With travel plans on hold for the foreseeable future (thank you Covid-19), I can’t be the only one dreaming of sunnier climbs, or even just a change of scenery. The travel bug has been biting and now I’m itching to get away! So this week I thought I’d consider holidays a little closer to home… the staycation!
I know it’s tempting to go jet-setting across Europe, where there is so much culture and history. Plus it’s far more exotic to lounge on a beach in the Mediterranean sunshine than the overcast ‘British Summer’ we’re all used to. But we live on a beautiful island, full of history and heritage, with some stunning locations and national parks; so why wouldn’t we want to explore it? It’s easy to overlook our own national treasures with the rest of Europe on our doorstep; but there’s so much to do, if you go with the right mindset!
Here are some places to consider when looking for your next holiday at home:
The first staycation on this list is a very well-loved destination amongst Brits. Every year my entire family goes camping for 2 weeks at the most westerly tip of England: Lands’ End. I haven’t been every year but when I get the chance to go it is always an absolute blast! It’s a proper beach holiday, and I’m not talking your run of the mill tourist traps. Over the last 20 odd years my uncles and aunty’s have discovered little coves and hamlets off the beaten track. While they’re not always the easiest to reach, it just adds to the adventure. Places like Porth Chapel, Mousehole and Pedn Vounder are gorgeous! Sandy beaches perfect for lounging, or going for a swim (if you’re brave enough to get in the freezing Atlantic).
You can visit the tourist centre at Lands’ End and take pictures at the iconic signpost. It’s a great rainy day option as the visitor centre has a museum of local history. Another option if you fancy a shopping trip is to head to St Ives or Penzance, and support some local businesses and restaurants. It’s a buzzing atmosphere, full of quaint shops, bustling side streets and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. AND if you fancy trying something new, you can take surfing lessons on the beach! I mean who hasn’t secretly dreamt of learning to surf at some point in their lives 😜
Whether you are camping, renting a cozy cottage, or staying in a B&B; Cornwall is a wonderful place to relax at the beach, or go for long ambling coastal walks, and of course no staycation to Cornwall would be complete without a Cornish cream tea (jam then cream obviously)!
The New Forest
Located in Hampshire, the New Forest is a national park that offers you the best of the great outdoors. With cycle trails, beautiful hikes and even horse riding on offer, there is going to be something for everybody. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the New Forest Activity Centre offers loads of awesome things to do for both wet and dry days! You can go canoeing/kayaking on the Beaulieu river; play an intense game of laser tag; or even take part in one of the woodland adventure days.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to relax (or maybe recover from all your adventuring) you can head to one of the many spas located around the national park. I’ve never really been to a spa so this sounds like a very tempting option, especially if it’s miserable out! Although for me, if it’s dreary, nothing beats a cozy afternoon in, watching movies with hot chocolate, while the rain hits the windows.
Another option though is the many museums and stately homes in the area. Palace house in Beaulieu offers the best of both. With gorgeous architecture, and the National Motor Museum which sits in the estate’s stunning grounds.
Our family trip…
When we went back in 2003 we stayed at a site called Sandy Balls (yes, really) that accommodated for everything. We spent the week in a cabin, and there was an on-site restaurant with evening entertainment every night, and cycle hire was available too.
I think the reason this staycation stuck with me is because; well one, it was one of the only times I’ve been horse-riding (and what little girl doesn’t love horses); and two, it was one of the few proper outdoorsy holidays we had growing up. Normally we’d head to Europe for our getaways where there were new towns to explore, the beach and the pool. This staycation was just a completely different style of holiday for us and I loved it!
This is a proper Victorian seaside resort! In the north of Wales you aren’t always guaranteed sunshine, but it’s a lovely place to go and just relax. The majority of accommodation is left to traditional Bed and Breakfast’s, and when we went for our family holiday in 2018 we stayed at Ashfields Hotel. This accommodation had wonderful service, and the breakfasts were just fantastic – I’m talking full English INCLUDING hash browns!
The town is built beneath the great Orme, which is famous for its Bronze Age mine. You can even take a tour of the mines (prices for 2020 are as follows: £8.00 for adults, £5.50 for children, and £22 for a family ticket.)
The views at the top of the Orme are stunning, on a good day you can see for miles. If you don’t fancy walking all that way to the top, you can get the tram which runs a regular service throughout the day (make sure you know when the last tram back is), or you can take the cable car! The cable car has run since the height of Llandudno’s popularity, so it’s a real classic… however because of that it only opens under certain conditions. It took us a good three attempts to get on there, and once we did we only made it one way as the wind was too strong to take it back down again. We were lucky though because it was a glorious day; so we took the scenic route down and had a well earned Pimm’s when we were back at sea level.
Llandudno’s claim to fame…
Now for all you literary buffs out there, Llandudno is also famous for being the birthplace of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. It was while holidaying here that Carroll invented the story of Alice, inspired by his family friends the Liddell’s, who had a daughter named, you guessed it: Alice. The town has paid tribute to its heritage with the Alice Trail. You can pick up a map from the tourist office in the shopping centre. Follow the trail and tick off all the characters you meet along the way, there are statues all over town. We even found the rabbit hole! I’m sure this is something meant to entertain the children who visit but at 23, 21 and 18 we still got excited whenever we came across another familiar face.
*a word of advice for this particular staycation destination… beware the seagulls. They seem to think they own the place and will steal you chips/ice cream/custard slice without hesitation!
Staycation City Breaks
I’m not going to even try to specify here which city to visit because the UK has so many fascinating and exciting cities to explore. You all know the drill though, find a nice hotel or air bnb near the centre of town, visit the local sights and places of historical interest, then find a cozy pub or beer garden to relax and enjoy a drink. Can’t beat a good city break. You can always count on there being an electric atmosphere, and a different vibe grounded to each new area you go.
Personally I love the history of a place, I always gravitate towards the old town so I loved Edinburgh, and York is on my bucket list too. I hear that Liverpool, Brighton, and Manchester are also meant to be amazing destinations; and some of the other staycations I particularly enjoyed include the Cotswolds, Bath, and Oxford.
A lot of the time I find the train the best way to travel as a lot of cities are making an effort to lower emissions and therefore aren’t allowing access to cars. Another, cheaper option is to travel by coach. It can take longer, but so long as you’ve got your on-board entertainment with you, you should be set!
I hope this has given you some staycation inspiration, and reminded you that there’s still hope for a holiday yet! Where are your favourite places to go in the UK, or wherever you happen to be reading this? Share in the comments below!
To read our recommendations for European City Breaks, click here: https://www.emgoingplaces.com/2020/06/european-cities-to-visit-after-covid-19/