Brilliant ideas for weekends away with the kids

weekends away with kids
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Planning your next getaway as a family? A weekend away with the kids might be just the answer for a little escape and offers one of the best UK holidays for families.

While the UK can't always promise endless sunshine (we can always hope), there are plenty of brilliant breaks for the whole family to enjoy, from steam train rides around the Lake District or the Cotswolds to fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast and dinosaur walks on sandy beaches in Scarborough.

Whether you're a fan of Cornwall family holidays or checking into the best family hotels in London for a city break with kids, you've come to the right place as we have all the inspiration you need for your next trip with the whole clan.

Here are the best destinations for weekends away with kids for an easy breezy short break packed with laughs and memory-making experiences.

Windsor, Berkshire

This royal heritage city offers the perfect blend of culture, history, natural beauty and family fun. Home to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, kids will love the audio guided tour by Scorch the Dragon.

But they'll be most excited by Legoland Windsor Resort, full of thrilling adventures for three to 12-year-olds, with over 50 interactive rides, live shows, building workshops, driving schools and attractions set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland.

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The Absolute Karting track is ideal for thrill-seekers aged eight and over, the sprawling Windsor Great Park is perfect for picnics, ballgames and relaxing, and ice cream walks along the River Thames are always a joy. Don't miss Dr Choc’s Windsor Chocolate Factory, based in the town centre, where kids can design their own chocolate bars then have a drink in the café while the chocolate sets.

Where to stay

Try Castle Hotel Windsor, a family-friendly boutique hotel situated right in town, making a great base from which to explore.

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Scarborough, North Yorkshire

This family-friendly town on the Yorkshire coast provides a natural backdrop that's perfect for a weekend away with kids. Go hunting for fossils on golden sandy beaches or on dinosaur walks, where you'll see dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic era (165 million years old.

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There are also Treasure Trails that lead you to hidden local treasures such as Robin Hood’s Bay, Scarborough Harbour & Castle Spy Trail. And if that doesn't impress, there's always swimming, skate parks, crazy golf and rock pooling. Sandcastle-building, fish and chips, and ice cream should, of course, all be on the menu, too.

Where to stay

There's a host of great-value caravan parks, B&Bs, guest houses, hotels and even wig wams on offer in Scarborough. Try The Sands apartments for self-catering luxury and a great location on the North Bay.

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Lake District, Cumbria

England's biggest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District, with its majestic fells and swathes of water, is like a giant playground for kids. The 200 fells, pikes and dales of the Lakes have captured the imagination of everybody from Wordsworth to Wainwright – and can keep the little ones entertained on a fun weekend away with kids.

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Take the whole family out on Coniston Lake at the Coniston Boating Centre (there's motor boats or rowing boats depending on energy levels!); take a boat cruise on Windermere, Coniston, Derwentwater and Ullswater; enjoy an achievable walk on one of the 40 'Miles without Stiles' scenic routes; or jump on The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for a fun and easy way to take in the stunning scenery.

Meanwhile, The Lake District Wildlife Park has an outdoor adventure park and over 100 species of exotic animals in 25 acres for some wide-eyed oohs and aaahs. And, if the heavens open, head to The World of Beatrix Potter to meet Peter Rabbit and all his furry friends.

Where to stay

Lakeland Leisure Park has modern, clean caravans for good-value fun. If you're looking for a stylish yet relaxed family-friendly hotel with Lake Windermere views, try The Waterhead in Ambleside.

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Perthshire, Scottish Highlands

One for the outdoorsy family that loves nothing more than wrapping up and heading out into the fresh air. Wildlife and outdoor adventures abound in Perthshire, with its vast rolling and diverse landscapes; it's the perfect rural spot for both families and numerous wildlife species.

The quaint village of Kinloch Rannoch on the tip of the mysterious Lake Rannoch is a great place to set up base for a weekends with kids packed with unforgettable expeditions.

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Learn archery like the legendary Scottish Highlanders; go white-water tubing and canyoning on the River Tay at Nae Limits Adventure Centre and enjoy sunrise and sunset tractor tours listening out for the wildlife with the rangers of Atholl Estates.

You can also pack in a private pony trek (with picnic lunch) through the hilly surrounds of ancient Blair Castle; go hiking, biking and witch-spotting on the mythical Schiehallion 'Fairy Hill'; and enjoy book readings for little ones at Aberfeldy Watermill bookshop – complete with gallery, homeware store and baked goods from the oatmeal mill for parents.

Where to stay

Kinloch Rannoch’s elegant boutique hotel, Dunalastair Hotel Suites, promises a luxurious stay for all ages, including hearty Scottish breakfasts in preparation for the day’s adventures.

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Jurassic Coast, Dorset

For a fantastic family day out that won't cost a penny, Dorset's natural wonders are the stuff that weekends away with kids are made of. Head to Dorset's most famous landmark, Durdle Door, and splash in the sea, play games on the beach and relax.

You'll want to go for walks in the woods and meadows, and go fossil hunting on the beach along the famed 95-mile Jurassic Coast, A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Kids need extra stimulation? Have some Alice in Wonderland-inspired fun at Adventure Wonderland; meet the primates at Monkey World, or enjoy trails, treetop walkways and a high-wire adventure at the Moors Valley Country Park. Little ones will also love meeting the animals at Farmer Palmers.

Where to stay

Try The Pines Hotel in Swanage for a clifftop spot with private steps down to the beach and affordable family rooms. Over in pretty Studland, you'll find Knoll House, just steps from a golden beach which boasts an outdoor pool, too.

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The Cotswolds

England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds is ideal for the let's-go-outside lifestyle. Enjoy epic woodland trails and running through verdant, rolling hills on a wonderful weekend away with kids.

When you're all walked out, take in the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, where your kids can meet the giraffe and rhinos grazing on the Gothic manor house lawns; with over 250 animal species and 120 acres, it's brilliant socially-distanced fun.

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Little animal-lovers will adore Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park for a fun-filled day out, getting close to the animals in the barn, enjoying a wildlife walk, adventure playground and a farm safari. Any choo-choo fans in the family? They'll love the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, which offers a 29-mile trip from Broadway to Cheltenham with glorious views along the way.

Of course, there's also those honey-hued buildings, picturesque villages, and boutique shops selling artisanal delights like local crumbly fudge.

Where to stay

Pitch up in the picture-perfect village of Chipping Campden and stay at the Noel Arms, a traditional coaching inn with a family room and a relaxed ambience.

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Lowestoft, Suffolk

Looking for an affordable weekend away with the kids? Lowestoft, the UK's most easterly town on Suffolk's 'Sunrise Coast', boasts a beautiful beach at Kessingland where you'll be the first in the country to enjoy the sunrise.

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Kids are well catered for with Africa Alive!, an amazing walking safari park set in 100 acres of grounds where you can meet the lions and feed a giraffe. Over at Oulton Broad, a stretch of water that forms the southern gateway to the Broads National Park, teens can try their hand at an array of watersports.

While the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Carlton and Oulton Marshes is a wetland nature reserve where you can go bird watching. And, of course, the long, sandy beach is haven for the kids – as well as the big kids.

Where to stay

For a comfortable, modern hotel just a few minutes from the sandy beach, try Hotel Katherine.

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