Taking a quick trip at the weekend is a great way to spend time together as a family and to unwind after a busy working week – and keeping your holiday on home turf offers a lot of advantages. For one thing there’s a lot less to worry about. There’s no need to fly (or panic about passports) and no vaccinations, while your travel options stay flexible …and you’re able to understand the local language! For some UK breaks might sound like a boring – or just plain drizzly – prospect, you can find plenty of fun, and delightfully different, holiday activities to get stuck into right here at home. (Though perhaps remember to pack your umbrella, just in case).
A (FAMILY-FRIENDLY) FESTIVAL. While they may sound like the last place on earth you want to take your children, over the years festivals have started to provide more and more features and facilities for little ones. Glastonbury has its own Kidz Field offering activities and play areas, and runs workshops and shows for children too. Camp Bestival has been highly praised for its family-friendly features; it has separate ‘gardens’ for older and younger kids, a separate toddlers area, and a breast-feeding ‘Mother and Baby Temple’. There are performances and activities for children spread throughout the festival site, too.
A THEME PARK. A theme park offers an exhilarating break that all ages can enjoy, and there are plenty of them to choose from, with many smaller local parks open across the UK alongside the big names. The largest theme park, Alton Towers, offers a huge range of thrilling rides as well its very own Sea Life Centre. Visitors can enjoy an overnight stay, too, with on-site accommodation available. Younger kids will love Chessington World of Adventures, or Legoland in Windsor, while teenagers will get a thrill out of Thorpe Park where pulse-raising Saw: The Ride has just opened.
A COUNTRYSIDE HOLIDAY VILLAGE. An escape to the countryside can often mean tackling the stresses of outdoor camping, or sacrificing access to important amenities – both of which aren’t ideal when travelling with children of any age. Holiday villages can be the perfect solution, in that they provide an authentic experience alongside those important on-site facilities. Family favourite Center Parcs, with villages in Nottinghamshire, Suffolk, Cumbria and Wiltshire, is the perfect blend; there are acres of woodland to explore and wild animals on your doorstep (sometimes literally) as well as activities for all ages. Center Parcs is also a popular destination for spa breaks, with an Aqua Sana spa in each village – and you can relax knowing there’s plenty to keep the kids busy while you’re being pampered.
A FARM. You can’t beat a farm for good old-fashioned family fun, and with more offering accommodation in recent years, they make a great location to stay on a mini-holiday. Head to self-catered little Cronshaw Fold Farm Cottage in Lancashire and enjoy an authentic farming experience, helping out with daily tasks (and meeting an array of resident animals). Tredethick Farm Cottages in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, have all kinds of activities and facilities on offer to entertain and enchant, with pony rides, play areas and animal feeding.
THE SEASIDE. Donkey rides, ice cream, sandcastles and paddling by the seashore – how could we not include this classic family outing? Head to lively Brighton and enjoy the pebble beach, galleries, and of course the head-spinning rides on Brighton Pier. Bournemouth’s warm microclimate and miles of golden sand means it’s an enduring popular location for seaside breaks, and there are even charming little beach huts available to rent. St Ives in Cornwall is home to beautiful views and has masses of charm, as well as great waves for any budding surfers.