Over the past couple of years we’ve stayed in some pretty fun and unique places for weekends. When booking weekends away with Lily, I usually look for something different based on most of the following:
- somewhere fun and memorable to stay
- activities nearby that are outdoors, preferably near the forest or countryside
- sleeping somewhere as remote as possible
I usually make sure it is within 1-2 hours of Leicester too, so it can be a total break for the weekend, but not somewhere we’ll have a long way to drive home afterwards.
I’ve a ready-packed box of camping basics that we can pick up for weekends, including water containers, washing-up bowl, mini stove and some utensils, and do love heading off with the tent where possible, but sometimes it is nice to do something a little bit different.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration for weekends away with the family, or just after a few ideas for mini breaks or half term holidays, here are just a few of the places we have stayed.
Our stay: Gloucester – find out more here
In spring 2019, we had our first taste of shepherds’ huts, and had such a fantastic time. I know shepherds’ huts are decorated differently, with different facilities wherever you go, but the ones we stayed in close to Gloucester were just beautiful.
We were in a field surrounded by newborn lambs and their families, blossom trees, and only one other hut. From the door you could only see the fields, and that was it.
It was so peaceful (minus the lambs), and although the toilet/shower facilities were further back up the field, we had everything else we needed in the hut itself.
There was a little sink, a woodburner, a little gated patio area to sit out in, and a very cosy little bed.
The hosts were a very friendly farming family, who even provided some beautiful fresh apple juice, made on their farm, and some treats along side it too.
I was travelling on my own with Lily and felt so safe with her. She loved the farm we were on, and it was such a peaceful way to spend the weekend with her away from the city. They even let her get involved with feeding the lambs on the farm, which just made her weekend!
Wooden camping / glamping pods
As with most glamping or camping options, camping pods can come in all sizes with all kinds of facilities.
We’ve regularly stayed in the deluxe camping pods at the Nottingham Water Sports Centre which has a very cosy double bed, electricity, and a lovely outdoor table and chairs.
There are also more basic options which are a simple shell, allowing you to enjoy all the fun of camping and the campsite facilities, without the hassle or cost of having your own tent. All the pods you can drive right up to, meaning you can keep everything in your car too!
You have access to the heated shower and toilet facilities, as well as the campsite shop, the play area, and a whole host of activities just across the water. Lily was a huge fan of the watersports, but there are also fun and affordable dry activities on tap too.
Although the camping pods are basic, you have so much to do for a weekend on your doorstep, and these kind of pods are a great alternative to normal camping, while being affordable for the family too.
We’ve even stayed with friends and booked out several pods, so the little ones could run around together in a fun and safe place, while we enjoy our weekend together with adults too!
If you’re looking for something more luxurious when it comes to glamping pods, you have the Notgrove Estate, nestled in the beautiful Cotswolds.
These pods came with toilet, cooking and shower facilities, views of alpacas one way, and views of the countryside the other way.
From here, you can hire bikes, enjoy the wooden play area for children, and also access all the fantastic villages in the Cotswolds. We visited places like Bourton on the Water and the Cotswolds Wildlife Park, which Lily absolutely loved.
The team have even included a small cafe on site, and there is a covered over games room to enjoy in the evenings or if the weather is bad – really something for every age to enjoy… as well as the naughty goats that Lily loved visiting us!
We had a great time at Notgrove, and it is a fantastic base for weekend stays as well as week-long holidays too. You have everything you need, and even linen, firewood and cutlery can be added on to your package to make it even more hassle-free with children!
Prices start at £60 for a night for a family of 4, however that is still cheaper than a hotel room for your family – and an incredible experience!
Wooden iglu hut
Our stay: Hideaway Hut, Nash End Farm, Gloucestershire – find out more here
Another fantastic Airbnb find was this beautiful wooden iglu hut, again close to Gloucester, but I believe it is one of the only of its kind in the UK.
This was totally different from anything else we had stayed in thanks to its shape and very remote location – it was just stunning!
It was situated on a working farm, in its own plot of land, so although the hut sleeps 2 in its very cosy bed, you can bring tents to camp with family on the little field. At the end of the field was a very lovely sheep, who Lily loved to sing to every morning and night too!
The hut itself had a BBQ, bench outside, as well as toilet and shower facilities, table and chairs, and a kitchen with microwave inside. There was full power and even a TV! There was absolutely everything you could need, and the family on the farm were so lovely.
The village nearby was so pretty too, with local pubs for some food, and even a tiny library in a phonebox at the end of the road.
You would certainly need a car to get here, but for a peaceful weekend away, I could not recommend somewhere like this enough.
If you’re looking to taste the outdoors, but still want the comfort of activities nearby for children, we recommend heading to the Adventurer’s Village at Gulliver’s Land or the Explorer’s Retreat at Matlock Bath.
All of the Gulliver’s Theme parks are alongside some incredible themed accommodation that is far cheaper than themed accommodation at any other theme park that I’ve seen.
You can pay from £99 for a family of 5 to stay there, including theme park and splash park tickets in their stay-and-play packages, as well as activities in the evening such as marshmallow toasting and movies.
You can choose what kind of accommodation you stay in, including dino-themed dens, pirate cabins, unicorn castles, beach huts and even a Wild West cabin – all with toilet facilities and small kitchen inside too.
We have found staff at both parks absolutely fantastic on all of our visits, and the activities around the theme park for those staying are really lovely – especially the marshmallow toasting!
They also do themed weekends throughout the year, including unicorn and pirate weekends, with even more on tap for an incredible overnight stay with the family. You can even stay at all the accommodation without visiting the theme parks, however the prices are excellent for visits to the park included.
We can’t wait to visit their new park near Yorkshire in 2020 as well as try out one of the themed weekends!
Our stay: Gloworm Festival – find out more here
Those who follow our adventures on Instagram will be no stranger to the fact we are massive fans of Gloworm Festival and camping there was an amazing experience for both me and Lily last year.
We love going to campsites, but to be able to camp at a family-friendly festival was an incredible experience for us both. We had the freedom of our tent and all the campsite facilities, including its own little campsite shop and coffee shop (with the loveliest lady there serving!), as well as access to such an epic festival for families.
The festival is designed for families with children of all ages, withmusic and activities throughout the weekend specifically to entertain every taste, no matter what the little ones enjoy. Lily was in her absolute element and we are already counting down to 2020!
I decided to mention it as part of this blog as it is definitely a brilliant camping experience if you’re looking for a weekend away with the family with a difference.
You can choose electric hookups, bring a campervan if you have one – or even check out their glamping options for the weekend… something I dream of!
If you want to learn more about what happens at Gloworm Festival, check out my review here. I’ll also soon be sharing a post on my top family-friendly festivals to check out this year, so keep an eye on the blog!
If you’re looking to head away for a weekend outdoors with the family, there are so many options. We have already 2 weekends booked for 2020 that are totally different from the above, and are planning a whole load more too.
Depending on the size of your family, your budget, and what you’re looking for, there are options for everyone, whether you prefer to be as remote as possible, or love the activities on your doorstep (tent-step?), from basic sites through to pure luxury – even bubbling away in a hot-tub or swinging in a treehouse under the stars!
Camping allows us so much freedom to explore, enjoy the outdoors, and be able to enjoy even more weekends away as they are so much more affordable than hotels, while being able to enjoy your own “living” space to relax too.
We’ll be sharing our 2020 adventures, but if you have any more ideas or suggestions, from basic campsites and family festivals through to remote cabins, I’m always up for the inspiration!
Find out more:
If you’re looking for tips for festival camping with the family, check out my review of Gloworm Festival here.
If you’re looking for a standard family-friendly campsite, with plots from just £8.50, check out my review of this beautiful Peak District campsite here.
If you’re looking for ideas for travel-friendly, screen-free activities, find out more here.