11 best UK family adventures: British activity holidays with kids

May 02, 2023 BY Paul McWilliams

If you’re looking for the best UK family adventures, then you can find them in every corner of the country. From British activity holidays with kids in Scotland to exhilarating family fun in southern Cornwall. There are countless opportunities across the UK to spend some exciting and quality time together.

11 best UK family adventures British activity holidays with kids flickr cc image of cornwall bodyboarding by david__jones

11 best UK family adventure destinations

British activity holidays with kids

Whether you are planning an adventurous staycation, or you are visiting the UK to explore it’s great outdoors there are more family options than you realise. The Derbyshire Dales, Cotswolds, Anglesey, Scilly Islands, Swanage, Isle of Sky, Gower Peninsula and the Cairngorms all offer great family adventures and they aren’t even included in this top 11…

In order to maximise your family fun, choose a destination that offers a range of activities and accommodation options. Below are 11 of the very best family adventure destinations in the UK.

Best UK family adventures: England

Southern Cornwall

With its milder climate and more than 300 beaches, Cornwall is an excellent destination for a British activity holiday with kids. But it’s a big place with limited road connections. So, it’s well worth basing yourself in one area with a good choice of activities and making day trips out to major landmarks such as the Eden Project.

11 best UK family adventures: British activity holidays with kids - Image courtesy of eden Project website

To the south of the county is Swanpool, near Falmouth. This crescent of sand is a great place for all the family to try sailing, snorkelling, SUP, windsurfing, coasteering and more. There are also kids’ clubs running most weekends and during school holidays.

The River Tamar is another good spot for family fun, with kayaking in the pristine river a real highlight. Also the surf beaches of the north coast, such at Portreath, Perranporth and Gwithian are just 30 to 40 minutes away.

Lake district

Similar to Cornwall, there is fun to be had all over the Lake District. So you are best advised not to try and cover too much ground during your stay. The bigger lakes are the obvious choice for water-based fun, so try boating on Coniston or visit the rafting and canoeing centre at Brockhole on Windermere.

11 best UK family adventures: British activity holidays with kids Flickr CC image of sailing on Lake Windermere image by Janet Ramsden

For fun on dry land, check out the mountain biking routes through the Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests with trails for all levels of rider. You can also rent bikes at the Brockhole visitor enter and Coniston Boating Centre as part of a British activity holidays with kids.

Of course, the Lake District is best known for its hiking. There are trails everywhere, but it is great to be able to walk straight from your base without having to drive to the trail. Staying near Keswick, Grasmere or Buttermere gives easy access to some of the most popular trails.

Isle of Wight

Colwell Bay is a small and easily accessible beach on the north-western side of the Isle of Wight. The gently sloping sand and shingle beach is a great place to hang out and relax, but there is plenty of more IOW adventures to be enjoyed. There is something about taking the Wightlink Ferry that kids love as it feels like you are going abroad.

11 best UK family adventures British activity holidays with kids flickr cc image of Colwell bay kayaking IOW by AndyRobertsPhotos

Take to the water in a kayak, speed across the surface on a jet ski, or let the wind power you while windsurfing. There is also plenty of free fun to be had rock pooling your way along the coast at low tide.

Elsewhere on the Isle of Wight, hit the track on a go-kart, explore the nature trail and waterfalls at Shanklin Chine. Or take to the canopy at Goodleaf Tree Climbing centre in Ryde. If you want to do the IOW on a budget there are great deals in Sandown, conveniently you can windsurf, and kitesurf most of the time and there is even some surfing.

Brighton and Sussex

As one of the UK’s most vibrant and colourful cities, Brighton is known for its parties. But it’s also a great place to take the kids with it’s funfair on the pier and many attractions. It’s surrounded by the South Downs and the sea making it a great base for a wider Sussex-based adventure holiday.

Review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton with Lagoon Watersports

Enjoy kayaking and SUP around the pier or along the coast, or head inland to paddle the river at Bodiam, stopping to check out the fairy tale castle. Do some wakeboarding at Hove lagoon, or try windsurfing, kitesurfing or sailing. Or walk along the Seven Sisters to Cuckmere Haven.

You can also combine an adventure with valuable life skills with a bushcraft course. Learn the basic skills for survival in the great outdoors, make fire without matches and have a whole lot of family fun at the same time. British activity holidays with kids don’t come much better than this.


England’s capital may be best known for world class museums, historical attractions and superb shopping. But there are plenty of other things to do in London with kids. Go on a cycling tour of the city, following the river path and exploring some of the vast green spaces.

11 best UK family adventures: British activity holidays with kids Wikimedia cc image of London rafting adventure at Lee Valley rafting centre by Mary Gregory

The Lee Valley is home to a velo-park and rafting centre for some high-octane fun. Or get engine powered with go-karts or a speed boat ride on the river. London is home to some of the best UK family adventures.

North Pennines

Another great location to learn some bushcraft, with shelter building, foraging and navigation training on offer. There is a choice of activity centres in the North Pennines, including the Alston Training and Adventure Centre.

You can also try a diverse range of family adventure activities such as rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking. The C2C bike path runs through the area and walkers can tackle sections of the Pennine Way.

11 best UK family adventures British activity holidays with kids flickr cc image of Pennine Way by walkinguphills

Best UK family adventures: Wales


A huge adventure playground of mountains, hills, valleys, woodlands and rivers, you can enjoy some of the best British activity holidays with kids in Snowdonia. Walk through the Ogwen Valley, where Edmund Hillary trained for Everest, before climbing the mighty Snowdon itself.

Check out the longest zip wire in the northern hemisphere at Penrhyn Quarry and reach frightening speeds high above the quarry floor below. Then hire bikes and explore the trails around Coed y Brenin, with family friendly trails available.

You can also surf at the UK’s only artificial surf lagoon at Surf Snowdonia.

11 best UK family adventures British activity holidays with kids Image courtesy of Surf Snowdonia

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park is a great place to experience some of the best UK family adventures. The whole park is like a giant playground and a great place to get active. Pen y Fan is well worth hiking and the highest point in the South of Britain.

This living landscape is criss-crossed with bike and walking trails, with horse riding tracks and wildlife watching hideouts too. It’s also home to Bike Park Wales one of the best mountain biking destinations in the UK.

There is a wide range of family activities to try, from more gentle fun like photography classes to paragliding, rafting, canyoning and abseiling. Explore more of the landscape while rock climbing or orienteering. And at night, enjoy a stargazing adventure away from the bright lights of the towns and cities.

11 best UK family adventures: British activity holidays with kids Flickr CC image from bike park wales by DaiSliders

Best UK family adventures: Scotland

Loch Lomond

Take a cruise out on the lake in a paddle steamer or travel under your own power in a canoe. Explore around the edge of the lake, Scotland’s first national park, while pony trekking or take to the trees on a TreeZone Aerial Adventure.

There’s a whole range of other exciting activities to try around the region, with gorge scrambling, canyoning, mountain biking, trekking and much more.

Fort William and Lochaber

Known by many as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ it’s no surprise that this is a superb destination for British activity holidays with kids. Home to the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, this is a part of Scotland driven by adventure. You can walk, climb and even ski or snowboard around the mountains.

11 best UK family adventures British activity holidays with kids flickr cc image of Ben Nevis summit by andrewrendell

But water is just as important here. Try out sea kayaking or sailing along the stunning coastline or go scuba diving in it’s rich waters. Alternatively make your way down a steep sided gorge on a family canyoning adventure. And it’s all just a little over two hours’ drive from Glasgow.

Best UK family adventures: Northern Ireland


Home to not one, not two but three beautiful beaches (two are sandy), the Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle there is plenty to satisfy holiday makers in Portrush. And there is lots to keep you busy here during British activity holidays with kids.

With beaches facing different directions there are often good conditions to surf, windsurf, and kitesurf. Staying on the water you can explore the beautiful coast from a kayak or paddleboard, learn to sail or head out on a fishing trip. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area, with the Causeway Coastal walk one of the most beautiful.

If the best UK family adventures has inspired you to take British activity holidays with kids then be sure to check out our United Kingdom adventure discounts as you could save a fortune on your next trip.


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