From the bright lights of the capital to sleepy country villages, a family staycation in the South of England is one you’re sure to remember.
Splash around on golden sand beaches, hit West End shows, marvel at the beautiful scenery of the South Downs, or get your adrenaline soaring on hair-raising roller coasters — in the South of England there’s enough to keep kids and adults of all ages entertained for weeks.
Whether you’re looking to get away for a half term break, or enjoy a long weekend in the sun, the South of England is one to watch.
1. Brighton and the other south coast beaches
Decorative Victorian piers, addictive arcade games, sandy shores, and some of the best weather in England, a trip to the south coast provides fun for all the family.
But with an entire stretch of coastline to tour, how do you choose your base?
If you ask us, Brighton is a must-see for families. Known for its dynamic, bohemian personality, Brighton, in East Sussex, has some of the best food, drink, shopping and entertainment for miles around.
Challenge yourself to a day of watersports at the nearby Hove Lagoon, or simply browse the breath-taking Royal Pavillion before perusing the arty district of the Brighton Laines. Then top it all off with a fish and chip supper on the beach. Sure, the pebbles can be a little…. uncomfortable, and you’ll need to watch out for seagulls, but that’s all part of the adventure — trust us!
If sand is an absolute non-negotiable for you, then head west of Brighton to West Wittering or east to Eastbourne and Hastings — all great south coast beaches, too!
2. The Seven Sisters
Offering one of the most spectacular views in England, the white cliff face known as The Seven Sisters is said to be whiter and even more beautiful than the famous White Cliffs of Dover.
The Seven Sisters form part of the South Downs National Park and one of England’s most unspoilt stretches of coastline. So hike as far as little legs can manage to discover more exceptional scenery.
And chances are you won’t need to venture too far before finding a cosy pub to relax in!
3. Windsor Castle
No family trip to the South of England is complete without a visit to grand, old Windsor Castle, founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century and still a regular weekend residence for our queen, Elizabeth II.
Kids will love watching the changing of the guard, and there are a number of family-friendly activity trails that help to bring modern history to life.
If you’re heading over to Berkshire anyway, it might be impossible to avoid a day spent at LEGOLAND Windsor. But, honestly, it’s a lot more fun than you might think!
1. See a West End show
London is packed with incredible experiences the whole family will enjoy, from the Tower of London to the Natural History Museum and the London Eye.
But top of the list has to be a West End theatre trip. Shows like The Lion King, Wicked and Matilda have been getting rave reviews for years and make for a memorable evening whatever your age.
Of course, ticket prices can be a little prohibitive for big families. But if you know how to shop smart, you can get a good deal. Standby tickets are often re-sold directly through theatre box offices, so if you aren’t fussed exactly what you see, simply walk from door to door and try to grab a bargain.
2. Ride roller coasters at Chessington World of Adventures
Chessington World of Adventures is one of the most popular family activities in the country. White knuckle roller coasters, easy-going rides (including a Gruffalo themed river trip), a zoo and an aquarium can easily fill a day or two.
Only 12 miles southwest of London, Chessington is easily visited from the city, or you can splash out on a stay in the Chessington Azteca & Safari Resort Hotels, depending on your budget.
3. Punt along the Thames in Oxford
What could be more quintessentially English than punting along the Thames? And where better to do it than the picturesque waterways of Oxford?
Parents can soak in the scenery of this historic university city, while kids get a kick out of being on the water. For a laid back experience, opt for the chauffeured punting trip — ideal for a stress-free afternoon. Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can cast off on your own; hiring a punt for the day and returning it at sunset. (The fear of capsizing simply adds to the fun, after all!).
Spring, summer and early autumn are the best times to visit the South of England. The days are long and the weather is more likely to be dry. Plus, there’s also lots going on during these months, with festivals, carnivals and sporting events filling up the calendar.
That being said, London is an all-year-round destination. There’s enough museum, shops, restaurants and other indoor activities to fill even the rainiest of weeks away — the same goes for Brighton, Oxford and Windsor, too.
As with any region of England, the weather here is changeable so try to pack for all eventualities. A raincoat, a swimsuit or wetsuit (if you’re planning to spend time at the beach) and some walking boots (if you want to explore the countryside) should all make the list.
Planning a trip to London? Public transport on the tube and iconic red bus is by far the easiest way to get around the city — and you can pay by contactless debit or credit card. Further afield, there’s also a good train and bus network across the whole of the region.
However, if you want to explore quieter sections of countryside and coast in the South of England, your own set of wheels is a must.
Family friendly campsites