Family holidays to Lake District

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Lake District – Family holiday guide

Over 2,000km² of fells, mountains, lakes, rivers and forest invite you to explore as easily in winter as summer.

Cute little villages and pretty towns are packed with museums, galleries, theatres, award-winning restaurants and delightful places to stay.

And from mighty Lake Windermere and huge Scafell Pike to the stunning Falls of Lodore and 40km of coastline, nowhere else is better for biggest, highest, tallest and loveliest natural excitement.

Why go on holiday in the Lake District

  • England's biggest national park

    England’s biggest national park contains 12 of the country’s largest lakes, over 200 fell summits and almost 5000ha of archaeological sites and monuments.

  • Outdoor adventure

    The park has over 3000km of rights of way for walking, hiking and climbing.

  • Short commute

    The Lake District is just over an hour’s drive from Manchester and four hours 30 minutes by road from London.

  • Dog-friendly

    Keswick was named Britain’s Most Dog Friendly Town in 2012. Many places to stay in the park welcome pets and several Miles without Stiles walking routes are perfect for dogs too.

  • Family-friendly accommodations

    Some of the loveliest and most historic holiday accommodation in the Lake District is family-friendly and good value: YHA Hawkshead Youth Hostel in Ambleside is a beautifully restored Grade II Regency Mansion set in gorgeous grounds with private family rooms for 3 – 5 guests from £25 per night.

  • Luxury accommodations

    From certified organic eco-hotels to grand waterfront Victorian resorts, the Lake District also has a wide range of luxury family holiday accommodation.

  • Accessible

    This wild and wonderful area is amazingly accessible for families and children. The Lake District Beginner’s Guide is fun and great for a first-time visit.

Where to go and stay in the Lake District

16 million people visit the Lake District every year and a lot of them are families with kids. So you’ll find everything from 5-star spas and country house hotels to heritage self-catering, forest lodges and chalets, high-quality campsites, family friendly youth hostels and charming guesthouses and B&B here.

Windermere & Bowness

The liveliest town in Lakeland sits on the edge of Lake Windermere and makes a great holiday base with regular boat/bus shuttle services to other parts of the park.

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On the northern end of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is famous for the magnificent Stock Ghyll Force waterfall and as the centre for hiking and walking in the Lake District. This historic little town gets crowded in summer, visit on foot or by bike and look at places to stay in the scenic countryside nearby.

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Dove Cottage makes Grasmere a mecca for Wordsworth enthusiasts. It’s also home to Grasmere Gingerbread and, arguably, the prettiest village in the Lake District.

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There’s no shortage of woodland in the Lake District but enormous Grizedale forest is a bit of a legend. This is Beatrix Potter country, where you’ll find cute Hawkshead village, the Grizedale Sculpture Trail, Hill Top (Potter’s house) and Esthwaite Water for sedate afternoon sailing.

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This bustling market town is popular with families and close to legendary Coniston Water. Some say this is the best place for messing about in boats in the entire Lake District, it does have some fantastic sailing schools with great children’s courses in spring and summer.

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What do and see with kids in the Lake District

  • Lake Windermere Cruises

    A cruise on Lake Windermere is a classic holiday experience and safer than going it alone with kids on this immense stretch of water.

  • Dove Cottage Children’s Events, Grasmere

    The home of William Wordsworth has literary events all year round and an excellent kid’s activity programme during school holidays.

  • Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Train, Ravenglass

    Ravenglass is the Lake District’s only coastal town and where to catch the steam train for Eskdale. Visit at Christmas for Santa’s Express and the Ghost Train on Halloween.

  • Miles without Stiles

    Almost 50 well-marked walking trails across the Lake District designed for families, young children and buggies.

  • Treetop Trek & Treetop Nets, Windermere

    35 treetop challenges including a 250m zip line and giant suspended trampolines – age 5 and over.

  • Platty+ Water Sports, Derwentwater

    Lake District experts in everything from kayaking and power boating to raft building, paddle boarding and canoeing.

  • Beatrix Potter’s House, Sawey

    Hill Top is where Beatrix Potter lived from 1905 until 1943. Some of her best known works were written here. The house and garden are magical for kids. Can be very busy in summer so go early in the day.

  • Kendal Museum

    One of England’s oldest museums is big on involving kid’s in the prehistory and history of the fascinating Lake District.

  • Hire boats or bikes on Lake Coniston

    Swallows and Amazons’ author, Arthur Ransome, learned to sail on Lake Coniston, hire a boat for your own adventure or stay on dry land and bike the lake cycle routes instead.

  • Lakeland Birds of Prey Centre, Penrith

    This amazing sanctuary is home to over 150 birds of prey and has flying exhibitions and children’s events all year round.

Educational value for kids

  • From Wordsworth and Coleridge to Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, kids can make endless literary connections in the inspiring Lake District.
  • Outdoor activity centres all over the national park are geared towards introducing children to everything from fell walking to yachting.
  • Some of England’s most picturesque and historic villages are tucked away in the Lake District, follow well-marked walking trails to explore them all.
  • Use the Lake District’s excellent visitor centres for maps, local advice and information on wildlife, birdlife and walking routes. Many also have tickets to attractions and events as well as bike and boat hire.
  • Book seats for the charming Upfront Puppet Theatre near Penrith – go early and have dinner in their vegetarian restaurant.
  • Visit the Coast Aquarium at Maryport – it’s not the biggest but it’s brilliantly well put together and the staff really engage kids with the experience.
  • If it’s your first time in the Lake District get to know the fabulous area safely on a Mountain Goat guided tour. Their Footsteps of Beatrix Potter trip is great fun for children.

Getting about with kids in the Lake District

Families should get about the Lake District on foot as much as possible. The entire area is wonderfully well-mapped with walks and trails and many are easy enough for young kids. Cycling is another great way to travel around and there are dedicated paths and routes round most of the Lakes. Local buses and trains cover some of the park. But to see everything, visit more remote areas and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenic journeys in England, a car is essential.

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