One of the reasons I started Red Kite Days was that I seemed to spend longer searching directories on the internet for days out with my kids than actually going on them and half the time, the places I chose were not all I had hoped for. There’s lots of great attractions and things to do all around Oxfordshire and the neighbouring counties but some are more suited to older kids. A Bicester Mum was looking for some ideas for her 16 month old where he could run around but also be safe. Here are some suggestions I thought would be handy for anyone with a baby and or toddler.
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Oxfordshire Play Parks
My youngest is very much an outdoor and active boy and while I love going to the park when it’s warm and sunny, we still end up there when it’s wet too. I usually have an old tea towel with me to wipe down the slide! There’s lots of play parks reviewed on Red Kite Days which are great for little ones. Here’s a few of my favourites, you’ll probably notice that most of them have the option to buy a cup of tea.
Cuttleslowe Park on the north side of Oxford is a probably my all time favourite. There’s lots of space to run around, a fenced in section that my youngest isn’t strong enough (yet) to haul open the gates of with plenty of swings and climbing structures as well as a more open area with a huge big sandpit. Bring your bucket and spade and grab a hot cuppa or ice cream for the cafe right next to it. In warmer weather, there’s a splash park to cool off at and you can also wander over to the duck pond or over to the butterfly house.
Nine Acres Recreation Ground Charlbury – I love wooden structured play parks and my tractor mad son loves the big wooden tractor. An added bonus is the small cafe right beside it and you can pop into the library and have a look through some books too.
Tackley Playground – this one is small but all fenced in and easy to keep an eye on a fast moving little one. There’s a mini trampoline, baby swings and big wooden tractor to play on as well as a tunnel to crawl through. You can pick up a take out cuppa from the village shop which adjoins the park and the hot sausage rolls are good too.
Abbey Meadows Play Park in Abingdon is zoned for children of different ages. For toddlers, there is a lovely zone including interactive sensory play boards, a tunnel, a mini fort and some cool rocking caterpillars. There are regular swings, baby swings and some basket swings.
See the animals
Animals are fascinating for most young children and there’s are lots of farm parks and animal attractions around Oxfordshire.
Cotswold Wildlife Park – if you want the full works and big wow factor then the Cotswold Wildlife Park has it all. If you buy a ticket in advance, adults are £14 and under 2’s go free. Don’t forget a pushchair as the wildlife park covers a large area for little legs.
Millets Farm is ideal if you have a younger child who isn’t going to last out for a full day. It’s free to go and there’s usually a selection of larger animals like horses and goats as well as some ducks to feed at the end.
Beale Park is on the border of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and is perfect for this age group. As well as the animals, they also have a miniature train and a little Tikes area that my son loved last time we went.
Fairytale Farm is most suited to this younger age group than older kids and makes a good half day adventure with a selection of animals as well as a sensory garden and playpark.
Head over to Witney to visit Cogges Manor Farm which has a couple of pigs, a few goats and then lots of ducks and chickens running free range. They also do Monday Morning stories suitable for the younger age group as well as having space to run around.
A few more ideas include the Green Dragon Eco Farm (about 20 mins from Bicester), Roves Farm which is just outside Oxfordshire, Birdland, Crocodiles of the World and Thrift Farm which is not too far if you’re coming from Bicester of Thame and it’s super good value All suitables and interesting for a little one.
When the big ones are at school, soft play becomes lots of fun. I’ve got three go to soft plays we use frequently. Check out the Red Kite Days guide to the best soft play centres in Oxfordshire with reviews on all the ones mentioned below.
Sprouts Soft Play Barn at Millets Farm is the newest and has great areas for imaginative play too. It’s really popular and they have timed slots so best to book ahead.
Hill End Garden Centre has a nice small soft play best suited to younger kids.
Snakes & Ladders is one of the huge soft play centres with the advantage of a really large area specifically for youngers ones.
Cafes and Restaurants with Play Areas in Oxfordshire
Before you know it, you little baby is on the move. Whether they’re at the rolling, crawling or walking stage, it often means they’re not keen to snooze in your arms while you enjoy a latte with a friend or have a bite to eat. I love finding places with a play area or adjoining park so everyone is happy, here’s a few ideas for you.
The Batch Cafe in Bletchingdon is set in the grounds of a campsite. Enjoy some delicious food or a coffee and then wander down to the playpark to run off some energy. Best to note that the playground can only be used by customers.
The Old Shed near Charlbury is also set in the grounds of a campsite, there are a few animals to see, woods to amble through and a playpark. The cafe itself is great and has a mat and some toys out which keeps the kids happy.
Notcutts Garden Centre near Nuneham Courtney has an outdoor playground attached so another great place for a run around.
The cafe at the Vale & Downland Museum in Wantage has some baby toys and books and is another relaxed place to hang out. They also have regular ‘Meet Alfie’ sessions especially for under 5’s.
Pay As You Go Classes
Sometimes you don’t want to sign up for a full term of classes. Here’s a few pay as you go classes I know of and I’ll add more as I come across them.
Ride On Time run regular Oxfordshire playtime sessions in Yarnton, Witney and Bicester. The session they hold at the new Kingsmere Community Centre in Bicester on a Tuesday also has a dedicated baby zone which is ideal if you’re juggling a baby and active toddler.
Funky Pants is a massive favourite of my son and I love the half time homemade cake that’s included. This is best suited to kids on the move as it can be quite busy. They were also nominated as finalists by parents in the Red Kite Days 2018 awards.
Time 2 Bounce are a much loved Didcot based bouncy castle company who run bounce days for under 5’s on a Tuesday.
Wild Bee Forest School have just started running Quarry Tots forest school for toddlers in Headington on Fridays. Essential to book in advance.