Relish this beautiful honey-stoned part of England with this collection of the best things to do in the Cotswolds with kids.
The Best Things to do in the Cotswolds with Kids
If you are looking for the perfect place to take your kids during your next family holiday, you’ll have a blast visiting the Cotswolds. Located just a couple of hours from London, this area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) is packed with tourist attractions ready to entertain the children and make the adults gasp.
Toddlers will love petting the animals at Mary Arden’s Farm, and even teens will stop rolling their eyes when they come face to face with a crocodile.
You’ve got a big family adventure ahead of you, so here are the best places to start with. The 21 best things to do in the Cotswolds with kids. Guaranteed to keep the little ones entertained.
WHERE TO STAY IN The Cotswolds with kids: Calcot Manor & Spa
Gorgeous, luxury relaxation that mixes mud with fizz in the best of the Cotswolds tradition. Wellies wait at the door, wood smoke curls into the sky and pure indulgence awaits within. It’s family friendly in the very best way.
As a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection, the Calcot Manor & Spa earns its place as one of the best hotels in the Cotswolds for relaxation and replenishment.
All 35 rooms come with crisp white linens and supporting decor in neutral, natural tones. After that, though, the size differs from cosy right up to cottage sized. Bathrooms receive a lot of focus here, as befits a spa hotel. Some rooms have bunk beds and the kids club is never far away…
- I loved the Barnsley Cottage suite as the perfect blend between self-catering and the luxury hotel experience for families.
Ladies and gentlemen, the spa at Calcot is a spa. This is no half measure hot tub with a few incense sticks and a tired bamboo screen. The spa is a main attraction, with a spacious indoor pool, an outdoor hot tub near a roaring open fire and lovely private treatment rooms.
There’s also a gym, should you be the rare breed who actually uses one on a spa day, and a refreshingly bright cafe that overlooks that gorgeous honey Cotswold stone.
Hotel residents can access the spa at daybreak and again at twilight, so it’s easily possible to have the place to yourself, even during peak season.
The Conservatory Restaurant offers fine dining in, as you might imagine, a conservatory style space. Think lots of glass and freeing views across those rolling meadows and Cotswolds fields.
Dinner itself is sublime, keep an eye out for the Wiltshire lamb with harissa and the Westcombe cheddar soufflé.
Breakfast also takes place in the Conservatory, with cereals, jams, cooked breakfasts, pancakes and highchairs galore.
However, that’s not all that’s on offer. There’s also the Gumstool Inn, a cosy bistro which opens early enough to fill little tummies as well.
THE Rewilding Project
So, what do you do with 220 acres of land? Well, at the Calcot, they have launched an ambitious and inspiring rewilding project. In 1997, they acquired the the Calcot Farm area which had been farmed intensively. By 2004, in partnership with Richard Gantlett, they had planted over 2500 native oak, field maple and beech trees. In 2017, they began running annual bird surveys in partnership with the British Trust of Ornithology.
Return of Rare Birds
And it worked. By 2019, Calcot’s rewilding project had achieved record levels of nesting and the return of rare birds like partridges and red backed shrikes.
The last couple of years have seen all this good work packaged into a more digestible format, with rewilding signposts to follow on the land and gifts to buy and take home. Think bird boxes and plantable seeded gift tags.
Show me the Honey
And this year, there’s even more good stuff. Chew Valley bees now have hives and the project hopes to deliver freshly harvested honey to guests at breakfast. Artist Katie Morgan is working on illustrated maps and guides and a playbarn Teepee has been erected for outdoor education (and play!)
Take a walk on the wild side
And finally, you can walk around the grounds, either by yourself or with a member of staff, learning about all of this on the go. It really is a fantastic example of sustainable tourism.
Feel good activities
In addition to the spa and rewilding area, facilities also include tennis, disc golf, croquet, and a large playground for kids.
- Did you know? Staff can arrange for an open fire to be waiting for you, in all its roaring and flame licking glory, when you get back from your walk/dinner/spa treatment. They can also put together a picnic for you. Delicious!
Just four miles from the cutesy village of Tetbury, the Calcot Manor & Spa feels as though it is surrounded by countryside. It’s a short drive to the blissful Westonbirt Arboretum and Highgrove Estate. You’ll benefit from having a car as the nearest station is Kemble, around 20 minutes away by taxi.
- Did you know? You can hire a bicycle with ease and set off on the 2km track around the property. Getting outdoors in the Cotswolds just feels so good!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay for review purposes. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Life’s too short otherwise!
Visit the Cotswolds wildlife Park & Gardens
At the Cotswold Wildlife Park, you will find 120 acres of parkland and a cheerful train to take you around. Giraffes, lemurs, and rhinos roam freely on the green fields, sometimes stopping to graze on the lawn of a splendid manor house.
There’s goat petting, penguin feeding, giant tortoise watching, and for older children, incredible reptile exhibitions, including anacondas and black mambas. A big surprise for every kid, the adventure playground in the woods houses interconnected tree houses and is ready to provide hours of fun.
- Recommended reading: the best things to do in Sandwich, Kent
Stand tall in the miniature Model Village
Make your kids feel like giants as they stroll around the narrow paths of this miniature Bourton-on-the-Water. Listed as the only grade II village in England, it is a lovely place to visit if you have half an hour to spare.
The little houses are carefully crafted from Cotswold stone, and you can even spot a miniature River Windrush flowing under Burton’s famous bridges. Hence the nickname ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. The details are so authentic that you will even hear music coming from the tiny model church.
Be Emu-sed at Birdpland Park
Nine acres of beautiful gardens and woodland populated with flamingos and magical owls form the fascinating landscape of Birdland Park. You can have a great time with your whole family here, exploring the park areas, which include the Pandemonium of Parrots – lots of colours and sounds – and the Out of Africa collection of village weavers and hornbills. For smaller kids, the Jurassic age comes to life in the woodland, where life-size dinosaurs greet them from behind the trees.
Splash about at the Cotswold Water Park
More than 150 lakes around Wiltshire and Gloucestershire form the Cotswold Water Park, one of the water sports enthusiasts’ favourite places.
The calm lake waters are perfect for older kids trying kayaking or paddleboarding for the first time, while parents with toddlers can spend a lovely day on the inland beach, bathing and relaxing. Housing hundreds of species of birds, the park is the perfect place for nature lovers, but you will also find luxury accommodation close to the lakes.
Soak up history in Chipping Norton
Once a prosperous wool trading point, this charming town with its multitude of shops and restaurants is welcoming visitors of all ages who have a few hours to explore its historic buildings. The Almshouses and the Bliss Mill are very popular – thanks in no small part to the delicious food and ice cream.
Not many small market towns have a theatre, let alone a very active one like the Chipping Norton Theatre. The place provides a variety of activities including dance, music, live theatre, and pantomime, so it is worth visiting, especially if you come across some rainy days during your trip.
Feel the magic at the Fairytale Farm
The best family days out aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Young children will be amazed to discover their favourite fairytale characters like Sleeping Beauty or the Little Mermaid at this lovely farm in Chipping Norton and end the tour petting friendly llamas and donkeys.
The best thing about this place is that it is fully accessible to disabled children, with a layout specially created to be inclusive.
Follow Churchill’s footsteps to Blenheim Palace
Among the best things to do in Cotswolds is to dedicate a full day to visit Winston Churchill’s birthplace: Blenheim Palace.
Declared a UNESCO world heritage site, this imposing castle surrounded by 2,000 acres of land with lakes and spectacular gardens is perfect for teaching your kids an important history lesson about England.
Visit the huge rooms decorated with impressive paintings and artefacts, stroll around the gardens, and watch your kids as they get amazed at discovering the Butterfly House or the Adventure Playground.
Experience a traditional afternoon tea in one of the tea rooms or try a Sunday roast at one of the restaurants on the premises. It is an astonishingly large place!
Roam with the Romans at Corinium
More amazing history lessons come from the engaging Corinium Museum, which displays a large collection of artefacts from the Roman town of Corinium.
A very popular attraction during school holidays, it has everything it takes to engage teens in an interactive walk that teaches them about gladiators, Iron Age dogs, and century-old mosaics.
Have fun at Cotswold Country Park
There’s nothing like spending a sunny day at the beach, having the best time with your family, and Cotswold Country Park is so much fun the kids will absolutely love it.
A giant inflatable AquaVenture is open for bouncing and sliding, whilst just a few steps away, there are delicious pizza, wraps, and hotdogs cooking at the Beach Shack Café, ready to fill the hungry tummies.
This is the perfect place if you are celebrating a special event, but make sure to book in advance as it tends to get pretty crowded in the summer.
Go Forest Bathing in Westonbirt Arboretum
This beautiful natural place can offer you and your family the perfect afternoon.
Spectacular in the spring, when all the trees are blossoming, and even more remarkable in the autumn with all the rusty leaves taking over the land, the Westonbirt Arboretum brings together one of the largest varieties of trees in England.
Enrol your kids in the Arboretum Apprentice activity and allow them to learn more about what it takes to maintain a park of these sizes.
Visit the Wheely Great Cotswold Motoring Museum
A great place for kids of all ages, the Motoring Museum displays a marvellous collection of classic cars and motorcycles, along with an enthralling toy exhibition, including toy cars, bicycles, aeroplanes, and more.
Spend an hour introducing your kids to the history of automobiles and watch them get mesmerised by the glossy paint and elegant outlines.
Check out Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
One of the greatest family-friendly attractions in the region is this farm safari park founded by BBC presenter Joe Henson to protect a series of rare animal breeds.
A nostalgic place that reminds of the old days when kids grew up around lambs and chickens, it hosts goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, and ducks along with their cute babies.
Take your kids to see the chickens hatching and feed the always-hungry goats.
Here, you will find a huge barn packed with sand areas and toys and a 2-mile trail around the farmland.
Enjoy Cogges Manor Farm
Built around a 13th-century manor house, Cogges Farm used to be a living museum during the Victorian era, designed to replicate life at a traditional British farm.
Now, it is managed by a charitable foundation and functions as a home for many pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, and even ponies.
Volunteers help grow vegetables in the traditional walled gardens, and there is even a beautiful orchard with picnic areas where you can taste the local products.
It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous place to visit in the Cotswolds with kids.
Swan off to Slimbridge Wetland Centre
A place to play and a place to learn, Slimbridge Wetland Centre is very popular during the summer holidays when many parents bring their school-aged children to explore the spectacular views and find out more about flamingos, wild ducks, and nene, the world’s rarest goose. The centre even has an app that allows you to spot the best places and read about them.
Visit Chedworth Roman Villa
If you are aiming for a relaxing afternoon, you can make a stop to visit the ruins of one of the best preserved Roman villas in the country. Discover the mosaic floors and bathhouse room at Chedworth Roman Villa and admire the ancient artefacts displayed in the small museum on the premises.
The café serves delicious sandwiches that kids will adore, and you can buy nice souvenirs from the gift shop. If you have more time, you can stroll around the rustic streets populated with lively homes and admire the natural scenery.
Get awestruck at Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle is the place where King Henri VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, lived and then died.
It opens its gates to families ready to follow in the footsteps of Richard III and Elizabeth I.
A splendid 15th-century church hosts the tomb of the Queen, and the whole place is filled with beauty, from the century-old gardens surrounding it to the wide collection of artefacts and paintings inside the castle.
Search for dragons at Berkeley Castle
Once a mighty fortress, Berkeley Castle is still owned by the noble family that built it almost one thousand years ago and it remains open and available for visits.
With beautiful terraces, a lily pond, and a lovely café, it is heaven for adults. But children won’t get bored either as there is a dragon trail around the grounds and a woodland playground ready to be explored.
See SHakespeare’s Birthplace
History comes to life at Mary Arden’s Farm where Shakespeare’s mum grew up surrounded by animals and nature. Shakespeare himself spent some of his childhood days around here.
Your kids can watch the animals being fed or experience an authentic Tudor dinner.
FAQs about the Cotswolds with Kids
Hope you enjoyed these things to do with kids in the Cotswolds.
- What is the prettiest part of the Cotswolds?
Ooh, it’s almost all so beautiful! Probably the most famous spot is Arlington Row in Bibury but you’ll find gorgeous cutesy cottages all across the area.
- How many days do you need in the Cotswolds?
While you can visit the Cotswolds as a day trip on a grand tour around the UK or a day trip from London, it’s much better if you can stay for two nights. The Cotswolds are a place made for outdoor activities and relaxation. You want to get muddy and then get clean in a spa, sit in front of a flickering fire and eat good food. That’s the Cotswolds way.
- Are the Cotswolds good for children?
Yes!! The Cotswolds are amazing for children. The area is beautiful for grown ups and the whole vibe involves getting out in the fresh air, having fun and then spoiling yourself afterwards.
The beautiful Arlington row near Bibury in the Cotswolds…a beautiful spot but not all that good in the Cotswolds with kids. Too many people taking too many photos! I had to wait for ages to get this one!