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1) Take a walk on the wide side

Keep your little monkeys entertained with a trip to the zoo. Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford is top-tier for animal magic, with a whopping 260 species over 160 acres (that’ll wear them out, surely?). If you get bored watching the penguin feedings, exploring the lemur enclosure or riding on the miniature train, there’s an adventure playground and a petting farmyard too.

Got reptile fans in the fam? Crocodiles of the World in Brize Norton sounds nutty, but it’s a great day out if you want to get up close and personal with crocs. (Plus the meerkats are adorable if you prefer your animals a little fuzzier.)

2) Ride a steam train

Full steam ahead! Trains are always a dead cert to keep kids happy (just ask Thomas), so hopping on one is one of our go-to family days out. Visit Didcot Railway Centre (above) on one of their Steam Days for unlimited rides as well as a day exploring the museum, or book a ticket on the Cholsey & Wallingford Heritage Railway or Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway for everything from afternoon teas and Sunday lunches on board to Kids for a Quid days.

3) Jump into a story book

Oxford’s Story Museum is better than ever following its recent refurb, and is absolutely worth a visit if you have bookworms in the family – or even if you don’t, as there’s very little reading involved! Almost everything is interactive here, from the Small Worlds gallery aimed at under fives (check out the giant storybook bed) to the Whispering Wood, which tells you stories through your headphones, and the Enchanted Library. One of the best family attractions the city has to offer, hands down.

Can’t make it out to Oxford? Henley’s River and Rowing Museum might not sound up your kids’ street, but their permanent Wind in the Willows gallery is always a hit with families, and makes you feel like you’re in the stories. Try it!

4) Have fun on the farm

Oxfordshire has more family-friendly farms than you can shake a straw hat at, so you’ll be spoilt for choice trying to pick one. Here are just a few of our favourites.

Cogges Manor Farm in Witney has ‘Meet the Animals’ experiences at the weekends, pretty gardens to explore, a great cafe in the old milking shed and an adventure playground. Over in Chipping Norton, Fairytale Farm does what it says on the tin, with amazing storybook-themed attractions, playgrounds and walks, as well as pigs, miniature ponies, alpacas and more. Farmer Gow’s (above) in Faringdon is a favourite with local schools for its petting experiences and trailer rides, and the farm shop is always worth a stop in. Finally, Millet’s Farm in Abingdon is less working farm, more family attraction, with an indoor play barn, farm shop, garden centre and playground – plus, it’s free to visit, which is always a bonus.

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5) Escape!

After the last few years, being locked in a room with your family might be the last thing you fancy doing with your weekend, but trust us – puzzling your way out of an escape room is a great way to get them thinking creatively (and if you’re really not up for the challenge, you can always let them have at it and nip to the cafe for an hour). In Oxford, chain Escape Hunt at the Westgate (above) boasts outdoor experiences as well as several indoor rooms, including ones with Doctor Who and Alice in Wonderland themes. Oxford Castle and Prison also has its own escape room experience in the jail itself – although it’s only for ages 12 and up, and you’ll need at least ten people to join in.

6) Play the day away

As far as adventure playgrounds go, Tumblestone Hollow at Stonor Park in Henley takes the top spot. It’s got acres of fun stuff for the kids to hurl themselves at (or down, or over), with slides, zip-lines, rope bridges, a sandpit and a twisty treehouse. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a wood-fired pizza and cold drink from the Rumble Hut and let them tire themselves out. Don’t forget to visit during seasonal holiday for fun decorations, activities and themed trails around Stonor gardens.

7) Take to the lake

Let’s get wet! Whether you’re wild swimming, paddle boarding, or just pedalling a swan boat with an ice cream in hand, there are some great local spots to hit with the family when the mercury’s rising. Try Oxford’s Wet n Wild Aqua Park (above) at Queenford Lake Watersports Centre to burn off some of that summer holiday energy, or try paddle-boarding with The SUP Life on the River Thames between Oxford and Henley. For real water babies, Hardwick Parks in Witney offers a whole host of activities, from Ringo rides and waterskiing to kayaks and wake surfing.

8) Mosey around a museum

Tear them away from those screens and go explore some of the many fabulous museums the county has to offer. Big hitters that are also kid-friendly include The Ashmolean, The Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of Natural History (above), all in Oxford. Outside of the city, The Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage has plenty of hand-on experiences for children, while Banbury Museum is packed with local history and has an ever-changing roster of family events during the holidays.

9) Explore The Walled Garden

Blenheim Palace is a given for great family-friendly events year-round (plus the grounds are ideal for long lakeside walks), but if you haven’t checked out The Walled Garden yet, now’s the time. Hop on the miniature train outside the main entrance to get there, then let the kids get lost in the Marlborough Hedge Maze or spend an hour in the playground before digging into a pizza pit-stop at The Pizzeria. The Walled Garden is due an upgrade with a GIANT new playground in early 2023, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

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10) Treat your sweet tooth

Did you know Muddy favourite Rumsey’s Chocolaterie in Thame runs chocolate workshops for kids? You do now! Your budding Willy Wonkas can learn how to make chocolate lollipops or figurines while you, er, sample the wares in the cafe.

11) Try a new sport

Footgolf, anyone? A serious upgrade on just kicking a ball round your local park, Hinksey Heights Golf Club in Oxford offers a full 18-hole footgolf course (seriously!) for everyone wanting to give the sport a go. It’s basically just kicking a football around a golf course, and for active families after something a bit different, it’s a great laugh. Argyle sweater vests optional.

12) Go for an outdoor dip

If the weather’s good, pack up your itsy-bitsy bikini and head for the local lido. You’ve got plenty of outdoor pools to choose from: Hinksey Lido in Oxford (above), Riverside Heated Outdoor Pool in Wallingford, Abbey Meadows Outdoor Pool in Abingdon, Woodgreen Leisure Centre in Banbury, Chipping Norton Lido and Woodstock Open Air Pool.

13) Scout filming locations

Not for nothing do we live in one of the country’s most photogenic counties – Oxfordshire’s been a filming location for everything from Midsomer Murders to Downton Abbey. There are both self-guided and guided film location tours available around the country, but Potterheads and fantasy fans will love the various Harry Potter walking tours around Oxford.

14) Catch a show

Community theatre Pegasus up the Iffley Road in Oxford is a total hidden gem, creating shows aimed at everything from toddlers to teens. There’s everything from puppetry and kids comedy nights to hip-hop showcases and Shakespeare. Take a look at their calendar and book those tickets, ASAP. Or, in central Oxford, try Oxford Playhouse – the local institution has a brilliant line-up of big-hitter children’s theatre, often direct from the West End.

15) Stretch your legs

If all else fails, pull on those trainers, breathe deep and go for a winding countryside amble. We’ve got walk recommendations galore on Muddy, but some of our top Oxfordshire picks for families include around Banbury’s Broughton Castle, the White Horse Hill Circular Walk near Wantage (above), the Chinnor Circular Walk and around Port Meadow in Oxford (bonus points for the two pub pit-stops – ideal for fuelling up the family).

The post 15 brilliant family things to do in Oxfordshire appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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