A surprisingly large number of people in Aylesbury have never heard of Oxford Natural History Museum but it’s such a good family day out. Even the entrance is spectacular – the building itself is stunning and there are dinosaur footprints on the front lawn.
There are two floors to the museum. One of the highlights has to be the beehive on the first floor. It has glass sides and its own entrance so the bees can get in and out. It’s an amazing chance for children (and adults) to see up close how a beehive works. Sadly they’ve now removed the steps at the side of the bee hive. It means you have to hold the kids up to see what’s going on.
They also have live tarantulas and cockroaches. As well as the exhibits behind glass there are lots of hands-on experiences for the kids and there is a display of glowing rocks which the children think are incredible. There’s also a giant ammonite, an actual meteorite and a huge hunk of fools gold. There’s also a fox and a bear they can stroke without losing a finger. In their current exhibition about the earliest animals they’ve also got a microscope that the kids can use to investigate lots of different specimens.
Being a natural history museum, there are animal specimens but there are a lot of geological exhibits and of course dinosaurs. Oxfordshire is a great area for budding paleontologists so there are lots of dinosaur related things for the kids to see. You can even touch some fossilised dinosaur eggs which is pretty cool. (n.b. I didn’t spot them on my last visit but I may have just missed them)
You won’t spend a full day out here as it’s a relatively small museum, but they do put trails and activities, particularly during the holidays. Keep an eye out on the website for the activities and workshops they regularly run. You can extend your visit by combining it with a visit to the Pitt Rivers museum.
It can get quite busy, and as I’ve said it is quite small, so it can be a bit cramped at times, particularly weekends. It’s a fantastic rainy day activity and you’ll enjoy it as much as they do.
Access is a bit of an issue – the get into the museum you have to go up some steps although there is an accessible entrance at the side. You are encouraged to leave pushchairs in the lobby. During the summer holidays they have a covered buggy park outside. It always has a member of staff there are you’re given a ticket so you don’t need to worry about security. Getting one around the museum would be a pain in the pushchair so we took the carrier when smallest child was younger.
Free but donations are welcome
parking / how to get there
Address – Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW
None on site. There is on street parking on the road opposite the museum but it’s expensive (£6 for 3 hours). You can park in one of the city centre car parks and walk or get the park and ride.
On site. They are down some steps though but there is a lift. There is also a baby change
There is a little cafe on the first floor. It does children’s boxes, hot food and some nice cakes. You could have a picnic on the lawn if the weather is decent.
Our review of Oxford Natural History Museum
5 / 5 We go here regularly and have always had a good time.