Skip the Beach – Try One of These Active Family Holiday Ideas

Jill Holtz

July 24, 2021

family holidays walking

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Have you been taking beach holidays the last few years and are looking for something a bit different for your next family holiday? Sarah Stone is the Tour Development Manager at self-guided walking and cycling holiday specialists, Macs Adventure. Here, she shares her top five alternatives to a traditional beach holiday that the whole family can enjoy! Skip the Beach – Try One of These Active Family Holiday Ideas:

For many of us, summer holidays usually means a week or two spent reclining on the beach. But, this summer, why not try something new with one of my top five holiday alternatives to the beach?

#1. Wildlife Holidays

wildlife holidays

If you frequently find the whole family gathered around the TV to watch the latest nature documentaries, why not give your little ones something to get excited about by planning a wildlife tour holiday?

Exploring the most interesting and unfamiliar places to see your favourite animals in the flesh is one of life’s great experiences and will offer a family holiday that everyone will remember. With opportunities to discover so many mammals, sea creatures, and birds, you’re all sure to have a truly unique and memorable experience.

For the ultimate wildlife experience, head to the Amazon Rainforest to catch a glimpse of snakes, monkeys and sloths. Safari trips are exciting for the variety of wildlife they offer.

But even closer to home, and one of my own favourite places to see wildlife, is the Orkney Islands where you might spot otters, puffins, seals, and basking sharks on your visit. Or why not take a Whale Watching trip from the south of Ireland for your chance to see whales and dolphins up close?

Tip: Compile all the photos everyone takes during the holiday and make a photo book of wildlife your holiday.

You might also enjoy reading 5 Unexpected Destination Ideas for Your Next Family Holiday

#2. National Trail Holidays

national trail holidays

Break away from a standard walking holiday and go for a destination with national trails. Celebrated for their must-see landmarks, wildlife and forestry, these expertly designed routes are often hidden gems.

And, with a range of walk lengths to choose from, you can be sure to find one that’s tailored to your family’s preferences and abilities.

From exploring the UK’s wonderful trails like the Cotswold trail and Scotland’s Loch Ness, to heading to the USA for a tour of their best national parks, there are plenty of trails on offer worldwide. (So, you don’t have to sacrifice your dose of summer sun just because you’re straying from the beach.)

There are even opportunities to switch your walking boots for bikes on some of these trails, which can be useful if you’ve got smaller children who can go in tandem with you. Just be sure to check that all parts of the trail you want to explore are bike-friendly before you set off.

Tip: Most destinations have websites that show all the trail routes so you can plan your trip in advance.

#3. Walking Holidays

If your family likes to explore every nook and cranny of the destinations you visit, walking holidays are ideal. As well as offering a great way of keeping everybody active and fit, planning a walking break can grant you access to spots where cars and other forms of transport can’t reach, so you can make some truly unique discoveries.

Walking tours are usually able to cater for all types of walkers, but if you’re unsure of which areas will be suitable for you and your kids, you can get expert help with picking family-friendly routes that won’t be too demanding, so it’ll be an enjoyable experience for all.

If you’ve got curious kids on your hands, keep them entertained by heading somewhere that offers plenty for their eyes to take in. If you’re sticking with the UK, the Cotswold Round will guide you through the breathtaking Cotswold villages with abbeys and historic houses to point out along the way. But, if you’ve got older kids who are looking for a challenge, walking the French Alps can give the whole family an experience to remember.

The nice thing about walking holidays is that you can create an entirely unique route if you want to. So, whether you’re looking for a stroll through the hillsides or a flatter route, your trip can be tailored to your own preferences.

Tip: If you have smallies then invest in a good backpack carrier that will allow you to carry them easily for the duration.

#4. Cycling Holidays

family on bikes

If you’re not that into walking, then why not consider a cycling holiday? Trading in the time you’d usually spend on the beach for an active holiday will have a dual purpose of improving your family’s fitness, as well as encouraging family bonding.

Cycling holidays are well organised nowadays, and it can be an inclusive trip for everybody: younger children can even ride on a tandem bike with you if necessary. Just make sure the terrain and routes you take are achievable by the kids depending on their age.

My favourite cycling destinations are Scotland’s Great Glen cycleway for a slightly more challenging adventure or stick with more family-friendly routes along the central European River Danube for the ultimate cycling holiday experience.

Tip: Many countries have national cycling associations that can point you in the direction of family friendly cycle routes if you are planning your own holiday.

You might also enjoy reading Enjoy These Fabulous Family Cycle Routes in Ireland

5. Multi Activity Holidays

Yachts for multi activity holiday

There’s nothing stopping you from branching out and cramming lots of fun adventures into one holiday, so why not incorporate a variety of activities into your break? Specialist holidays like canoeing, sailing, climbing and even ones tailored to your interests are available, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

If you like the idea of being out on the water with your family, why not give sailing or canoeing a go? Sailing, canoeing and other water transport modes let you see a completely different side to the destination you are visiting, things you would miss in a car.

Head to Peru for a truly memorable kayaking adventure across Lake Titicaca to scope out the floating islands of Taquile and Uros. Alternatively, tour the English Riviera for a stunning 22-mile coastline that’s sure to amaze the whole family.

Multi activity holidays are great for promoting family bonding and introducing everyone to activities they may never have tried before — and these could even help your younger ones find future hobbies to take up! Plus, with so much to do and see, even the little ones won’t get bored.

There’s a variety of multi activity holidays on offer, so again check that they can cater for the ages of your family when booking.

You might also enjoy reading 9 Amazing Family Adventure Centres in Ireland for Guaranteed Fun

I hope these 5 suggestions for family holidays with a bit of a difference have inspired you when planning your next holiday. We all love the beach but these holidays will definitely be ones to remember!

Active holidays

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