For The Active, Nature-loving family: Florida, America
The everglades archipelago of Florida Keys is alive with nature. Key Largo is the perfect place to connect with nature. Think coral reefs, sunsets and extraordinary wildlife, plus excellent, friendly accommodation.
Visit Dolphins Plus in Key Largo to see seawater homes for the Atlantic Bottlenose and California Sea Lions. Swim with the Dolphins and enjoy as they pull and push you through the water. From here, visit Islamorad and Theater Of The Sea, where Dolphins, Sea Lions and Sea Turtles. Swim in natural saltwater lagoons and tropical gardens are home to parrots and other birds.
You can take a behind-the-scenes tour of Turtle Hospital, a charity that treats injured turtles then releases them into the wild.
Take a trip over the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West where you can take a cruise, on a fisherman’s charter boat through the mangroves in Key West, then on into the natural habitats of the local wildlife, including Osprey, Pelicans and wild Dolphins. Have a picnic on a beautiful white beach on a remote mangrove island.
For gardening, visit Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Key West, its tropical trees boasts 150 different species of palms.
Don’t miss the former home of Ernest Hemingway. The tour takes you through the house and garden where there are around 45 cats.
For brilliant food, try Mrs Mac’s Kitchen which is great for ‘old Keys’ atmosphere, a throwback to the 1950s. Try its Homemade chilli – renowned as the best chilli in the Keys.
The Green Turtle Inn started life as a roadside café. Must-tries are its Conch Chowder with Pepper Sherry and the Key Lime Tart.
Dove Creek Lodge is an island-style boutique hotel that offers a variety of accommodation from deluxe luxury suites to lodge rooms.
The Culture-loving family, Northumberland, England
North East England, a region rich in literature and culture, is also home to a cast of Cheshire Cats, Witches and Wizards. This land of medieval castles and spectacular coastlines has inspired many children’s books from Alice In Wonderland to Skellig.
Stop at Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books in Lime Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Brilliant exhibitions celebrating classics and recent favourites, storytelling by well-known authors, activity sessions, a little theatre, a bookshop and a stream of events are dedicated to inspiring both reluctant readers and bookworms.
Tour the city’s Theatre Royal, which stages excellent productions including many adaptations of children’s books.
Walk along Northumberland’s unspoilt beaches, where Vikings first landed in England, inspiring author Rosalind Kerven’s series, Grim Gruesome Viking Villain.
Visit Alnwick Castle, the film setting of Harry Potter’s school, Hogwarts. As well as imaginative children’s activities in the medieval castle and its gardens there is fine art treasures to fascinate adults.
For great food, try The Treehouse in Alnwick Garden which is the ultimate family restaurant, a fairytale house with rope bridges to play on. Tuck into healthy fruit and cheese platters as well as chips.
For great views of Newcastle and Gateshead, go to Six at The Baltic, the art centre’s rooftop restaurant. They have delicious starters, puddings, main courses, set menu and good vegetarian options.
For a luxurious stay, try the beautifully furnished Doxford Cottage, set in a private estate a few miles from Embleton Beach on the Northumbrian coast. All the cottages have views of the open countryside or private lake. There’s a games area with a pool table, table tennis, air hockey, and bar football, plus a common room with a television and CD player.
The UK Holiday packed with family fun – Mid Wales
Bluestone, in rural Pembrokeshire is a tastefully designed holiday village brimming with things to do but with space to roam free. There’s an indoor water park, an innovative spa and activities such as cycling, croquet, circus skills, mini-jeep safaris and walks around the estate.
Accommodation is comfortable and stylish, a mix of wooden lodges and cottages in a traditional Welsh style.
Visit the subtropical water park, Blue Lagoon, inspired by special marine areas of conservation. It is heated by the burning of woodchip and energy crops grown by local farmers. Surf indoor waves, rapids and flumes, go along in the lazy river ride or relax in the hot tubs.
Visit the coast while kids learn how to build shelters in bush craft sessions. Archery, quad biking and laser clay shooting may tempt the lads.
The Well Spa, Bluestone’s spa with 15 treatment rooms plus saunas , steam rooms and hot tubs, will give females a glorious treat. The Dry Salt Room is a salt cave whose walls and ceiling are covered in salt, which is good for the lungs.
For food, Bluestone has its own village with grocery shops and a bakery. Try hand-baked goods in The Smithy and delicious dishes made from Welsh ingredients in Carreg Las, the fine dining restaurant. Head to Tenby for a knickerbocker glory in Fecci’s, the famous ice-cream parlour.
Then stay at Ramsey’s Lodge in Bluestone for a comfortable holiday break.
The Sporty Family – Algarve
The View is a cliff top resort with stunning ocean views in Salema, a pretty seaside village on the Algarve’s south-west coast. There’s an outdoor pool, a golden beach and an array of two-and three – bedroom beach houses with excellent facilities. It’s a great place to surf and ride just a few minutes to the resort of Parque da Floresta, which has a golf course, football and a spa. All of this and lovely Portuguese sunshine. As well as the Golf Academy there’s also a superb bowling green for older family members.
To chill out and relax go to the Health & Beauty Spa, where there’s a gym, exercise studio and the indoor pool, Sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room, then have a relaxing facial.
Go horse riding through the Costa Vincentina Nature Reserve, a region of environmental countryside. The View has professional surfing lessons on the beach and all the family will love The Algarve’s 100 miles of coastline and the best surf beaches in Europe with the whitest sand and big waves.
For a taste of Portuguese food, dine at Eira do Mel in Vila do Bispo which specialises in Portuguese stews. A Cataplana, a rich mix of seafood and chorizo.
For self-caterers visit a fish market. Most towns boast one and the seafood and fish on offer is superb. Farmers’ markets sell fruit and vegetables at bargain prices.