Family days out

Fun family days out for half term in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds

Last updated 17th October 2023

Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds is lovely, but families have a lot more than good looks to get excited about for half term. Here’s why we think you should be thinking countryside adventures with kids this October.


Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds is fun for all this summer

A staycation is still proving one of the most popular choices for half term getaways. In fact, 2023 stats from the Office of National Statistics and Visit Britain show that, 73% of British adults are more likely to opt to holiday at home rather than venture abroad.

Enter Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, a thriving region within easy reach of many major cities, which has so much on offer for families, every day will be an adventure! Time to discover some of the top things to do in the gorgeous English countryside this half term, and quite a few of them won’t cost you a penny.


Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds fills half term with fun and games

What are holidays for if not fun, and there’s heaps of fun in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.

Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford is a must-see, with giraffe, rhinos, lemurs, lions and much more. If you’re brave enough, there’s also the UK’s only crocodile zoo at Brize Norton which promises plenty of snappy memories!

hardwick watersports centre

Hardwick Watersports Centre, Witney

When the weather plays ball, the Chipping Norton lido is the perfect place to play, even in October. Alternatively, there’s more wet and wild thrills to be had at Hardwick Parks Watersports Centre near Witney. Set between two lakes, you’ll find everything here from paddleboarding to kayaking and it’s the place to try ringos: a great introduction to water sports for kids.

the pottery place

The Pottery Place

Wet weather doesn’t stop play in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds

If the weather doesn’t play this half term, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep kids busy.

They can blow off some steam at the Bounce Park inflatable theme park in Didcot. Or slip and slide at one of the many play barns around the area, such as Snakes and Ladders in Abingdon or Sprouts Play Barn in Frilford.

Kids who love arts and crafts will be spoiled for choice too, with opportunities to bake, make, paint and create all over Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. Check out Mrs Bun the Baker for cooking and baking classes, or Amy Surman for jewellery making workshops. The Pottery Place and Unique Creations are just two of the paint-your-own pottery studios in the area. And Lisa Jayne Art Studio in Middle Aston is the place for creative workshops, and not just for kids.

the oxford bus museum

The Oxford Bus Museum

Half term is a great time to learn something new

Half term might be a break from school, but that doesn’t mean kids stop should stop learning. Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds is packed with opportunities to dive into fun educational experiences. Pendon Museum in Abingdon, where the world of the 1920s and ‘30s has been beautifully recreated in miniature, makes a great start. If kids love the little cars and buses, they’ll love the full sized ones at the Oxford Bus Museum and the Aston Martin Heritage Trust.

For a more comprehensive look at Oxfordshire in days gone by, the historic town of Woodstock is home to the Oxfordshire museum, where families can get a glimpse into the area’s past: it all starts with dinosaurs, moves on through to the Anglo-Saxons and ends up Victorian. Or, for an engaging look at the War years, the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum is just a short walk away, and lets kids experience life in the trenches first hand.


Find fun for free this October half term

Come fossil hunting, hiking, biking and exploring, for free

Not all half term adventures need to be expensive, and building in some free activities can help you stretch your budget even further. Thanks to the wealth of amenities and beautiful countryside in the Oxfordshire region, there’s plenty to do with kids of all ages that won’t break the bank.

Free things to do all over Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds

  • Walking is the greatest habit to pick up early, and its endless natural beauty and unspoiled places to wander makes Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds an ideal place to start. There’s everything from sedate strolls to challenging hikes, as well as plenty of walks even younger children will be up for – especially if you work a treasure hunt or bug spotting into them.
  • Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds also has lots of excellent play parks, many of which come with fun and free extras. Head to Aston and Cote Play Area for ziplines; Shipton-under-Wychwood Recreation Ground comes with an impressive adventure course; and Ladygrove Park in Didcot features a skate park and a colourful playpark for toddlers.
  • Try the Farigndon Hill Cycle Park, a free-to-use purpose-built track where kids can get used to the rules of the road. And once kids they’ve mastered basic skills, there are cycle paths all over the area to safely put them to the test.
  • Thrill-seeking young riders with a bit more experience, will love the Barrow Hills BMX track in Abingdon, as well as the Hailey BMX Pump Track in Witney.
  • If you think the Jurassic Coast is the only place to fossil hunt in the UK, you’re in for a treat. Oxfordshire was underwater during the age of the dinosaurs, and today you’ll find fossil rich cliffs at Dry Sandford Pit nature reserve near Abingdon, as well as other places around the region.
  • Oxfordshire is home to many ancient buildings and historical ruins. The kids will have a blast running about around Abingdon’s Abbey Buildings or exploring the long barrow at Wayland’s Smithy, just a stone’s throw from Uffington White Horse.

Minster Mill, Minster, Lovell

How to get here and where to stay

Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds is a fabulous destination year round, but half term is a particularly good time to visit with kids. You’ll find plenty going on from Autumn Fests and heritage open days this October, so check out what’s on and time your visit to take in some of the action.


Cosy shepherd’s hut glamping is made for October half term

If you want to spin out the half term holiday mood, you also have plenty of accommodation choices, to suit every budget. Some of the UK’s most luxurious family hotels are at home in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, alongside charming B&Bs and good value self-catering options.

Although if kids love a few nights camping, but you’re not so keen on the construction and car-load of equipment side of things, try glamping instead: this is the part of the world to discover the quaintness of shepherd’s huts, repurposed as cosy family holiday homes.

Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds couldn’t be easier to reach. It’s around two hours by car from London, and an hour and a half from Birmingham and less than three hours from Manchester.  Will you be making the most of the fun on your doorstep this half term?

Now you know where, when and why, visit Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds and start firming up your half term plans