Dog-friendly family holidays in the UK

Derri Dunn
11 February 2022 - 13 min read

Going abroad's a lot less appealing if it means leaving your four-legged best friend behind. Not to mention the horrors of ushering children through a crowded airport...

Uk holidays for dogs and children

UK holidays make a lot of sense when you've got dogs and kids. Out of 150 people with both dogs and children we surveyed in January 2022, four out of five said they bring their dogs with them on UK holidays.

The main reason was that it wouldn’t be a family holiday without the dog, according to 39% of dog owners. A quarter said it was because their dog enjoyed the break, while 22% said they’d just be too unhappy in kennels.

Dog-friendly days out

But even in the UK, dog-friendly holidays and days out can be tricky when you have children.

Kids of all ages demand to be entertained, fed and watered and not everywhere welcomes their furry siblings as well. It’s especially difficult when our Great British weather makes it too chilly or wet for children outdoors.

For parents, the worst thing about bringing the dog on family holidays was:

  • Not being able to take them to some pubs, cafes and restaurants (30%)
  • Being unable to take their children to attractions that allowed dogs (29%)
  • Difficulty finding dog-friendly accommodation (28%)

That’s why we’ve trawled through Pets Pyjamas and Campsite.co.uk to find out which parts of the UK have the most dog and family-friendly hotels, cottages and campsites.

We’ve also tracked down the top attractions and days out for both dogs and children, indoors and out.

From caves to cable cars, aquariums to museums, theme parks to steam trains - start planning your next dog and child-friendly holiday today.

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The best dog and family-friendly UK breaks

The highest number of properties with family rooms on dog accommodation site Pets Pyjamas are in:

  1. Scotland
  2. Gloucestershire (The Cotswolds)
  3. Cornwall
  4. Yorkshire
  5. Devon
  6. London
  7. Cumbria (The Lake District)
  8. Dorset
  9. Sussex
  10. Wales
  11. Hampshire (including the Isle of Wight)
  12. Suffolk

You’ll find the full list at bottom of this page, where we’ve also listed the number of properties with cots available and the number of dog and family-friendly campsites for each area too.

1. Dog-friendly holidays in Scotland

Scotland is the most pet and family-friendly UK holiday destination. Pets Pyjamas lists 27 dog-friendly hotels and cottages in Scotland, as well as over 800 with cots available.

The outdoors is truly great in Scotland, but you’re not limited to walkies in the lochs and glens. We found plenty of dog-friendly attractions that’ll interest children of all ages.

Dog-friendly days out in Scotland

Your dog can enjoy a day or two of walking in the Cairngorms National Park. Then, when older children and teens get tired of trekking, delight them with a day at nearby Ice Factor. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome, so parents and dogs can enjoy the cafe, where there’s also soft play for younger kids.

Scotland’s cities have some undercover activities that dogs will enjoy too. Spoil bus-obsessed toddlers with a trip to Dundee Museum of Transport (where “dogs are welcome, but they’re not allowed to drive the vehicles”) or a jaunt on the Edinburgh Bus Tours, which is free for both dogs and under fives.

A dog at the Dundee Museum of Transport

Most dog-friendly hotel in Scotland

The Glenapp Castle Hotel in Ayrshire was the most popular one on Pets Pyjamas with family rooms. Staying in a castle is every child’s dream, while your dog will appreciate the courtyard access and pet-sitting service.

2. Dog-friendly holidays in the Cotswolds

When the kids get fed up of touring quaint market towns there are some noteworthy dog-friendly attractions in the Cotswolds for children.

Dog-friendly days out in the Cotswolds

Let your dog enjoy a splash about in the streams running through Bourton on the Water while little ones feed the ducks and swans, then head to Birdland on the edge of town. Your dog will be blown away by by a curious selection of feathered friends large and small. There’s also an enjoyable playground, picnic area and cafe, so plenty to enjoy for the whole day.

On the other side of the Cotswolds, just outside Gloucestershire there’s another notable animal adventure. Dog-friendly zoos or safari parks are a rarity, so the Cotswold Wildlife Park is an absolutely treat for the whole family as dogs on leads can tour the outdoor areas. Where else could you see your dog come face-to-face with a capybara or a rhino?

Most dog-friendly hotel in the Cotswolds

The most most popular dog-friendly hotel with family rooms in Gloucestershire is the De Vere Cotswold Water Park. If your dog’s a keen swimmer, this is the staycation for them.

3. Dog-friendly holidays in Cornwall

You’re really spoilt for dog-friendly places in Cornwall and many families will spend days and days on the county’s fabulous beaches. If you’re visiting in peak season, just check dogs are allowed - Fistral Beach in Newquay is dog-friendly all year round, but not all are.

Dog-friendly days out in Cornwall

When the kids get tired of sandcastling (or there’s a downpour) there are lots of things to do in Cornwall with dogs, undercover and outdoors. Escape the rain and transport the whole family to the past at the Museum of Cornish Life. If it’s nice out, marvel at the Lost Gardens of Heligan where “dogs with well behaved owners are welcome”.

Dogs at the Lost gardens of Heligan

Small pirate wannabes will appreciate lunch at Jamaica Inn, where your dog will be welcomed by treats at the bar before you all check out the Smuggling Museum.

Most dog-friendly hotel in Cornwall

The most popular with family rooms is Fowey Hall Hotel - “a sanctuary for the whole family”, according to Pets Pyjamas, where dogs are given bowls, blankets and treats on arrival.

4. Dog-friendly holidays in Yorkshire

Yorkshire’s yet another area with stunning outdoor spaces for all the family and the Peak District is exceptionally dog-friendly, but the weather can put a dampener on outdoor excursions this far north. Perhaps that’s why Yorkshire’s got so many fun under-cover places to go with kids and dogs.

Dog-friendly days out Yorkshire

Learn about life in the trenches at Eden Camp where your dog can enjoy the site too, including the cafe and gift shop. When rain’s forecast you can all keep warm over Pictionary in Sheffield’s Treehouse Boardgame Cafe - under fives and dogs are free. Yorkshire Air Museum, Consibrough Castle and Mother Shipton’s Caves all welcome dogs too and have places where you can all dash for cover if there’s a downpour.

Most dog-friendly hotel in Yorkshire

The White Swan Inn is the most popular dog-friendly hotel in Yorkshire with family rooms.

5. Dog-friendly holidays in Devon

Like Cornwall, Dog-friendly Devon is all about the beaches for most families. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more to do in the county with both kids and dogs.

Dog-friendly days out in Devon

Calm kids and dogs will enjoy a gentle day out at Sidmouth’s Donkey Sanctury, where dogs can also come into the restaurant.

If you’ve written off trips to theme parks with your dog, think again - Milky Way Adventure Park lets dogs in most areas. And if roller coasters and dodgems aren’t your thing, how about a few hours on the water with the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company (£2 for dogs). Little train superfans will also enjoy the indoor and outdoor playgrounds and trains at Lappa Valley. It’s £1 for dogs, but they can go on the boats and trains with you.

Most dog-friendly hotel in Devon

The Fox and Hounds Country Hotel in Chumleigh is the most popular with rooms for families.

6. Dog-friendly holidays in London

The hustle and bustle of the capital isn’t notoriously welcoming for pets, but there are some notable exceptions for dog-friendly attractions in London.

Dog-friendly days out in London

If your family’s got a head for heights, cross the Thames on the Emirates Air line cable cars where dogs can ride for free. There’s also step-free access which is handy for buggies. Explore the sites along the north bank of the Thames you saw from the sky, ending at Tower Bridge, which claims to be “London’s only major dog-friendly attraction”.

Top dog-friendly hotel in London

Hotel 41 near ‘Bark’-ingham Palace is the most popular. There’s fresh scones for humans at 2pm each day, while your dog's spoiled with a welcome hamper with treats and a drink.

7. Dog-friendly holidays in the Lake District

Touring the Lake District with dogs is a fabulous experience for any family. But it’s notoriously wet, so we’ve focused on some places to escape the weather as the stunning outdoor spaces speak for themselves.

Dog-friendly days out in the Lake District

If you don’t want to spend your time in Cumbria indoors but the kids are getting wet and cold, head to Windermere Lake Cruises where you can huddle under the canvas of a family-sized self-hire electric boat or hop aboard one of the cruise ships. Four-legged family members are welcome and free on both.

If it’s really howling down, warm up chilly children in The Puzzling Place, a fascinating world of optical illusions and one of the more unusual attractions we found welcoming in dogs.

Top dog-friendly hotel in the Lake District

The Ambleside Inn is the most popular place to stay in the Lake District with family rooms that welcomes dogs. You can all dine together in the bar, which has a Sir Woofchester’s menu just for dogs.

8. Dog-friendly holidays in Dorset

It’s good news that Dorset has allocated dog—friendly areas to the beaches in both Weymouth and Bournemouth year-round. But there are a couple of surprising child-friendly attractions in dog-friendly Dorset where your four-legged friend can tag along too.

A dog and boy going to the beach

Dog-friendly days out in Dorset

Kids will enjoy all the usual outdoor things to do in Dorset with dogs like the beach and fossil hunting round Durdle Door. But Lyme Regis stands out for having an aquarium that your dog can enjoy too. When they tire of watching fish, head over to Sandworld, for some sculpture fun - but be warned: dogs should be “well-behaved and emptied”. They make no such stipulation in the rules but we reckon this is also good guidance for toddlers.

Top dog-friendly hotel in Dorset

The Eastbury Hotel and Spa is number one with family rooms. Your dog can dine with you all in the Restaurant or on the terrace.

9. Dog-friendly holidays in Sussex

Kids and dogs alike will love the beaches and seaside towns of Sussex.

Dog-friendly days out in Sussex

When everyone gets bored of the beach, kids and dogs alike will love exploring Newhaven Fort. It’s got plenty of sheltered areas to dive for cover if the weather’s iffy too.

A dog visiting Newhaven Fort

The Weald and Downland Living Museum has loads to do as well and as it’s on a 40 acre site, everyone will benefit from a decent walk.

Top dog-friendly hotel in Sussex

Baliffscourt Hotel & Spa is the most popular dog-friendly property with family rooms. It’s by Climping Beach which dogs are allowed on all year round.

10. Dog-friendly holidays in Wales

Wales is even more notoriously rainy than the UK as a whole, so planning a few indoor attractions for dogs and children is a must.

Dog-friendly days out in Wales

Wonder at the Dan-Yr-Ogof caves in Wales with dogs and children and then if you’re headed to the west coast you can’t go wrong with a dog-friendly boat trip, including Dolphin spotting in New Quay.

Dogs on a boat trip

Steam railways are always a winning day out with kids and dogs and there’s plenty of choice. Dogs are free on Snowdonia’s Llanberis Railway and £3 on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway.

If the kids are begging to be taken to some more traditional attractions you could visit Oaklands where your dog can enjoy the peace and quiet of the theme park’s free kennels. And for something completely different the whole family can get arty throwing pots at Wolfscastle Pottery. How about making your dog a new bowl for sitting so patiently while you work?

Top dog-friendly hotel in Wales

The most popular dog-friendly Welsh hotel with family rooms is Pale Hall near Snowdonia and they even have a petsitting service.

11. Dog-friendly holidays on the Isle of Wight

If you’re visiting Hampshire and in search of dog-friendly beaches, your best bet is to push the boat out and hop on the ferry to the Isle of Wight. It’s small enough to visit several of the beaches welcoming dogs year round in just a few days. Dogs are free on both WightLink and Red Funnel ferries and can stay with you during the crossing either on deck or in comfortable dedicated indoor areas, if the kids are feeling the chill.

Dog-friendly days out on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is ridiculously dog and child-friendly, with both allowed in a variety of attractions. But Blackgang Chine on the south of the island is notable for being one of the UK’s few dog-friendly theme parks. Just beware of the dinosaurs - my dog Wallace found them worrying.

A dog looking at a dinosaur

For something more relaxed, the Isle of Wight Railway Steam Railway makes a pleasant day out and dogs ride for free.

Top dog-friendly hotel in Hampshire

Before crossing to the island stop off at the New Park Manor in Brockenhurst and enjoy the delights of the New Forest en route.

12. Dog-friendly holidays in Suffolk

Suffolk’s got enough dog-friendly hotels to pick from, but it’s also close enough for a day out from London if you’re based there.

Dog-friendly days out in Suffolk

If your kids are fans of playing king of the castle, there’s another fort to enjoy in Suffolk: LandGuard Fort. After a good walk around the ramparts, the neighbouring Felixtowe Museum is dog-friendly too.

Easton Farm Park is loads of fun for farm animal obsessed little ones and it’s one of the few animal attractions where your dog’s welcome too.

Top dog-friendly hotel in Suffolk

The Ickworth is the most popular with family rooms - probably because it’s surrounded by National Trust parkland for those early morning walks.

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Dog and cat
Dog and cat

How do I find dog-friendly days out near me?

We couldn’t possibly list all the UK's dog-friendly days out in this article, but there are so many things to do that both kids and dogs will love that you probably never thought of. 

Here are a few more great ideas...

Caves and castles

Show caves, castles and forts often have indoor and outdoor areas and dogs are frequently allowed in the grouds at least. But to make sure no one’s left outside holding the dog go for ones you can all enjoy together, like the breathtaking Cheddar Gorge where your dog can explore the caves with you.

Theme parks

Kids will always want to visit a theme park, but they can be quite scary for dogs, even where they are allowed. Check whether your park of choice has kennels, as some do. Some smaller theme parks do allow dogs in. We’ve mentioned a few already, but Brean Theme Park is another one that’s welcoming to four-legged visitors. 

Animal parks and aquariums

If you’ve got a dog, your kids are probably already fanatical about animals but dog-friendly zoos are few and far between.

Look out for aquariums like Matlock Bath Aquarium and small animal experiences - they tend to be more welcoming of your furry family members. To see animals on a grander scale, West Midlands Safari Park has kennels at the entrance, which is great if your dog would rather chill out away from the action.

Days out just for dogs

Why should everything revolve around the kids? Treat your dog to the odd day out that revolves around them.

Soggy Dogs in Leicester is a swimming pool for dogs - but kids can join the fun for free.

Dogs swimming at Soggy Dogs in Leicester

Or check out whether there’s a DogFest event this year near your home or holiday destination. Kids will love it too, but it’s definitely all about the animals on this day out - we’ll see you there!

Where can I find dog and family-friendly campsites?

We used Pets Pyjamas to find the regions with the most properties saying they have family rooms. We also checked how many could provide cots for younger family members.

If camping’s more your thing, we used Campsites.co.uk to find out how many campsites in each area say they’re both family-friendly and accept pets.

Before you go, make sure you check our best buys for dog travel accessories and find out what you need to know if the car breaks down while you're travelling with your dog.

Bon voyage!

RegionAccomodation with family rooms (with cots available)Dog and family-friendly campsites
Scotland27 (882)212
Gloucestershire26 (222)27
Cornwall25 (890)213
Yorkshire19 (1,007)159
Devon19 (606)143
London18 (13)24
Cumbria (Lake District)15 (684)109
Dorset15 (277)93
Sussex15 (97)85
Wales11 (1,584)361
Hampshire (inc Isle of Wight)11 (165)63
Suffolk11 (106)45
Cheshire10 (26)18
Wiltshire9 (51)21
Cambridgeshire7 (19)15
Derbyshire6 (206)57
Durham6 (97)16
Berkshire6 (7)5
Norfolk5 (36283
Oxfordshire5 (35)22
Worcestershire5 (64)18
Bristol and Somerset4 (193)70
Lancashire4 (90)41
Shropshire4 (150)32
Warwickshire3 (23)17
Surrey3 (15)7
Buckinghamshire3 (2)5
West Midlands2 (0)111
Essex2 (24)18
Northampshire2 (5)6
Lincolnshire1 (164)60
Kent1 (94)52
Herefordshire1 (87)26
Staffordshire1 (55)18
Leicestershire1 (6)13
Bedfordshire1 (1)1
Rutland1 (5)1
Hertfordshire0 (0)9
Greater Manchester0 (3)4
Northern IrelandNot listed7