It’s that time of year when everyone’s thinking about the summer vacations – and where to go. While hotter climes – like Mexico and the Caribbean – are appealing, the allure of Europe’s culture has long tempted American’s across the pond.
There are many reasons why the UK is a wonderful place for families to vacation this year – and it’s not just the shared language! Scotland has been named one of the Lonely Planet’s Destinations of 2014, and the English county of Yorkshire has been included on their Best in Travel list. There’s never been a better time to visit the UK, but there’s so much to do – despite the country’s minute size – that you’ll need more than one trip!
Few places in the world have a history as long and detailed as that of Europe, and there’s no better place to educate your kids about the Old World than in the UK. Every city and town has something to say of the past, whether that’s the capital’s Tower of London or the Roman relic Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England. Kids will love exploring old castles, which can be found all over the country and will give them a flavor of medieval history. Alternatively, you can visit one of the many stately homes, such as Chatsworth House, where Pride and Prejudice was filmed.
You thought the UK didn’t have beaches? Think again! There’s 9000 miles of coastline ringing the mainland of Britain: for rugged beauty, the beaches of Scotland and the north of England are wild and backed by crumbling castles perched on the clifftops, while the southern beaches of Devon and Cornwall are superb for surfing and receive wonderful weather in the summer – during a heat wave there’s no better place to go. Kids will have plenty to keep them happy, from devouring ice cream and traditional British fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, to crab-fishing off the pier and exploring rock pools.
Many Americans claim Scottish, English or Welsh heritage, so where better to teach the kids about where they’ve come from than in the mother country itself? For those who have Irish roots, Ireland and Northern Ireland are a short flight or ferry ride across the Irish Sea. If you’ve got family or friends in the UK, you can use Lebara to touch base without the huge international call fees, to sort out all the details of your visit before you go. When you’re on vacation, it’s a good idea to buy a pay as you go SIM to keep in touch with people at home, and to have an inexpensive way of calling within the UK for booking tickets or organizing transport.
Things to do
It’s not just castles and historic locations, but there’s plenty more to keep families busy in the UK. Explore the sets of Harry Potter (including Platform 9 ¾ in London’s King’s Cross St Pancras Station), visit London Zoo, see a musical in the West End or at any of the UK’s other big theaters around the country, visit Bath’s thermal pools, or discover the network of fascinating underground caves at Wookey Hole in Somerset, where there’s evidence of 50,000 years of human life.