The benefits of time spent in the fresh air are clear: freedom, space to roam, a boost of vitamin D and a happy, tired child by the end of the day. There is a vast selection of places to choose from for an outdoor excursion, including the perennially popular wildlife parks and zoos, some of which allow your child to get up close and personal with the animals. If you are looking for something physically challenging, there are adrenaline-filled tree-top adventures on offer, or if you are in the mood for a picnic, explore the list of playgrounds and parks which includes some lesser-known hidden gems. In addition, look out for lidos, watersports, tree-top high ropes, mud painting, strawberry picking, ghost tours, imaginative birthday venues and beach play areas (always a winner in our house).
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- Outdoor swimming pool (typically 26c) and learner pool.
- Open every summer May to September.
- Free for children between 9am–11am.
- Inflatable play sessions.
- Pool party options available.
Abbey Close, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3JD
- Child friendly tearoom with free towpath or woodland nature trails.
- Free Treasure Hunt, Bat Hunt & Narrowboat Name Search for ages 4+.
- Open every day 10am–5pm.
- Available as a party venue with catering.
- Can arrange party entertainment: canoes/kayaks, waterzorbs, and bouncy castles.
Canal Yard, Canal Road, Thrupp, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, OX5 1JZ
- Swimming pool with retractable roof, for all ages and abilities.
- Children 0-12 years welcome during the day, and family sessions run after school.
- Swimming lessons and summer holiday intensive lessons available.
- Toddler splash sessions are held during the summer holidays.
- Available for swimming parties and includes the use of all pool toys.
St Andrews School, Station Road, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, OX39 4PU
- Designed around needs of children with varying disabilities but open to everyone.
- Farm with donkeys, goats, pigs, birds, alpacas, miniature ponies, and rabbits.
- Enchanted Walk with sensory garden, weather areas, water play, & musical chimes.
- Animal handling, sandpit, adventure playground & birthday party venue.
- Giant rabbit burrow with a play kitchen, and a model village 'Mouse Town'.
Southcombe, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5QH
- Animals include: cattle, chickens, ducks, goats, geese, pigs, sheep and turkeys.
- Adventure playground, treasure hunts on the giant bale climb, and trailer rides.
- Opportunities to handle and feed the animals.
- Workshops: Shepherd for the Day, Family or Farmers, and Farmer for a Day.
- Birthday party venue: 'Hands on' farm animal experiences and adventure play.
Fernham Road, Longcot, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, SN7 7PR
- 40+ obstacles made from wood, rope and wire. Minimum age 10+ years.
- Tree-Top High Ropes adventure, set high in the trees in 50 acre woodland.
- Rope bridges, tarzan swings, zip slides, & 42ft Drop Zone Parachute Descender.
- Seated picnic area and spectators area.
- Offers 'Summer Adventure Days' for children (Lasergaming & High Ropes).
Culham Adventure Park, Furze Brake Woodland, Rear of Culham Site 1, Off the A415 (Abingdon Road), Oxfordshire, OX14 3DA
- Floodlit 360 metre outdoor circuit, with hair pin bends.
- Cadet Karting for children over 8 years.
- Must be pre-booked.
- Family sessions, for children over 8 years (requires a minimum of 6 drivers).
- Parties (for children 4-10 years) available with a full mobile Junior Karting facility.
Oxford Stadium, Sandy Lane, Cowley, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 6LJ
- Outdoor lasertag adventure activities for children and adults.
- Minimum age 8 years, although if booking exclusive use 7 year olds can attend.
- 7 different gaming guns to choose from, plus machine guns, & missile system.
- Safe infra red - no Paint, no masks, no pain, no bruises.
- Authentic live combat gaming experience birthday parties packages available.
Furze Brake Woodland, Rear of Culham 1 Site, Station Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX14 3DA
- Heated 25m outdoor swimming pool and toddler pool with slide.
- Open April - September. (Please see their website for dates).
- Swimming lessons Monday - Friday for the 1st four weeks of the summer holidays.
- Offer one-to-one lessons.
- Available for private hire for parties.
Fox Close, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5BZ
Countryside Farm Centre open seven days a week perfect for all the family with animals, playground and indoor Sprout Playbarn. Throughout the summer months, there's a beach area (with outdoor games), PYO and Maize Maze.
- Fun for all the family. Animal Walkway includes pigs, alpacas, cattle, and ponies.
- Sprouts Indoor Playbarn with multi-level activities, slides, ball pits and education play.
- Children's play area: swings, slides, play diggers, little sit-on tractors, & carousal.
- Pick You Own: June to September. Over 30 different fruits and vegetables.
- Phoebe Wood is 10 acres of woodland and wetland walks and picnic areas.
- Children's ballet, tap and art classes. Birthday party packages coming soon.
Kingston Road, Frilford, Near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 5HB
- River trips for all the family. (children under 12 months are free).
- River sightseeing tours.
- Picnic cruises.
- Private boat hire - great for birthday and exam celebrations.
- Boats include Serafina II, Golden Slumbers, and Bacchanalia.
The Folly, 1 Folly Bridge, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 4LB
- Variety of River Cruises and boats for hire in Oxford.
- Boat Trips include 'Alice in Wonderland Cruise'.
- Punt and boat hire. Plus chauffeured punt service available.
- Public Cruises in 2016 run 7 days a week in season. (28 May to 11 September 2016).
- Private charter boat hire for parties and celebrations.
Folly Bridge, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 4LA