Which UK seaside resorts are best for a family vacation?

11 June 2024

In the United Kingdom, the seaside has always had a special place in the heart of the nation. The crashing waves, the smell of salty sea air, and the call of seagulls overhead are all quintessentially British summer experiences. Still, with such a variety of coastal towns to choose from, it can be hard to decide which seaside resort is the best fit for your next family holiday.

However, fear not, as we have done the heavy lifting for you. We have taken the time to explore the UK's coast, from the rugged north of England to the calmer southern shores, to bring you a selection of the best seaside resorts for a family vacation. Each has its unique charm, from sweeping beaches, excellent hotels, and delightful bays, to stunning views and fun-filled activities for the kids.

1. Whitby, North Yorkshire

Nestled on the North Yorkshire coast, Whitby is an excellent choice for a family seaside vacation. Steeped in history and famous for its links to Bram Stoker's Dracula, this picturesque town offers a unique blend of gothic charm and traditional beach fun.

Whitby Bay is a large sandy beach, perfect for bucket and spade games, while the sea is safe for swimming. For the best views, climb the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey, where you'll be rewarded with a panoramic vista of the town and coast.

Accommodation is plentiful, with a great choice of family-friendly hotels. The Royal Hotel, situated on the West Cliff, offers family rooms and stunning views over the bay.

2. St Ives, Cornwall

St Ives, located on the Cornish coast, is another excellent seaside resort for a family vacation. Known for its breathtaking beaches and clear blue waters, it's easy to understand why St Ives is often referred to as the jewel of Cornwall's crown.

Enjoy the four main beaches, each with its unique charm. Porthmeor Beach, a favourite with surfers, and Porthminster Beach, renowned for its calm waters, are both great for families. The St Ives Bay Hotel is an excellent choice for families, offering spacious rooms and sea views.

3. Bournemouth, Dorset

Bournemouth boasts seven miles of golden sandy beaches, making it a perfect seaside destination for families. The town's Pier Approach is a hub of activity, with its oceanarium, big wheel and traditional amusements.

The safe, shallow waters are ideal for the kids to paddle in, while older children will love the surf schools and water sports on offer. Bournemouth also boasts some of the UK's most beautiful coastal views, particularly from the clifftop walks.

For accommodation, the family-friendly Marsham Court Hotel provides sea-view rooms and a heated outdoor pool.

4. Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Tenby, in Wales, is a colourful seaside town with a great deal to offer families. Home to several stunning beaches, a picturesque harbour, and a medieval town wall, Tenby is a charming choice for a family holiday.

Children will love exploring the rock pools on Castle Beach, while North Beach is perfect for a family picnic. Tenby's town centre offers a variety of family-friendly restaurants and cafes.

There are plenty of family-friendly places to stay. The Premier Inn Tenby Town Centre hotel, for example, offers spacious family rooms, is centrally located and is only a short walk from North Beach.

5. Skegness, Lincolnshire

Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast of the North Sea, has been a popular seaside resort since the late 19th century. It's particularly well-suited to families, offering a range of attractions from the traditional fun of the fair to nature reserves and wildlife observatories.

The central beach in Skegness is a fantastic sandy stretch, perfect for building sandcastles, while the sea is generally safe for swimming. The town’s biggest attraction for families is probably the Fantasy Island theme park.

Accommodation-wise, the Best Western Vine Hotel has family-friendly amenities and comfortable rooms. The hotel is set in beautiful grounds and is just a short walk from the seafront.

Wherever you choose to go on your family holiday, the UK's seaside resorts offer a wealth of experiences and memories waiting to be made. Whether it's the historic charm of Whitby, the surfing culture of St Ives, the golden beaches of Bournemouth, the colourful appeal of Tenby, or the traditional fun of Skegness, there's a seaside town to suit every family's needs. So, pack your bags, don't forget the sunscreen, and get ready to discover the best of the British coast.

6. Eastbourne, East Sussex

Eastbourne, located on the southeast coast of England, is a popular seaside town that is a perfect destination for a family vacation. The town is renowned for its Victorian architecture, beautiful sea views, and of course, its stunning coastline.

The main beach is a long stretch of pebble beach, known for its cleanliness and high water quality. It also sports a blue flag, a prestigious award given to the world's most superior beaches. The beach is lined with iconic beach huts, providing a nostalgic and colourful backdrop. The ever-popular ice cream parlours scattered along the seafront are also a real treat for the kids.

The Eastbourne Pier is a must-visit, brimming with amusement arcades, restaurants, and shops. The town also offers a range of family-friendly activities, such as miniature golf, a sea life centre, and a number of beautiful parks for family picnics.

Accommodation options are varied in Eastbourne. The Hydro Hotel is a great family-friendly option. It boasts a heated outdoor pool, spacious family rooms, and offers stunning sea views. Be sure to check availability in advance as this popular hotel books up quickly.

7. Shanklin, Isle of Wight

Shanklin, located on the Isle of Wight, presents an excellent choice for families looking for a seaside resort that offers a little something extra. The town is renowned for its old-world charm, sandy beaches, and the famous Shanklin Chine, the island's oldest tourist attraction.

Shanklin beach boasts a blue flag, indicating its high standards of cleanliness and safety. It's an ideal spot for a day of sunbathing, playing beach games, and building sandcastles. Afterward, families can enjoy a refreshing ice cream from one of the many parlours along the seafront.

Shanklin also offers a selection of family-friendly attractions, including amusement arcades, children's playgrounds, and crazy golf. The quaint old village, with its traditional thatched cottages and tea rooms, offers a pleasant afternoon stroll.

For accommodation, the Shanklin Beach Hotel offers family rooms and a perfect beach front location. It's advisable to check availability well in advance, particularly during peak air travel months.


With such a diverse selection of seaside towns on offer in the UK, deciding where to go on your family holiday can be a tough decision. However, all of the seaside resorts featured in this guide have been recognized with readers choice awards for their excellent family-friendly amenities, beautiful beaches, and a range of activities to suit all ages. Each seaside town has its unique character, from the traditional charm of Whitby and Skegness, the stunning beaches and surf of St Ives and Bournemouth, to the colourful appeal of Tenby, the Victorian elegance of Eastbourne, and the old-world charm of Shanklin.

Whether you are looking for sandy beaches or pebble beaches, vibrant towns or tranquil villages, bustling promenades or peaceful coastal walks, there is a UK seaside resort to suit every family. So why wait? Check availability, pack your bags, and embark on an unforgettable British seaside holiday.

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