southern UK, holiday location ideas with a 2 and 4 yo

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  • southern UK, holiday location ideas with a 2 and 4 yo
  • neilnevill

    wife and i have just returned from a few days in a holiday cottage in Stow on the wold, cotswolds. first holiday we’ve managed in about 5 years as the thought of going away with a heavily pregnant wife or a 1 yo didn’t appeal! this trip was just few days to see how we got on but we all loved it and learnt a few things like… cottage works well for us, cottage in the village not a remote hamlet is handy for walking to shops or pub, entry into attractions with the whole family gets costly….and then chances are the toddlers just want to play on the swings/slides and even penguin feeding time seems lower down the priority list, wife and I are happy and relaxed if kids are and we are somewhere pretty and relaxing. We fancy another trip away this summer now though and I’m after a few ideas. we are based in south London and the girls can cope with ca journeys as far as grand parents in liverpool but shorter is better. I’m thinking maybe the seaside, the girls could be happy for days making sand castles and exploring rock pools if the beach has them. I have thought Selsey/Bognor regis /worthing or a pretty village up to 15 ish miles away from a beach, or further towards kent, eastborne, hastings, folkstone, broadstairs, margate, whitstable or even up to suffolk coast as my mum is essex so could break the journey and go a teenie bit further, so perhaps as far as lowestoft. we just need a bit of prettyness for me and the wife to feel relaxed, and a nice beach for the 2 girls, plus ideally a fall back place to visit or 2 for bad weather days. Oh and looking to go mid september if we can find somewhere, so hopefully still warm but after the hecticness of the school holidays. Any suggestions on places would be great! thanks

    Premier Icon tthew

    Poole and the surrounding Purbeck area is nice.
    Dartmouth also. Had some great holidays there when I was younger.


    Poole and the surrounding Purbeck area is nice.

    Durdle Door is great, too. Loads of beaches in Dorset.

    Although TBH if funds allow I’d probably just fly to Spain, it’s a short flight and having flown with small kids quite a few times they’re not usually that bad.


    Isle of Wight. The short crossing makes it feel like an adventure for the kids and then there is loads to do when you get there (plus everywhere is relatively close).

    Premier Icon senor j

    Norfolk. Quality beaches imo .


    wife says no flights yet. I also suggested IoW and she pulled a face at the thought of a ferry. I’ve not dropped that as a possibility but will be pushing up hill.


    wife says no flights yet.

    I live in Spain, my parents are in the UK – we’ve been flying with the kids* since they were babies. It takes a bit more planning and forethought but it really isn’t that much of an issue, no worse than taking them on the train or bus.

    *kids: eldest has just flown to Romania to a music festival with some friends, and youngest has disappeared on the bus with friends… how time flies 🙂

    Edit: I appreciate that your wife doesn’t want to, and you don’t think it’s worth the time arguing over. But she’s still wrong, albeit a wise man won’t risk telling her that 😀


    The beaches and town are great, loads to do within 20 miles if it rains.

    Premier Icon nixie

    Flights aren’t as bad as you think. We flew to Perth, WA with our youngest as her first flight (2).

    Cottages do work well with young ones. As above around Swanage/ Isle of Purbeck is really nice. We stayed in a nice cottage in Corfe castle a couple of times which I’d go back to. Lots to do around there.

    IOW, ferry crossing is over before you know it, even on the “slow” crossing of ~1 hour. Decent odds of warm temps in September and you can hire a bike to climb from Ventnor esplanade to Down Lane (the biggest climb in Hampshire) before they wake each morning. 😉


    absolutely agree mogrim. pick your battles to win the war!

    description of the IoW ferry as ‘an adventure’ has changed the frowny face to an ‘ooh!’ gleeful face…that’s an option!

    swanage to portland is an area i know well from clipping bolts (sport climbing), should have thought of that myself!


    If you actually want an adventure to the IoW take the hovercraft!!!!

    Agrew with the Hampshire Forest posts.
    New Forest , cost , Bournemouth Poole, Lymington area is great.
    I moved down to the coast near Lymington 3 years ago, when the sun is shinning there is no place like it, lovely forest, great beaches , and this side not too busy.
    Plus you can hire bikes in places like Burley and go out on the trails in the New Forest.

    Maybe a touch too far but I can recommend this place

    Croft Farm

    Great with kids. Nice pool onsite, play barn and animal feeding. Plenty to do in area and Poppit Sands is a lovely kid friendly beach 10mins away.


    pembrokeshire is somewhere for the future, when they are a little older. good ides though.


    We used to go to Alnmouth on the Northumbria coast when my children were that age. It’s a lovely spot. On East coast mainline, about 4 hours on the train from Kings Cross.


    I was going to say Swanage too, proper seaside.

    Holywell Bay


    There’s a nice little kids fun fair close by. It’s quite low key rather than trashy, lovely little place. Kids can try and catch tiddlers in the river next to the beach!


    that looks lovely! a bit too too far to go to cornwall though i think. maybe in the future.

    just been looking at cottages in swanage, definitely a strong option. I’ll probably fell a twinge of nostalgia/missing the single and sportier life at the thought of the climbing nearby but hey ho.

    You need to go the Big Bike Bash
    Probably sold out by now . set in the New Forest with tons to do for kids of all ages
    Otherwise anywhere with options if the weather turns typical british summer .

    Rye is a lovely town in E.Sussex grew up down the road. Have Camber Sands nearby & Winchelsea Beach & Fairlight. Or around Eastbourne, Alfriston some nice beaches & walks on South Downs.

    Sorry to say it but your Mrs needs to up her game a bit! You are seriously missing out by not being able to venture a bit further afield.

    franksinatra is right, it’s worth going further, and everyone will cope with a little planning of the jorney.

    In the meantime, East Kent is actually very good and has plenty to keep you busy for a week or so. Sandy beaches and coves running round from Whitstable to Sandwich Bay, shingle along past Deal ,then sand again. Margate for kiss me quick hats, donkey rides, weird tunnels, the Scalextric/Hornby/Airfix place, Art at the Tate place. Castles at Deal, Walmer and Dover, naval history at Chatham( a bit off piste). Off road bike circuits(and rental) at Betteshanger, and pretty much all of it connected by the nort Kent rail line which loops round the coast and up to London.


    I ‘might’ agree she needs to up her game, but I’m not going into battle on this one. I know my wife. TBF i also know my two girls and both suffer in the heat, both fair skinned and just get really grumpy if its hot hot, so I doubt they would enjoy south of france or spain etc. We do want to do a week somewhere warm next easter time, and with a pool, and try an up the eldests swimming abilities…. she isn’t a great listener and her weekly swimming lessons are making slow/erratic progress…largely depending on which teacher has turned up tbf. Anyway, somewhere abroad hot hot in the summer and the two girls won’t enjoy it. the cotswolds was brilliant. the uk is lovely if the weather is good. As the answers here have confirmed, plenty of options and I think we’d enjoy a week in any of them. Swanage is perhaps my favorite right now, but IoW is temptng …its taking me back to when i was little and holidays in suffolk or broadstairs were fab.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer

    most of what I did as a kid has been mentioned already, but…

    Broadstairs for rockpooling in Joss Bay or Botany Bay (or one of them)

    Hasting for the caves and then off to Camber Sands

    Margate for the beach and Dreamland (if that ever came out of bankruptcy?)

    A ride on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

    Camping somewhere near Pevensey or Alfriston with trips to places like Drusillas etc.

    I reckon I’d have been up for fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast, but we never went there.  But we did so Stonehenge, Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor etc. on one trip to Cornwall.


    Lots of good suggestions.

    I don’t know how you haven’t done any trips (not on about flights) for 5 years!

    There are wonderful places all over the UK. Do so e suggested but some could be a good weekend trip. It doesn’t take much to do a trip it’s more a mental barrier.

    Premier Icon keithb

    Weymouth?  Direct train from Waterloo (I think) and really lovely beach for little ones. Cottages to let in/around the harbour.  It is somewhat lacking in playgrounds though.

    Does both posh sailing crowd and typical seaside town, while being functional too.


    North Norfolk. Been going 26 years as the inlaws live there….wells/Burnham etc.

    Lovely cottages/beaches/quiet roads (well, away from the A149).

    we’re off for the normal couple of weeks in two weeks, and I cannot wait.


    Just come back from 5 days camping near Swanage. Managed SUPing & Kayaking at Studland, lots of hiking, snorkelling at Kimmeridge, Sailing in Poole (member of a club there). And its only 30 miles away.

    Back to sandbanks today for Sandfest! ☀️😎🎛🔊🔊

    The list of things to do in bad weather is good nearby too. None of the traffic and hassle of Cornwall. The only downside is the summer surf is non existent!

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    When our two were about that age we went to Lulworth and stayed in a roughly 60s/70s era bungalow that was on one of those cottages4u type of websites. Lovely place if it’s still there.

    Very pretty, far enough out you didn’t get sucked in to the car park chaos at the bottom and close enough for a walk.

    Striking distance for Monkey World and day trippable to Weymouth – aquarium and beach.

    It’s one of those rare places that I think we’ve been to twice.

    A lot of Suffolk’s beaches are pebbly until you get up to Yarmouth/Lowestoft. Aldeburgh, Southwold and that area are pretty as is Orford and bits of the Shotley peninsula.

    Premier Icon dannybgoode

    We went to Woolacombe and thoroughly enjoyed it. Would happily go back and that’s driving all the way from Sheffield.

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