Perhaps traditionally considered a grown-up destination with its mellow hued chocolate box villages, the Cotswolds is rapidly becoming a top family destination with just as much to please the little people too. As well as activities for the whole family to enjoy (cycling, sailing, horse riding to name a few) there’s a lot of fun to be had – here’s a few inspired choices for guaranteed happy holiday memories...
Go Ape near Gloucester in the Forest of Dean, is the ultimate go-to experience for tiring restless bodies whilst enjoying some fabulous scenery. The main draw is a tree top adventure with high ropes, tarzan swings and the extreme thrill of the zip wire, there’s even a version for mini tarzans as well as Segway tours for exploring forest trails.
A little closer to home, based in the Cotswolds Water Park is Head 4 Heights who offer a variety of activity packs tailored to suit indivduals or families and offering the opportunity to try a range of climbing, jumping and swinging activities. Open throughout all school holidays and most week-ends of the year. As a bonus, it’s based in the Cotswolds Country Park & Beach home to the largest inland beach in the country so it may b a country holiday but you can still enjoy one of England’s favourite past times, a day at the beach! Hardy types can indulge in open water swimming here Feb – Dec but with families in mind there are lifeguards on duty for peace of mind and a host of activities to appeal to older children too with boat hire, paddle boarding and water zorbing. As well as pleasing the summer bucket & spade brigade, It’s also a great venue for a dog friendly, family friendly winter walk followed by warming hot chocolate and home made cakes at the café.
Adam Henson’s Cotswolds Farm Park is a popular choice for a family oriented day out: kids love getting hands on with baby chicks and rabbits, meeting the piglets, bottle feeding the lambs and goat kids, meeting the farmyard animals and enjoying a tractor safari around the farm. The emphasis is on fun and participation but you’ll realise after your day there’s been some very subtle learning going on too.
Staying with the animal theme, the excellent Cotswolds Wildlife Park near Burford is one of the best family days out in the region. Its location in over 160 acres of beautiful parkland helps as you can relax whilst wandering the 4 main areas: birds, mammals, primates & small mammals and reptiles & amphibians. We defy anyone not be awestruck by the giant tortoises! The park is 99% accessible for wheelchair users and pushchairs and your 4 legged friends are welcome on leads making it perfect for the entire family.
Birdland Park & Gardens in a beautiful natural setting at Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the largest bird parks in the country and home to over 500 birds. There are several must – sees with the park’s King Penguins topping the list but these are by no means the only reason to visit with pelicans, parrots, flamingos,& kookaburras to observe, a nature reserve to explore and Jurassic trail to follow. Whilst in the area, don’t forget Bourton’s Model Railway and The Model Village. Phew!
If you’re keen on history and heritage, Cirencester was the second largest city in Roman Britain and much of the evidence is on display at the Corinium Museum. The museum’s child accessible design ensures that the minis as well as the maxis can take part in the hand-on activities and be wowed by the treasures on display. Those clever curators also employ some pretty hi tech stuff to keep you enthralled – check out their animations for instance where exhibits are laser scanned and turned into animations – now that’s living history!
To continue the roman theme, the Cotswolds is also home to Chedworth Roman Villa, considered one of the finest and most complete and extensive roman sites in the country giving a keen insight into the Roman way of life. Great for hungry minds and equally as stimulating for young & old. It’s also set in delightful Cotswolds woodland providing some great walking country, prefect for tiring little bodies after exhausting their minds...
For days when you can’t face walking, you can explore transportation of a different kind as the area is home to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Passing through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cotswolds, the railway offers a 25 mile round trip from Laverton to Cheltenham racecourse – one of the longest steam journeys in the country. It’s worth keeping an eye on their events calendar to enjoy special days throughout the year including Santa specials, Hogwarts express and visits from Thomas the tank engine.
Suffice to say, there really is an enormous variety of things to do and ways to keep the whole family entertained whether it’s an indoor soft play area you need, pottery painting or river cruising, The Cotswolds offers it all. We find the Day Out With The Kids a great source of information and inspiration.