Lets be honest. The cost of keeping children entertained during the holidays is creeping up day by day, so I decided to write a dedicated post for FREE family days out from Oxfordshire. You will be able to spend a good few hours in the venue or I will have another place close by ready too. The entry is free for most of these but parking may be paid and some activities charge-able.
The latest exciting partnership between Forestry England and Magic Light Pictures has made Zog return to Wendover woods! The brightly illustrated panels of the Zog trails are packed with activities, facts and questions aimed at encouraging children to learn about forests and practise mindfulness. One thing YOU MUST DO is download the FREE app, which raises the walk experience to another level. Read our full review HERE
One of the most incredible country parks for all ages, with one of the best activity paths in the county. It’s approximately an hour’s journey from Oxford but so so well worth it! There are many trails up and down the hill (although you can just remain on the main track because it’s accessible and you won’t get lost), trees to climb, birds to spot, and a den-building area, but there are a variety of play spaces placed along the “activity trail” on the walk such as, Ants nest first, Eagle themed climbing frame and Jurassic play area with giant dinosaur skeletons and eggs. The quarry play area is pretty good by its own too. Read our full review HERE
The giant adventure playground is immediately visible from the car park, so the youngsters will squeal with delight as soon as you park. Despite its size, it blends in with its surroundings and includes water play, a huge sand play area, two climbing towers with slides, tunnels, stepping stones, a sunken ship, and much more (Tip: bring your wellies, towel, and a change of clothes!)
You can set out on the Adventure Trail after spending a long time in the playground. It begins to the right of the play area and winds its way around the lakes and is just perfect! Read our full review HERE. They are also doing an easter trail during the holidays.
You won’t believe me if I told you there is a secret beach with a huge pirate boat just 50 minutes drive from Oxford! There are stretches and stretches of sand to play in as water from the 60 acre lake (technically a reservoir) hits the sand. Unfortunately, you can not swim in the water but there is a splash pad on the side. Parking is limited and I hear (unsurprisingly) it can get crazy busy with even a hint of sun.
This place is absolutely amazing with something for all ages. It has many play area scattered throughout the park, including a large sandpit with diggers and a gravel pit, little spiral fort-like wall and large slides perched atop a little mound among the trees. Continue going down the lake to feed the ducks and swans and take in the scenery. It’s a short, circular stroll that’s great for little kids, especially because you can stop and rest along the way. You can easily spend half/even full day here but we often dash to the splash area at Willen lake (~15min drive) from here (the park is free to visit but splash area not and needs to be prebooked). Read our full review HERE
There are nice professionally crafted fairy doors on the sculpture trail in addition to beautiful wooden sculptures and benches as you start by walking down the path from the visitors centre. They are nice enough but I was much more impressed by the trees and the climbing opportunities they presented! My God, those trees are just out of this world, with so many branches, all intertwined with each other; you can easily climb from one to another to another just like a monkey. If I were to give you a USP of this place, it would be the natural climbing opportunities rather than anything else. You can enjoy a natural playground at its best! Climb the trees, hunt for mini beasts, spot the birds and herons, play hide and seek or just run around and soak in on your 1000 hours year! Read our full review HERE
Burton Dassett Hills Country Park HAS to be on your list of things to do this summer. Just an hour drive away from Oxford, these picturesque rolling hills in southern Warwickshire will take away your craving for the scenery of Wales and Scotland. Even though, there is no “playground” as such, there is so much to enjoy. Race up the hills, race down the hill, roll on the hill, challenge yourself to a gentle hike, fly a kite, admire the sheep, JUST bring in your picnic, enjoy the fresh air and just live in the moment. It was colder and much more windy then I thought, so please dress up warmly. Read full details HERE
Sywell Country Park has all the necessary ingredients for an amazing day out from Oxfordshire. Why would it not? This is a very scenic Country Park, developed from a former water supply reservoir and its surrounding pastureland, adventure playground in the woodlands with tunnel galore and big slide, a huge sand pit, water play equipment, mini beast sculptures, picnic meadows, outdoor native butterfly garden AND you only have to pay for parking.
This is awesomeness at another level and it is FREE! The park is a climbers delight with very different equipment to anywhere else. The play area is sanded, so you can enjoy as much sand as you want, and there is a seperate sand pit too. Giant nest towers, monkey bars, funnel trap nests, secret hobbit holes, giant swinging and climbing logs, den-building structures, and a woodland obstacle course. There is a dedicated space for toddlers featuring swings, wide slide, a willow maze and a huge giant log. A large storytelling area has been created using giant wooden eggs. There are nature trails and a lovely lake to walk around. Read our full review HERE. California country park is also close by, which we are hoping to visit soon ourselves!
Free for NT members, day out at Basildon Park is a great way to spend time as a family. You enter the woodlands with a play area on the left as soon as you stroll past the reception which has two long ball runs, a lot of balancing logs, and a lovely den with colourful wooden stools. Your little one will have a great time chasing the balls from the top to the bottom of the track, and because the course is slow, they will always win by reaching ahead in time to catch the ball! Make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear as it can be muddy and slippery.
You can ascend through the woods and on to one of the many trails to discover more ball runs. Your kid will just want to keep going, racing to the next rest stop while collecting tons of fallen leaves and berries. Read our full review HERE
It is a guaranteed great day out for FREE, just make sure you take your wellies and waterproofs for added fun. It has a beast of a climbing frame and amazing play areas, beautiful walk along the DYKE, little waterfall with stepping stones, plenty of green space for all sorts of ball games, boats available for hire and an outdoor swimming pool (needs pre-booking). Read our full review HERE
Not only do they have a lovely play park, it is an “integrated play area”, for disabled and able-bodied children to use and there is also an outdoor fitness trail, vast green space with multigames use area, a stream for paddling, a skate park and café (with small soft play). There must be an airfield nearby as they have low flying plane overhead most of the time we were there. What are you waiting for?? Get your scooties and bikes (and water proofs) and head in there. Read our full review HERE. Wendover Woods is not too far if you want to add something additional and is FREE too
There is a fantastic play area outside The Look Out discovery centre with an inclusive play area, infant play area (with a fabulous pirate ship) and an amazing castle/ fort in the junior play area. The surrounding woodland area had lots of lots of teepees, some complete and some ready for your kids to get their hands on. You can explore the surrounding Swinley Forest on foot or cycle around for FREE or try your hand at the go Ape adventure. The Look out centre itself offers an amazing hands-on science experience for kids of all ages at less than 10£pp and so well worth it. Our full review is HERE
The lake is such a peaceful walk, though the grounds around are always busy with people. You can just enjoy a nice stroll or cycle around the lake, about 5k, split into 2lakes, so you can just go around one if you didn’t want to make it too long. The kids play area underwent a massive refurbishment and is now ready to be used. Entry is free but there are a number of charge-able activities including boating pedalos or cannoes, giant Ferris wheel and small fairground rides. There is a splash park and treetop extreme as well other water sports. Read our full review HERE
Explore the lovely town of Stratford upon Avon. You can stroll along the beautiful river and recreation ground and play in the park for free but for added fun, you can hire motor boats and enjoyed boating with the swans on the river or go on the manually operated pedestrian chain ferry across the River Avon to the Waterside gardens by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. You can take a spin in the Stratford Big Wheel or visit the Butterfly farm which is the UK’s largest tropical butterfly paradise. The place is not huge, but is so mesmerising that we kept on going round and round, with huge/small, colourful, beautiful butterflies fluttering around or even landing on you.
Ryton Pools country park near Coventry has two awesome play areas, especially the foothills adventure playground which is a climbers delight. There is a lake to walk around and a number of walking trails you could choose from. There is a cool den building area, pond dipping platforms, which will be handy in summers, bird hide and also Miniature Railway on Sunday afternoons. Read our full review HERE
Ok, so the Go Ape Nets adventure itself is not free but the Black park country park itself is, which is brilliant. I must say it has one of the most cleanest lakes I have come across. The woods have amazing trees, perfect for climbing and playing hide and seek. The Emma Sallis adventure playground is a huge play area with lots of wooden equipment.
If you really want to tire your squirrels and cheeky monkeys out, then go for two hours on treetop nets, trampolines, four gigantic bounce nets (one filled with giant balls and one just for kids), seven canopy tree houses, and one destination tree house- all in and above the woodland. Read our full review HERE. You can also combine it with Jump In Trampoline park (not FREE)
I will be honest the playground in the park is very basic, and nothing too exciting especially for older kids, but you can pedal a boat around the river, ride the small permanent fairground rides on site, get wet in the splash park or take part in the 18-green adventure golf and 9-hole crazy golf. Read our full review HERE
Combine it with Zog and the Quest for the Golden Star at Warwick Castle (which is not free) and you can spend your entire day at Warwick.
This is not free but for 11-13£, kids will love 2.5 hours of free play and let their imagination run wild, in the play village which has a tea room, village theatre, supermarket, vet, fire station, post office, school, beauty salon, hospital, BBQ, ice-cream shop or the construction area. Every room is stocked with toys, props and clothing, among other things, and the attention to detail is astounding.
This facility is ideal if you have a toddler and a baby. The baby area is conveniently located in the centre, allowing you to keep an eye on your child as they run around. Read our full review HERE