There’s still time to get outside and get active this summer. Enjoy family-friendly staycations at hotels across the UK.
If you’re planning a late-summer staycation, you’re not alone. Tourist boards around the UK have reported high numbers of bookings and enquiries in 2016, with Visit Britain reporting a record-breaking first quarter of the year. Whether or not it’s the Brexit effect, savvy families are saving money by holidaying in the UK. If you’re one of them, you might be surprised to discover the sheer number of family-friendly activities, suitable for tots and teens, hidden all over the country. Here are 10 of our favourites…
The adventure: Explore the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
Whether they’ve discovered the magic of Beatrix Potter through her timeless stories, or through watching Peter Rabbit on CBeebies, kids will love the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere. This is where Potter’s tales come to life: through exhibits with smells and sounds, like Jemima Puddleduck’s woodland glade and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen. Outside you’ll find the Peter Rabbit garden, created by award-winning gardener Richard Lucas, using traditional plants, fruits and veg to recreate famous scenes from the books.
2. The hotel: Chase Hotel, Wye Valley (Forest of Dean)
The adventure: Cycle the Forest of Dean Family Trail
Grab your helmets and head out for a family bike ride. The Forest of Dean Family Trail is the perfect place to cycle with kids because it has 11 miles of traffic-free trails. The gentle path was mainly built on former railway tracks and takes you past old coal mines and through ancient oak woods. Keep an eye out for deer and wild boar en route. Local bike hire outlets like Pedal a Bike Away rent out bikes with trailers and tag-a-longs so even very young ones can join in the fun.
3. The hotel: Dartington Hall Hotel, South Devon (River Dart)
The adventure: Ride the South Devon Railway
Train-keen kids (and parents) will love riding the vintage locomotives on the South Devon Railway. This former Victorian branch line runs through the beautiful Dart River Valley, via a traditional country station at Staverton. There’s also a museum, walking trails and a play area, and the train stops near other family-friendly attractions including Totnes Rare Breed Farm and the Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary.
The adventure: See the animals at Colchester Zoo
Get up close with lions, tigers and bears at Colchester Zoo. The attraction has an impressive menagerie of beasts including komodo dragons, aardvarks, elephants and Humboldt penguins. The zoo takes conservation seriously – read the signs at each enclosure with the kids to find out more about the animals’ natural habitats and the conservation issues facing them. The Kids Zoo Academy at Colchester Zoo also gives children an unforgettable experience meeting some of the animals and keepers.
5. The hotel: Imperial Hotel, Llandudno (Promenade), North Wales
The adventure: Get active at Bounce Below and Zip World
2016 is Visit Wales’ Year of Adventure. There’s loads of exciting ways to get active with the family, but one of the most unusual is Bounce Below. A subterranean playground in a former slate cavern, Bounce Below has huge trampolines, nets, slides and tunnels for older kids to explore. For 3 to 6-year-olds, Bounce Below Junior offers 3 bouncy nets with smaller tunnels and slides. Teenagers (and intrepid parents) can head back above ground for Zip World, on the same site. Zip World boasts the fastest zip-line in the world – perfect for adrenaline-loving teens.
6. The hotel: Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, Salisbury (City Centre)
The adventure: Playing detective on The Salisbury Mystery Treasure Trail
Unleash your inner Sherlock Holmes on this self-guided trail around Salisbury city centre. The Salisbury Mystery Treasure Trail is a 1-mile route where you and the family solve clues to a murder mystery as you wander. The trail takes about 1.5 hours and is suitable for kids aged 6 and over. It starts at the city’s medieval High Street Gate and finishes at its famous cathedral. Download your mystery pack from Treasure Trails.
The adventure: Cycling at Bike Park Wales
Late summer to early autumn is an ideal time to get on two wheels and explore the Welsh scenery. Bike Park Wales is a world-class mountain biking park, created by professional riders. There are trails for every ability, including beginners – the 1-kilometre Badger’s Loop goes through the woodlands and is a fairly smooth ride for families with younger children. Adrenaline seekers can head 491 metres up to the top of Myndd Gethin mountain for advanced and pro trails.
8. The hotel: Hintlesham Hall Hotel, Ipswich, Suffolk
The adventure: Get close to nature at Jimmy’s Farm
Younger kids will love meeting the animals at Jimmy’s Farm near Ipswich. The Suffolk farm is owned by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty who is passionate about farming and educating kids about where food comes from. Children will have the chance to pet lambs and rabbits, as well as see larger animals like donkeys, rare-breed pigs, alpaca and horses. Follow the woodland walk to spot native plants and animals (including stag beetles if you’re very lucky), and have a go at building a woodland den that would make Ray Mears proud.
9. The hotel: Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, Kent Downs, Kent Coast
The adventure: Go on safari at Port Lympne
Giraffe spotting in the Kent countryside… sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But at Port Lympne you can climb on a safari truck and spot not just giraffes, but lions, cheetahs and rhino. The animals have plenty of space to roam in the 600-acre site, and there are both African and Asian zones (where you can spot tigers), as well as a primate trail. Port Lympe is run by the Aspinal Foundation which works to conserve and breed endangered species and reintroduce them to the wild where appropriate.
10. The hotel: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Powys, Mid Wales
The adventure: White water rafting on the Tryweryn River
On holiday with teens? They’ll forget all about their iPhones on a thrill-seeking ride down the Tryweryn River (any attempt at a selfie will result in a very wet phone). Wales’ National White Water Centre is based in Snowdownia National Park. Adrenalin junkies can pick up their paddles and navigate the foamy rapids of the Tryweryn, a wild mountain river. You can also try your hand at canoeing and kayaking.
However you want to spend time away this year with your family – whether it’s speeding through the sky to celebrate Visit Wales’ Year of Adventure, or giraffe spotting on the dramatic Kent Coast, stay inspired with Classic British Hotels.
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Images: Zip World Velocity, Bethesda: © Crown copyright (2016) Zip World.