Keep it simple with a nostalgic trip to the beach, complete with windbreaks, nervous paddling and sandy ice creams!
Watergate Bay, Cornwall
A stunning two-mile stretch of sandy beach near Newquay. With a relaxed vibe, it is perfect for families. The Extreme Academy (extremeacademy.co.uk) is based here, and teaches everything under the sun from surfing to mountain-boarding.
Where to eat: Jamie Oliver’s celebrated restaurant, Fifteen Cornwall, overlooks the bay (fifteencornwall.co.uk). Otherwise the Watergate Bay Hotel has several different dining options, including a restaurant for parents keen to eat early with their children.
Where to stay: The Watergate Bay Hotel, with views out over the expanse of beach, is a resort-style hotel with a contemporary feel and features a great indoor pool and spa and evening entertainment for little ones in the Kids’ Zone (watergatebay.co.uk).
The iconic beach huts lend this seaside town a colourful charm, and there’s something very British about strolling down the promenade to the restored pier. Shop for Mulberry handbags and DVF dresses in the chi-chi boutiques, or take on some crabbing down at the harbour, where there’s a rowing boat to ferry you over to Walberswick.
Where to eat: Try the fresh fish and chips and a pint of Adnams ale at The Harbour Inn (harbourinnsouthwold.co.uk), seafood platters at the Southwold Smokehouse (solebayfishco.co.uk), and don’t forget the treats and artisan bread on offer at the artisan bakery and patisserie Two Magpies Bakery (twomagpiesbakery.co.uk).
Where to stay: Live like a local and book a cottage from Durrants (durrantsholidaycottages.co.uk) or Suffolk Secrets (suffolk-secrets.co.uk). Or treat yourself to a stay in The Swan Hotel (adnams.co.uk/hotels), family-friendly and located in the charming market square.
However popular Norfolk might be, there is always space for families on the broad sweeping beaches, perfect for games of cricket and football. Visit the Queen at nearby Sandringham, browse the shops in Holt and Burnham Market, and kick back on the beaches of Brancaster and Holkham.
Where to eat: Combine birdwatching with eating at the superbly located White Horse Inn (whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk), or stock up on ice creams and snacks without having to step off the sand at the Beach Kiosk (brancasterbeachkiosk.co.uk).
Where to stay: With access to the coastal path and views over the atmospheric marshes, the White Horse Inn has family rooms and a children’s menu. Further inland, The Hoste, is a cosy boutique hotel dating from the 17th century in the middle of ultra-chic Burnham Market (thehoste.com).
The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the UK to be voted an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and with nearly 20 miles of sandy beaches it’s not hard to see why. Hire wetsuits and surfboards from Sam’s Surf Shack and hit the waves in style.
Where to eat: Visit the Fairyhill Hotel’s restaurant for some serious dining
(fairyhill.net); or keep it low-key and family-friendly at the Bay Bistro for delicious cakes and sandwiches (thebaybistro.co.uk).
Where to stay: Book a cottage with character on the fabulous Penrice Estate (penricecastle.co.uk) and take your pick of Gower Peninsula beaches to visit, or opt for views over Rhossili Bay at the Worm’s Head Hotel (thewormshead.co.uk).
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Hunt for fossils and nuture your mini-geologist’s enthusiasm along this stretch of UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
Where to eat: The Courtyard Cafe at the Town Mill (townmill.org.uk) is a hidden gem, or head to the Hix Oyster and Fish House for mealtimes with a view.
Where to stay: Book a Cottage Apartment at the Alexandra (hotelalexandra.co.uk), a boutique hotel overlooking the little harbour, or opt for a suite at the quirky Hix Townhouse (hixtownhouse.co.uk) for stylish interiors and breakfast hampers.
Blackpool Sands, Devon
About three miles from Dartmouth, Blackpool Sands is a truly beautiful award-winning privately managed Blue Flag beach in south Devon. With a turquoise blue sea, it has an almost Mediterranean feel enveloped by evergreens and pines.
Where to eat: A hop, skip and a jump away is the Venus Café. Sitting right on the beach, enjoy the beautiful views complemented by delicious local food. From their fresh crab, organic Devon steak to homemade cream teas, you can eat in or take away!
Where to stay: Set in a traditional English country setting, Gitcombe House Country Cottages is situated in a south Devon valley (gitcombe.co.uk). About 20 minutes from Blackpool Sands this boutique bolthole is a perfect getaway from the city.