Somerset is often the target of ridicule from surrounding counties in the south of England, as the locals have an unusual soft and drawling accent. It is a small county, blessed with several different types of landscape. From the coastal resort of Minehead in the north west of the county to the magnificent Glastonbury Tor, there are lots of activities that the whole family can enjoy while in Somerset.
For those with young children, Somerset offers a range of traditional and unusual activities. The coastline of Somerset has several beaches that are perfect for families with babies and toddlers. At Minehead, the principal town on the coast, the Butlins holiday complex offers a range of holiday accommodation along with play areas and organised activities for children. A babysitting service is available during the day so that parents can have a break, safe in the knowledge that their children are well looked after.
A little way east of Minehead is the smaller Hoburne holiday resort at Blue Anchor Bay. This also has a range of accommodation available along with children’s play areas. The beach at Blue Anchor Bay is often less crowded than at Minehead, which may appeal to those with very small children.
If you are planning a day out rather than a full holiday, Somerset has several locations that are suitable for children who are old enough to walk by themselves. Cheddar Caves and Gorge is accessible by public transport from the surrounding towns and the cities of Bath and Bristol. It is a natural valley in the limestone that is as magnificent from the top of the 450 foot high cliffs as it is from within the caves. Children who are interested in history or archaeology will enjoy exploring the caves. Across the road from the caves is a cafe and a small selection of shops selling local produce including the famous Cheddar cheese.
If those caves spark an interest or are simply not enough to satisfy your young explorers, then a second set at Wookey Hole near Glastonbury are well worth a visit. Not only are there underground caves at this tourist attraction, but also a restored and fully working paper mill where children can make their own paper. Wookey Hole is also home to a youth circus show that runs during most school holidays. Workshop sessions for children are available for a booking fee.
For those wanting a wide open space for a picnic or to let their children roam safely, Glastonbury Tor is a perfect location for a day trip. Managed by the National Trust, Glastonbury Tor is said to be the legendary Avalon, home of King Arthur. The ruins of a small tower at the apex of the Tor (the Westcountry word for a hill) are what remains of a medieval church which once stood there. Giving unrivalled views across the Somerset levels, climbing the Tor is a must for any visitor and is a great way of helping children use up some of their energy.
The town of Glastonbury which sits at the foot of the Tor has embraced its associations with King Arthur and all manner of pagan and Christian iconography. Gift shops and restaurants line the main street through the town, although it can be difficult to find meat-based takeaway foods. For music-lovers, the Glastonbury Festival held at Worthy Farm has long been considered the most child-friendly of the summer music festivals in the UK. Tickets can be difficult to obtain, the weather is almost predictably wet, but the atmosphere is relaxed and for many children it is a colourful and expressive way to spend a weekend.
While not bursting with tourist attractions and theme parks aimed at children, Somerset offers some well established and accessible activity centres for families to visit. At less than 4 hours drive from London and the Midlands, Somerset is a great destination for a family weekend away.