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What To Do On A Fun-Filled Family Adventure In Oxford

4 August 2021

It’s Friday, the clock has struck 5pm, and it’s time for the laptop to close for the week.

You’ve packed your favourite walking shoes and cosy jumpers the night before, downloaded the tickets, and you’ve met the family at the train station ready for a weekend adventure!

We’re sure you’ve already got a long list of places to visit in Oxford, but we thought an itinerary would help you get the most out of this incredible city.

Relax and grab a bite

By now you’ve checked into your hotel, dropped your bags off, and you're raring to get out and sample a taste of Oxford.

There’s so much choice when it comes to restaurants. Just a stone’s throw away from the train station is The Jam Factory, a bohemian, family-run eatery, and art gallery oozing creative flair and a deliciously tasty menu of locally sourced produce.

We're a family-friendly venue with easy access for pushchairs, there’s a baby changing station, and kids corner,” says Claire Gaskell, co-owner of The Jam Factory. “It’s a relaxed venue so families should make themselves at home and enjoy great food, drink, and art.”

The kids will love the homemade burgers and fish goujons, while you get stuck in with the merguez sausages with chilli jam and mashed potato. Wash it all down with a nice cold beer.

Now it’s time to get some rest – you’ll need the energy to explore the many things to do in Oxford tomorrow.

Saturday

Rise and shine! It’s the first full day and the city is waiting for you.

Oxford Castle & Prison

Start the day with a visit to Oxford Castle & Prison. The impressive 20-metre tall mound immediately grabs your attention, and the panoramic views from the top of St George’s Tower will simply take your breath away.

Stepping into the 900-year-old stone chamber crypt will leave you with chills, and the severe conditions of 18th-century Debtors’ Tower and Prison D-Wing transports you to those troubled times.

We think the colourful pastimes of those who lived at Oxford Castle will keep you on your toes throughout the one-hour experience. Get to know the likes of Anne Green, who survived her own hanging in 1650. John and Elizabeth Lilburne, a married couple who were strong campaigners for English people’s rights, are also fascinating residents of the castle.

Before heading to the next attraction, you’ll probably want to pick up a coffee and something sweet as a little pick-me-up. The Castleyard Café next door is perfect for a steamy cappuccino to set you off on the second leg – we’re sure the kids wouldn’t pass on a sweet treat or two either!

The Story Museum

The kids will be in their element as you enter The Story Museum. It’s truly a magical experience - your imagination will run wild with the Whispering Wood, where every tree has a tale to tell, and the patchwork land of Small Worlds will transport you on a bear hunt. If you’re lucky, you may even get to watch a show in the museum’s The Woodshed theatre.

You’ll find some of the stories from the exhibition in the gift shop for the kids to continue their storybook adventures. There's even little trinkets such as soft toys and puppets to bring storytime home.

It’s probably time to find a spot for lunch. The Bear Inn, considered the oldest pub in Oxford, serves a range of traditional, hearty pub food and is just a few minutes' walk away. Relax and recharge – you’ll need an energy boost for the next attraction.

Carfax Tower

You probably saw before arriving in Oxford that Carfax Tower is the main thing to do, but are you brave enough to climb the 99 steps to view the inspirational Oxford skyline?

The tallest point in Oxford city centre, it’s the only remaining part of St Martin’s Church and was built in 1818. You’ll see when you reach the top that the climb was worth it! Be sure to take pictures to reminisce over the stunning architecture for years to come.

Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum

A quiet stroll through the tranquil Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum is the perfect way to end the day. Be guided by striking greenery within the oldest botanic garden in the UK, opening in 1621.

The Winter Wonders and Garden Eye Spy trails will keep the kids engaged – pick up a map from the Welcome Centre and see if you can find the bulbs, buds, and first blooms of the garden. Making friends with the pigs and sheep at the Arboretum will be a high priority for the kids too, and the Indian peacocks will likely want to show off their impressive tail feathers.

Stop by the Botanic Garden Boutique to swoon over the English lavender soaps and Physic Gin, a staple since 1648 when the first plants were grown. We suggest picking up some Ipomoea ‘heavenly blue’ seeds to get the kids green-fingered when you return home and plant them in the garden.

Sunday

It’s your last full day, and there’s still plenty more to see.

City Sightseeing Oxford

We recommend the City Sightseeing Oxford bus tour, the best way to get an overview of the city’s stunning beauty and historic landmarks, and catch a glimpse of any hidden treasures you didn’t get to on Saturday. You’ll all hop on at the breathtaking Oxford Castle, make your way past Christ Church college, the iconic Radcliffe Camera, and the quaint North Parade at stop 16.

We suggest a well-deserved pit stop at Barefoot Oxford, a gorgeous bakery with a scrumptious selection of treats from brownies to peanut butter caramel doughnuts. The sweet smell of cakes and coffee aromas will naturally entice you in.

Fraser Lloyd-Jones, director at Barefoot Oxford, is confident a trip to the relaxed and friendly shop is unmissable. “We only serve handmade, all-natural, beautiful cakes and deliver service with a smile,” says Fraser. “We’ll be one of the reasons you return to Oxford time and time again!”

Ashmolean Museum

Hop back on the bus which will take you to the Ashmolean Museum. Founded in 1683, it’s the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, and collections from contemporary pieces to Egyptian mummies are housed within spectacular architecture.

It’s a good idea to spend at least an hour-and-a-half exploring the different exhibitions. The kids will particularly love the family trails you can either download beforehand or pick up at the entrance. Choose from a range of themes including the Ancient Egyptian Survival Guide or Turner’s High Street to get everyone learning.

By now, you’ve spent the weekend visiting some amazing places to go to in Oxford. But before it’s time to head home, pop your head in at The Jam Factory once more to pick up a takeaway coffee for the journey back – indulging in the taste of Oxford for a little while longer.