Looking for things to do with kids in Oxford? Home to a world-famous University with a 1,000 year history. A large choice of museums, galleries and superb architecture, no wonder that Oxford attracts around 9 million tourists each year. But which activities are best for families? Where can you satisfy both a parent’s lust for history and child’s love of Harry Potter?! Oxford has plenty of pretty gardens and parks amongst its historic buildings, and it’s also on the doorstop of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So whether you want a sunny spot to picnic, swings and slides for the kids or 2,000 acres of a palatial estate, we’ve got you covered.
So without further do, let’s explore our top Things to Do in Oxford with Kids.
1. Oxford University Museum of Natural History
This museum was founded for scientific studies at the University in the 19th century. Today it shows a large collection of natural specimens, from the dinosaur to the dodo. The spectacular Grade I listed, Neo-Gothic architecture of the building adds the wow-factor too. Follow one of the family trails, where kids are encouraged to touch the exhibits. In addition, check out the regular free child-friendly activities, listed on their website.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 5pm
2. Oxford Castle
Step inside a piece of history and let a costumed character guide, lead you on a 45 minute tour. Climb the tower and admire 360 degree panoramic views. Descend to the 900 year old crypt and learn all about the castle’s history as a prison. The guides are excellent with children, and there are special family events throughout the year such as archaeology digs.
After the tour you can explore the grounds at your own leisure, there’s a gift shop and a cafe. That is to say, this activity is best suited for ages 5 and above. Younger children cannot climb the tower for safety reasons.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 4:30 pm
3. The Story Museum
This wonderful museum is certainly a celebration of children’s literature. Therefore your kids will meet their favourite book characters, enjoy storytelling sessions and attend unique events and workshops. In other words, a fantastic place to spark their imagination and creativity.
The museum’s exhibitions are currently closed for a major redevelopment. However the Changing Room and Story Cafe are open for regular story sessions and events.
Opening Hours: Check the website for current events and story sessions.
4. Visit a College
A visit to one of the University’s 39 colleges is a must when you are in this historic city. You can walk the same corridors as Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde and Sir Walter Raleigh. Furthermore, you can admire beautiful grounds and gardens too. Most of the colleges are open for the public and there are numerous companies offering guided tours too. Check also the individual college websites below for entry times and fees.
5. Thirsty Meeples
A board game cafe is certainly the perfect place for your family on a rainy day. A huge range of games are available, from nostalgic classics to the newest releases. All age ranges are provided for. There are Game Gurus on hand to help you pick your perfect game, get it set up and explain the rules. The food and drink menu offers light bites such as sandwiches and cakes alongside great coffee, craft ales, shakes and smoothies.
Booking ahead is recommended – call 01865 244 247.
Opening Hours: Monday toFriday 11am – 11pm, Sat & Sun 9am – 11pm
6. Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum
Established in 1621, this is the UK’s oldest Botanic garden – it is an oasis of biodiversity in the heart of the city. There are nearly 6,000 species of plant here, from fragrant herbs in the immaculately kept borders to tropical orchids in the beautiful glasshouses. In addition, the kids can follow special children’s trails, while you enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and lovely cafe.
Address: Rose Lane, Oxford OX1 4AZ
Opening Hours: Open daily 9am – 4pm / 6pm (Winter / Summer)
7. Walk to Iffley Lock
Take a riverside stroll from Oxford City Centre to the pretty village of Iffley, where you’ll find charming pubs and quaint cottages. This is a popular route for locals, so you’re likely to meet cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, and families enjoying the beautiful scenery. The walk takes around 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.
8. Blenheim Palace
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is just 10 miles from Oxford city centre, and a must visit if you are in the area. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is indeed a stunning example of Baroque architecture which boasts ornate interiors and magnificent grounds. In addition, the 2,000 acre estate encompasses formal gardens, a butterfly house, a miniature train ride and the Marlborough Maze.
Moreover, Blenheim plays host to numerous events throughout the year including an Easter Egg hunt, flower shows, concerts and food festivals.
Address: Woodstock OX20 1PP
Opening Hours: Opening times vary, check the website for more info.
9. Cutteslowe Park
First, this is the biggest park in Oxford and arguable the most popular with families, thanks to its great offering of activities. Secondly, there’s a mini golf course, miniature railway, sandpit, duck pond, skate park, tennis courts and more! Loads of space for the children to let off some steam, and a nice place to escape the city’s crowds.
Address: Elsfield Way, Oxford OX2 8NP
10. Boat Hire
Admire the scenery whilst gliding down the River Cherwell on a sunny day – the perfect outing in Oxford with kids. Head to Magdalen Bridge Boat House to hire a rowing boat, a pedalo or to go punting. You can also choose to hire your boat with a guide or do the hard work yourself! So make a day of it and bring a picnic, and don’t forget the camera and the suncream. However, it does get busy in the summer so get there early to avoid a wait.
Address: Magdalen Bridge, Oxford, OX1 4AU
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