Now more than ever, the outdoors feels like the perfect escape. There are so many great adventures you can enjoy with your family wherever you live. With daytrips and staycations continuing to gain popularity, here's our guide to the top UK family trips you can enjoy, and most are FREE! Just be sure to follow government guidelines, check before you travel and discover those wild places closer to home.
You might think that British beaches can only really be enjoyed during the summer months. We’re not denying that seaside resorts are at their best on sunny summer days, but they can also deliver fun when the weather is less than perfect.
Sometimes, just having space for the kids (and dog) to run around in is enough, and the beach has an abundance of that!
Here’s our pick of UK beaches to enjoy come rain or shine…
Formby Beach, Lancashire
The Formby coastline is more diverse than most. Visitors to the National Trust site will be able to explore coastal sand dunes, pinewoods and asparagus fields, as well as the beach itself.
Working your way back from the water, you’ll encounter an expansive beach lined with towering sand dunes. Beyond the dunes are footpaths that wind through a beautiful pine forest that. This wooded area has been reserved as a safe haven for endangered Red Squirrels – they’re elusive creatures, but it’s fun to try and spot them among the trees anyway!
If you still have time, you can even stroll through the nearby asparagus fields and check out how the latest crop is coming along.
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Swansea
Often touted as the best strip of sand in the UK, Rhossili Bay is the ideal space to let off steam with the family.
The expansive, dog-friendly beaches stretch far into the distance, giving you all the room you need for ball games, kite flying and general frolicking. With shallow waters, magnificent cliffs and beautiful sunsets to enjoy, it’s easy to see why this Rhossili comes out on top in so many polls.
Dunure Beach, Ayrshire
The shingle beach on the edge of Dunure village is a lovely little retreat for those who enjoy boating.
Watched over by the remains of Dunure Castle, the harboured waters are calm and flat, making them perfect for kayaks, paddleboards and sailing boats. After you’ve been out on the water, you can return to harbour, and the comfort of Dunure Inn to enjoy relaxed seaside dining.
Ballycastle Beach, County Antrim
The popular coastal resort of Ballycastle is situated at the start of the world-famous Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route. As well as the usual seaside combination of sea, sand, shingle and fish & chips, there are some splendid local tourist attractions, including Kinbane Castle and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Tell the kids to keep their eyes peeled, as if they’re lucky they might spot a puffin or two around the marina. Everyone loves a puffin!
Children always seem to find the woods enchanting – take a foray into the forest to create some long-lasting memories. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot for a woodland walk or organised activities with onsite accommodation, there’s bound to be a forest somewhere in the UK that fits the bill.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Thanks to the legend of Robin Hood, Sherwood is probably the most famous forest in the world.
Today, it’s an outdoor activity paradise with loads of family-friendly walks, bike trails and seasonal events to choose from. More than enough to keep everyone happy!
The area surrounding Sherwood Forest is home to a number of holiday parks too, so you can enjoy evenings among the trees as well.
Gwydir Forest Park, Conwy
The Fforest Coaster is a gravity-powered rollercoaster that sends you flying downhill in a two-person cart, meandering through the trees to the bottom of the track in six exhilarating minutes.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s a bunch of zip line activities to enjoy, as well as treetop climbing nets and a giant swing.
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway
Daytime explorers will come across serene lochs and breath-taking mountain views, while anyone out after dark will be able to gaze up at spellbinding night skies.
Depending on the time of year, you might be lucky enough to get a good look at the local species of Red Deer out in the wild. It doesn’t get much more Scottish than that!
Glenariff Forest Park, County Antrim
The walking trails through Glenariff are a great way to get closer to nature. Catch a glimpse of majestic waterfalls and seldom seen wildlife as you make your way along rocky gorges on the historic timber walkway. It really is the stuff of fairy-tales!
We all love a good view. You and your family will feel like you’ve conquered the world when you reach the summit of a hillside ridge or mountain peak. Of course, some effort is required, but climbing a slope together is a great way to pass the time.
Malvern Hills, Worcestershire
From a distance, the Malvern Hills can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you have small children with you. However, they really aren’t that difficult to conquer once you get going. Reaching the top entirely on foot is certainly possible, but if you don’t think the legs are up to it, there are other options.
The Elgar Route is a lower, flatter way around the hills, linking various car parks along the way.
If you want to take in the glorious view from the Worcestershire Beacon (the tallest of the Malverns), but don’t fancy climbing too far, there are car parking facilities closer to the summit.
However, we don’t think it’s a true adventure unless you start at the bottom of British Camp and make your way across the entire range! The ridge is surprisingly well paved, and once you’re up the first hill, it’s just a case of following the trail over the slopes.
Mount Snowdon, Gwynedd
The highest peak in Wales, Mount Snowdon has been a popular destination for many over the years. As well as six walking trails, there's a train you can ride to the summit too – ideal for family-friendly expeditions.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway takes you on a unique journey up the mountain. However, it is a seasonal and weather dependent service, so check the website for the latest information.
Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
There’s so much more to Glencoe than the phenomenal views. For example, in winter, it gives visitors the opportunity to slalom their way down the snow-covered slopes. Glencoe Mountain Resort is like nowhere else in the UK – you and your family can have a go at skiing, snowboarding, sledging and tubing without even leaving the country!
Fun can be had all year round. During the summer months, the resort offers activities such as mountain biking and dry slope tubing.
Mourne Mountains, County Down
This rugged mountain range is renowned for its countless walking trails and stunning lookout points. Whether you take on the High Mournes or Low Mournes, you’re sure to enjoy the experience.
Bunkers Hill is particularly good for families as it features walking, cycling and play trails suitable for children of all ages. If you stay until nightfall, there are some fantastic spots for stargazing too.
Lakes don’t just provide tranquil surroundings, they also give us the opportunity to enjoy a range of activities such as sailing, kayaking and fishing. Life on the water is a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life. The kids will love making a splash too!
Lake District National Park, Cumbria
The Lake District is a popular holiday destination for families due to the wide range of accommodation and activity centres dotted around the region.
For a day of family fun, head to Coniston, Derwentwater, Ullswater or Windermere for sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking and boat tours, before retiring to a local pub for a nice relaxing meal.
Bala Lake, Gwynedd
Bala Lake is another gem nestled in the Snowdonia National Park. It’s the largest natural lake in Wales, and home to serenity and thrills in equal measure. Stay on land to make the most of the walking and bike trails along the water’s edge, or head out onto the lake for fishing, sailing and kayaking – the choice is yours!
Loch Lomond, Dumfries & Galloway
It may not be as famous as Loch Ness, but this 24-mile long lake in the heart of Scotland is definitely the one to visit if you want a memorable family adventure.
There are plenty of holiday parks in the vicinity as well as quaint lakeside B&Bs and hotels. Take a boat trip across the water from a local jetty or try your hand at some exhilarating water sports - there are a lots of options to keep everyone entertained.
Even if it rains, you’ll be able to find something to do. As far as indoor activities go, the Sea Life Aquarium at Balloch is a probably your best bet – who doesn’t love sharks?
Lough Neagh, County Antrim
Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the British Isles, with shores in 5 separate counties. Its deep waters are a hotspot for fishing and water sports, while the shallow bays are a great place for the kids to go in search of wildlife.
However, the area surrounding Lough Neagh really comes into its own at night. If the sky is clear, tilt your head upwards for the most mesmerising blanket of stars.
If you’re looking for a unique, memorable family experience, enter the subterranean realm and forget about the world above.
Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Somerset
Cheddar isn’t just famous for cheese; the local landscape is a crowd-pleaser too. Explore the nearby caves for a closer look at ancient rock formations that shine a light on the lives of our prehistoric ancestors.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Gwynedd
Look beneath the surface, and there’s a world of adventure waiting for you in the historic slate mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Zipworld Slate Caverns have a couple of subterranean activities to get the blood pumping...
Adults and older children can traverse their way through the caves using a series of ropes, monkey bars, zip lines and nets. Younger family members are able to participate in Bounce Below, where you can bounce and slide about in an underground maze that eclipses any soft-play centre we’ve ever seen!
The Bone Caves, Inchnadamph, Scottish Highlands
Get the family out for a walk in the hills and learn more about ancient wildlife that once roamed the Scottish Highlands.
A short, peaceful hike away from the nearby Allt nan Uamh car park you'll find a small group of caves that have significant historical importance. The walk itself is breath-taking enough, but the Bone Caves are certainly the star attraction. Over 100 years ago they were the site of an astonishing discovery when two geologists stumbled across the remains of creatures that dated back to Scotland's last glacial period. Among the species found were arctic fox, wolf, lynx, brown bear and polar bear.
Now that’s fascinating!
Marble Arch Caves, County Fermanagh
Take a guided tour of Marble Arch Caves and find out more about underground rivers, mysterious chambers and hidden treasures. Rated highly as one of Europe’s best show caves, the wonderfully ornate rock formations are worth the entrance fee alone.
Is your favourite UK holiday spot missing? Leave a comment below and let us know where you would recommend.