Unmissable Cotswolds: Family Days Out

  • Birdland, Bourton on the Water
  • Model Village, Bourton on the Water
  • Batsford Arboretum
  • Cotswold Farm Park
  • Cotswold Farm Park
  • Cotswold Farm Park
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park

There’s a wealth of family-friendly destinations to visit in the Cotswolds. Read on for ways to keep young and old entertained

The Attractions of Bourton on the Water

Over the years, Bourton on the Water has become the poster-child for the Cotswold tourist experience, and not without good reason. In this riverside village are assembled some of Englands most unique and often eccentric attractions - theres so much for families to do that the village deserves an entry of its own.

Birdland Park and Gardens

Acres of aviaries will delight and amaze at Bourtons best known attraction

Featuring a truly exotic collection of over 130 species of avian wildlife, Birdland contains flamingos, pelicans and cranes - plus, of course, the only king penguins to be found in England, Ireland and Wales. (In fact, it was Birdland’s penguins that were used in Tim Burton’s 1992 film Batman Returns - naturally as minions of Batman’s adversary, the villainous Penguin).

Established in 1957 as one of England’s very first ‘bird encounter’ experiences, Birdland’s come a long way since its founding by local builder and wildlife enthusiast Len Hill. With open aviaries, Desert House, Hatchery and the dino-riffic Jurassic Journey, a visit to Birdland is always entertaining and educational. (No first trip to the Cotswolds is complete without watching the penguins at feeding time).

Visitor information available at www.birdland.co.uk

The Model Village

Visiting this impressive replica is a must for Bourton newcomers

There’s only one way to really experience Bourton on the Water, and that’s by roaming like giants through its 1/9th scale, Grade II listed, 1930s miniature replica. Bourton’s famous Model Village was created by a past landlord of the Old New Inn, who assembled it together with a team of local craftsmen over five years. It opened in 1937, on the coronation day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Complete with miniature bonsai trees, tiny glass greenhouses and even a Model-Model Village, the Model Village is best enjoyed as part of a day of activities. Find it behind the Old New Inn.

Visitor information available at www.themodelvillage.com

The Dragonfly Maze

A perplexing and imaginative maze created by one of the countrys canniest artists

Bourton’s Dragonfly Maze was devised by famous illustrator Kit Williams - author of the 1979 book Masquerade, which led to a national hunt for the hidden golden hare. There’s a puzzle at the heart of this small-but-engrossing hedge maze - one that clever kids will delight in unravelling.

All the cryptic clues must be discovered before you attempt to visit the grotto at the maze’s heart, where there’s a final riddle to be solved. Will your family locate the golden dragonfly?

The Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum

A collection of vintage vehicles and classic memorabilia offering a nostalgic look back at the past

Founded in 1978, the Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum has been delighting generations of visitors - not least because it’s the permanent residence of children’s TV star, Brum. (Who, at the start of every episode, would sneakily drive out of the museum to explore the world beyond).

Journey backwards through time and explore the early days of motoring with the museum’s collection of rare and classic vehicles and memorabilia. The accompanying vintage toy collection offers an insight into the lives of children from a bygone age. Don’t miss the museum’s 40 Year Flashback - an exhibition ‘looking at Britain in 1978 through a collection of photographs, posters and sounds, and focuses on exploring the museum’s origins, telling the story of how it all began.’

Visitor information available at www.cotswoldmotoringmuseum.co.uk

Batsford Arboretum and Falconry Centre

Located next to Moreton in Marsh, a visit to the Arboretum and the neighbouring Falconry Centre offer a complete day of activities

Batsford Arboretum is a must-visit destination for all the family. Horticulturally-inclined parents and grandparents will marvel at the many colourful specimens of plantlife on display, while youngsters will delight in finding their way around the arboretum’s children’s trail - there’s also a play area, shop and cafe, not to mentions regular special events.

Located next to the Arboretum, you’ll find the Falconry Centre - home to over 150 birds of prey, including falcons, owls, eagles and vultures. Daily free-flying demonstrations allow visitors to get up close and personal for some thrilling bird encounters.

Cotswold Archery also have an archery range at Batsford, suitable for budding Robin Hoods of ages 8 and up - booking is required.

Visitor information available at www.batsarb.co.uk, www.cotswold-falconry.co.uk and www.cotswoldarchery.co.uk 

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park

Founded by Joe Henson - whose work towards the conservation of rare breeds saw him awarded an MBE - the Cotswold Farm Park has been a favourite of local families for generations

Now managed by Joe’s son, Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, the Farm Park has grown from strength to strength, educating the public and providing heart-warming interactions with furry/feathered friends in equal measure.

There’s a variety of things to do at the Farm Park - from admiring the rare breeds, camping and feeding the lambs in lambing season to learning a few survival skills in the new bushcraft experience. This summer exclusive members’ evening will be held on Friday 22nd June 2018.

Visitor information available at www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk 

Weekly Sessions and Workshops at The Theatre Chipping Norton

Best known for its world-class Christmas pantomimes, the Theatre offers plenty of creative and practical programs for both children and adults

Those wishing to learn new skills and meet people couldn’t do better than the Theatre Chipping Norton’s Take Part weekly sessions and workshops.

Children interested in performance will love creating their own productions at Chippy. This summer offers an exciting Three-Day Drama workshop for 3-7 year olds; ‘improvisation, mime and storytelling’ will be explored before the youngsters take their new production to the stage. Meanwhile, Drama Weeks are specially tailored for children aged 8-12 years, also culminating with a stage performance. Musical Theatre Weeks and Three Day Musical Theatre experiences are also available - this year with a spooky Addams Family twist.

More information available at www.chippingnortontheatre.com

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

A long-standing Cotswold family favourite, the Cotswold Wildlife Park conserves rare and exotic species from around the world for visitors young and old to discover

If you’ve never taken the trip to Burford’s very own wildlife park - what are you waiting for? Lions, lemurs, zebras, rhinos, penguins and giraffes await your visit - as does a children’s farmyard, adventure playground, reptile collection and the park’s iconic narrow-gauge railway. A trip to the wildlife park means a full day of education and entertainment for all.

And did we mention the baby rhino? Earlier this year, keepers welcomed baby Belle to their rhino family - the fifth to be born at the Burford collection (Nancy and Monty’s third calf). Due to a twisted foot, adorable Belle had to be separated by her mother and reared by hand. Now reintegrated with her family, Belle’s ready to be admired by all-comers as the adorable proof of the park’s successful conservation efforts.

Visitor information available at www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk

Fairytale Farm

Found outside of Chipping Norton, Fairytale Farm is the UKs first attraction to put disabled children first in design and layout, as well as being a fun-filled destination for all

Split into six fun-packed zones, Fairytale Farm was created as a rural-accessible centre of play and learning for disabled children.

Other new features for 2018 include interactive dancing water fountains and the Wildlife Walk, which includes: ‘a range of plants and wildlife habitats, including bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, log-piles, mini-beast hotel and worm-world, seed and nectar bar, bird feeding station and hibernation boxes.’ Plus you can meet Fairytale Farm’s three Shetland ponies Hamish, Rupert and Dainty in new viewing area!

Visitor information available at www.fairytalefarm.co.uk

Other Ideas

  • Days Out with Thomas the Tank Engine at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway - booking is required. (www.gwsr.com)
  • Broadway Activity Park, an expansive (and free!) playpark for children. (www.visit-broadway.co.uk)
  • Cogges Manor Farm, a beautiful old manor farmstead with Victorian kitchen and historical costumes for kids to wear (www.cogges.org.uk)