UK family getaways: Guide to The Lake District with kids
Instead of dipping our toes in the South Pacific during the Easter holidays, we'll be staying at Windowsill Bay again. But while our vacay plans might have been shelved for another time, we're also turning our minds to all the other pretty places we want to see once this global lockdown is over and done with, starting with this gorgeous exploration hotspot: The Lake District. With over 885 square miles of stunning national park to explore, this super picturesque pocket of the UK is a holiday winner for families for sure. From its glacial lakes to rugged mountains, pretty market towns to stunning forests, this is a holiday guaranteed to send your camera into overdrive. All you need now is to plan your adventure, which is why, drum roll please, we give you the London for Kidz guide to The Lake District with kids.
Where to stay
Damsen Dene Hotel
Tucked away in the tranquil Lyth Valley, the Damson Dene Hotel is the perfect spot for a place for a relaxing break (well, as relaxing as it can be with kids!). With friendly staff, great spa facilities and delish food it makes a great place to lay your head away from the bustle of Bowness and Lake Windermere. It's also got an indoor pool, jacuzzi and steam room, perfect for soothing those aching muscles after a day climbing mountains, and we love that this pick has dedicated family suites on the ground floor.
www.damsondene.co.uk,Damson Dene Hotel Crosthwaite Near, Bowness-on-Windermere LA8 8JE
Lindeth Fell Country House
If you have older offspring in tow (kids need to be 12 years or older to stay here) then Lindeth Fell Country House is the dreamy country retreat for you. Diana Kennedy and her family have owned and managed this uber elegant hotel overlooking Lake Windermere for nearly 40 years, serving up luxury bed and breakfast that's been voted the best in England by the AA in 2020. The 14 bedrooms are individually designed, the lounge, dining room and bar boast stunning views and the Thomas Mawson designed 7-acre garden features a tarn, beautiful terraces and mature planting sure to bring a dash of colour to the hotel all year round. Quite simply, you'll probably never want to leave.
www.lindethfell.co.uk; Lyth Valley Road, Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3JP
Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest
We're huge fans of Center Parcs for being a holiday guaranteed to have something for the whole fam to keep busy with. Whether you want to chuck yourself down the swimming pool rapids all day, take up a new sport like archery, have your troubles massaged away in the spa, or fancy a spot of family geocaching, there's literally a pick for everyone. Brownie points to Whinfell Forest Center Parcs for also being a great base for exploring the Lake District from.
www.centerparcs.co.uk; Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Whinfell Forest, Penrith CA10 2DW
There will be excitement galore when the kids find out they're staying in a real castle for their British getaway, and those excitement will keep on going when they see how much space this place has to explore (15-acres!). Chuck in children's cookery classes, a top notch location on the border of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, kids' menus, family rooms, a movie screen and projector and a ton of awards for being family-friendly, and you've got yourself a vacay winner.
www.stayinacastle.com ; Leacett Lane, Kirkby Stephen CA17 4DE
Hill of Oaks Lodge & Caravan Park
Surrounded by ancient woodland on the south-eastern shores of Lake Windermere you'll find Hill of Oaks Lodge & Caravan Park, which is home to a range of lakeside self-catering properties, glamping pods, safari tents, touring pitches and holiday homes. Oh, and it's dog-friendly too, so feel free to bring your fur kids on this getaway too!
Hill of Oaks Lodge & Caravan Park, A592 Windermere
The Swan Hotel & Spa
Overlooking the River Leven on the South shore of Lake Windemere this traditional, whitewashed Lakeland boutique coaching inn is the perfect base for a family-friendly getaway. Expect beautiful views, airy interiors, an indoor pool and spa, brasserie and bar, plus some seriously lovely spacious accommodation: the two bed-family suites even come with PlayStations, and there are also cottages on site to rent (great if you're staying for a longer holiday). Also, it has a spa. Say no more.
www.swanhotel.com, Newby Bridge, Ulverston LA12 8NB
Family adventures: top things to do
There really is something for everyone to do in the Lake District:
Guided walks (March to September)
Aira Force waterfalls (and look for red squirrels in the area while you're there)
Where to eat
If you aren't all tuckered out after your exertions, then aside from stunning landscape the Lake District also has some amazing places to eat...
The Fresher's Cafe
Before you start scrambling up those mountains, fuel the fam at Fresher's Cafe: it's whopping great brunches and delish milkshakes will keep you going the whole day.
The Fresher's Cafe, 3 The Courtyard, Rothay Road, Ambleside LA22 0EE
The Windermere Speakeasy
The Windermere Speakeasy is a coffee and tea house by day and a cocktail and wine bar dishing up Mediterranean cuisine by night. Best of both worlds.
The Windermere Speakeasy, 4 High Street, Windermere LA23 1AF
Thai Kitchen in Lakeland
Kendal’s thriving ‘drive-thru’ takeaway, Thai Kitchen in Lakeland, is the place to head for authentic Thai street food that packs a flavour punch.
Thai Kitchen in Lakeland, Unit 6, Dockray Hall Mill, Kendal, LA9 4RU
Cafe Olive Kendal
Whilst it's closed right now because of the lockdown, once Cafe Olive Kendal re-flings open its doors, you can expect delightful Turkish inspired Mediterranean noms that include vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten free, options, plus this place prides itself on being family-friendly.
Cafe Olive Kendal, 3 Stramongate, Kendal LA9 4BH
The Clickham Inn
If it's traditional pub grub you're after then you can't go wrong with the locally sourced menu at The Clickham Inn. Throw in real ales and a children's play area and you've got the perfect family dinner destination.
The Clickham Inn, B5288, Penrith CA11 0BP
Cedar Manor's Restaurant
With all the adventuring to be done in the Lake District, we think pencilling in a more relaxed pursuit in the form of a delectable afternoon tea is a must. Head to Cedar Manor's Restaurant for a menu that includes finger sandwiches, fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, plus that all important selection of homemade desserts and cakes. All the yums.
Old Keswickian Fish & Chip Shop
Fish & Chips is always a dinner winner and it doesn't get more delish than the fare being served up at the quaintest plaice in town (see what we did there?), Old Keswickian Fish & Chip Shop.
Old Keswickian Fish & Chip Shop, Market Square, Keswick, CA12 5BD
With Happy Hour running every day, and feasts inspired by traditional Spanish, Italian and Mexican flavours, there are plenty of family faves on the menu at Pedro's Casa.
Pedro's Casa, 128 Stricklandgate, Kendal LA9 4OG
So, now you know where to stay, what to do and where to eat in the Lake District, you're all set. Now all we need is lockdown to be lifted and normal life to be resumed!
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