With a few days notice, we decided we desperately needed a change of scene and booked 4 nights in Oxford. My brother and his family live there so its always a nice excuse to visit this stunning part of England.
We stayed at Heythrop Park a few times before we had children and it was even a potential wedding venue many moons ago. This time, we used their Family Fun Break deal which was 4 nights for the price of 3 with breakfast and dinner included. We had a nice room with 2 double beds which is always interesting with children – but it was actually fine. The grounds of the hotel sell it alone. A warm evening walk post dinner is brilliant to make the kids even sleepier! We were really disappointed the indoor pool had not been opened by the time we arrived. Although totally understandable, again its a big reason to go as a family.
What we did
We spent the first day at Cotswolds Wildlife Park having pre-booked tickets the day before. It was £48.60 for the 4 of us. I had read reviews that it was far too busy and definitely in the morning it was at points but it emptied out as the day went on. Its also remembering that no one was going abroad so attractions were always going to be busier.
I absolutely loved seeing the larger animals but the boys were so amazed by the reptiles. We had to do the reptile house twice which was interesting in a mask on a boiling hot day!
There were a few things closed because of COVID but as it was our first visit I am not sure we noticed. The miniature train we had been told about was closed. We couldn’t go into the giraffe house and we were quickly moved on from main viewing points for the big animals to avoiding crowds.
Top tip as always – take a packed lunch! We would normally anyway but even more important with their restaurants closed.
We decided to go into the centre of Oxford for the day and being honest, we did very little research into what to do with children! We found the City Sightseeing bus and thought we would learn about the city first. I loved that they had a kids version of the audio and the boys enjoyed listening, in between me wiping the sweat off of them and applying sun cream! We hopped on and off a few times. It always a good way to get around a city you have never been to.
We quickly realised that none of the museums were open and there was a very limited amount of green space that wasn’t owned by the university or you had to pay to get into which we refused to do. We eventually found a lovely shady area next to the river where we had a picnic and sat watching the punting boats go by.
The remainder of our day was spent trying to stay out of the sun. We had a pit stop in Costa and bought some delicious ice creams from one of the market areas off Argyle Street – highly recommended!
We spent the remaining 2 days exploring the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside and also went swimming for the first time post lockdown at the Better leisure centre in Witney which was brilliant fun.
I am sure there are many better guides to Oxford but this is an honest account of taking children away for a few days during the Summer of 2020. If you have any suggestions for when we go back again, please get in touch!