If you’re looking for a family holiday in Dorset but don’t know where to stay, I’ve found an absolute gem of a place for you – and it’s called Acorns Cottage.
AD: We were given a five night stay at Acorns Cottage in return for this honest review.
Located in the beautiful village of Corfe Castle in the Isle of Purbeck, Acorns is honestly one of the nicest family-friendly holiday cottages I’ve ever stayed in. My boys loved it too, so it’s an ideal base for a perfect family holiday on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
I used to go to Dorset on family holidays as a child. Staying in our own touring caravan so nothing nearly as fabulous as Acorns! But I have fond memories of exploring the local area, so it was great to take the boys. We’d been back when my eldest was just 16 months but the twins didn’t even exist at that point!
And I have to say for a family with three boys aged 8, 6 and 6, there is so much to do in the area for them in terms of places to visit and days out. You really need to add it to your list!
So much to do on a family holiday in Dorset
For a week in October we were pretty lucky with the weather, and one of our favourite afternoons was spent on Knoll Beach at Studland Bay. It’s a National Trust beach so if you’re a member parking is free, and there’s also a shop, toilets and a fish and chips restaurant there. A few hours on the beach digging, paddling, building sandcastles, catching Pokemon, kicking a ball around and playing boules was marvellous. Twin One declared it the best beach he’d ever been to, and considering we live on the south Devon coast, that’s high praise indeed.
The rain held off and we decided to recreate some old photos from when we were there 7 years ago with our toddler (who’s now a strapping 8 year old!). Then spontaneously decided to have an early dinner of fish and chips. A fish supper on the beach in October – what an absolute treat!
Studland Bay stretches for 4 miles and is a perfect location to bring the whole family and enjoy the great outdoors and unspoiled beaches. Its sandy beaches have gently shelving bathing waters so kids can play safely. There are also designated trails through the sand dunes that children would love – just watch you don’t end up on the nudist part of the beach! Luckily we weren’t too worried about this in October! If you’re there in peak season and the school summer holiday it’s an ideal spot for water sports or to bring your paddle board. It’s such a great location on the coast and within really easy reach of Acorns Cottage is a lovely day out on a family holiday in Dorset.
If you drive further along the peninsula, you can catch the car ferry across to Sandbanks – home to some of the most expensive houses in the UK, and a perfect place for a good nose! Last time we were in Dorset we took the open top bus across and loved it.
Seaside town of Swanage is worth a visit
Acorns is only 5 miles from the seaside town of Swanage, which we went to a couple of times. It has some great little shops and cafes to wander around – including a fab toy shop the boys (husband included) spent ages in, choosing which Lego sets to buy. We also had to try our hand at a few games in the amusement arcades. That’s what you do on holiday, isn’t it? Swanage has a lovely seafront and promenade, great for a paddle or a swim if you’re feeling brave. Funnily enough, none of us were! The town is also home to Swanage Railway, a heritage railway attraction which operates full-size steam and diesel passenger trains along a 5.5 mile route from Norden to Corfe Castle and down to Swanage.
And if you head just behind the station you’ll find a play area with an awesome skatepark. So awesome we had to go there twice with the boys’ scooters!
Another great place to visit during a family holiday in Dorset is Corfe Castle itself. And with it being just a five minute walk from Acorns Cottage, you’d be silly not to go. You can even see the castle from the bathroom window at Acorns.
Again now owned by the National Trust, Corfe Castle is one of Britain’s most iconic survivors of the English Civil war and was partially demolished by the Parliamentarians in 1646. Adults and children alike enjoy discovering the 1,000 years of history as a royal palace and fortress. We got there not long before it closed so dashed around it, but the boys loved climbing up to the ruins – and the views from the top out over Purbeck were just stunning.
There’s a National Trust car park and welcome centre which is a 10 minute walk around the bottom of the castle to its entry point. But if you’re staying at Acorns you’d be better off just walking through the village from the cottage, and you arrive straight at the National Trust shop and entrance. We parked our van in the car park as we came from elsewhere, but then I sent my husband and eldest back through the woods whilst the twins and I walked straight home to Acorns, and beat them by at least 15 minutes.
Country park fun
But just to make sure they got a few more steps in, we took the boys to Durlston Country Park near Swanage on another day of our stay. It was a bit of a dreary day but we managed to dodge the showers by doing their Halloween Trail through the woods. The trees gave us great protection from the rain, and one of my twins especially loved looking out for the clues. There’s a wild play trail in the woods and a visitor’s centre and cafe with stunning views out to sea at Durlston Castle. It’s well worth a visit.
When we arranged our stay at Acorns Cottage, owner Colleen had told me there was a Go Ape nearby, knowing that it was right up my boys’ street. They’d done it in the summer and kept begging us to do it again, so we headed to Moors Valley Country Park and Forest for the day. It’s about 45 minutes from the cottage but really worth it, and you can genuinely spend an entire day there.
There are lots of free and paid-for activities so you can pick and choose. Take your own or hire bikes and try out one of the cycle routes through the forest, or there was a Zog trail when we were there. There’s a huge outdoor play area and adventure playground the boys loved, a music trail, segways, fishing, a miniature steam train, and Adventure Valley with mini golf and a mini Land Rover off-road experience. There’s also laser tag, a Ranger Den, and a Nets Adventure course which are giant nets suspended between trees full of bouncy balls, a treehouse and tunnel slides. It looked like great fun!
But of course the best thing there for us was Go Ape.
I mean I say ‘us’, but what I actually mean is ‘them’. I was more than happy to keep my feet on terra firma, hold the bags and take the photos, whilst the three boys and my husband darted around the treetops high ropes courses and flew down the zip wires. Their faces said it all, it was definitely their favourite bit of the family holiday in Dorset.
Whereas MY favourite bit of the holiday was staying at the beautiful Acorns Cottage.
Acorns is perfect for a family holiday in Dorset
Owners Colleen and Carl bought the secluded detached house in April 2021 and have renovated it from top to bottom, inside and out. And they’ve done the most fabulous job. It’s literally the type of house I want to live in!
Situated on a private road off the main street of Corfe Castle village, it’s 5 miles away from Wareham in one direction and Swanage in the other, so perfectly positioned to explore the Isle of Purbeck and all it has to offer for families. There’s a choice of local pub in the village as well as shops and cafes.
Acorns has 3 large bedrooms so sleeps six, but there is plenty of room for travel cots if you have a little one. It also has a snug upstairs which has a sofa, TV and desk so if you do need to do some work, there’s somewhere quiet to get away from the family. I can actually attest to this, and it was a brilliant hideaway!
Upstairs is a family bathroom with views out to the ruins of Corfe Castle, as well as two large bedrooms. The main one, a bright dual-aspect room, can be set up with a superking bed, or twin beds so ideal for children. I slept two of my boys in there, and the other one in the second large double bedroom. And of course they fought every night over where they slept.
As you go down the stairs there is a fantastic hanging light fitting and huge window looking out over the garden. It threw so much light into the house and was just gorgeous. I might have spent a few minutes now and then just sitting on the top stair gazing out of it…
Downstairs there is a third bedroom with a large en-suite Jack and Jill shower room, which you can access from both the bedroom and the kitchen, which is super handy. The shower was an inviting, modern walk in one. The type you always wish you had at home. I could even get the boys in there with no moaning, so that’s saying something.
Owners have thought of every detail
The open-plan kitchen is a beautiful space flooded with light and has the thing I literally dream of – an island! With three chairs, the boys could eat their breakfast at it – and even build their newly-purchased Lego. And it was really rather civilised sitting at it with a glass of prosecco whilst my husband cooked. The kitchen has literally everything you’d need including a giant fridge freezer, dishwasher, microwave, coffee machine, and ALL the crockery, glasses, pans and utensils you could ever think of. The cupboards were absolutely brimming with anything you could possibly need in your own kitchen, let alone in a holiday home. Colleen had thought of everything.
And most useful of all for us (other than the fridge to keep my prosecco chilled, of course) was the washer/drier. It was an absolute Godsend. Not only to wash the muddy clothes from all the activities the boys had been doing, but to save me bringing home the usual mountains of laundry I normally do. It’s a total game-changer, right?
On the other side of the hallway is a huge lounge with windows on all three sides making it fabulously light. At one end is a gorgeous corner sofa (I hogged the corner spot), footstool and electric log burner. Whilst at the other end is a stunning wooden dining table – ideal for family meals and board games. Shame it didn’t stop the strops over the board games!
Outside there’s a large wrap-around garden with loads of space for kids to run around. Scooters up and down the driveway were my boys’ preferred use of it. There’s a fantastic patio just off the kitchen with a table and chairs, and overhead covering so you can still use it if it rains. There’s also a sofa and coffee table in one corner and sun loungers around the other side – so this would be a beautiful place to relax in the summer. We spent ages spotting squirrels running along the fences, and looking out for deer in the land next door. We could even see and hear the Swanage Railway steam train pass by.
Acorns Cottage is eco-friendly
When they renovated, the owners ensured it had as many eco measures as possible including solar panels, and an electric car charging point, water butts, bamboo toilet paper, eco-friendly cleaning products, an Eco bath upstairs, and an Eco water filter installed on the kitchen tap.
The house has been beautifully styled with so much thought going into every little detail. Whether it was the coordinating cushions and blinds in the lounge, or the decorative touches throughout, it was simply stunning.
But don’t ever think that such an immaculate-looking property is no good for kids. The place is perfect for a family holiday. And with plastic cutlery, bowls and a high chair, and plenty of room to put up your own travel cot, it won’t matter how old your kids are. There’s so much space for them to play, both inside and out, with a bit of luck, you’ll barely see them!
There’s so much to do as a family nearby, we hardly scratched the surface. You could head to Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park, the Tank Museum, Monkey World, Blue Pool, Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Bournemouth, Durdle Door or Lulworth Cove. If you’re there in the summer you’ll be spoiled for choice with the nearby beaches and seaside resorts, and have such a great time. But even out of season there was still so much more we could have done in this beautiful county.
Which means we’ll just have to go back again!
If I’ve tempted you with a family holiday in Dorset, you can stay at Acorns Cottage on week-long or short breaks. Prices start from £619. You can book through Classic Cottages or for a better deal, contact Colleen directly. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org, 07787 430181 or message her on Instagram. If you want to see more photos, head to the highlight on my Instagram page. If you’re looking for family-friendly cottages, then you’ve just found a wonderful one.
How did I do?
If you liked this post, then you might want to have a look at some more in my Travel Section and get some other ideas for UK family holidays and days out. These might be handy:
- 10 best UK family holidays ideal for young children
- How to make the most of a day at Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World
- Places to stay near Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World
- Best UK campsites for children
- 11 best holidays in Devon
- Best places to stay with kids in London
- 15 best family days out in Devon
- 13 best family days out in Cornwall
Or if you’ve got a holiday booked but can’t face the packing, check out this helpful list – Packing List For Babies and Toddlers. And if you fancy a giggle but still on the subject of UK family holidays, read this – Five Ways A Holiday Is Never The Same After Kids. If you STILL want more after that head over to my Mum Life section for funny rants about all sorts of parenting things. And if you’re local to me in Plymouth, keep up to date with the latest in my Local Stuff section.
If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three young boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.