We recently decided to have a family day out in Oxford packed full of free things to do with the kids! We’re lucky and only live about 45 minutes away so come to Oxford quite often, but I think this was the first full day-trip we’ve done as a family.
First thing to note when visiting Oxford; the traffic is crap and parking is expensive! Our day out started at the park and ride. Thornhill is the closest park and ride to us. They do a family ticket which is £6.80 for parking (up to 11 hours) and bus travel for two adults and up to three children. It’s actually cheaper than one adult and three children to use the family ticket as well. You can only buy a combined ticket at special machines. Don’t use the bank of machines under a cover, use the single machine that is near where the buses wait.
Visit Oxford’s Colleges and Buildings
We got off the bus at Queen’s College. This is surrounded by some of the most famous and beautiful college buildings in Oxford. It’s worth noting that you can go inside most of the college grounds. Many of them are free, but some have a small charge. Opening times can vary, and some are only open to groups. Click here for all the details.
One particularly popular spot for great photos is the Radcliffe Camera on Radcliffe Square. I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of this building. Just around the corner is Hertford Bridge (aka the Bridge of Sighs), the Sheldonian Theatre and Bodleian’s Old School Quad. For budding photographers of all ages there’s plenty of opportunities here.
Visit the Divinty School, Oxford
Our first stop was cheating slightly because there is a small fee for admission. It’s only £2 per person, or £5 per family, but it was used as a Harry Potter film location so we decided to pop in. You can read my full review of the Divinity School here. I’ll be honest though, I’m not sure I’d include it on a free family day out in Oxford itinerary as it’s not that interesting for the kids.
Whilst you’re here you can also book a tour of the Bodleian Library, including Duke Humprey’s Library, which was used as the location for Hogwart’s library. It’s only suitable for ages 11+ and is £6 per person. You’ll find the full details here.
Visit Weston Library
Don’t worry, the rest of the recommendations are all for actually FREE things to do with the kids in Oxford! Next up on our day out was a visit to Weston Library. Admission is free and there are regular exhibitions taking place. Some of these will be more child-friendly than others so it’s worth checking what’s on before your visit. There’s also a cafe on-site. Read my review of Weston Library here.
Visit the Ashmolean Museum
A visit to the FREE Ashmolean Museum was the main purpose of our family day trip to Oxford. We’ve been many times before but their exhibits tie in well with Middle Child’s current and recent school topics so we decided to go back. It’s a popular family museum, but it’s not a hands-on one. There are various trails for different ages which are good. It is definitely worth visiting though. Check out my full review here.
Visit the History of Science Museum
This was our final stop on our tour of free things to do with the kids in Oxford. Whether you add it to your own itinerary depends on who you’re visiting with. I don’t really recommend it for very young children. Access is rubbish for pushchairs (and wheelchairs) and it’s not particularly interesting for them. It is better for older children, and adults. Have a look at my full review here.
We’re regular visitors to Oxford and there’s loads of FREE things to do with the kids. Here are some of my other favourites
Visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Another FREE, and particularly family-friendly thing to do in Oxford is the Natural History Museum. Even the grounds are cool – there’s dinosaur footprints in the front lawn! Which also happens to be a nice place for a picnic! The museum has some amazing exhibits such as glow in the dark rocks, a live bee hive and lots of hands-on specimens. It’s a must-visit place for dinosaur fans as there is loads to see! There are regular events and activities to make sure you check what’s on before visiting. You can read my full review by clicking here.
Visit the Pitt Rivers Museum
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is actually a 2-4-1 family day out freebie! At the back of the museum there is the entrance to ANOTHER museum! The Pitt Rivers museum can only be described as an eclectic mix of everything, from everywhere. There’s a massive totem pole, a huge weaponry collection and even a collection of shrunken heads. It has to be seen to be believed. Check out my review here.
Visit University Parks
University Parks is just around the corner from the Natural History museum and is a beautiful place to explore and have a walk. Bikes aren’t allowed in here so it’s one of the few places in Oxford you don’t have to worry about dodging them! If you’re lucky you might even get to see a Quidditch match at the weekends!!
Take a Free 2 Hour Walking Tour of Oxford
Some of the tours of Oxford can be really expensive. Footprints however offer a completely FREE tour. It’s suited for teenagers and adults rather than younger children. The tours are free but they are funded by voluntary tips. They also run paid for tours of Oxford. You can visit their website by clicking here.
Visit Cutteslowe Park and Splash Park
Cutteslowe Park is the largest park in Oxford and is packed full of free things to do with the kids. There’s not one but THREE playgrounds, a lovely splash park, miniature railway, aviary, crazy golf and lots of lovely open spaces to explore. Find out more about it here.
Visit Hinksey Park, Splash Park and Lido
There’s actually another splash park on the other side of Oxford at Hinksey. It’s on a much smaller site but, as well as a good playground there’s a lake to feed the ducks and a chance for train spotting. The splash park wasn’t working when we visited, but hopefully that was just a temporary thing. Read the full review of the park by clicking here. Hinksey Lido is also on the same site, but there is of course a charge for that. You can find all the details by clicking here.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch email@example.com or get in touch via Facebook