When most travelers start planning their trip to England they might gravitate to London. While London has plenty to offer, it would be a shame to start and end your England trip there. With so much to see and do just a couple hours right outside of London, you have to make time in your itinerary for places like Oxford.
While Oxford is most famously known for its prestigious University, it holds so much more for those that choose to visit this majestic area each year. While thousands of college students flock here every year so do tourists and it’s not hard to see why. Here is our families’ guide to get the most out of your trip to Oxfordshire!
Where to stay:
Normally, I would recommend somewhere in the heart of the city, a hotel with ease and access to all the best sites and activities, but in this case I would be remise if I did. Instead I must tell you about our amazing experience with Heath Farm Holiday Cottages!
Heath Farm Holiday Cottages are about an hour outside of the Oxford City Center, but they are more than worth the little drive. More importantly, they are in a great location to visit Oxford, The Cotswolds, Stratford, and Chipping Norton. You can visit the all the surrounding area and cities while still enjoying the beauty of the English countryside.
The cottages at Heath Farm have been beautifully constructed, and the attention to detail is amazing. As soon as we walked in our cottage, it felt like home. We stayed in the Cobnut which sleeps a family very comfortably, but would also work well for a couple looking for some romance in the countryside. As I looked out of our kitchen windows at the amazing view before us, I noticed sheep grazing right in front of our cottage. I felt as if I had landing right into a fairytale from a book.
Enjoying a home cooked meal in our cottage!
Heath Farm supports green tourism which was a huge bonus for me. They have their own spring water which is UV treated and it tastes amazing! During our travels, we find ourselves having to buy bottled water more than we would prefer, so we loved being able to enjoy Heath Farms spring water! You can read here about Heath Farms green practices in becoming more sustainable.
(Both deep in thought on their game lol)
Whether you are traveling as a couple, solo, or with the family in tow, the property holds fun and excitement for any traveler. Our kids loved the wide open spaces to run around in and they couldn’t get enough of the trampoline and other fun areas for kids.
While the kids were playing my husband and I would take romantic walks around the property on the many trails, and we also loved playing chess with the huge outdoor chess board.
The rooms at Heath Farm are not only beautiful, but very spacious and well taken care of. Each of the cottages has a kitchen, so you can decide whether to eat out or stay in. If you want to see Oxford or just relax in the English countryside, Heath Farm is definitely the way to go. Make sure you spend more than one night here to soak up all the magic!
Since you will staying a bit away from the center of Oxford I would highly recommend using one of the park and ride lots to get into the city. While Oxford is drivable it’s just easier to park outside of the city and take one of the buses in. They run on a pretty consistent basis and it ended up being cheaper than trying to find and pay for parking inside the city.
What to do:
First up is pretty obvious; explore Oxford University! But what is the best way to go about doing that? We found a walking tour of the campus to be one of the best and most comprehensive ways to see the university and the history it holds. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and will pass onto you all the history and prestige of the campus and after the 2 hour tour you will be an expert yourself! You can find out more about these wonderful University and City Walking Tours here.
Looking for something just for the kiddos? Head over to The Story Museum! A museum where kids can let loose and be kids! Here you will be transported right into some of the most well-known kid’s stories. Make sure to plan enough time for the kids to just play around.
Looking for more history? Head back in time with the Oxford Castle Unlocked tour. Spend some time being guided by a character that will bring the history of the castle to life with their lively adaptations!
Another great way to soak up some of the history of the area. Definitely a fantastic family friendly activity!
While you can definitely spend your whole vacation time looking around Oxford, there are some must see attractions that can be found just right outside the city as well.
Didcot Railway Centre
Kids and adults will get a kick out of this amazing Railway Centre! You can get an up-close look at locomotives being worked on and learn all about how steam engines work. This is not only a huge educational outing, but also a ton of fun!
Didcot Railway Centre has done an excellent job incorporating fun facts and history into the Railway Centre, and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge at the end of your journey.
Crocodiles of the World
Want to see a huge smile on your kids’ faces? Tell them you’re heading to Crocodiles of the World! For this activity you will need to make sure you have a whole afternoon free, as kids will want to stay here for a while! They will be fascinated by all the different species of animals to see. They will be able to learn not only all about different crocodiles in the world but also about other reptiles. You can go here to start to plan your visit to Crocodiles of the World.
While Buckingham Palace draws millions of visitors each year, there is an even better palace (in my opinion) out in the English countryside. Welcome to Blenheim Palace! While this impressive Palace doesn’t boast a queen, it has a lot going for it and is definitely a must see!
Birthplace of Winston Churchill and home to the Dukes of Marlborough, it is filled with an extensive rich history and is quite breathtaking to see. Inside there are many exhibits including an extensive one on Winston Churchill. The rooms are gorgeous and you will definitely want to make sure you bring a camera with you!
After seeing all these amazing sites you will definitely have worked up an appetite!
Here are my top recommendations for dinning:
I would highly recommend while in the countryside to head to Woodstock; it’s a beautiful town with much to see and do! Also, it boasts the amazing restaurant, The Feathers.
Now I have to admit, everything on the menu sounded wonderful and I really wasn’t sure what to choose. I really should have asked the waiter for a recommendation. Once our meal was brought out I tried a bite of everyone else’s dish and I loved them all!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Black Angus Sirloin Steak, but I couldn’t believe how delicious my husband’s braised beef was, and my daughters fish and chips just melted in my mouth! These were some of the best fish and chips I have ever had!
Then came dessert; we split a steamed butterscotch pudding and it was amazingly delectable! If you don’t have the time for a full meal, I would highly recommend popping in for this incredible dessert; it will make your day truly memorable!
If you find yourself looking for something closer to Oxford city center you definitely want to head to Café Loco.
Our family had crème tea at Café Loco during our time in the city. We have been to England quite a few times now, but this was our first experience with crème tea!
They asked us if we would prefer coffee or tea, which I was glad to get a cup of coffee after so much sightseeing in the city! I ordered a cappuccino and the kiddos each got a hot chocolate.
Once the scones with crème and jam came my kids’ faces lit up. They were warm and delicious and we could have spent hours in the very quaint and inviting atmosphere of Café Loco. It’s a fantastic place to pop into when in Oxford!
Oxford was an amazing destination for our whole family; we all learned so much and had a marvelous time. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we did!
If this doesn’t give you a fantastic head start on your trip to Oxford then you need to head over here to the Experience Oxfordshire site and start planning the perfect trip for you!
Also you can check them out here:
We took WAY TOO MANY photos on this trip (who could resist right?!) Be sure to check out more photos from our trip below:
We received hosting to facilitate this review, all opinions and information are my own.