10 of the best family winter breaks in the UK

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Children lying in snow

From skiing in Scotland to starlings in Somerset, discover unforgettable winter breaks for families of all ages and interests

From week-long trips to weekend breaks, winter holidays can be brilliant for families: the absence of crowds or queues diminishes the chances of stress, while prices are generally cheaper and restaurant tables easier to come by. Complete with a good array of indoor options, in case Mother Nature gets grumpy, here are 10 contenders.

1. Best winter holidays for entertaining toddlers

Young girl walking hand in hand with parents

The leafy Hide & Secrets outdoor playground at Burghley House — a Tudor-era country pile in Lincolnshire — includes some smaller slides and nearer-the-ground adventures aimed at preschool children. It’s open on weekends until 17 December; after that, parents might journey a couple of miles to the handsome medieval town of Stamford, where an indoor soft-play centre, The Yard, puts an emphasis on providing scrummy food for parents. Later, consider a family walk around the bird-rich Rutland Water reservoir.

2. Best winter holidays for teens

Woman at fairground

Most UK theme parks close in winter, but not The Milky Way. Close to Clovelly’s cobbled seaside lanes in north Devon, this award-winning site combines roller coasters — led by the 40mph Cosmic Typhoon — dodgems, indoor football challenges, giant trampolines and circus-style shows. If your teens are feeling especially heroic, they can even use laser guns to prevent asteroids from reaching Earth. That’s surely worth a milkshake? 

3. Best winter holidays for multi-generational groups

Children throwing snowballs at their grandfather

Blissfully quiet for once, the Lake District lays on adventures for every age group during winter. Grandparents should relish paddle-steamer trips on Windermere or visiting William Wordsworth’s home; for adults, there are waterfall walks, mountain bike rides and tours of The Lakes Distillery; while Grasmere’s gingerbread shop and the chance to concoct flavours at Hawkshead’s Children’s Chocolate Factory ought to delight sweet-toothed juniors. The abundance of large rental properties helps, too.

4. Best winter holidays for outdoorsy fun

Multi-generational family walking on beach

Combining fresh air, history and sleuthing, fossil hunting is easiest in winter, when beaches are quieter. At Dorset’s Jurassic Coast town of Lyme Regis, you can join a guide to learn how to locate ammonites or shark’s teeth, or dip into the Dinosaurland museum if it rains. Also handy for visits to Corfe Castle and Cerne Abbas’s chalk giant, the pool-equipped Bournemouth West Cliff Hotel makes a spacious base – and as a Boundless member, can save 20% on your stay. It’s a particularly lovely place to stay in the run-up to Christmas, when you can visit Bournemouth’s Christmas Market and nearby Christmas Tree Wonderland (17 November – 1 January 2024) and enjoy outdoors fun of a festive kind!

5. Best winter holidays for a city break

Ice skating at Somerset House

Based up north? Then consider history-packed York and its guided, laughter-filled Wizard Walk, on which apprentice sorcerers aged 5-10 can help to locate magical creatures. Otherwise, head for London and its litany of temptations. Dino skeletons await at the Natural History Museum; scream-inducing fun beckons at the London Dungeon; and Somerset House has ice skating until 14 January. Combine those with a West End musical; the likes of Frozen stage convenient afternoon matinee shows.

6. Best winter holidays for January weekends

Mother and child playing in snow

Among three ski resorts in central Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, The Lecht works particularly well for young families thanks to its wide magic carpet, and a glass-fronted café from which parents can watch their charges over a hot chocolate. There’s a snow factory there, plus another at Cairngorm Mountain, the most challenging resort and also home to Ptarmigan, the UK’s highest restaurant. Plates of sausage and chips don’t get more memorable.

7. Best winter holidays for nature retreats

Family in log cabin

Forest stays are magical in winter, when a wispy white sheen is added to all the dense, tranquil greenery. A great option is Whitemead Forest Park, tucked away in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean and boasting facilities ranging from adventure golf to a pool-and-spa complex. The local area, meanwhile, throws in kids’ cookery classes, a subterranean mining museum, high-rope courses from Go Ape, 4X4 off-roading experiences and the Family Cycle Trail, a nine-mile circular route following disused railway lines. 

Don’t forget that Boundless members can save up to 20% on stays at Whitemead, in addition to any ongoing promotions or offer. To enjoy this special discount, just select the relevant option during your online booking and enter your membership number when prompted. 

8. Best winter holidays for wildlife spotting

Robin red breast

Few UK spectacles make jaws drop like the sight of 500,000 starlings flying in swirling, gyrating shapes. That happens on winter evenings at the Avalon Marshes in Somerset, with The Wildlife Trusts also listing smaller but still-stunning ‘murmurations’ found elsewhere in Britain. Over in Norfolk, meanwhile, huge numbers of Atlantic grey seals spend the winter courting, mating and producing cute pups on Blakeney Point. Guided boat trips get you up close.

9. Best winter holidays for art

Bristol Light Festival

From 2-11 February, the fourth annual Bristol Light Festival will bring exciting installation art to churches, harboursides and bridges across the city — including an ‘enveloping bubble experience’ and angelic astronauts. Expect it to be immersive, fun, fascinating and entirely free. Should Bristol be too far away, how about Newcastle? From 23 November 23 until 1 January, Leazes Park will host a dazzling one-mile light trail featuring soundscapes, with refreshments en route.

10. Best winter holidays for feeling wintry

Family walking in snow

Few places enchant like Eyri (aka Snowdonia) during the cold season. Be it see-your-breath walks across frosty fells or drives through them to waterfalls, North Wales’ national park will captivate. Warming pub lunches can feature in, too, as might whizzy rides at Zip World, across an old slate quarry, or explorations of the 700-year-old Conwy Castle. At night, watch for the northern lights; this is a designated dark sky reserve, after all.

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Boundless members get free entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands plus dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more! If you're working or retired from the public sector or civil service and not yet a member, discover more about Boundless membership here.

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