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The 15 best family-friendly breaks in Britain

Kid-friendly stays everyone will love

<p>DGLimages/Shutterstock</p>

DGLimages/Shutterstock

Hunt for dinosaur remains, role-play Romans in ancient ruins, spot seals, ride a steam train and hit the beach... No matter what your and your little ones' interests are, Britain has a mini-break to keep the whole family entertained. From the Scottish Highlands to the South Coast and everything in between, you'll discover plenty of fun-filled weekends up and down the island.

Read on to discover Great British breaks the whole family will love...

Jurassic Coast, Dorset

<p>Mattxfoto/Shutterstock</p>

Mattxfoto/Shutterstock

Get the kids inspired about geology by taking them to this incredible stretch of coast where they can go fossil hunting. Charmouth Beach is one of the best places to pick up belemnites and ammonites but bigger specimens have been found, too. It's best to join a guided walk with Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre or the Lyme Regis Museum. Lyme Regis is a pretty place to base yourself with its sheltered beach, great restaurants and cobbled lanes.

Jurassic Coast, Dorset

<p>Shaun Jacobs/Shutterstock</p>

Shaun Jacobs/Shutterstock

There's plenty more to discover along this extraordinary coastline. Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are brilliant beaches while Swanage is a bustling seaside town with a cute pier. Hop on board a vintage steam train on the Swanage Railway to Corfe Castle to relive childhood fantasies of being one of the Famous Five.

Lake District, Cumbria

<p>Digital Collage/Shutterstock</p>

Digital Collage/Shutterstock

Don your walking boots and head to this stunning national park that wows at every hairpin turn. It has lakes, mountains, waterfalls, forests and attractions aplenty. Don't let the hills put you off either, it's a great option for those with little ones, as there are lots of buggy-friendly walks, including a lovely route from the Ferry House along the western shore of Windermere. You can play king of the castle at Claife Station – a grand Victorian-era viewing station – along the way.

Lake District, Cumbria

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pxl.store/Shutterstock

Peter Rabbit fans young and old will love seeing the inspiration for Mr McGregor's garden at Beatrix Potter's gorgeous farmhouse Hill Top, in Near Sawrey. It's where the author wrote many of her much-loved stories, and you can see thousands of Potter's original illustrations and possessions. Next, meet all the characters at the Beatrix Potter Experience in Windermere-on-Bowness. From here you can hop on a cruise around the lake or head to Brockhole for an adventure playground or to hire boats and bikes.

 

Northumberland coast

<p>Dave Head/Shutterstock</p>

Dave Head/Shutterstock

History buffs and beach babes alike will be smitten with this spectacular coastline. Bamburgh, with its sand dune-fringed beach and mighty castle, is a great place to start. After building castles of their own, take the kids to explore the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria. Nearby Alnwick Castle will also appeal to Harry Potter fans as it starred in the second film – spot the locations then join one of the regular interactive activities like armour making or longbow demonstrations.

Northumberland coast

<p>Attila JANDI/Shutterstock</p>

Attila JANDI/Shutterstock

Northumberland is amazing for wildlife-spotting opportunities. Take a boat trip from quaint Seahouses harbour over to the Farne Islands to spot seabirds (puffins, Arctic terns, shags, guillemots and razorbills) and grey seals. Don't miss a day or two exploring Kielder Water and Forest Park, where you're in with a good chance of spying otters, water voles, red squirrels and osprey, among others.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

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jax10289/Shutterstock

Gorgeous beaches are one of Pembrokeshire's main draws, with postcard pin-up Tenby topping the list for good old-fashioned seaside fun. A bucket, spade and the odd ice cream should keep the kids happy for hours. But there are plenty of options for wet weather days too, such as the Dinosaur Park, Folly Farm and Bluestone. They'll love visiting the country's smallest city, St David's, further along the coast.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

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Spumador/Shutterstock

Older kids can give coasteering a whirl or explore the spectacular cliffs and coves on a section of the long-distance Pembrokeshire Coast trail. There are circular and short walks, including some pushchair-friendly ones. Barafundle Bay is well worth the walk – it's a stunning and secluded (although not buggy-friendly) beach while Manorbier (pictured) is fantastic for rock-pooling and building dams across the stream. If the appeal of the beach wanes, there's a castle to explore, too.

 

Isle of Wight

<p>Laurence Baker/Shutterstock</p>

Laurence Baker/Shutterstock

Catching the ferry over to the Isle of Wight is a big part of the adventure and there's bags more excitement on shore. This pretty island is a paradise for little people with its sandy beaches, pleasure piers and ice cream parlours. Dinosaur fans can go looking for fossils – the isle is another hotspot for remains – and visit the Dinosaur Isle Museum. If they have no luck, the life-sized dinosaurs at quirky Blackgang Chine, the UK's first theme park, should cheer them up.

Isle of Wight

<p>Laurence Bake/Shutterstock</p>

Laurence Bake/Shutterstock

If you're looking for an outdoorsy escape, this is definitely the place (weather willing). Pack a picnic and set off on a clifftop ramble or strike inland to explore the Downs. Go crabbing at Bembridge, kayaking from Yarmouth or take the chairlift at The Needles down to the beach. Brading Roman Villa, overlooking Sandown Bay, is also worth a visit. It offers an amazing insight into what life was like in Roman Britain.

Bristol

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Pjhpix/Shutterstock

Impress hard-to-please teens on a graffiti tour to uncover Bristol's rich history of street art. You'll see works by the Bristol-born artist Banksy among others. There's a lot to amuse everyone in this creative and family-friendly city, from urban cycle paths to interactive museums such as M Shed on Harbourside and Being Brunel. Located next to the SS Great Britain (another must-visit), the museum charts the life and work of the city's celebrated engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

 

Bristol

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Sion Hannuna/Shutterstock

A stroll across Brunel's most famous construction and symbol of the city, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, is a must. Join a free guided tour on weekends and bank holidays, returning to charming Clifton Village for dinner at one of its many restaurants. Time your visit with the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August and you'll be in for an extra treat. The city is even more beautiful when Europe's largest annual balloon event fills the skies with hot air balloons.

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

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Trabantos/Shutterstock

Kids might not be thrilled at the prospect of a mini-break revolving around William Shakespeare, but they'll soon change their mind after visiting his pretty hometown. Take them to one of the Royal Shakespeare Company's free kid-friendly performances at open-air stage The Dell. Performances take place on weekends in July and August.

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

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Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

After you've checked off the main Shakespearean sites, visit The MAD Museum – a mechanical art and design museum with a wonderfully eccentric and eclectic collection of inventions to inspire little ones. Or head to the banks of the beautiful Avon river to take a barge trip from the historic canal basin. Children will love spotting black swans and travelling through a working lock. While you're a stone's throw away from the magnificent Warwick Castle, it would be rude not to pop in.

Portsmouth, Hampshire

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Tony Baggett/Shutterstock

Aspiring sea captains and prospective pirates will find plenty of thrills at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Climb aboard 18th-century warship HMS Victory and hear tales of the Battle of Trafalgar. Find out if you and the kids have what it takes to join the Victorian navy on the HMS Warrior or try them out as a dockyard apprentice. It's not all listening and learning though, there are simulators, an assault course, climbing wall and Laser Quest.

Portsmouth, Hampshire

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Jane Rix/Shutterstock

The historic port's other big hitter is the Mary Rose Museum, built to house the remarkable remains of Henry VIII's warship. It was lost in the Battle of the Solent in 1545 and recovered in 1982. You can also travel to the top of one of the city's contemporary landmarks, Spinnaker Tower, to gaze at incredible views of the busy harbour. If they've got their sea legs, kids can learn the ropes on one of Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre's sailing courses, designed especially for children.

Snowdonia, Wales

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EddieCloud/Shutterstock

Wales' adventure capital is the ideal destination for active families. Camp by a beach, conquer a mountain, go caving (and even trampolining) in old slate mines and whizz around thrilling mountain bike trails (there are ones to suit all abilities). Other adrenaline-pumping activities in the area include white-water rafting and zip-lining. One thing's for sure, it'll be early nights all round come evening.

Snowdonia, Wales

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Lara Ra/Shutterstock

Drop the pace with a day trip aboard the Cambrian Coast Line, one of the most scenic railways in Britain. Soak in mid-Wales' spectacular coastal scenery by travelling the line south from Pwllheli to Aberdovey. Once you disembark in this gorgeous seaside resort, you can hit the sand, sign up for windsurfing or sailing lessons, or simply sit back and enjoy a cream tea.

Edinburgh, Scotland

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evenfh/Shutterstock

Steeped in history, dotted with green spaces and crammed with brilliant museums, Edinburgh has it all when it comes to family mini-breaks. And, of course, there are the city's numerous connections to Harry Potter. Edinburgh Castle is a great place to start explorations before wandering along the Royal Mile to experience the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, which is bound to delight both kids and adults.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

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lou armor/Shutterstock

Don't miss the National Museum of Scotland which has lots of great interactive exhibitions. Children who love spooky stories may want to brave The Edinburgh Dungeon to hear tales of Scotland's darkest history. Want to escape the busy city streets? Pack a picnic and head for Arthur's Seat. Even if they're not huge walkers, tell kids it's an extinct volcano and they're likely to leap at the chance of scaling the peak.

 

The Suffolk coast

<p>Adrian Rawlinson/Shutterstock</p>

Adrian Rawlinson/Shutterstock

From gastropubs and ice cream parlours to quaint villages and quiet sandy beaches, there's plenty to keep everyone happy on the Suffolk coast. The best way to explore is by bike or on foot, with plenty of flat and easy trails to explore. Seaside town Southwold is a great base. It's a firm favourite with families with its candy-coloured beach huts, pretty pier and array of quality pubs, chippies and Mr Whippy vendors.

The Suffolk coast

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Magdanatka/Shutterstock

Going crabbing by Walberswick harbour is a Suffolk must, as is buying fresh fish right off the beach at Aldeburgh's little fishermen's huts. The genteel seaside town hosts a fantastic food festival every September while its little museum is well worth a browse year round for its hoard of Anglo-Saxon finds. Nearby, Anglo-Saxon burial site Sutton Hoo will wow budding archaeologists with its full-size reconstruction of a burial chamber.

North Cornwall coast

<p>Adrian Baker/Shutterstock</p>

Adrian Baker/Shutterstock

Beautiful beaches, smugglers' coves, crumbling castles, cute fishing villages and watersports aplenty make north Cornwall a pretty perfect spot for a family break. Watergate Bay is a fantastic family beach with the Extreme Academy there to entertain daredevils with surfing lessons. Overlooking the waves, The Beach Hut is a relaxed place to warm up with a hot chocolate – and they have a great kids' menu. Further up the coast, clifftop Tintagel Castle will thrill with its links to the legend of King Arthur.

North Cornwall coast

<p>David Hughes/Shutterstock</p>

David Hughes/Shutterstock

Beyond the beach, there are some lovely cycle paths. Tackle a section of The Camel Trail, which goes from Padstow to Wenford Bridge. Flat with wonderful estuary, moorland and woodland views, it's brilliant for kids, especially if you factor in plenty of ice cream stops. Hop on Padstow Sealife Safaris' hour-long expedition to look for grey seals in caves around the rugged coast, then pop into The National Lobster Hatchery to meet the crustaceans and learn about their conservation.

York, Yorkshire

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David Ionut/Shutterstock

Vicious Vikings, power-hungry kings and ghoulish ghosts galore: there's a tale to thrill around every little crooked lane in this ancient Yorkshire city. If the kids are old (and brave) enough, go on a spooky family walking tour with The Original Ghost Walk of York. Or, to experience the sights, sounds and smells of 10th-century York, spend an afternoon at the JORVIK Viking Centre.

York, Yorkshire

<p>Daniel J. Rao/Shutterstock</p>

Daniel J. Rao/Shutterstock

The city is a great base for exploring some of Yorkshire's stunning landscapes, too. The North York Moors has some wonderful walks or catch the North Yorkshire Moors Railway's steam train from Pickering to Whitby for incredible views of the eerie wilderness. Make sure you stop at Goathland, which doubled as Hogsmeade Railway Station in the Harry Potter films. A freshly-fried bag of fish and chips on Whitby Pier will fortify you for the return trip.

South Devon coast

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Ollie Taylor/Shutterstock

One of the country's top sailing locations, Salcombe is the perfect place for budding sailors to learn the ropes. Rather watch the boats bobbing? That's fine, too, as there are excellent pubs and restaurants where you can sit back and soak in the gorgeous harbour views. Alternatively, catch a ferry over to South Sands to build sandcastles or stroll around the rugged coast to explore the lush subtropical gardens at Overbecks (also known as Sharpitor).

South Devon coast

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Max_555/Shutterstock

Chug past more lovely beaches and above woodlands on board the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which follows the Dart Estuary from Paignton to Kingswear. From there, hop over the River Dart on a foot passenger ferry to reach Dartmouth. The historic maritime town is home to the Britannia Royal Naval College, Bayards Cove, Butterwalk and Dartmouth Castle.

The Highlands, Scotland

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Madison Kayz/Shutterstock

The Highlands' towering mountains, shimmering lochs, wooded valleys and array of wildlife beckon families seeking outdoor adventures. For an action-packed stay, base yourself in Aviemore, in the gorgeous Cairngorms National Park, where all manner of outdoor sports are on offer. You may also spot Scottish wildcats and polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park and conquer CairnGorm Mountain on the funicular railway (it's the UK's highest).

The Highlands, Scotland

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Kanuman/Shutterstock

From Aviemore you can easily explore more Highland hotspots including Loch Ness, where you can go hunting for 'Nessie' on a boat trip. Head to the Moray Firth, just north of Inverness, for another memorable journey on the water – it's home to the UK's largest population of bottlenose dolphins. There are some beautiful beaches here too – perfect for flying kites, building sandcastles or simply chilling out.

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