11 Things To Do In Oxford With Kids
Oxford is known as a university city with 38 universities throughout the area, so you know there is plenty to do for young adults. But what if you are traveling with kids? Does the "City of Spires" have anything to offer them? The answer is yes, it does.
The medieval city is home to many activities and events that will keep your little ones engaged and having fun while visiting Oxford. Kids who love the world of fantasy can visit the medieval Oxford Castle or the CS Lewis Nature Reserve that inspired the Narnia books. They can also find various Harry Potter filming locations throughout the city.
For those not into the medieval side of the city, there are plenty of parks, adventure playgrounds, cool museums, and so much more. Whatever your kids are into, we have made a list of the best things to do in Oxford with kids.
Taking your kids around Oxford for tours and adventures can be a handful, and the last thing you need is to be dragging your luggage or heavy bags and purses with you. To keep your belongings safe and secure make sure to store them at a suitcase storage locker in Oxford.
Cotswold Wildlife Park & Garden
This wildlife park is not too big and not too small and offers plenty of activities for kids of all ages. The animal areas are broken up into four sections: birds, mammals, small mammals and primates, and reptiles and amphibians. The variety of animals is quite impressive for a smaller wildlife park and the kid's programs are a great experience.
The park offers experience programs for kids between the ages of 7 to 17 and an adult (17+) program. Your kids will get to feed different animals like the lemurs, giraffes, meerkats, and others, and one of the feedings will be during a public show. They will get to meet other animals as well (no feeding) plus a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the exhibits. The programs do have fees and must be booked in advance.
Beyond the cool programs, there are everyday events like watching feeding sessions of the lions, penguins, and others. If your little ones don't feel like walking around the park you can always hop on the miniature train for a tour.
And if for some reason your kids are not interested in the animals head to the Skymaze. The adventure area has sections for kids of different ages, with slides, jungle bridges connecting treehouses, swings and more. "Mini Manor" is set up for the little ones with a mini-zipline and sandpit. Between the animals, programs and a great play area, you may never get your kids to leave.
Oxford Botanic Garden
The Oxford Botanic Gardens are a great place to bring the kids for picnics, walks, and a little learning. Children will enjoy running around the green lawns and exploring the different trails such as the Garden Eye Spy Trail or the Winter Wonders Trail. There are multiple wall gardens, seven glasshouses, a bog, and other interesting areas for your kids to discover. Special backpacks can be signed out, containing tools and games for learning.
Visiting the oldest botanic garden in Britain is a great way to give your kids a fun nature adventure right in Oxford City Centre. There is grass to relax and play on, trees for shade, trails to explore, and public bathrooms. And if it starts to get a little chilly, the glasshouses make a perfect spot to warm up and still keep the kids entertained.
A museum that is designed for kids, the Story Museum can be enjoyed by all members of the family. It is divided into five main areas with different themes:
- The Woodshed - for live performances and storytelling
- The Whispering Wood - audio stories told by the trees
- The Enchanted Library - 8 immersive exhibitions of classic children's stories
- Small Worlds - a play area for the 3 - 5 year olds with singing and storytimes
- City of Stories - 25 minute videos of children's tales
Plus, there are permanent and temporary collections for your kids to discover.
There is a nice courtyard to have a break and enjoy a bite to eat from the cafe. You can even book rooms for special events like birthdays and other celebrations. The museum is a magical place to take kids and will keep them entertained for hours.
The largest park in Oxford is actually two parks connected by a bridge, though most of the good stuff for kids is in Cutteslowe. As in most parks, there are kid's playgrounds (2 in Cutteslowe, 1 in Sunnymead) and plenty of open green areas for them to run and play. But this park has a few surprises like an aviary, mini-golf course, a skate park, and beach volleyball courts.
In the spring and summer, they open the splash park for even more excitement. For kids that love treasure hunting, the park is full of geocaching sites. A number of hiking trails lead through the forested area where it's possible to catch sight of wildlife like hedgehogs and deer.
For a bit of tranquility, head to the Horticulture Therapy and Garden Centre where you will find glasshouses with tropical plants and butterflies. And when the kids get tired of all that playing, you can hop on the miniature railway and tour the park.
Blenheim Palace is the only palace in England that doesn't house official royalty and has some pretty interesting history. There are three tours that are available to see the areas of the palace. Head outside to explore the park or Formal Gardens with all their stunning topiary and beautifully distinct smaller gardens. To see some wildlife take one of the buggy tours or walk the trails for free.
You can take a tour of the Walled Gardens on the mini-railway, play in the adventure playground, get lost in the largest symbolic hedge maze in Europe, or relax and enjoy the butterfly house. The palace has some great events that happen at different times of the year like jousting tournaments, and Christmas and Easter celebrations.
Millets Farm Centre
Does going to a farming centre sound fun for kids? It is when it's Millets Farm Centre. This unusual "farm" has great activities and play areas for kids. For some outdoor fun there is the Children's Play Area, pick-your-own fruit, meet the animals on the Animal Walkway, and more. A truly unique experience is the Falconry, where you can handle and fly a number of birds of prey.
The Maize Mazes fun park is loaded with trampolines, crazy golf, go-karts, and the maze through the maize itself, which changes every year. The maze area is only open during the summer school holidays.
Inside the Sprouts Play Barn, kids will go crazy on the four-lane wave cow slide, the 360 tunnel slide, floor piano, sports court, and a designated area for kids under 5 years old. The super fun 4 tier play frame is designed to enhance seven key learning skills like problem-solving and motor skills. It's fun and educational, but no need to tell the kids that!
Museum of Natural History
Getting kids interested in museums is not always the easiest thing to do but the Museum of Natural History in Oxford does it right. The Natural History Museum puts on plenty of family-friendly events and programs for free, which is music to parents' ears. But beyond the free part, they are fun programs that really engage the kids.
Going to the Natural History Museum is one of the best things to do in Oxford with kids that is educational and fun at the same time. Some of the programs involve "Trails," which will take your kids on various adventures around the museum. The Trails are designed with specific age groups in mind, like the Dinosaur Detective (3 - 7), Creature Colors (5-10), and Skeleton Spotters (7-11).
A special door at the back of the museum leads to another museum full of armour & weapons, masks, and more, called the Pitt Rivers Museum. It is free entry too and has its own "trails" to discover. After visiting the museum, you can enjoy a picnic in the nearby University Parks. Kids love to touch things and at this museum, it is encouraged. Where else can your kids touch a meteorite, fossils, and bones?
Partyman World of Play
Going to Partyman World Oxford with kids is a no-brainer! It has huge themed play structures, ball pits, go-karts, an interactive show stage, and nice seats for parents to relax in. You know the kids will be burning a ton of energy here and so they have a great changing menu that is loaded with freshly prepared food.
It has a specially designed area for younger children, ages 3 years and under, and there are four party rooms that you can book for any special occasion. If you are ever in Oxford with kids and they know about this place, you won't have a choice but to come and have fun.
Christ Church College
If you are in Oxford with kids and they are Harry Potter fans, then you must go to Christ Church College. Although the college has some amazing architecture and history, it was the Harry Potter films that made it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oxford.
College staircases, the Great Hall (Hogwarts Hall), and even hallways were either used to film or replicated for the film series. If you need even more Harry Potter things to do in Oxford with kids, you are in luck because many movie scenes were filmed in Oxford. You can check out Duke Humfrey's Library and the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library, and then make your way to the "Diagon Alley" of Oxford.
The Ashmolean Museum was the first public museum in Britain and an extension of the Oxford University Museum collection of art and archeology. With one of the best ancient Egyptian galleries (including mummies), samurai warriors, and interactive exhibits, the museum will keep your kids entertained throughout their visit.
To give your kids an adventure while at the museum, pick one of the many "trails" that will get them searching the place for "treasure". There are crafts, games, quizzes, and fun storytimes about history and myths from guest speakers. When it is time for a break, the museum cafe has a menu just for kids.
Oxford Bus Museum
Visiting a museum full of buses may not sound like the most exciting place to visit, but you'll be pleasantly surprised by how fun the Oxford Bus Museum is. Not only can your kids hop on and check out the buses, but they can actually go for a free short bus ride. There is a play area for younger kids with crafts and a cool bus with noises and lights that the kids can control.
In the back is a shop that the kids can visit where mechanics are working. It is noisy and sparks are flying, but the kids will love it. The museum guides are some of the most passionate you will ever meet and make the experience even better. If you are driving to the museum there is free parking and a paid parking lot nearby.
The museum is only open Wednesdays, Sundays, and most bank holidays.
What are the best family activities in Oxford?
Having fun with all the family can be tricky due to age differences and interests but there are a few things to do in Oxford with kids that should please everyone.
The Museum of Natural History is engaging and fun, and with the "trails", families can work together exploring and problem solving. Cutteslowe & Sunnymead Park has a great variety of outdoor activities and picnic areas for families to bond in the sun. For the more adventurous families, the wildlife parks and theme parks offer family experiences that you will never forget.
Explore Oxford with the Kids
Remember this is just a list of the best things to do in Oxford, and there are still plenty of other amazing fun things to do with your kids. World class museums, flower gardens, and must-see cake shops are popular excursions. Heading out to find tasty street food is another! Oxford is a beautiful fantasy town where your kids will have the time of their lives, but you will love it too.