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.

Toddler friendly holiday destinations in the UK to add to your bucket list
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 5.

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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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!

5 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
  • Charlotte
    May 30, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    What a great guide! So many beautiful places to see. I sometimes forget how easy it is to pop over to the UK from Norway. I definitely need to plan a trip over there when we can finally travel again 🙂

    Reply

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