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Family breaks the kids will love

holidays the_kids_love_11_06_12The fresh air, the freedom, the sense of adventure – a holiday in the great outdoors is perfect for children and big kids, too.

1. Over the border

Why not head north for your hols this summer and sample the delights of Scotland. Many say the scenery beats anywhere abroad for sheer magnificence, plus it’s home to some historic cities steeped in culture, too. Scotland offers wonderful wildlife, outdoor adventure activities suitable for all the family and, of course, the greatest golf there is – if that’s your bag!

Where to go
Nestled in the Strathearn valley at the gateway to the Scottish highlands, Crieff is just an hour’s drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh yet a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The town is home to Scotland’s oldest distillery, The Famous Grouse Experience, and there’s a wide range of small shops and eateries to explore.

Where to stay
At Crieff Hydro in Perthshire you will find luxurious self-catering accommodation, set in a stunning rural setting and it’s perfect for families of all ages. If you’ve got young ones, you’ll appreciate the little extras such as high chairs and stair gates and not having to pack linen or heavy crockery. The cherry on the cake of this holiday is the access to a superb choice of hotel facilities and onsite activities, of which there are over 60. With six hours free daily childcare included in the price, you could book into the adult only Victorian Spa or play a round or two on the 18 hole golf course, while the kids are taken care of by the qualified staff in the Big Country holiday club; a creche is also available for under twos at additional cost.  And when the designated chef of the family decides they want a break too, then you have the choice of five restaurants.

Good for kids
With two swimming pools, quad biking, off-road driving, archery and even a 50ft climbing wall and high and low ropes courses – kids (and grown ups) are spoilt for choice. Plus, there’s the chance to go horse riding, play tennis, squash or badminton or join in with the packed entertainments programme, which is on daily.

Prices
Luxury self-catering from £23 – £65 per person per night (based on six sharing).

How to get there
Crieff is an hour’s drive from both Glasgow and Edinburgh and is very close to Perth. For more information visit www.crieffhydro.com

2. A caravan of fun

Caravanning is a British holiday institution and it’s easy to see why – freedom, flexibility and a sense of community are just a few of its draws

Where to go
Rediscover the simple pleasures in life on a family caravanning holiday in the British Isles. There are a host of dedicated sites throughout the UK – many are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, and most are within striking distance of a wide range of outdoor pursuits to keep little ones entertained. Plus, it’s far more economical than a couple of weeks abroad.

Where to stay
Start Bay Caravan Park in South Devon is a real beauty spot, and the perfect base for a real British beach holiday. From rocky coastal walks to pristine sandy bays, this little corner of the country really has it all for families who like to be beside the seaside.

Good for kids
Start Bay is just one of a wealth of nearby stunning beaches where kids can play in the sea, make sand castles and go rock pooling. And just down the road in Slapton Ley is a must-see bird sanctuary.

Prices
During the summer holidays prices are £6.35 per adult per night and £2.20 per child, plus £8.20 for the pitch.

How to get there
Start Bay is about an hour’s drive from Exeter and 30 minutes from Totnes. For more information visit www.caravanclub.co.uk

3. Luxury holiday village

For an activity-packed trip that’s close to home and specifically tailored to families with children of all ages – you can’t beat Center Parcs, as this reader found out… To book your own trip visit www.centerparcs.co.uk

‘The whole experience was excellent’
Charlie Theodosi, 52, and wife Caroline, 40, spent a week in Elveden Forest Center Parcs  village in Suffolk with their two children, Catrina, 11 and Nathan, five

‘Elveden Forest is only just over an hour away from our home, which was a big draw for us. And once you are checked in, no cars are allowed – meaning our kids could cycle safely around the village – a big plus. We booked the four-bedroom executive lodge accommodation, which couldn’t be faulted. The villa was clean and spacious, and, in the main complex, having the games room kept the kids occupied, while the sauna was a great way to relax after an activity-packed day!

‘Indoor and outdoor activities for kids such as clay modelling and water sports are available at an extra cost. We booked them up in advance to ensure that the children were always entertained. A particular favourite was ‘Cool Coasters,’ in which the kids got to transfer their own designs onto coasters and mousemats. While Little Indians (archery) and short tennis kept them busy, too. We even had time for a family ten pin bowling session.

‘Plenty of time was spent in the sub-tropical swimming pool, with its brilliant rapids and slides. And there is also a children’s play pool with fountains and smaller slides for the little ones.

‘The Aqua Sana offers a welcome relaxation space for the adults. While my wife, Caroline, enjoyed a few hours having a manicure and pedicure, I took the kids for a pony ride. And when I was having a Pure Harmony full body massage, Caroline took the children on a guided nature trail around the forest.

‘At Elveden, there is a great choice when it comes to meal times, with 11 restaurants ranging from Italian and French cuisine, to Indian, and even a traditional American diner. Our favourite was Sunday lunch at Forrester’s Inn, as it was just like the kind of homemade meal we enjoy at home. All the eateries are child-friendly, with high chairs and colouring books on request. And the prices were surprisingly reasonable.

‘All in all, the experience was excellent and the whole family can’t wait to come back for another fun-packed break.’


This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]


Photograph: Getty Images

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