Kids and parents alike will get a lot out of a visit to the Cotswolds. There’s a wealth of beautiful countryside to explore, as well as charming market towns built from the famous Cotswold stone and tons of adventures and activities to enjoy. We’ve rounded up a few of best family activities in Cotswolds to make their break extra special, so take a look and find something that’ll have everyone entertained, as well as making for some great holiday memories. Need a place to stay? Here at Oliver’s Travels we’ve got a great selection of cottages in the Cotswolds that make a wonderful base to explore this versatile and beautiful region of England.
1. Watch birds of prey soar at The Falconry School
Why go: The Falconry School is not a zoo or aviary but, as the name suggests, a place for learning about magnificent birds of prey. Because of this, the school is a little more fun than your average point-and-look animal attraction. Not only does it stage breathtaking aerial displays, but it also allows for hands-on engagement. The school’s experience days offer informal, personal introductions to the world of falconry. As well as background information about the sport and the birds, participants get the chance to carry falcons, and how to feed and handle them correctly. The highlight for most is seeing the birds wheeling through the air, grabbing lures from the sky and hovering on thermals before sweeping in to land on your glove – an unforgettable experience for anyone of any age.
Book: Online Thefalconryschool
Location: P.O. Box 3182 Gloucester Gloucestershire GL1 9BH
2. Get crafty with The Paint Pot
Why go: Children can create personalised souvenirs of their holiday in the Cotswolds at the Paint Pot, which runs paint-your-own-pottery workshops. The kids can pick their own blank ceramics, whether a plate, bowl or mug, then decorate it with a design entirely of their choosing. If your budding little artist is not feeling too confident, they can use stencils to keep things neat. Afterwards, their new masterpiece is taken away to be fired in a kiln so the colour is baked in. You can pick up your unique item in a week, or, if you’ve already headed off home, get it posted to you instead. Large groups are welcomed and there are packages designed for children to have the most fun possible.
Book: No need to book just show up!
Location: The Paint Pot Gloucester Libertys Building 118 Eastgate Street Gloucester, GL1 1QT
3. Chug through the hills on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
Why go: Travelling by steam train can be a magical experience for children, especially if your kids are more au fait with cars and regular old buses. There’s something about the sound of its whistle and the whirr of pistons and wheels in motion that has the capacity to transport people in more than just one way. On the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, a traditional engine pulls elegant carriages along a track that cuts through the glorious hills of the Cotswolds, running over viaducts and under tunnels. Best of all, children can on occasion sit with the driver as the train trundles along the tracks, adding yet more excitement to an already memorable experience.
Book: Online Gwsr
Location: The Railway Station, Toddington, Gloucs GL54 5D
4. Kayak on the lake at South Cerney Outdoor
Why go: The lakes of South Cerney, three miles outside of Cirencester, are the ideal spot for a day of invigorating water sports. The South Cerney Outdoor Education Centre runs lessons in canoeing, kayaking and sailing in a safe environment with all the kit provided, so you can pack in a day of energetic activities for the kids that will tire them out and thus ensure you get an easy night! If you’ve got other families joining you for the trip, you might want to try Dragon Boating: this involves races across the lake between long boats. Perhaps the most demanding activity on offer is raft building, where your family bonds will be tested as you attempt to craft a seaworthy vessel from just barrels, rope and wood.
Book: Call 01285 860388
Location: Lake 12, Spine Road South Cerney Cirencester Gloucestershire GL7 5TL
5. Walk among wildlife at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Why go: Children can get familiar with Britain’s flora and fauna at this expansive, wild nature reserve. Flocks of rare birds, such as herons and flamingos, call the wetlands home and you can view them with binoculars at the birdwatching hide in the heart of the reserve. Otters gambol in the waters and get fed by the park’s volunteers, while the nearby Toad Hall has a gigantic collection of reptiles and amphibians to survey. The park also offers weather-dependent canoeing safaris into the wetlands, as well as Welly Boot Land, an area specifically designed for children to splash in and get muddy; a change of clothes is highly recommended as the park’s youngest visitors tend to throw themselves whole-heartedly into this activity.
Book: Online Wwt.org.uk
Location: Slimbridge Wetland Centre Gloucestershire GL2 7BT
6. Ride dog-powered carts at Arctic Quest
Why go: You might need to remind yourself you’re still in the Cotswolds and not Svalbard for this one! Arctic Quest offer the opportunity to be pulled along by huskies in wheeled contraptions, which mimic the sensations of icy exploration, only without any bitter winds and sub-zero temperatures. Visitors are trained in the care of the dogs and are told how to control a pack of them, before the expedition begins. The team know the huskies well, so they can pick which particular pooches are best suited to your ability and confidence. All the safety gear and training is provided and the company accommodate groups, making this one of the quirkiest family days out and a seriously fun way to see the Cotswold countryside.
Book: Call 07968 794758
Location: Bredon’s Hardwicke, Bredon, Tewkesbury, Glos GL20 7EE
7. Meet a stag at the Bird and Deer Park
This wildlife park in Prinknash looks like it has come straight out of a storybook, where speckled fallow deer lope through green parkland and drink from tranquil ponds. Kids will love stroking these tame creatures, and petting the pygmy goats and miniature donkeys. Visit in Christmas for a particularly special experience: not only will the gardens be lit up as a winter wonderland, but you and the kiddies can meet Santa’s reindeer too. The aviaries here, comprised of a series of elegant pavilions, are also impressive. They house a wide variety of birds including finches, canaries and kookaburras. Join in with feedings of the park’s creatures at different times throughout the day.
Book: No need to book just show up!
Location: The Bird and Deer Park Prinknash Cranham Gloucester GL4 8EX
Looking for a great place for you and the family to stay while you explore this stunning slice of rural England? Talk to our concierge team! Just let them know what you’re looking for and they’ll send you some suggestions, and they can help you book too. Our blog is a great place for travel inspiration, so why not read more about Cotswolds, or see more family friendly activities. We even offer pet friendly holiday tips (the Cotswolds is the perfect place to take the family dog!) and a list of where you can find the UK’s best market towns.