Need to get Dad out of the office, but bored of the pub? Browse our action-packed weekend break ideas for a truly inspired time away with Dad…
Where to stay: Chase Hotel, Wye Valley (Forest of Dean)
Take dad to the races for a memorable day out. Chepstow, one of the country’s most famous racecourses, is a short drive from the Chase Hotel in the Wye Valley. Open since 1926, the venerable course is celebrating its 90th anniversary in September, 2016, so expect celebrations as well as regular day and evening horse racing. Chepstow also hosts the Welsh Grand National in December. If you’ve never been to the races before, check out Chepstow’s beginner’s guide on its website to learn your form from your furlongs, before you have a flutter.
Where to stay: Dartington Hall Hotel, South Devon
The lush countryside and temperate climate of South Devon make it fertile ground for food and drink producers. Sharpham Estate is one such producer, with a vineyard, creamery and dairy farm on the banks of the River Dart near Totnes. Foodie fathers will love taking a tour of the vineyard and winery to see how its acclaimed sparklings, rose, Bacchus whites and even Pinot Noir are made. After the tour, enjoy a nibble of Sharpham’s award-winning Jersey-cow cheeses, including Elmhurst – a soft white cheese made with unpasteurised triple-cream.
Where to stay: Gliffaes Country House Hotel, Brecon Beacons, South Wales
Head underground for some quality time with dad. Gliffaes Country House Hotel is ideally located for lovers of outdoor pursuits, with hiking, cycling, abseiling and watersports all on offer in the surrounding Brecon Beacons. One of the more unusual activities on offer is an underground cave tour. Forget pot-holing and think a more leisurely, guided exploration of the cave systems below the Brecon Beacons. The trips are suitable for ages 8 and over. Back above ground, Gliffaes also arranges fly fishing on the River Usk for interested guests.
Where to stay Hintlesham Hall Hotel, Suffolk
We’ve never met a dad who didn’t enjoy beer: drinking it, talking about it, or finding out more about how it’s made. One of Britain’s best-known breweries, Greene King, is based in Bury St Edmunds, a short drive from Hintlesham Hotel in Suffolk. Book a brewery tour and you and your dad can discover how this more than 200-year-old brewery makes its famous cask ales. Greene King has been brewing here since 1799. On the tour you’ll visit its museum, have a guided tour of its brew-house and finish with a tasting in its beer café, The Brewery Tap.
Where to stay: Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, Kent Coast
Rare is the man who doesn’t appreciate a steam train. The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway in Kent makes a fine day out for all the generations: toddlers through to granddads. Its gleaming locomotives were built to a scale of 1/3 a full-size steam train and make for a timeless sight, chugging slowly through the Kent countryside. This 88-year-old route runs from Hythe (a Cinque Port town) to the wild expanses and nature reserve of Dungeness. Foodie dads should make a beeline from the Dungeness stop to the nearby Snack Shack, well-known for its lobster rolls and freshly-caught fish.
Where to stay: Imperial Hotel, Llandudno (Promenade), North Wales
The man-made slate caverns and mountains at Llechwedd quarry provide a unique landscape for an off-roading adventure. Looking like something out of Tolkien, the jagged grey slopes surrounded by Snowdonia National Park are the result of slate quarrying and are now subject to a UNESCO World Heritage Status bid. On the 90-minute adventure, you and dad can ride in a 4×4 military truck for a fascinating guided tour of the quarry and slate caverns. You can also head deep underground for a tour of its mines.
Where to stay: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Powys, Mid Wales
The stunning vistas of Mid Wales make for a beautiful drive, especially for those more used to the clogged roads of most of Britain. Make it a drive to remember by hiring a classic sports car direct from Classic British Hotels. Go old-school with a Caterham 7 Roadsport, channel your inner James Bond (queue inevitable Sean Connery impressions from dad) with an Aston Martin, or have a go behind the wheels of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder or Porsche Cayman R.
There’s nothing like trying an activity for the first time, or the possibility of falling in a large lake, to bond you together. Don your wetsuits and give kayaking or canoeing a go on Lake Windermere. It’s the largest natural lake in England; 10.5 miles long and 1-mile across, its navy blue waters are surrounded by the Lake District’s famous pikes and peaks. Windermere Canoe and Kayak is an established hire firm based to the north west of the lake. Fit a small picnic into your kayak and you can stop to recharge on one of Windermere’s small islands. We can’t promise your sandwiches won’t get soggy though.
Where to stay: Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, Salisbury (City Centre)
If your dad loves spy novels, he’ll love a trip to Beaulieu near Milford Hall Hotel. During World War Two, secret agents were trained at this Hampshire stately home. At Beaulieu’s Secret Army Exhibition you can see how they learned their craft before parachuting behind enemy lines. It’s also home to the National Motor Museum, with vehicles dating from 1875 and a replica 1930s garage, plus The World of Top Gear, with wrecked cars from the TV show. Not a Top Gear fan? Explore Beaulieu’s beautiful grounds and former abbey, instead.
If you’re looking for a father-son bonding experience that your own child might enjoy, book a special behind-the-scenes look at nearby Colchester Zoo. Its keeper-shadowing experience offers a close-up encounter with your favourite animal and their zookeeper. You can choose from creatures great – the rare white rhino, African lions and giraffes – or small, including meerkats and penguins. The second person can take part at a discounted rate. An animal encounter neither of you will ever forget.
Father’s Day. A chance to celebrate your superhero (also known as Dad). And if there’s one thing a superhero loves (aside from superhuman powers), it’s adventure.
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