Since becoming parents we’ve road-tested some of the best toddler holidays in the UK and, as a result, enjoyed some truly stylish staycations. We’ve tried out chic cabins in Cornwall and Dorset, a designer barn in Norfolk, a cottage in the Brecon Beacons and a stylish treehouse on a safari park in Kent, to name a few.
So, for anyone planning a UK break with a young family, here’s my tried-and-tested list of best UK holidays with toddlers that offer a little luxury, some family-friendly fun and a truly memorable staycation.
Our holidays were self-funded but this post does include some affiliate links.
Best toddler holidays UK – Our favourite family staycations
Dorset & Jurassic Coast
One of the first UK holidays we took with our toddler was to Dorset as it has so much to offer young families. From hiking and fossil-hunting on the dramatic Jurassic coastline, to dining in cosy inns, strolling around seaside towns and exploring one of the most famous, quintessential English streets in the country (namely Gold Hill in Shaftesbury) – Dorset is perfect for a family staycation in the UK.
Some of the toddler-friendly activities in Dorset we enjoyed were:
Monkey World -an ape rescue centre near Wool.
Ice creams on the sand at some of the gorgeous Dorset beaches such as Weymouth, Swanage, Bornemouth or Burton Bradstock.
Enjoying seafood sandwiches at Hive Beach Café in Burton Bradstock and the Boat Shed Café in Lulworth Cove.
Where to stay with a toddler in Dorset
We stayed in this simply adorable cabin in the quaint hamlet of Cruxton near Dorchester. With bi-fold doors that look out over sheep-filled fields it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, yet Durdle Door, West Bay and Lulworth Cove were all an easy drive away.
The owner could not have been more welcoming – she left a homemade Dorset Apple Cake on the doorstep and supplied directions to nearby walks along the beautiful Frome river.
The cabin has everything you need for a comfortable stay with a toddler including washing machine, cot and high chair. Our toddler particularly loved running around the fields and chatting to all the local wildlife. We loved sitting out on the terrace, stargazing with a glass of wine in hand once he’d gone to bed.Toddler staycation essentials
I feel like Norfolk is hugely underrated but it’s actually one of our favourite places to staycation in the UK – so much so we’ve been twice with our toddler.
We absolutely love the sandy Norfolk shores of Brancaster Beach, Holkam Beach and Wells-By-The-Sea. (Rent a colourful Happy Hut if spending a day at the latter.)
We’ve been delighted by seal pups on Horsey Beach and have our heart set on hiring a boat to explore the Norfolk Broads next time we visit.
Top toddler-friendly places to visit in Norfolk include:
The Ffolkes (a family friendly pub & boutique hotel with adventure playground)
Sandringham Royal Parkland (awesome playground & trails)
Where to stay with a toddler in Norfolk
On our first trip to Norfolk we stayed in the stunning Great Barn Farm – a luxury barn conversion with access to a shared swimming pool. There are 6 different private holiday lets to choose from, including The Tack Room which is the generous 1-bedroom barn conversion with private garden that we stayed in.
We loved that the décor was stylish but sturdy (aka toddler proof), the gated garden was perfect for containing a runaway 2-year-old and the rural location is gorgeous too. We spent a super chilled evening at Duration Brewing, a local microbrewery that offers beer tasting and light bites at its property overlooking priory ruins.
More recently we stayed at the Riverside Retreat, a hidden gem in Medieval Norwich, which is not only stylish and cosy but has a large garden and private jetty that’s perfect for enjoying your morning coffee. The generous open-plan living and dining room was filled with books and board games to entertain the whole family, and the location is perfect for exploring the Norfolk Broads, seals at Horsey and BeWILDerwood Norfolk, which are all an easy drive away.
Head to my Instagram page for more tips on Norfolk staycations.
The first staycation we ever did was to The Cotswolds when our son was still a baby. We flitted from one postcard-worthy village to the next, enjoying cream teas and farm-to-table brunches along the way.
Parents should treat themselves to lunch, retail therapy and maybe even a massage at Daylesford Organic Farm.
Where to stay with a toddler in The Cotswolds
We loved the location of these pods, which are within walking distance of charming Moreton-in-Marsh, but sit within fields on the outskirts of the village. There are only a handful of these pods, which sit on a campsite that is also small and friendly, with pop up food trucks making an appearance on weekends.
With its historic harbour towns, wild, untouched beaches and bays that look like they belong in the Bahamas, Cornwall is definitely one of the most popular places in the UK for a toddler-friendly family holiday.
We visited Cornwall in August 2020 when our son was 2-years-old and had the best time exploring the historic fishing harbours and vast sandy beaches around the St Ives area.
You can read about our Cornwall family holiday here but, in short, the best places I’d recommend to visit with toddlers in Cornwall are:
Porthmeor, Porthcurno and Hayles Beaches
Mousehole and Polperro Harbour
The Eden project
And you must ride the St Ives Bay Line from St Erth to St. Ives Station.
Where to stay with a toddler in Cornwall
We stayed not far from St Ives (15 mins in the car or 10 minutes on the train) in a cosy, Scandi-style cabin with views of St Michael’s Mount and would say this property is best suited to couples or a family with a young baby. The hosts are supremely welcoming and helpful and the cabin is well-equipped for whipping up easy meals and enjoying them with a glass of wine on the private deck overlooking nearby fields.
Check out this post to discover 5 stylish places to glamp with kids in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s neighbour, Devon has just as many beautiful golden beaches to its name. We took a trip to Ilfracombe when Miles was a baby and spent our time indulging in Devonshire Tea in quaint thatched cottages, while exploring the coastline, including the award-winning Woolacombe Beach and surfing hotspot Croyde Bay.
Toddler-friendly things to do in Devon include River Dart Country Park, which has playgrounds, assault courses, a play lake with a pirate ship, and the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which runs between Paignton and Kingswear.
Where to stay with a toddler in Devon
We stayed in the very spacious Salt House Devon in the heart of Ilfracombe, which offers views of both foodie Fore Street and Damien Hirst’s iconic Verity statue.
With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it’s very family-friendly, not least because it also comes with a washing machine, dishwasher and lots of handy plastic crockery and cutlery for the children.
It’s set out over 3 levels so you may want to enquire about stair gates, but I’m sure the hosts will be more than willing to help – they are the type of owners who leave boogie boards and buckets in the hallway.
Port Lympne Safari Park, Kent
For our son’s fourth birthday in January 2023 we treated him (and us!) to a stay at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve and it was wonderful to get a little taste of a luxury safari right here in England.
Located in Kent, the 600 acre reserve is home to over 900 animals, including gorillas, bears and rhinos.
You can explore the reserve on a safari truck, delight toddlers with the Dinosaur Forest and stay overnight in luxury accommodation, which includes luxury lodges, tents, shepherd’s huts and treehouses.
Port Lympne is a registered charity so all profits from the parks and short breaks go back into their conservation work, more of which you can read about here.
Where to stay with a toddler at Port Lympne
The luxury lodges, some of which come with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lion, tiger and wolf enclosures, don’t come cheap so are definitely something we’ll be saving for a special occasion. Port Lympne also has some more affordable glamping pods and shepherd huts, which can sleep up to 4 people and start at £139 per night.
We booked to stay in one of their mid-priced accommodations – a luxury shepherd’s hut at Hog Deer Creek. These cosy huts offer views of the animals at a nearby watering hole, but come with lots of creature comforts, including an ensuite bathroom, log burner, TV, mini fridge and Nespresso machine, which is just the way I like to camp really!
Due to heavy rainfall, however, we were actually upgraded to one of the Treehouses, which are modern 2-bedroom self-catering suites with sweeping views of the reserve. We were really impressed with the quality of the accommodation – it was well heated (a must in January!), stylishly decorated and fully-equipped down to the huge array of tea bags and Bamford toiletries.
The best part about staying in a Treehouse (for me) was access to The Clubhouse where we were given complimentary prosecco and a bag of marshmallows to roast on the open fire. We dined at their Babydoll’s Italian restaurant for dinner and had breakfast at The Garden Room and the food and service was excellent. Getting to dinner was quite an adventure as we had a good giggle driving the complimentary golf buggy through the hilly reserve in the darkness.
I will write about our stay at Port Lympne in more detail soon as it was definitely one of the best toddler holidays we’ve had in the UK. I’m quite keen to go back and stay in that shepherd’s hut next time!
Read also: Is Centre Parcs good for toddlers?
Hay-on-Wye & The Brecon Beacons, Wales
Our toddler is quite the little bookworm, which is why the quaint market town of Hay-on-Wye that is filled to the brim with bookshops, is on my list of best UK holidays with toddlers.
In May 2020 we enjoyed a family staycation in the Brecon Beacons and our toddler loved meeting the wild horses on Sugar Loaf Mountain and riding Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway. We also made it to Hay-on-Wye and our toddler came home with an armful of new books!
Where to stay in the Brecon Beacons with a toddler
We stayed in a remote, stone cottage in the Brecon Beacons National Park, where yet again we were greeted with homemade cake and maps of trails to explore around the property and local area.
Another unique property I shortlisted was this Shepherd’s Hut near Usk with a fire pit and honesty shop where you can stock up on local produce.
The Peak District
You’ll frequently find the Peak District referred to as one of the best UK holidays for young families and it’s easy to see why.
The UK’s first National Park is packed full of scenic walks and stately homes that you can combine with family fun such as riding a steam train in Ecclesborne Valley, scaling the Heights of Abraham in a cable car and giggling on the rides at Gulliver’s Kingdom, a theme park designed specifically for children aged between 2 and 5.
Of course, this sweet tooth won’t be able to resist a visit to Bakewell, home of the delicious Bakewell Pudding and a lively Farmers Market where livestock are auctioned on the last Saturday of the month.
Where to stay with toddlers in the Peak District
I’ve seen lots of recommendations for Landal Darwin Forest, a 5 star lodge holiday park that is set within 47 acres of stunning woodland between Matlock and Bakewell in the Derbyshire Peak District. They have 137 lodges that sleep between 2 to 8 people and come with generous verandas, some with hot tubs.
I hope this provides you with some ideas on where you can enjoy a great UK break with toddlers. Let me know if you have any favourite places you think should be on the list.
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