When you think of the Cotswolds you might picture romantic roaring fires, weathered stone churches and miles of rolling countryside. All of that is there, however the Cotswolds is more than just a top choice for a romantic weekend break, it is also a fantastic destination for a fun filled family holiday with plenty to keep the kids (and adults!) amused.
The Cotswolds is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The best way to see it is not from the window of a car or restaurant, but up close and personal. Miles of family friendly walks await including a number of buggy and wheelchair friendly routes. Take inspiration from these walks along the Cotswold Way; or stretch your legs going uphill to Broadway Tower Folly where the views are unbeatable on a clear day, stretching all the way to the Severn Estuary.
One of our favourite family walks starts at Cooper’s Hill, which is famous for the annual cheese rolling festival that takes place on the late bank holiday Monday in May. The two mile circular route meanders through gorgeous woodland and includes amazing views. Westonbirt Arboretum is always a pleasure, whatever time of year you go. Take a picnic, dine at the excellent café, or stop for lunch in nearby Tetbury.
Cycling is another popular way to enjoy the region. There are Cotswold cycling routes to suit all abilities, both off-road and along quiet country lanes. Exchanging your bicycle saddle for one on horseback will give you a different perspective. There are many riding schools in the area that cater for riders from novice to experienced.
Other outdoor family attractions include the Cotswold Farm Park, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Cotswold Water Park and Prinknash Bird and Deer Park.
One of the reasons the Cotswolds is so lush and green is because it gets a healthy allocation of soft British weather, a.k.a. rain! You won’t have to worry about finding something interesting to do if you’re not the sort of family who happily chucks on wet weather gear and wellies and gets outdoors regardless.
Sudeley Castle is a magnificent 15th Century dwelling with a history steeped in romance, strife, and intrigue. Richard III based himself there before his untimely demise. It was a favourite with Tudor queens. Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, died and is buried there, and it was also visited by Henry’s other wives Anne Boleyn and Jane Grey, as well as by his daughter, Elizabeth I. Sudeley Castle is an easy drive from Cheltenham, which is a great town for shopping and eating out.
If you’re staying in a cottage in Cirencester don’t miss Chedworth Roman Villa. It was one of the largest villas of its type in Roman Britain and has exceptionally well preserved features. Modern day centurions will also enjoy Cirencester’s Corinium Museum which houses an incredible collection of pieces dating back thousands of years.
A more modern, but no less fascinating, collection can be found at Snowshill Manor near Broadway. The rooms are crammed with all manner of curios collected over decades by Charles Wade, who lived at Snowshill from 1919 until 1951. The property is not open every day so call or check the website before you go.
Family Days Out in the Cotswolds
Bourton-on-the-Water, with its model village and motor museum is a popular choice for family days out in the Cotswolds, however if you want to go somewhere different, try Moreton-in-Marsh instead. It has the usual complement of warm honey Cotswold stone buildings which house a good number of interesting shops to browse, including a fantastic toy shop for buying that all important holiday gift! Nearby you will find the Cotswold Falconry Centre and Batsford Arboretum. There are so many great days out to enjoy, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Cotswold’s attractions to help you plan your stay.
Play Areas and Children’s Parks
St Michael’s Park is on King Street, a short walk from Cirencester town centre. Despite its central location it is usually fairly quiet. It has climbing equipment and swings, as well as lots of lovely flat paths. Broadway Activity Park is very popular but because it is set over 3 acres and laid out in four different age areas it rarely feels crowded. You can reach it from the High Street (it is signposted from opposite the Ashmolean Museum). Chipping Campden Park has lots of space for running around or setting out a picnic and a good variety of climbing equipment and swings. There is a path leading to it from left of the Noel Arms on the High Street.
Family Friendly Place to Eat
All that playing, walking, cycling and sightseeing is bound to leave you feeling ravenous but you don’t want to go somewhere that kids aren’t welcome. If your children are creatures of habit you will find all the usual chain restaurants in the larger towns of Stroud, Bath, Cirencester, and Cheltenham.
It would be a shame to be in the Cotswolds and not sample some of the delicious local food the region produces. The Bell at Sapperton, near Cirencester, is an excellent family friendly pub conveniently between Stroud and Cirencester. Their menu changes seasonally but all food is freshly cooked on site, including their bread and the service is friendly. There is a cosy dining room with a fire for colder days, as well as a large beer garden for nice days. Sapperton itself is a pretty village and the starting point for a good walk.
The Cotswold Ice Cream Shop in Chedworth is a real treat. Forget the main course and go straight there for a build your own sundae, or just enjoy a scoop or two of their gluten-free ice cream which, they boast, comes from their cows to your cone in 12 hours – talk about fresh! Chedworth Farm Shop is on the same site where you can buy the ingredients for a truly delicious meal back at the cottage, or pull up a chair at their farm café.
We also need to mention Daylesford Farm Shop and Café in Kingham because it’s just so good! It is open for breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea and serves amazing food made from the freshest and finest of ingredients the farm has to offer. There are a network of tracks and paths around the farm for a good walk to work up an appetite so don’t forget your wellingtons and the kids will love the outdoor pizza bar which is weather dependent.
These are just a few of the family friendly attractions, activities and places to eat in the Cotswolds. It truly is a brilliant choice for a family holiday and being centrally located, it’s easily accessible to most even if you only have a weekend to explore it. Why not take a look at our collection of Cotswolds cottages and start planning your visit, we have over 100 to choose from!