VacayDaze offers a guide to 10 of the best places and cities to vacay in England for families and couples. We provide information including history, culture, food, as well as links to exclusive bundle packages and Things to Do in locations including Yorkshire, Cornwall, Lake District, Bath, Cotswolds, London, Devon, Norfolk, Suffolk and Brighton.
Yorkshire is the largest county of them all by far. It stretches from the North Sea coast deep into and over the Pennine Mountains, and from the River Tees to the Humber and further south inland. It encompasses empty moorland and crowded conurbations, high fells and low plains. It is a county with a strong character and identity of its own. Yorkshire is divided into three ridings, whose boundaries meet at the walls of the ancient city of York. York is in the middle of the shire. It was a great city even in Roman times (the co-capital of Britannia). It is a delight of medieval streets, and at its heart its huge and delightful cathedral, York Minister.
Yorkshire is a historic county in northern England. It’s known for its Roman and Viking heritage, as well as its Norman castles, medieval abbeys, Industrial Revolution-era cities and 2 national parks. The county town of York, founded by the Romans, is home to 13th-century cathedral York Minster, Tudor houses and medieval walls. The interactive Jorvik Viking Center recalls the area’s 9th-century Norse occupation.
Probably the most renowned of all the food Yorkshire has to offer, regional Yorkshire pudding championships see some of the county’s best chefs competing, so standards are generally high. As well as being a great accompaniment to a roast dinner, you can eat them as a starter filled with all manner of things, or with jam and cream to round off a meal. And any Yorkshire-man worth their salt will be eating them on Yorkshire Day (1 August). Yorkshire pudding is equally at home in larger form, filled to the brim with onion gravy and top-notch sausages as a pub lunch. Beware the frozen alternative and insist on a freshly made pudding.
The Cotswolds is a rural area of south central England covering parts of 6 counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Its rolling hills and grassland harbor thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive local yellow limestone. The 102-mile Cotswold Way walking trail follows the Cotswold Edge escarpment from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north.
The Cotswolds was well-known throughout Medieval Europe as the source of some of the best wool available. The rolling hills of the region were, and still are, perfect grazing for sheep, and the area became famous for the Cotswold Lion – a native breed of sheep with a distinctive long golden fleece. People have lived and worked in the Cotswolds for over 6,000 years. A Bronze Age round barrow near Snowshill contained a famous collection of weapons and other artefacts now in the British Museum in London. The Romans arrived in the Cotswolds in AD47. They built great towns such as Cirencester, along with an amphitheatre, and now famous roads including the Fosse Way. One of the largest Roman cemeteries in Britain was discovered at Horcott, near Fairford, during gravel excavations in 2006.
The Cotswolds has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as a foodie destination, not only for the quality of eateries throughout the area, but also for the array of produce on offer. You will be sure to find a lovely cafe, pub or restaurant in most of the towns and villages throughout the Cotswolds, and there is a happy sprinkling of Michelin stars too. Local favorites include Tewkesbury mustard, Bibury trout, Stinking Bishop cheese and Hobbs House bread. This high quality produce can often be found on menus in pubs, restaurants and cafés in the Cotswolds. And now the Cotswolds has its very own spirit – Cotswolds Dry Gin. It’s made at the Cotswolds Distillery and is the first ever full-scale distillery in the region. Don’t miss the Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky either!
Devon is a county in southwest England. It encompasses sandy beaches, fossil cliffs, medieval towns and moorland national parks. The English Riviera is a series of picturesque, south-coast harbor towns including Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. The South West Coast Path follows the coastline, taking in the towering cliffs of the northern Exmoor Coast and rock formations on the fossil-rich southern Jurassic Coast.
As you’d imagine, Devon’s history and culture is a rich and varied tapestry. The county’s great seafaring history is well-known and has greatly influenced its culture. Many famous historical figures feature in Devon’s past, including Sir Francis Drake, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Walter Raleigh.
As a predominantly rural county with a temperate climate, frequent rains and fertile soils, Devon has for centuries been a net exporter of high quality dairy produce, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, particularly after the nineteenth-century expansion in the railway network which enabled the fast transport of fresh goods to the cities. This tradition continues, and many food products, such as premium fish and crab landed in Brixham remain highly regarded, particularly in London.
4. LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District, also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains (or fells), and its associations with William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets and also with Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin. The National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,300 square miles. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
As well as being a great place to enjoy many outdoor activities and attractions the Lake District is also a great hive of history and culture. The area has provided inspiration for generations of British and foreign artists, writers and musicians, such as Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. Hospitality in the Lake District has become renowned over the last 50 years with three hoteliers in particular having been instrumental in shaping Cumbrian gastronomy. They were Francis Coulson of the Sharrow Bay, Bronwen Nixon of Rothay Manor and John Tovey who put Miller Howe on the tourist map in the 1970’s. Like the landscape, the dishes they created were rugged and bold, often taken from traditional, local recipes and refined to achieve classic status – not only surviving to this day but remaining firm favorites on menus across the country.
The Lake District is a foodie’s heaven with many locally produced, organically grown products. Some have a distinctly Lake District history, such as Cumberland sausage, Damsons, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Grasmere gingerbread, Herdwick lamb, Kendal Mint Cake, and Rum butter.
The Lake District (or Lakeland, as it’s commonly known round these parts) is by far the UK’s most popular national park. Every year, some 15 million people pitch up to explore the region’s fells and countryside, and it’s not hard to see why. Ever since the Romantic poets arrived in the 19th century, its postcard panorama of craggy hilltops, mountain tarns and glittering lakes has been stirring the imaginations of visitors. Since 2017 it has also been a Unesco World Heritage Site, in recognition of its unique hill-farming culture.
Both the history of Norfolk and the culture of Norfolk are fortunate to be blessed with a rich heritage which has paved the way for an extremely diverse culture. The visitor to Norfolk is surrounded by abundant evidence of the past heritage, from the historic Grimes Graves and neolithic man to the Norman Churches and Cathedral and then on to the very grand Stately Homes and Estates.
Every summer and autumn in recent years, Norwich has led a celebration of the best of Norfolk’s incredible food and drink, culminating in the EDP Adnams Norfolk Food and Drink Festival which this year takes place between 31 August and 6 October. Travelling back a thousand years, Norfolk was famous primarily for seafood – crabs, lobsters, mussels, whitebait and herrings. The herrings were so sought after that, each year, it was ordered that a gross of pasties, each containing one fish, should be sent to the powers-that-be in Norwich who would inspect them before sending the consignment to the King in London. They were even – like – accepted in lieu of taxes. The Romans must also have loved it here also for their favorite food was fish sauce – made from marinating oily fish for weeks or months. Pliny records that it was prized to such a degree that only fine perfume was more expensive to buy.
Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. Suffolk has some of the most scenic villages in England – think colorful cottages, village pubs and winding country roads.
Situated on the east coast of England, Suffolk is a county filled with natural beauty, bordered by 50 miles of glorious coastline and topped with breathtaking skies. It’s the perfect holiday destination, full of charming villages and medieval towns which draw in artists and writers, and its bounty of great produce and restaurants make it a special spot for foodies. Holiday in Suffolk and visit the Home of Horse racing, explore Constable Country, experience maritime life in Ipswich, immerse yourself in history in Bury St Edmunds, or simply spend long, lazy days by the sea. The fabulous attractions and great days out in Suffolk mean you can do as much as you want, or as little. Sometimes, in a place this rich and beautiful, just being is pleasure enough.
Suffolk produce is so abundant, delicious and varied that it attracts thousands of visitors every year. What’s more, Suffolk produce is a favorite of many of the nation’s best chefs, such as Tom Kerridge, whose 2-Michelin-starred pub The Hand & Flowers uses only Suffolk chicken and pork. Suffolk is fortunate to have many world-class food and drink producers, and some seriously well established family firms that have produced top quality Suffolk products for generations.
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
The culture of London concerns the engineering, music, museums, festivals and other entertainment in London, the capital city of the United Kingdom. London is widely believed to be the culture capital of the world, although this title is disputed with a number of other cities internationally. The city is particularly renowned for its theater quarter, and its West End theater district has given the name to “West End theater”, the strand of mainstream professional theater staged in the large theaters in London. London is also home to notable cultural attractions such as the British Museum, the Tate Galleries, the National Gallery, the Notting Hill Carnival and The O2.
It’s been said for years that British cuisine doesn’t exactly compete with other cuisines you can find in Europe because…it’s terrible. But all jokes aside, London is an incredible city with plenty of good food choices. From eating in a pub to choosing a trendy restaurant, London doesn’t lack places to put hunger at bay. London is a multi-cultural city and food follows the trend. You can find pretty much any ethnic cuisine you can think about but Fish and Chips, Pie and Mash, English breakfast, Bangers and mash, Ploughman’s Lunch, Roast Beef, Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie, Bread-and-Butter pudding are a few of the traditional foods to try.
Cornwall is a county on England’s rugged southwestern tip. It forms a peninsula encompassing wild moorland and hundreds of sandy beaches, culminating at the promontory Land’s End. The south coast, dubbed the Cornish Riviera, is home to picturesque harbor villages such as Fowey and Falmouth. The north coast is lined with towering cliffs and seaside resorts like Newquay, known for surfing.
The culture of Cornwall forms part of the culture of the United Kingdom, but has distinct customs, traditions and peculiarities. Cornwall has many strong local traditions. After many years of decline, Cornish culture has undergone a strong revival, and many groups exist to promote Cornwall’s culture and language today. There is much traditional folklore in Cornwall, often tales of giants, mermaids, piskies or the ‘pobel vean’ (little people.) These are still surprisingly popular today, with many events hosting a ‘droll teller’ to tell the stories: such myths and stories have found much publishing success, particularly in children’s books.
Cornish food means different things to different people. Mention it to some and they will immediately think of their gran’s home-baked saffron buns. Most people will almost certainly say pasties, whilst some will tell you about the renaissance of food tourism in Cornwall.
Some of the most iconic Cornish foods, some of which have their right to be called Cornish protected by European law, are Cream tea, Cornish Yarg, Stargazy pie, The Cornish pasty, Pilchards, Saffron bun, Cornish mead, Cornish fairings, Hevva cake, and Newlyn crab.
Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Honey-colored Bath stone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including at Bath Abbey, noted for its fan-vaulting, tower and large stained-glass windows. The museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths includes The Great Bath, statues and a temple.
The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) c. 60 AD when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known even before then. Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and became a religious center; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath stone, includes the Royal Crescent, Circus, Pump Room and Assembly Rooms where Beau Nash presided over the city’s social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by John Wood, the Elder, and in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century. Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the Bath Blitz in World War II. The city has software, publishing and service-oriented industries. Theaters, museums and other cultural and sporting venues have helped make it a major center for tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year.
One of Britain’s most handsome cities is as rich in modern food and drink as it is in thermal waters, honey-colored stone and Georgian architecture. The West Country’s natural larder is among the richest in the country. Lush pastures result in creamy milk and cheese, while ancient apple orchards and traditional techniques passed down through generations create the best cider in the world. There’s fabulous food on the menu all over Bath, with places to eat and drink for all tastes and budgets. Bath’s food scene is a reflection of the city as a whole. It’s a satisfying mix of local and global, a combination of homemade specialties unique to Bath with cutting edge cuisine from around the world. Take your pick from Michelin star or AA Rosette-winning restaurants, welcoming gastro pubs, chilled out cafés and funky street food vendors. Go on a gastronomic tour with dishes from Nepal, Thailand, India, Morocco and the Caribbean. Or tuck into traditional British and European favorites made with the freshest local ingredients and bags of provenance. Best of all, many of our restaurants are independently owned, offering special dining experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
Brighton is an English seaside resort town. About an hour south of London by train, it’s a popular day-trip destination. Its broad shingle beach is backed by amusement arcades and Regency-era buildings. Brighton Pier, in the central waterfront section, opened in 1899 and now has rides and food kiosks. The town is also known for its nightlife, arts scene, shopping and festivals.
Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The ancient settlement of “Brighthelmstone” was documented in the Domesday Book (1086). The town’s importance grew in the Middle Ages as the Old Town developed, but it languished in the early modern period, affected by foreign attacks, storms, a suffering economy and a declining population. Brighton began to attract more visitors following improved road transport to London and becoming a boarding point for boats travelling to France. The town also developed in popularity as a health resort for sea bathing as a purported cure for illnesses. Brighton’s location has made it a popular destination for tourists, renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, large cultural, music and arts scene and its large LGBT population, leading to its recognition as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK”.
The trendy seaside town of Brighton has no shortage of great places to eat and drink. Try creative seafood, Naples-style pizza or inventive Indian thalis. Brighton has evolved over the years to become one of the hippest holiday hangouts in the country. Take a weekend away beside the sea for re-imagined seafood, sparkling cocktails and unique tasting menus. Its seaside location ensures a plentiful supply of fresh seafood, and an influx of world-class chefs (including a few celebrities) means that Brighton holds a clear advantage over any other city in the Southeast.