UK With Kids

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Have you ever considered taking your kids to the UK for a vacation or holiday? We think it’s a great idea, the UK has lots to offer, particularly for children. Let me do what I can to convince you and talk a bit about the UK with kids, the practicalities, and where to go.

UK with kids travel blogger
The UK is great with kids! Let me introduce myself, my name is Alyson and I’m a British travel blogger. My kids were born near London, I am from Wales. We left the UK when they were small, but we return almost every year to tour the UK, see friends and family, and allow my kids to know what it is to be from the UK. So, I have a lot to say about how best to visit, and where to visit, in the UK with kids.

The UK with Kids – Great Idea!

Among the best places in the UK to take kids are the fabulous museums, historic sites and castles, the numerous Harry Potter attractions, theme parks, beaches, and wildlife parks. We’ll try to cover as many as possible in this post, and also send you to other posts with more detail, just follow the links.

This post is intended as a guide only. It is based on raising my kids in the UK from birth to 3 and returning often through the tween and teen years. They’re older teenagers now and the UK is one of their favourite destinations. Please be sure to double-check facts as things do change.

Is The UK England?

England is just one of the countries that is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England, Wales, Scotland, they’re all part of the country of the UK and all countries in their own right too.

Yes, I know it’s confusing.

Only people from England are English. Not everyone from the UK is English (I am from Wales, I’m Welsh, and British).

I thought we should just establish what the UK actually is. The UK is a country, made up of countries.

The UK is an Educational Place for Kids to Visit

St David's cathedral Historical sites Things to do in the UK With Kids
We have enough castles, cathedrals, and palaces to keep you busy for months in the UK. This is St David’s Cathedral Henry VII’s father’s tomb is here.

The UK is rich in history and culture. This means it’s hard to go anywhere without running into something of educational interest

London, in particular, is abundantly provided with fantastic museums and all of the major players are free. You could probably spend your whole vacation in London and not see everything in the museums.

Best UK museums with kids
The UK has fabulous museums, and they’re not all in London, although the London museums are fantastic, and often free. This photo is from The British Museum, in London, my kids enjoying a kids’ audio treasure hunt.

If you pay to see the big attractions like The Tower of London, kids will soak up still more history. Maybe take a tour with your kids. Guides and commentaries add to the education and fun.

You don’t need to spend a fortune for your family to have a great time in London. See this post on London, for Kids, for Free.

In other parts of the country you’ll find castles, stately homes, prehistoric standing stones, medieval villages and still more museums.

Most major UK cities will have museums of some kind. Some, like the Jorvik Viking museum in York, are destinations popular with visitors country-wide.

Britain really excels at museums. Children’s audio guides are a huge hit with kids, making learning extra fun and most museums have hands-on exhibits to further encourage active exploration.

In London we’d highly recommend The Science Museum, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, British Museum and the V&A along with the smaller museums such as The Museum of Childhood.

Another stand-out UK museum, popular with kids, is the Museum of Welsh life, near Cardiff. This is a huge area, with reconstructed houses, shops, and cottages. It’s great fun for kids.

Free Things For Kids To Do in The UK

 children rockpooling free things to do in the UK with kids british beaches
Rockpooling – a free and fun thing to do in the UK at any time of year. This was a fall day on the beach in Wales.

Accommodation prices in the UK, London in particular, may look frightening, but when you think about how much free entertainment you will find here, it really isn’t so bad.

You can find ideas on where to stay on this site. 

In London public transport is good and affordable and food costs aren’t so bad at all if you shop wisely.

Aside from free museums and historic sites, there are coastlines to explore, hills or mountains to hike and woodlands to explore. The UK is a wonderful place for kids.

The UK Has Indoor Fun For Rainy Days

Let’s face it, the British Isles aren’t famous for their consistently good weather. So, what could you do to entertain kids if you get a bad week?

My choice would be to wrap up warmly and carry on regardless. If you really have to shelter from the elements there is plenty to do for kids on rainy days.

Indoor play facilities are popular with the residents and are abundant. Prices aren’t too high as these are aimed at locals, not tourists.

If you’ve had enough of museums try the big paid attractions, we have Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and The London Dungeon in the capital, and plenty more besides.

If you’re on the coast, a walk on a blustery day can be great fun. Sheltering in the amusement arcade on the end of the pier or in a steamy-windowed cafe tucking into fish and chips. It’s is all part of the UK experience.

The UK With Kids Offers Outdoor Adventures

UK with kids feeding ducks
What do British kids do? They go for a walk and feed the ducks. Most bodies of water in the UK will have ducks, moorhens, swans, or geese. These are actually on saltwater, at Cardiff Bay.

The UK has some great beaches. From the flat sandy shores of the north-west, to the Jurassic Cliffs of the south coast there is something for everyone.

The British seaside is perfect for anyone with kids.They work in winter as well as in summer so long as you bring anoraks and wellingtons.

My boys will spend hours on the coast. They’ll be building sandcastles, collecting shells, exploring rock pools, paddling in the sea, visiting the arcades and tucking into ice creams in summer, chips in winter.

 If sand isn’t really your thing, then try the countryside. The UK has loads of national parks, which offer activities from family walks to mountain climbing.

A pub lunch is a cosy inn with a roaring fire is a great reward at the end of a good walk, or in summer, a pint of good scrumpy in a great British beer garden. Kids are normally allowed in pubs in the UK, particularly those that serve food.

British Food is Good and Kid Friendly

Food in the UK has come a long way. There are still the old favourites that you have to try alongside modern British cuisine.

Not everyone is going to go for jellied eels and pie and liquor but who doesn’t love fish and chips, eaten in newspaper on the seafront?  

A Sunday roast of beef and Yorkshire pudding followed by a hearty British desert is another must-do.

Real foodies should check out the farmer’s markets that you’ll find in every town. Our favourite in London in historic Borough Market, it’s a destination in itself.

Most chain restaurants and pubs are child-friendly, offering a children’s menu. Children are often seen eating out with their parents in the early evening or at lunchtime. We have a full post on where to eat in London for holiday makers.

British Wildlife Encounters For Kids in The UK

Child watching deer UK with kids places to see wildlife
My son, watching the deer at Richmond Park. Or is it the other way around?

The UK has some world-leading zoos and wildlife parks. Of course, there is London Zoo but ZSL also has Whipsnade and Edinburgh Zoo.

The Scottish wildlife park is also superb.

To see British wildlife in the wild, try Richmond Park or The New Forest for dear. You’re likely to see rabbits and hares are common in some areas.

We have otters, seals, dolphins, badgers, grey and red squirrels, Scottish wild cats and plenty of birds to spot too. You could go in search of red kites, eagles or puffins. If you’re in London you’re very likely to see urban red foxes.

Book Kid-Friendly Activities in The UK

Some of the best kid-friendly attractions and activities in the UK include:

If you’d like to book tickets, tours, or activities in the UK with kids, we strongly recommend this website. We use them ourselves. Browse and Book UK experiences here.

Booking Family-Friendly Accommodation in the UK

We recommend Booking dot com for booking hotels, apartments, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and more in the UK. Visit Booking dot com here. We normally use Agoda for booking accommodation as a first choice, we have used them in the UK, but we think Booking dot com is better in Europe. If you’d like to double-check go to Agoda here.

Christmas in the UK with Kids

Christmas in the UK with Kids
Christmas in the UK is a child-friendly dream!

Around Christmas and New Year, days get short and the UK lights up with sparkling Christmas decorations. Most towns and cities will have lights and Christmas markets along with special Christmas food events.

Outdoor ice rinks and carousels appear and Santa takes up residence in some shops. Christmas really is a great time to visit the UK with kids and a cold European holiday season, we think, is hard to beat.

A white Christmas is, however, unlikely unless you take to the hills.

Around Christmas time your kids will likely need covered shoes, long trousers and a coat, jacket, or thick fleece. If you choose to go out in the rain, a waterproof jacket will be useful. It doesn’t get massively cold in the southern parts of the UK. But these days anything is possible!

Scotland and the north of the UK are likely to be colder and darker.

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UK with Kids- Wrap Up

This is just a taster, an overview of some of Britain’s charms. Obviously there is so much more besides. We love being in the UK. Exploring London, Wales, England and Scotland have been highlights of our travels over the last two years. You’ll find plenty more posts on this blog about all things British. What’s your favourite thing about visiting this part of the world?

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

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