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If you want to take a short break but don’t want to travel far away, a staycation is exactly what you need. The South of England is full of amazing places that are perfect for a quick escape from your routine. Read on as we tell you about some of the best staycations you can take with your family, with your partner, or travelling solo.
It can’t get more cosmopolitan than London. With so many people from across the world co-existing in this great city, there is no shortage of great music, food and art to immerse yourself in for a truly memorable city break. Even for the people that come here often, there’s always something new to discover.
Catch a show at the West End
The chaos that 2020 wrought on the theatre industry is no small thing - but despite the disappointment of the year, the theatres of London's West End are doing their best to bounce back. With socially distanced performances you'll find new safe options for enjoying some of the best theatre in the world - something for the family to enjoy!
If you’d prefer a more cost-effective theatre experience without compromising on the quality, we recommend looking up ‘off west-end’ shows. You could also go down to Waterloo Southbank to browse through the Southbank Imax’s film archive for free. There are so many fun things to do with the family at Waterloo Southbank, we’ve written a whole other article for it.
Visit the Science Museum
You could also go down to the Science Museum for some interactive and award-winning exhibitions. Entry to the museum is free but some exhibitions might require a ticket. On the last Wednesday of every month the museum is open till late and for adults only. We recommend experiencing their famous silent disco. Who says science can’t be fun?
Explore the markets and the music
London is great for the many street markets located all over town. We recommend checking out Borough Market, where you can sample tasty treats from all over the world. Another excellent food market is located at Waterloo Southbank – the Southbank Centre Food Market. Stalls are open all day from Friday to Sunday, serving everything from Asian street food to spiced carrot cake.
For a change of pace and a little bit of culture maybe listen to some beautiful classical music in an iconic church in Trafalgar Square. You can purchase tickets on London Musical Art’s website.
Lymington is a beautiful little town located on the west side of the Solent. Lymington is perfect for a more relaxed staycation. There are lots of things to do for couples, as well as families.
Reconnect with nature in The New Forest
Lymington is located on the edges of 219 square miles of unenclosed forest, pasture and heathland. Head down to New Forest where ponies have roamed freely since before the last Ice Age, and can be seen free to run loose in semi-feral conditions. If you are in the mood for an expedition you might set out to find the “Queen of the Forest” – a 500 year old Knightwood Oak with a girth of more than seven metres.
Lymington Sea Water Baths
Depending on the weather you might want to go down to Lymington water baths to splash around in a 110 metre by 50 metre sea water lido – the oldest lido in the UK and one of the biggest in the area. There is so much to do, such as 200 metres of inflatable obstacle courses, stand up paddle boards and aqua jousting. If you’re travelling with kids there’s a children’s splash pool as well.
Their early season starts from the end of April to the end of June, and their high season is from end of June to the beginning of September. For a full list of their timings and prices for tickets and renting equipment check out the Lymington Seawater Baths website. It’s best to pre-book tickets so that you can avoid the queues as it can get busy, especially during peak seasons.
Lymington Town Trail
One of the best ways to spend your time in Lymington is to go take a walk on the Lymington town trail. You can find a downloadable leaflet that marks the trail here. The trail loops around Lymington’s impressive Georgian and Victorian town centre where you can see cosy little courts first designed to provide extra space for traders. They are now used as boutiques and cafes.
We recommend renting a room at the lavish Angel and Blue Pig, which used to be a coaching inn during the eighteenth century. It has 14 beautifully designed rooms with all the comforts of a home away from home. The Forest Gate Lodge would be a more affordable option for accommodation, and at a 5-minute walk from Ashurst station, its also very conveniently connected to the main train line from London Waterloo, and other major cities like Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth.
Isle of Wight
An extremely popular off-mainland destination, you can reach the Isle of Wight by taking a 30-minute ferry from Lymington. The Isle of wight has beautiful beaches, delicious sea food and lots of historical sites for you to explore.
Live in a treehouse
Located in Wootton, The Treehouse is a retreat that is just made for getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life to go live in nature. Literally up in a tree. The accommodation is good for couples, or groups and comes with all the amenities to keep you comfortable. The living house comes with a fitted kitchen, dining table, sitting area and balcony, and the sleeping house has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Toiletries, bedding, beach towels and essential kitchen ingredients are all provided. There are also lots of games and puzzles to keep you entertained, but if that’s not enough you also have access to free Wi-Fi. You can make a booking on their website here.
Of course, living in a treehouse might not be for everyone. Thankfully there are many affordable accommodations all over the Isle of Wight. You can find one that suits your preferences on the Lodging World website.
Pay a visit to the Needles
The Needles are a trio of pointy chalk rocks just off the western tip of the island. It is a truly a sight to behold, and the lone lighthouse at the edge of the rocks that has been there since the nineteenth century adds to the scenic beauty. You could get a view from the top by taking a chairlift, and then going down to Alum Bay beach on your way back.
Go to Monkey Haven
Located in Newport on the Isle of Wight, Monkey Haven is an animal sanctuary where you can get up close and personal with all sorts of interesting creatures. The sanctuary prides itself on having animals that have been rescued from the pet trade and some of them are very rare. Monkey Haven also has two play areas, one for kids under 5 and one for kids over 5 years old. The place is open March to October, from 10 am to 5 pm. Check out the Monkey Haven website for the latest information about attractions and upcoming events.
Guildford is located in the heart of Surrey and is a great spot to enjoy shopping in the town centre, relaxing in the countryside, and summer outdoor entertainment when the weather is right. Guildford is just 35 minutes from London Waterloo station.
Visit Guildford Cathedral
Whether you take a guided tour or have a wander around by yourself, you’ll be amazed at the tranquil and peaceful aura of Guildford Cathedral. Visit The Treasury, an exhibition room that showcases memorabilia connected with the cathedral dating as far back as the twelfth century. The children’s garden is also worth checking out. It is made up of 4 beautiful and unique gardens symbolising the 4 seasons. The gardens also have a labyrinth. Guildford Cathedral has beautiful views from the top where you can take in the whole of Guildford and surrounding areas.
Explore Stoke Park
Stoke Park is Guildford’s largest and best-known park, and is described by local people as “the lungs of Guildford”. The park is multi-functional and caters to people of all ages. Explore the woodland areas and the gardens complete with a boating pond, paddling pool, children’s play area and an eighteen-hole mini golf course and skate park. There really is no shortage of things to do.
How to get there
Plan your journey with South Western Railway to get to where you want to go. If you’re travelling with a group you can get 34% off adult tickets when 3 to 9 people are travelling. Just book your ticket online.
If you’re travelling with children aged 5 – 15 you could buy an adult GroupSave ticket for the whole group and save 26% off the total. Check our Group Travel page for more details.