Famous for its rolling hills and picturesque, chocolate box villages, The Cotswolds is a fantastic destination for a UK staycation – but it’s not just for the grown-ups. This region is packed with fun, family-friendly activities, kids of all ages will love. From farm days out to historic castles, The Cotswolds has got it all. Here are 8 of the best.
By Sarah Dawson
8. Cotswold Farm Park
When it comes to top farm days out in The Cotswolds, they really don’t come any better than this! Cotswold Farm Park, run by farmer Adam Henson of Countryfile fame, is home to a whole host of rare breeds and farmyard favourites. There are lots of opportunities to get hands-on, whether it’s holding baby chicks and rabbits at the Experience Barn, or helping with bottle feeding at the Animal Barn. Take a Farm Safari on a tractor and trailer ride through the park, let the kids loose in the Woodland Adventure area, then chill out with a Wildlife Walk through picture-perfect Cotswold countryside, before refuelling at the café.
Where: Guiting Power, Nr. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 5UG
Cost: Prices vary, depending on what day you visit, but start at £9 for adults, £8.50 for children and £7 for toddlers (2 and 3 years).
7. Westonbirt Arboretum
If you’re looking for somewhere for the kids to let off a bit of steam, you can’t beat a trip to this fantastic arboretum. With acres of forest to explore, a pretty spectacular treetop walkway, complete with crow’s nest viewing platform if you’re feeling brave, and adventure playground, Westonbirt is the perfect place for kids of all ages to get back to nature and have a whole lot of fun. Rumour has it there’s even a Gruffalo hiding in the deep, dark wood…
Where: Westonbirt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
Cost: £10 per adult, £7 reduced entry (for students, jobseekers, those arriving by bicycle or public transport), £4 for children aged 5-18 and under 5s free. Rates reduced during December-February.
6. Cotswold Wildlife Park
Take a walk on the wild side with a visit to The Cotswolds’ most beautiful wildlife park. With rhinos grazing in front of a grand Manor House and giraffes and zebras stretching their legs surrounded by quintessentially Cotswold countryside, this is not your typical zoo! With a children’s farmyard, lots of hands-on activities, a narrow-gauge railway giving rides around the park and a seriously ‘wow’ adventure playground (think interconnecting treehouses with jungle bridges and slides!), it’s a dream come true for little explorers.
Where: Bradwell Grove, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4JP
Cost: Adults £16, Senior Citizens £10.50, Children 3-16 £10.50 and children under 3 free. Reduced rates available if you buy e-tickets in advance.
5. Cotswold Country Park and Beach
No, you’re no seeing things – there really is a beach in The Cotswolds! This family-friendly inland beach is the perfect place to head when the sun is shining – just make sure you book in advance as it can get very popular and spaces are limited. Little ones will be happy to make sandcastle and paddle, while older kids can hire pedalos or have a go at the huge inflatable obstacle course, before you all pile into the Beach Shack café for wood-fired pizzas or cook up a storm on one of the BBQs for hire.
Where: Spratsgate Lane, Shorncote, Cirencester GL7 6DF
Cost: £16 per car (up to 5 people) and £6 per pedestrian or cyclist during peak season. Other rates apply for different modes of transport and during off-peak months, so check the website for full details.
4. Birdland & Jurassic Journey
Birdland has been a must-visit Cotswold attraction or over 50 years, and continues to delight big and little kids to this day. Set in nine acres of pretty gardens and woodland, including an idyllic nature reserve, there are over 130 different species of birds living here – from parrots to penguins, and everything in between. Despite the name, it’s not just birds you’ll find here. the Indoor Discover Zone is home to snakes, lizards and poisonous frogs, while you’ll get the chance to meet rabbits, chickens and tortoises in the Outdoor area. Dino-mad kids will love exploring Jurassic Journey, where you can spot Brachiosaurs, Spinosaurus, Velociraptors and more, as well as go fossil hunting in the Dino Dig. Perfect prehistoric fun!
Where: Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2BN
Cost: £9.95 per adult, £6.95 for children aged 3-15, £8.95 Senior Citizens and Students and children under 3 are free.
3. Sudeley Castle
Nothing captures the imagination of children quite like a visit to an ancient castle. Surrounded by gorgeous gardens and rolling Cotswold countryside, 15th-century Sudeley Castle has an exciting history and you can explore inside and out to get a real sense of its fascinating past. As well as the grand castle and expansive grounds, you can visit The Pheasantry – home to 16 rare and endangered species of birds from around the world – and then have a run aroun in the amazing adventure playground, before relaxing in the picnic area or Terrace Café. This is a day out that offers a little something for all the family.
Where: Winchcombe, Gloucestershire GL54 5JD
Cost: £16.50 for adults, £7.50 for children aged 3-15 and free for under 3s. Family tickets available.
Credit: Tony Hisgett
2. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
Hands up, who has a train-obsessed child? If your little one fits the bill, have a day out watching and riding on the steam engines along the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. This volunteer-run heritage railway operates trains between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, through the glorious Cotswold countryside. They run some great events for kids, including the super-sweet Teddy Bear Tuesdays, a Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (complete with Fat Controller!) and the unmissable Santa Special, where little ones will get to meet Father Christmas during a train ride. Check the website for full information about what’s on, as it’s always worth booking in advance.
Where: Various locations through Gloucestershire.
Cost: Prices vary for each event.
1. WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre
There’s over 100 acres to explore at this family-friendly wetland centre. Kids will love the chance to hand feed ducks, geese and swans as you walk around the reserve, before heading to one of the 13 hides for a bit of wildlife watching. Pay a visit to Toad Hall to meet frogs, newts and more, then learn all about pond life at the outdoor Pond Zone. There’s a chance to spot flamingos, as well as some very cheeky otters, and you can even head out onto the water in a canoe or coracle, to paddle along the watery safari trail. And if the little ones still have energy to burn, go for a splash in Welly Boot Land or run wild in the outdoor adventure playground.
Where: Bowditch, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT
Cost: Prices inclusive of Gift Aid are £14.50 per adult, £12.30 for concessions, £8.50 for children aged 4-16 and free for children under 4. Family tickets available.