Top 5 Things To Do for Families in Oxford

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A group of people is punting in a wooden boat along a calm river surrounded by lush greenery. Several colorful flat-bottomed boats are lined up along the bank. The scene is peaceful and serene.

Whether you live in Oxford and need some long-term ideas for the school holidays or you’re just here for a weekend, keeping the kids entertained can seem like a daunting prospect in a historical city and university town. We’ve got some ideas for all kinds of children, from aspiring thespians to outdoorsy types…

Discover the ultimate family-friendly adventures in Oxford with our curated guide to the top 5 must-do activities...

Whether you're wrangling aspiring thespians or budding outdoorsy explorers, Oxford has something for every pint-sized adventurer. From whimsical cobbled streets to lush gardens and dramatic buildings, Oxford offers a playground of possibilities for the little learners among us. Dive into educational escapades at museums and galleries where interactive exhibits reign supreme, ensuring boredom is banished and curiosity is king. And fear not the fickle English weather – rain or shine, Oxford's got you covered with a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities to keep those little legs moving and those young minds engaged.

The Story Museum

A young woman stands in a colorful room decorated with large flower murals and circular artwork. She is smiling broadly and holding several red paper chain creatures with googly eyes. She wears an orange T-shirt with the word Story on it and has a nametag around her neck.
The Story Museum via Facebook

 42 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP

From whimsical gatherings like the Great Cake Bake to fantastical feasts like the Harry Potter Barbecue and Teddy Bear Picnic, there's never a dull moment. Plus, for the young wordsmiths in your family, The Story Museum hosts storytelling summer courses, ensuring their creativity knows no bounds even during the holidays. With a day ticket granting access to two floors of immersive installations and exhibitions, your little adventurers are in for a treat. And fear not, weary parents, for a short stroll will lead you to G&D's for a well-deserved ice cream treat afterward.

Oxford Castle Unlocked

A historic, stone building with barred windows and a round, crenellated tower bathed in golden sunlight. The building appears to be a fortress or prison, with a clear, blue sky and a few clouds visible in the background.

 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY

Rainy day? No problem! Swap umbrellas for medieval cloaks as you venture into the depths of Oxford's rich and often gruesome past. Guided tours, led by costumed characters straight out of history books, promise to whisk you away on an adventure like no other. Climb the ancient St George's Tower, dating back to Saxon times, for panoramic views of Oxford that will leave you breathless (and perhaps a bit windblown). Dare to descend into the depths of the 900-year-old crypt, where whispers of centuries past linger in the flickering candlelight. Your guide will regale you with tales of the 18th-century Debtors' Tower Wing and the eerie prison block, where secrets are as abundant as cobwebs. Feeling brave? Test your mettle with a spine-chilling ghost tour and see who in the family truly has nerves of steel. Discover more about Oxford Castle here.

Pegasus Theatre

A woman in a white outfit stands on a dark stage, tipping a basket to let white spheres spread across the floor. The scene is dimly lit, casting shadows around the figure and objects, creating a contrast against the black background.
Pegasus Theatre via Facebook

Magdalen Rd, Oxford OX4 1RE

In the heart of East Oxford, this vibrant hub of creativity has been igniting imaginations for over 50 years, proving that the spotlight truly shines brightest on the young stars of tomorrow. From puppet shows for pint-sized theatergoers to technical theatre training workshops for budding stagehands, Pegasus offers performances and classes to suit every age and interest. Plus, don't miss their dance studio where little ones can bust a move with experienced pros for just £5 a class—talk about a steal! And for the tiniest tots, dive into the disco fever of their 'Baby Boogie' series, where parents and little ones can groove and giggle together.

Oxford Botanic Garden

A well-maintained garden with green lawns, walkways, and various trees under a clear blue sky. A tall stone building with a tower is visible in the background. A few people are seen in the garden, enjoying the sunny day with scattered clouds.
University Of Oxford Botanic Gardens via Facebook

 Rose Ln, Oxford OX1 4AZ

Founded in 1621, this verdant oasis is more than just a garden—it's a living legacy of plant power. Wander through lush landscapes adorned with a kaleidoscope of colors, where exotic species from around the globe dance in the sunlight. Inside the themed greenhouses, budding botanists can delve into the secrets of the natural world, discovering the sights and smells that make Mother Nature's creations truly awe-inspiring. As the UK's oldest botanic garden, Oxford Botanic Garden holds court as a beacon of botanical education and conservation, nurturing the next generation of green thumbs and leafy learners. And just a stone's throw away lies the Harcourt Arboretum, a sprawling sanctuary of rare trees and picturesque panoramas, where history and horticulture intertwine in perfect harmony.

Outdoor Adventures

People ice skating at an indoor rink. The spacious venue has a high, metal-beamed ceiling and is well-lit. Skaters of various ages are gliding across the ice, some holding hands while others practice spins and turns. The background has seating and viewing areas.
oxford ice rink

Get ready to embrace the great outdoors in Oxford, where adventure awaits around every corner! For little thrill-seekers, head to Oxford Brookes University in Headington for open rock climbing sessions that'll have them scaling new heights in no time. If gliding on ice is more your family's style, glide on over to the Oxford Ice Rink, where chilly thrills await from just £8.10. And when the sun's shining, make a splash at one of the nearby outdoor pools in Hinksey, Woodstock, or Abbey Meadow, offering cool relief for a reasonable price. But for those savvy savers, there's no topping the free fun of Port Meadow's lakes, where sunny days beckon families to frolic in nature's playground. Just remember, there are no lifeguards on duty, so keep a watchful eye on your little swimmers. And with the nearest shops and facilities a fair distance away, be sure to pack plenty of snacks and entertainment for a day of outdoor escapades like no other!