FOR most parents, a seaside location with beautiful beaches, dolphins and amazing castles, all just a stone's throw away from Hogwarts might seem like a little too much to ask for in a holiday destination.

However, such a place exists – and not only that, it's in the United Kingdom.

Alnmouth in Northumberland is one of many under-appreciated coastal towns the north east, with plenty on offer for family trips, or for adults simply after a break.

While locals like myself are familiar with its charms, those from elsewhere are less aware of how much it has to offer.

The beach is one of many impressive stretches of the Northumberland coastline, which some say are like those in other places often considered more exotic than the UK.

Northumberland Family Diaries wrote: "Where we live in Northumberland, we are spoilt for choice with beautiful beaches which, on really sunny days, could almost be abroad!"

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Alnmouth Bay is a favourite with people in the region not only because it's big enough to not get too crowded, even in the warm summer months, but because it's easily reached too.

Your Northumberland say: "The beach is easily accessible with a car park right on the sea front and it attracts visitors from all over the Country and rightly so.

"It's the perfect place for a family day out, a beautiful walk, a picnic or if the weather is kind just to relax and sunbathe."

As well as enjoying the vast stretch of sandy beaches, lucky visitors to the bay are sometimes treated by dolphins and whales that have can be spotted swimming just off the coast.

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Whitebeaked dolphins are known to swim in the north sea near Alnmouth, as well as harbour porpoises, while the occasional minke whale will pop up too.

Further up the coast, visitors can see puffins at both Lindisfarne and Seahouses.

Alnmouth is far from just beaches and wildlife however.

It's home to two golf courses, several walking and cycling routes and coffee shops, pubs and restaurants.

The Sun Inn and the Red Lion are great options for both drinks and dinner – with the latter offering views of the River Aln estuary from its beer garden.

However, the town itself is ideally situated to visit two of the country's most impressive castles, one of which was used to house Harry Potter in the film adaptations of JK Rowling's books.

Alnwick castle was used as Hogwarts for several scenes in the films, including as the location where Harry and his classmates learned to fly broomsticks and play Quidditch.

It was also the place where Ron crashed his dad’s flying car, as well as the route to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.

Kids can even take part in broomstick training on site at the castle, with 25 minute lessons teaching them how to fly on a stick of their own.

Alnwick isn't the only castle nearby, with Walkworth's castle just as interesting.

The hill-top fortress has a series of interactive trails, revealing the lives of people who lived in or near the castle in the early 15th century.

Meanwhile, a short walk and a boat ride takes visitors from the castle to the Hermitage, a religious building carved out of rock that can be found hidden in the surrounding countryside.

Of the two towns, Alnwick has more to offer beyond castles, with one of Europe's largest second-hand book shops a personal highlight.

Barter Books is housed inside the disused Victorian Alnwick railway station and is also famous for being the place where the World War II poster with the slogan Keep Calm and Carry On was discovered among a box of old books bought at auction.

The shop's former life as a transport hub is well acknowledged, with model trains running along the tops of the bookcases.

Visitors can peruse its extensive collection of books, including some incredibly rare editions, or simply sit in the station's old waiting rooms and enjoy a brew or a bite to eat.

There are several pubs just a short walk away from Barter Books in the town centre, although it's also worth making a trip to the Alnwick Brewery taproom to sample the delicious beers made on site.

Elsewhere Alnwick garden offers yet further entertainment for families, with its complex of formal gardens a great place for a walk, or for youngsters to go for a run around.

Highlights at the garden include its massive fountains and water features, as well as the poison garden, where  intoxicating and poisonous plants are grown, including marijuana, hemlock and foxglove.

The garden is also home to the treehouse restaurant, which is built around 16 mature lime trees, which grow through and into the building.

It is the largest wooden structure in Europe and sits 18 metres above ground, while offering dining for up to 85 guests.

Visitors to Alnmouth can stay in the Schooner hotel from £82 per night, while camping pitches nearby are available from £9 per night.

Glamping options nearby offer stays in a luxury five-metre bell tent from £50pp per night or a woodland camping hut with a hot tub from £72pp per night.

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Meanwhile, these are some of the best hot tub staycations to book this year.

And these are some of the most tranquil staycation spots in the country.

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