Make the most of the Easter holidays and long bank holiday weekend by enjoying a family break to one of these great UK destinations. Keep reading to see some of the top accessible family trips chosen by Rough Guides, that will keep people of all ages entertained.
Spring has sprung and the Easter holidays are just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to plan an escape for the whole family. Whether you feel like retreating to the countryside, chilling out by the coast, or diving headfirst into some art and culture, we’ve pulled together our top ideas for an accessible family break this Easter.
Hang out by the sea in Hastings, East Sussex
This cool south coast town has really come into its own over the past five years. Opened in 2016, the Hastings Pier is a simple sweep of wood that juts into the English Channel, and it’s host to a wide variety of foodie spots and family-friendly events. The pier is fully wheelchair accessible and sunset is a lovely time to explore.
For another fun family activity, swing by Hastings Adventure Golf while you’re in the area. The trio of themed mini-courses are perfect for players of all ages, and the site also offers wheelchair-friendly putters.
There are even more waterside adventures to be had. A 30-minute drive east takes you to the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. This is a bird watcher’s paradise, home to seabirds like terns, plovers and oystercatchers, plus curious creatures like the marsh frog. The areas for wildlife viewing are suitable for mobility scooters and the exhibit-packed Discovery Centre is wheelchair accessible too.
Get a big city buzz in Birmingham
Birmingham has entered the spotlight this year, since it’s the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. It’s a perfect spot for a family-focused city break, with accessible kid-friendly attractions like Cadbury World. Here, there’s a 4D cinema with wheelchair spaces and static chairs available, plus oodles of chocolate-themed exhibits and a chocolate-making zone.
The Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is another great spot to visit. You can pore over exhibits covering everything from marine life to palaeontology, and there’s a stellar planetarium too. Lifts offer access to all floors and there are BSL and subtitled shows at the planetarium. Special guides can also help prepare those with autism for their visit.
Birmingham’s restaurant scene is buzzing, too, and it’s best known for its top-notch Indian restaurants. One of the finest is Lasan, serving curries, biryanis and seafood dishes from across the subcontinent.
Have an arty escape on the Kent coast
This slice of the southeast coast is filled with a range of arty attractions, and it’s a great place to get the whole family involved in creative pursuits. From Margate to Folkestone, the quirky towns here are packed with museums and galleries suitable for all ages.
The region’s crown jewel is the Turner Contemporary in Margate. It’s filled with progressive contemporary artworks, from prints and paintings to sculpture and photography, and it has an impressive location right by the coast. There are special free tours geared towards families, with kid-friendly activities along the way. Accessible parking bays are outside, there are wheelchairs available, and the entire venue is accessible. There are also resources for those with additional sensory needs.
Heading further south, the town of Deal is packed with treasure-filled galleries such as the Linden Hall Studio, while Folkestone’s Creative Quarter is busy with art spaces, independent shops and creative restaurants. Make your base in one of these funky towns, and take scenic drives along the coast to explore.
Hole up in a cottage in the Welsh countryside
If you’re dreaming of a rural escape, set your sights on Conwy Valley in northern Wales. It’s a rustic region filled with tumbling moorland, dense forests and lakes. This gorgeous stretch of nature has plenty of cosy retreats nearby that make a perfect base. Find some peace and quiet with accessible lodges, such as the Fferm Bryn Dowsi Farm Cottages: these peaceful lodges are set on a working farm, with wheelchair access and room for the whole family.
Continue your adventures in the great outdoors with a trip to the RSPB Conwy Nature Reserve, a short hop over the River Conwy. It’s a beautiful wetland area that’s rich in birdlife, plus beautiful orchids and grazing Carneddau ponies. There are disabled toilets and large portions of the trails are suitable for wheelchair users – the Blue Tit Trail is the most accessible. Parc Eirias is another top spot: this lush area of parkland has paved paths and shaded picnic benches.
Have a break for all ages in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of the UK’s best-loved destinations. The Scottish capital can be reached by car, train or even plane, depending on where you’re coming from. There are attractions suitable for the whole clan, such as Dynamic Earth: a fun and interactive museum dedicated to planet Earth. It’s wheelchair accessible throughout and there’s a sensory guide for those with additional needs.
Another favourite is Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, which is filled with more than 100 fascinating optical illusions. This listed building doesn’t have a lift, unfortunately, but carers go free and walking stick stools and ear defenders are available from reception.
If the adults have a night to themselves, they should consider making time for the (fully accessible) Scotch Whisky Experience. A variety of tours delve deep into the world of Scottish whisky, and include tastings, while the Amber restaurant serves fine Scottish food.
Get back to nature in the Scottish Highlands
Few places in the UK are as wild or wildlife-rich as the Scottish Highlands. It’s a vast region, but every pocket is crammed with nature. It’s also filled with accessible lodgings, from country cabins a stone’s throw from Loch Ness, to pretty rural cottages on the Isle of Skye.
Many accessible attractions get you back to nature, too, and the Loch Garten Nature Centre, in the larger Abernethy National Nature Reserve, is a favourite. Set within a beautiful pine forest, the centre offers binoculars and lots of different viewpoints, so you can spy on frolicking wildlife such as ospreys, woodpeckers and red squirrels. A wheelchair is available to borrow, and there’s a ramped entrance to the centre, which is fully accessible.
Head west and the Isle of Skye is a place of fabled landscapes, many of which can be experienced on accessible trails. In the southeast, the relatively flat Broadford Marble Line offers some quintessential Skye views – think craggy hills and sweeping moorland.
Have a fantastical escape in County Down
If you’ve got older kids, they might well be fans of the fantasy series Game of Thrones, and County Down is the ideal place to immerse yourself in its magical world.
On a short break in this scenic slice of Northern Ireland, you can book onto the new Games of Thrones studio tour, which has put the little town of Banbridge on the map. You’ll explore intricate sets, have green-screen experiences, and see incredible props and prosthetics. The tour is accessible, with flat floors and friendly staff on hand to help those with additional needs. There are also noise-cancelling headphones, wheelchairs and mobility scooters available.
Beyond the tour, if you travel about an hour east of Banbridge, you can find the National Trust’s Castle Ward which was also a Games of Thrones location. Fans of the show might recognise it as Winterfell, home of the House Stark. Here, there’s a dedicated accessible car park and disabled toilets, and metal ramps provide access to the mansion.
Rough Guides would like to thank the following individuals, companies and picture libraries for their kind permission to reproduce their photographs (in order of appearance on the web page):
- Header image: © Tourism Northern Ireland
- On the pier: © Georgie Scott
- Cadbury World: © Cadbury World
- RSPB Conwy Nature Reserve: © Visit Wales/Crown Copyright
- Camera Obscura and World of Illusions: © Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock
- Castle Ward: © Tourism Northern Ireland