With the summer holidays on the horizon and faced with an increasingly complex patchwork of restrictions and testing requirements across Europe, many families are looking for adventures on home soil.
Here’s our pick of the best kid-friendly things to do this summer.
Follow Alice down the rabbit hole in Oxfordshire
Luxury tour operator Black Tomato has curated some of the best experiences for adults for decades, and now it’s come up with a range of unforgettable children’s itineraries too – all inspired by classic stories.
One of the most appealing UK itineraries takes place in rural Oxfordshire. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this fantastical “Take me on a Story” trip includes experiences such as a river cruise with an Oxford historian; an interactive tea party and croquet; and a VIP storytelling session in the Story Museum. Families will bed down at plush Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – a treat for adults as well as children.
From £8,250 per person for five nights, blacktomato.com
Visit Legoland’s new universe
Legoland in Windsor opened a “parallel universe of epic adventures and mythical creatures” at the end of May as part of its new multimillion-pound Mythica land. Families can expect a whole host of new rides and experiences including Flight of the Sky Lion, an immersive “theatre ride”; a tower drop ride; and a water ride, all with characteristic Lego figures.
Enjoy a posh staycation
In a bid to attract families to staycation in the capital this summer, hotels are unveiling kid-friendly packages.
The new “Little VIP Club” at the storied Lanesborough Hotel by Hyde Park aims to give children the same luxe experience as the adults. They’ll be given a personalised “Business Wallet”, swappable for soft drinks and ice cream in the hotel’s restaurants; plus there are mocktail lessons, treasure hunts and dedicated “splash hours” in the pool. Meanwhile, the Lanesborough is on the doorstep of some of London’s best museums and parks, so there’s plenty to do beyond its doors too.
Further west is former aristocratic palace 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel, near Kensington Palace, which this summer launches an “After Bedtime” package, giving kids a dressing gown and slippers; colourful bath bombs; and cinema snacks to munch alongside its selection of family films.
Get locked up in Bodmin Jail
Eighteenth-century Bodmin Jail has had more than a lick of paint to turn it into an £8.5m immersive experience: visitors can learn about the lives of prisoners and wider Cornwall. There’s also the fully working Victorian Hanging Pit, which carried out 55 executions over the years. The rest of the prison is now a four-star hotel, prosaically named Bodmin Jail Hotel – which is a great base to explore the rest of Bodmin Moor and north Cornwall.
Play Robin Hood at Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle, a fortified Norman-era castle that was the stage for rebellions, riots and royal rows over the past almost millennium, has just undergone a £30m refurb. General admission will get you into the Ducal Palace and its exhibits, while new additions for family trips include an ideal-for-children adventure playground, where children can pretend-play at being Robin Hood, Nottinghamshire’s most famous son. And on the subject of Robin Hood: nearby is 432-hectare Sherwood Forest.
Stay in the UK’s largest forest
Forest Holidays has just opened its newest location, in the UK’s largest forest, 972-hectare Delamere in Cheshire. There are 66 brand-new wooden cabins, all complete with log fires and hot tubs, hidden within the forest’s rug of deciduous trees. By day, there’s plenty to do in the forest, tramping paths that cut through its swaying trees, wetlands and conifer plantations. Older kids will be particularly enchanted by this setting, with its raft of child-friendly activities on offer: the Peter Rabbit Forest Trail, which takes you on a short loop around the forest; exploring with the on-site forest ranger; tearing around the mountain biking trails that zigzag the forest; or peeking into the Bug Hotel.
Three nights (Friday to Monday) in Forest Holidays’ Golden Oak Hideaway cabin at Delamere Forest costs from £1,040, forestholidays.co.uk
Read about the best family-friendly hotels in the UK here.
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