Rutland Water
© VisitBritain
Rutland Water

Family-friendly places to stay in Rutland


Situated in the heart of England, Rutland doesn't have the high profile of the Cotswolds or the Lake District but its natural beauty and Georgian stone-built market towns and villages make it a great spot for family holidays without the crowds, especially on and around Rutland Water, the focus for walking, cycling, watersports, climbing and wildlife activities.

Things to do with kids in Rutland

Head for Rutland Water, the largest manmade reservoir in western Europe, great for outdoor activities and wildlife. From biking and boating to birdwatching, there’s lots for all the family. Start with the traffic-free cycling tracks, from an easy 19km route to more challenging routes of up to 40km beginning at the Rutland Water Cycling centres at Whitwell or Normanton, where you can hire children’s bikes, tandems, trikes and trailers.

Progress to watersports: the dedicated centre at Rutland runs a number of courses for children, including RYA junior levels in sailing, windsurfing and powerboating, plus additional short courses in school holidays. There are also Splash and Dash days of water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking and raft-building for ages 7–14 and junior fun sessions for ages 5–7 in August.  

Walk Rutland's winding country lanes, gentle rolling fields, ancient royal forests and pretty villages. There are nine circular routes around the shoreline of Rutland Water, or try the town trail of Oakham, available from Rutland County Museum and Visitor Centre. Rutland also has seven heritage trails ranging from 6.5 to 18km, each themed using existing pathways and lanes to link important places, people and events.

Rock-climb at the outdoor adventure facility Rockblok on the north shore of Rutland Water. Have a go at scaling the 8m climbing wall before abseiling down, or try out the high ropes adventure course. The minimum age is 7, but there are trampolines for all ages. 

Enjoy a leisurely boat-trip around the reservoir on the Rutland Belle, which departs from the harbour at Whitwell. 

Take part in the Nature Detectives environmental activity days on the famous Nature Reserve at Rutland Water for children aged 7–11, including pond dipping, bug hunting, learning about the ospreys that began breeding here in 2001, and craft activities. 

Visit the Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre within unspoilt woodland, home to a fascinating variety of birds of prey, owls, hawks, falcons, buzzards, vultures and eagles. Some of the 90-odd birds can be handled, while and others prefer to fly for visitors. There are daily falconry demonstrations, depending on the weather.

Normanton church by Rutland Water© VisitBritain

Normanton church by Rutland Water


Local produce is a highlight of holidays and breaks in Rutland. We particularly recommend The Olive Branch in Clipsham (which has guestrooms – one specially for families – in Beech House across the road) and the restaurant at the Lake Isle Hotel in Uppingham (see Accommodation).

Cyclists © VisitBritain


When to go to Rutland

Easter–October is the best time for family holidays or breaks in Rutland; the rest of the year, many attractions are closed.


Rutland is a great spot for inexpensive family holidays and breaks given its somewhat off-the-beaten track status when compared with tourist hotspots such as the Cotswolds.

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