Walking with Alpacas in the Lake District
Set to the backdrop of the stunning Lake District, Alpacaly Ever After at Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria (pictured at the top) is a site dedicated to rehoming alpacas and llamas from around the country. Take a trail through the mountain forest (from £35 for a mixed group walk with one alpaca per person), before retreating to a self-catering lakeside cottage at nearby Lingholm Estate (above) for yet more serene views.
In-land surfing at The Wave in Bristol
Set on a 180-metre artificial lagoon (about the size of four football pitches) which produces up to 1,000 waves an hour, The Wave is the UK’s first inland-surfing destination suitable for surfers of all abilities and ages. Take a lesson on the lake (from £25 for 1.5 hours) before bedding down at The Camp in one of its glamping-style tents (from £300 for two nights, sleeps up to eight).
A very British safari at Longleat
Wake to the sound of roaring lions and raise a glass as the sun sets over the Longleat Estate, which is offering overnight stays to safari park visitors. Nestled in rural Wiltshire, the 9,000-acre estate is home to a wolf wood, tiger territory, cheetah kingdom and game park, among many other wildlife wonders (from £375 a night).
Kids in the clink
Parents who have threatened their terrors with punishment will delight in a trip to Bodmin Jail (bodminjail.org), which boasts a Dark Walk tour as well as augmented reality and immersive experiences. It’s a must for teens with stomachs for gore, violence and the paranormal; this is among the most haunted places in England. The Bodmin Jail Hotel is next door, and offers luxurious furnishings set in the former cells.
Cookery school at The Grand in York
The Grand hotel is a luxurious option for families, with a dedicated kids check-in at reception and a welcome pack stuffed with “Grandollars” to use on-site. Book into a three-hour parent-and-child cookery class to help them master a main course. Call on the hotel’s Director of Fun (now there’s a job) for more inspiration during your stay, taking the pressure off frazzled parents.
Kids camp at Birch
Birch in leafy Hertfordshire is 30 minutes from Liverpool Street and offers classes alongside bedrooms, restaurants and plenty of greenery to run wild in. From May 31 to June 4, the members-only hotel is running Woggle Camp by theatre and events company Tootles + Nibs. It will see your children make catapults, toast marshmallows and build hideouts, plus more — very Wes Anderson. Sign them up for a half-day (£35) or full day (£60), while you enjoy a glass of wine, safe in the knowledge the kids are most definitely alright.
London’s a playground at The Dilly
London is the perfect tourist-free playground for families looking to refamiliarise themselves with the city post-lockdown. The Dilly is offering a package which includes a bed and breakfast stay, and tickets to one of three major attractions. They’re even chucking in a £60 travel card so you can get around easily. The Piccadilly location means other kid-friendly attractions are within walking distance, including Hamleys toy shop.
Bankside fun at The Lensbury
Adventure calls at The Lensbury in Teddington, where the hotel is running a program of camps and courses to keep the kids occupied. Sign them up to a kayaking course or knacker them out with a tennis course on dry land — all that water thrashing and ball-chasing means you’ll enjoy dinner and drinks in peace. Just 40 minutes from London, it’s a winner for a speedy getaway.
Stargazing from the treetops
Set in the grounds of a hotel, Treetops Treehouse is for Covid-wary families who like the idea of a self-contained staycay. The multi-level option with a copper bath and bunk room gets you nose-to-beak with country critters. It’s in prime position to view the cosmos as night falls and catch sight of shooting stars away from the city’s light pollution.
Glamping and hanging ten in Newquay
Boisterous children can run wild at The Fir Hill Estate, a glampsite just outside Newquay. A dozen Mongolian yurts are set over 10 acres with views over a lake and sheep-speckled fields. There’s a bluebell wood to explore on the grounds and BBQ facilities for open-air cooking under starry skies. Head to town for family surfing lessons, suitable for ages three-plus (£169 for a family of four, newquayactivitycentre.co.uk).
Down the rabbit hole with Black Tomato
Part of Black Tomato’s Take Me On A Story collection, follow in Alice’s footsteps on a trip through Oxfordshire with a journey inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Highlights include a treasure hunt, bespoke costume-making and a Mad Hatter’s tea party on the Thames. At dusk, you’ll retreat to the plush Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, a luxury hotel framed by fragrant lavender. From £8,250 per person (for a family of four) for five nights.
Woodland adventures in Suffolk
After months indoors, it’s time to go wild this half term. Head to Suffolk where Secret Meadows lays waiting to entertain the whole family. Sleep options include safari tents with showers and bunks as well as a converted horsebox and gypsy caravan. There’s activities for all; from hen coop hire (easy toddler entertainment), to a fire and wood whittling workshop to thrill older kids. Nearby there are plenty of horse-riding, cycling and adventure opportunities, as well as a day trip to Sutton Hoo, the burial ground of the Anglo-Saxon king and his piles of treasure.
Family forest cycling in Delamere, Cheshire
Whether you’re after coastal cycles or adrenaline-fuelled mountain biking, there’s nothing like disconnecting from city stresses as you reconnect with nature on two wheels. Do it with the whole gang in tow and book into one of Forest Holidays’ luxury woodland cabins. With over 12 locations across the UK, you’re spoilt for choice - its newest eco-cabins in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, feature outdoor pizza ovens and boujie hot tubs, perfect for some nighttime stargazing (£855/four nights). The company can arrange fuss-free bike hire for the whole family and provide you with the best local wooded routes.
Catch a fish at Anglers Paradise in Devon
Set in 250 acres, with 30 lakes and four miles of fishing bank, Anglers Paradise is a haven of West Country wildlife for budding fishermen and fisherwomen. With villas able to accommodate up to nine people, an indoor pool, play area, sauna, jacuzzi, bar and on-site massage therapists, there are plenty of facilities to keep the whole family entertained.