UK mini break ideas for Birmingham-based families
One of my favourite things about New Year is uncurling our fresh annual wall-planner and sellotaping it to the very messy and scrap-bookish wall of our narrow Victorian kitchen. I love to start scribbling on the chart and marking events to look forward to in the year ahead. Naturally, our holidays will be the focal point, and the building blocks for 2022 – around which I hope to add the odd fancy dinner, weekend away or family day out at a new location or two. So, to help you do the same, I have described below my top five UK mini break ideas for destinations that aren’t too far away for families living in Birmingham or the near vicinity. The recommendations come from personal experiences we have had over the last few years, and I can say hand on heart that these locations are the best of the bunch!
UK mini break ideas - The Peak District
We were very lucky with the weather on our Eastertime visit to the Derbyshire peaks last year. The glorious April sun lit up the hills around our chocolate-box cottage, with the little fluffy lambs baaing right outside our windows. I also couldn’t believe our good fortune when nearing the end of our journey from Birmingham, we rounded the bend from the imposing Ilam Park to find that the short, sloping hill leading out of the village took us right to the gate of our booked accommodation.
Once we had unpacked and settled into the cosy nest that was to be our home for the next three nights, we were itching to find a viewpoint for the warm setting sun. The relaxed walk that we took that evening turned out to be the start of the route that we would take the following day leading us to Ilam Park, over Bunster Hill and culminating at the Dovedale stepping stones.
To discover the full itinerary for our trip, please click ‘more information’ below as this will take you through to my Instagram post.
In summary, the Peak District is one of my top 5 UK mini break ideas as it’s only a short drive away from Birmingham (1.5 hours) and is bursting with wholesome activities and outdoor pursuits for families. We usually tend to cater our meals ourselves as the kids are rather picky, so I don’t have many recommendations for drinking or dining out, but we found a very appealing looking pub in Milldale named the Watts Russell Arms, and I had the best salted caramel ice cream I’ve ever tasted from Polly’s Cottage in Milldale.
The sights / points of interest we visited on days out were Ilam Park NT (from their website you can download a map of local walks), Bunster Hill, Dovedale steppingstones, and Thor’s Cave. We also completed part of the walking route from Milldale to Loversleap and on the way passed the noteworthy Dove Holes, Pickering Tor and Reynards Cave. For more advanced walkers there are also routes to be found up the Thorpe Cloud Mountain.
UK mini break ideas - The New Forest
What an unusual and captivating place to take the children! Another Easter-time minibreak, this time in 2018 took us to the edge of the New Forest to a village named Hordle. The drive time from Birmingham (on a good day) is under 3 hours and so, it’s worthwhile making the trip. We had a huge Peppa Pig fan in the family at the time we visited, so Paulton’s Park was number one on our activity hit list, but what we found in the New Forest was so much more.
We were once again delighted to find such a well-equipped and cosy place to rest our heads with an accommodating host who laid out afternoon tea for our arrival with scones, jam and clotted cream, and mini eggs for the kids. The cottage was named Beech Farm Annexe and was suitable for two adults and two children (at the time there was only 4 of us!) It was on the site of the main farmhouse but had its own gated entrance and was quite private.
One of the highlights of this trip was hiring some bicycles and cycling through the beautiful forest on the well-worn tracks that were suitable for beginners up to the nearby pub. The main reason I describe this location as ‘unusual and captivating’ was the prevalence of the wild horses that roam around the New Forest areas. They seem tame and friendly and are quite used to the many visitors going about their leisure activities!
The beauty of this location is also its proximity to the seaside. There are plenty of activities on offer in Lymington, including sea water swimming pools and a nature reserve. Another popular seaside town nearby is Milford on Sea and a top attraction the National Motor Museum and Palace House can be found 20 minutes’ drive away at Beaulieu.
The handy links you’ll need to our activities are Paulton’s Park and New Forest Cycling. For Beech Farm annex, click ‘more information’ below.
UK mini break ideas – Herefordshire
It was June 21, summer half term that took us to green and pleasant Herefordshire. This was to be our rearranged extended family getaway that we had hoped to do at Christmas 2020, but because we had originally booked to go to Wales, for reasons that I am sure you know, we were not able to continue with our booking.
We stayed for a few days at Durstone Cottage in Little Cowarne which took us a little less than an hour and a half to reach and so this beautiful countryside became an easy pick for one of my UK mini break ideas for Birmingham-based families! I have written a full review of our stay at Durstone Cottages, so please do read that blog post also.
The cottage was comfortably furnished and functional – great for a larger group. The kids revelled in their freedom to venture over to the games room which was found in a barn on the same site. The location was also very convenient for the main attractions of Herefordshire.
During our stay we were blessed with wonderful sunny skies and so, were able to pack a lot of fair-weather activities in and to enjoy some stunning sunset views over the rolling patchwork hills. I relished my walk up the quiet road to the local pub, The Three Horseshoes.
We visited the nearby National Trust Brockhampton, had fun searching for the Gruffalo at Queenswood Country Park, swung around hay bales and took a tractor ride at Newbridge Farm Park, spotted birds at Bodenham Lake and finally my absolute favourite venue – we had tea and took a walk across the stream and behind the mesmerising fountain at Hampton Court Castle. On the way home we stopped for a drink and light dinner at the Feathers Hotel in the old market town of Ledbury. For other attractions, please view my Instagram post.
UK mini break ideas The Cotswolds – Broadway and Little Comberton
The Cotswolds is without question one of THE best UK mini break ideas for a place to go near Birmingham as the northerly villages can be reached in under one hour. I managed to sneak a visit in during July of both 2020 and 2021, the first time with family and the second on a girl’s retreat!
My family and I stayed in a little terraced house in Broadway ‘The Huntings’ which was conveniently located near to the village centre so we could easily wander out of our front door and into the bustling beauty spot.
One of the main attractions that enticed me to Broadway at this time of year was of course the stunning Cotswolds Lavender in nearby Snowshill. The field is usually open from late June to very early August with the best time to visit being mid to late July.
A hidden gem that you must take some time to visit is the excellent playground in Broadway village. If you start at the village green and walk along the high street towards Blandfords books (also worth a peak), just after the last building on the right, you will find a little pathway leading to the playground. As it is suitable for all ages of children, we spent well over an hour there before we jumped in the car to our next National Trust adventure at Snowshill Manor. I have previously said that Snowshill is one of my favourite National Trust houses. It has such a beautiful story attached to it and in summertime, it blooms with an abundance of flowers and the apple trees are brimming with ripe fruit. You mustn’t leave Broadway without visiting its namesakes famous tower and surveying the landscape from the tip. Finally, an educational and exciting time was had by all at Crocodiles of the World, which was a little drive away at Brize Norton.
For our girls retreat in the Cotswolds we were exceptionally blessed to win a nights’ stay at the Shepherd’s Retreat at Little Comberton. This purpose-built shepherd’s hut is in the most peaceful of little lanes and is surrounded as far as the eye can see by lush fields and farmland. The hut itself has a sumptuous hot tub on the decking, the most stylish of country-house style interiors and the snuggliest of beds.
I also plan to write a full review of this trip so please keep an eye out for that, but in the meantime please visit my Instagram post for the detailed itinerary and venue contact details. To summarize, the main pursuits we undertook were a pub lunch at the Queen and Castle with a walk around Elmley, a comfortable hike up to Bredon Hill to marvel at the view and the elephant-shaped rock, a good gossip in the hot tub and the following morning, brunch at the Old Post Office coffee shop at Beckford.
UK mini break ideas - South Snowdonia
Late August is a fantastic time of year to visit this part of the world. The sea is a little warmer, the sunsets are a little earlier and the bank holiday weekend is buzzing with life! We are fortunate enough to have an affable caravanning-owning friend who we can call upon for a temporary holiday home by the sea! The name of the Llwyngwril based holiday park is ‘Sun Beach’, which is very apt as the sun sets smiling onto the balcony at the rear of the caravan and lights up the pebbly beach in shimmering shades of lilac.
The caravan park itself is only a stone’s throw from livelier towns such as Tywyn and has excellent onsite facilities including a mini soft play, arcade, swimming pool, playground, restaurant / bar with entertainment and a basketball court.
Again, for the full itinerary and contact details, please see my Instagram posts, however as usual, we made the absolute most of the local villages, beaches and attractions, with the ‘must do’ list including crabbing in Aberdovey, riding the miniature railway from Fairbourne to Barmouth, making like knights at Harlech Castle, indulging in ice-creams at Portmerion and a walk to the Dolgach falls.
With the setting, the nearby attractions and (if you’re lucky!) the late summer sun, it’s easy to see why Snowdonia is my final and one of the best UK mini break ideas!