Staycation has definitely become a common word these days. With different rules applied to international travel, more and more people are choosing to stay in the UK and explore the country with their families or friends. From beautiful countryside to amazing beaches and loads of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, here are our best 2021 family staycations in the UK. And guess what, they can all be easily reached by train!
- The Lake District
- The Cotswolds
- Isle of Wight
Cornwall is the perfect destination for your family staycation in the UK. From wild coastlines to picture-perfect harbours and sandy beaches, it’s no surprise it’s been a family favourite UK holiday destination for years.
There are so many great towns in Cornwall it’ll be hard to choose which one to visit first. Enjoy the picturesque city of Charlestown with its old-world charm and stop by the Shipwreck Treasure Museum – it has over 8,000 artefacts from over 150 shipwrecks, your kids will love them! Hayle is another popular destination amongst families, with its miles of sandy beaches, where surfing lessons are available for older children and rock pooling for younger ones.
Other family-friendly attractions not to miss include Newquay Zoo, Blue Reef Aquarium, the Eden Project, and the Lappa Valley Steam Railway, which will take you through some of Cornwall’s most breath-taking scenery. Finally, don’t forget about the cream teas, pasties, and Cornish ice cream – Cornwall is definitely a foodie’s paradise.
How to get to Cornwall by train
You can easily reach Cornwall by train from different parts of the UK. If you’re travelling from London, you can take a direct GWR service from London Paddington to Newquay – the journey takes around 5h, so you’ll have plenty of time to kick back and travel in comfort while taking in the amazing views from your window seat. If you’re planning to travel overnight, why not take the Night Riviera from London to Penzance – the journey is a bit longer (about 8h) but you’ll save on both time and money.
You can also travel by train to Cornwall from the north of England, with only one change normally needed at St. Erth (if travelling from Leeds, Birmingham, and Sheffield to St. Ives). Learn more about trains to Cornwall.
With both coast and countryside to enjoy, Devon is a great choice for a relaxing family staycation in the UK. From castles and theme parks to zoos, water sports and beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone (young and old) when you spend your holiday in Devon.
If you love exploring with your family, we recommend you hike along the South West Coast Path or head to the rolling countryside of Dartmoor National Park for some stunning scenery.
Devon is also a great place for adventurous little ones, with a wide range of amusement and theme parks to choose from. Make sure you take your kids to Crealy Theme Park & Resort near Exeter – with over 100 acres of rides and attractions, it’s considered as one of the best places for a day out in Devon. If your children love animals, explore Exmoor Zoo in Barnstaple, or pay a visit to the family-run Totnes Rare Breeds Farm, where you can cuddle guinea pigs or feed some of the fluffy animals you can find there.
Finally, to keep your little ones busy, you can take part in a handful of treasure trails dotted around Devon, or you can simply head to the beach for some paddling and water sports.
How to get to Devon by train
Getting to Devon couldn't be easier by train. You can travel direct from London to Exeter in around 2h on a GWR train. London Paddington station is the gateway to Devon from London, but access from other areas is straightforward too. For example, you can get from Bristol to Taunton in just 1h 27m on the fastest services and from Southampton to Exeter in 2h 30m. Find out more about trains to Devon.
3. The Lake District
Next up on our guide to the best family staycations in the UK is the Lake District. A World Heritage Site, this part of the English countryside promises countless adventures, whether you’re bringing young children or teenagers along.
Visit Windermere, the largest natural lake in England. Take in the beautiful mountains and quaint villages surrounding you or grab a rowing boat and go on a little family cruise.
We also recommend you spend an afternoon in Ullswater – you’ll get to choose from a wide range of water sport opportunities, including sailing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Alternatively, cycle around the National Park before refuelling with a slice of the famous Kendal Mint Cake.
For the younger guests of the family, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction brings to life the magical stories of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck that were inspired by the beauty of the Lake District.
How to get to the Lake District by train
It’s easy to get to the Lake District by train. The nearest train station is Oxenholme railway station, which is connected to the main stations in England, including Manchester Piccadilly, Newcastle, London Euston, Edinburgh Waverley, and Leeds thanks to the frequent services operated by Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Northern. Once you get to Oxenholme station, you’ll be able to reach Kendal and the surrounding areas. Learn more about trains to the Lake District.
4. The Cotswolds
Encompassing more than 700 square miles across 5 counties, the Cotswolds is one of the largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England.
Explore English villages of honey-coloured stone and take in splendid, lively market towns. Visit some of the country’s greatest palaces, castles, country houses, and museums, including the Cotswolds Motoring Museum in Bourton-on-the-Water, which has a huge collection of motoring memorabilia and toys your kids will be particularly interested in.
If you love animals, make sure you stop by the Cotswolds Wildlife Park & Gardens. Here you can come face-to-face with giraffes, lions, penguins, red pandas and many more animals. The Cotswolds Farm Park, home to many rare breeds of farm animals, is also worth a visit, and their play areas are also great for the little ones.
How to get to the Cotswolds by train
It’s super easy to get to the Cotswolds by train. Due to the area's size, there are many stations that can act as gateways to it, including Oxford, Cheltenham, Moreton-in-Marsh and Bath.
If you're travelling from London, you can take a 51m direct train from London Marylebone to Banbury, on the northeastern edge of the Cotswolds. To reach the southern part of the Cotswolds by train, take the direct service from London Paddington to Kemble (1h 11m), Stroud (1h 29m), or Stonehouse (1h 32m). To get right into the heart of the Cotswolds, take the train from London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh (1h 37m). This route stops at Kingham and Charlbury along the way, both within the Cotswolds AONB. Learn more about trains to the Cotswolds.
5. Isle of Wight
If you’re looking for a family staycation in the UK, why not head to the Isle of Wight. Along the wonderful coastline, you’ll find a number of child-friendly beaches, including the popular resort of Shanklin. Here, you and your family will be happy to find three crazy golf courses, a traditional amusement arcade and the Shanklin Chine, a wooded coastal ravine containing waterfalls, trees, and lush vegetation, as well as footpaths and walkways, and a heritage centre explaining its history.
For younger children, Robin Hill Adventure Park offers 88 acres of natural parkland with stunning woodland, open rolling countryside and curated water gardens for endless exploration. For dinosaur fans, Dinosaur Isle is Britain's first purpose-built interactive dinosaur museum and displays over 1,000 of the best fossils from their collections using clever lighting, artwork, sound, smells, and animatronic technology to create an exciting experience.
Finally, you can’t visit the Isle of Wight without going to the Needles Landmark Attraction – hop onto the chairlift and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the turquoise waters and sand cliffs of Alum Bay, you won’t regret it!
How to get to the Isle of Wight by train
You can easily reach the Isle of Wight by train. If you’re travelling from London, you can take a South Western Railway service from London Waterloo to Ryde Pier Head – you’ll just need to get off at Portsmouth Harbour station and then board a ferry operated by Wightlink that will take you to Ryde Pier Head in about 20 minutes. Find out more about trains to the Isle of Wight.
As you can see, there are plenty of destinations you can easily reach by train for your family staycation in the UK. So, what are you waiting for? Take the train and check out these amazing places for yourself! If you want to discover more destinations in the UK for your family staycation, why not check out our UK travel inspiration hub or our other UK staycations guide.