Family Day Out in Oxford

On Monday it was my husband’s birthday. He took the day off work, my daughter’s school had an inset day, so the four of us had a day out in Oxford.

If you haven’t visited Oxford before, it is a beautiful city. Although it can get very busy with tourists, I always feel very happy and at home whenever I’m there. Maybe it’s the mix of architecture, maybe it’s the history, I don’t know? I just love it. There is so much to do in Oxford, and whatever your interests are you will definitely find something for you.  

Althought there are hundreds of options of things to do, this is what we managed to do on this particular visit.

Travel to Oxford
If you can avoid taking your car into Oxford, do. Parking is minimal (and I’d assume expensive). This time we chose to use the Park and Ride  which is a really easy, convenient and cost effective option. We have travelled in by train in the past, but the train service we’d use isn’t particularly frequent, whereas the Park and Ride bus goes about every 15 minutes.   

Westgate Shopping Centre
The Westgate Shopping Centre underwent a huge refurb and reopened a year ago, October 2017. Despite being on a day out for my husband’s birthday, and shopping not being a particular past time of his, we had to pop into Lush for my daughter to chose a bath bomb. If shopping isn’t for you it’s still worth a quick trip to Westgate just to pop up to the roof for the views across the city. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes here if you’re a bit peckish.

Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle has an incredibly rich history. Originally a wooden motte and bailey castle, later replaced by stone, and later still used as a prison. A new prison was built on the site from 1785, and it only closed in 1996. It’s now a hotel - why not?!

We had a little potter about outside, and read the available information signs, but I’m sure you can learn so much more through Oxford Castle Unlocked  We chose not to on this occasion, but will give it a try when the children are a little older .

Oxford University Museum of Natural History
We love the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It’s just a short walk from the shopping area of the city and is free entry (although a donation is encouraged if you are able).

Oxford University Museum of Natural History
In particular, we like the dinosaurs, the dodo, the bear (you’re allowed to stroke it), and the bees on the top floor. The building itself is also pretty amazing.

Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum is connected to the Museum of Natural History. I wouldn’t say it’s content is particularly family friendly (you might find yourself having to give some interesting explanations if you do choose to take the children in), but as I had my husband with me I sent him and the kids outside to play in the dinosaur footprints at the front of the building whilst I quickly popped in. I have never seen museum cases so jam packed full of stuff. I didn’t spend too long browsing, but I did find what I was looking for. Shrunken heads. I had watched a YouTube video about shrunken heads by Caitlin Doughty (I am OBSESSED with her channel - Ask A Mortician) where she talks about them and I wanted to have a quick look. 

Historic Buildings
Wherever you turn in Oxford there are incredible buildings. I’ve not yet been into any of the colleges (many were closed to the public this week due to freshers week) but we did go and have a look at some of Oxford’s more famous buildings from the outside. Our hitlist included Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library and Bridge of Sighs.

Although very different to the buildings you’d probably associate with Oxford my all time favourite building in the city is on Cornmarket. 

Cornmarket Oxford

Oxford Botanic Garden
I really like Oxford Botanic Gardens. The gardens are very compact (don’t be expecting anything too sprawling) but there are a huge number of plant and flower varieties compacted in there. Unfortunately, the Danby Arch was covered when we visited due to restoration works but I have an annual ticket so hopefully it won’t be too long until I see it.

Oxford Botanic Garden


Listing what we did in a blog post like this has made me realise just how much we managed to cram into just one day. I still have an extensive list of things I’d like to do in the city, and I’ve already booked tickets to visit the free Tolkien exhibition which is running until the end of the month. What are your favourite Oxford based activities? Any good recommendations of family friendly places to eat?

family day out in Oxford