Windermere is England's largest lake, and one of the most visited. A relaxing option is to take a cruise along the length of the lake from Bowness to Ambleside, a 70min round trip. Windermere is also the centre of the area's adventure sports scene, so if you'd rather be in the water than on it, try sailing, canoeing, or waterskiing.
This traditional market town is most famous as the birthplace of poet William Wordsworth. His former home in the centre of town is now an interesting museum, and very close by is Cockermouth Castle, dating back to Norman times. Just a short drive out of town to the west is the Cumbrian coast, with miles of beaches for paddling, sandcastle building and romantic walks.
Sitting at the northern end of Derwent Water, Keswick offers the chance to get out and explore the surrounding countryside, or base yourself in the town centre. The Lake District Wildlife Park is nearby, and older kids will enjoy the climbing centre with zip lines and indoor walls. Also worth a visit is the Lakes Distillery, where gin and whiskey are made.