Discover a world of free and fun family activities in Oxfordshire. Dive into a realm of imagination and adventure, where laughter and togetherness take centre stage!

Acorn Challenge Luckily oak trees are very common, learn how you can identify one here, or find some very old oak trees using the Ancient Tree Inventory. Now time for the challenge: cut out a large “A” from heavy paper or cardboard. Have the children collect acorns, and glue them to the “A”. Next, explain how acorns grow into oak trees. They’ll have fun and learn something new at the same time! 

Oak tree

Butterfly spotting Discover the secret world of these delicate creatures as they showcase their vibrant colours and graceful flight patterns. Just in case you're not an entomologist specialising in lepidopterology then check out the Butterfly Conservation’s website which has a handy tool to help you identify the butterflies you find.

A butterfly and a thistle

Cycling Looking for a fun and healthy activity for the whole family? Look no further than cycling with your kids! A great place to learn how to ride is the Faringdon cycle park, and there are some stunning cycle trails in the Cotswolds, but for those who want to test their limits check out the Barrow Hills BMX track in Abingdon or the Hailey BMX Pump Track in Witney. 

Children's bikes stored in a bike rack made from a log

Duck Detectives You and the family can play Duck Detectives almost anywhere there’s water! Playing duck detectives is a delightful activity to do with the kids; it’s a chance to connect with nature and create some lasting memories. If, like us, you aspire to be an ornithologist, why not have a go at identifying the waterfowl that you come across? The RSPB lists all of the native species that can be found in England!

Three ducks

Exercise Equipment No need for a gym membership, or fancy sports kits, just jump on some outdoor fitness equipment (warming up first, of course) and start on your fitness journey! To get you started we’ve found some play areas that have installed some great exercise equipment: Oxlease in Witney, Garth Park in Bicester, Chaunterell Way Playground in Abingdon, and Browning Road Park in Banbury. Fit Trail maps for more parks can be found here

Children doing star jumps in the sunset

Fossil hunting Millions of years ago, during the Jurassic period, Oxfordshire was under shallow warm water, where corals, fish and small sea creatures thrived. Today, a fascinating mosaic of fossil-rich cliffs can be found at Dry Sandford Pit nature reserve near Abingdon and if you visit Rock Edge Nature Reserve in Headington you may be able to spot (but please do not take) the fossils left there. Dinosaur bones of a 15m long Cetiosaurus and the tooth of a Megalosaurus have been found at Kirtlington Quarry near Bicester, and it’s a great place to take budding palaeontologists.

Fossil-rich cliffs at Dry Sandford Pit

Go Geocaching The world’s largest treasure hunt. Geocaching is a great outdoor activity, in which you’ll use your mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world, not just Oxfordshire.

A squirrel on a tree

Historical ruins Journey through time and discover secrets and stories hidden within ancient ruins at Godstow Abbey in Wolvercote, Wayland’s Smithy in Ashbury, Abingdon’s Abbey Buildings, or at Minster Lovell Hall ruins near Witney. Transport the kids back in time, sharing captivating tales of the people who once lived in these ancient civilizations.

Minster Lovell ruins

Insect hunting ignites their curiosity and appreciation for the tiny creatures buzzing around us by taking part in a bug hunt! By instilling a love for insects at a young age, you may just inspire the next generation of environmentalists and conservationists!

A ladybird

Jump and bounce Jumping helps improve coordination, balance, and cardiovascular fitness, all while having a blast. So what are you waiting for, find a play area near you that has a trampoline! Here are a few to get you started: the Oxford Road play area in Eynsham, Kilkenny Country Lane Park in Carterton, the New Recreation Ground Play Area in Crowmarsh Gifford, the Glebe Play Park in Cumnor, or Tackley Park.

A child jumping, trees in the background

Kite Flying Fly a kite on a windy day and experience the joy of soaring through the skies, where dreams take flight and imaginations reach new heights! And for those children that want to understand the aerodynamic forces involved in flying one, and perhaps even have a go at building a kite themselves head over to NASA’s great ‘Forces on a Kite’ page. 

A boy flying a kite in the countryside

Libraries are treasure troves of books, offering children a vast array of reading materials. By visiting the library, children can develop a love for reading and improve their literacy skills, which are essential for their educational and personal growth. Find a library near you

A child sat on the floor reading a book, there are other books spread on the floor

Mud It’s been raining and now it’s time to go outside and have some fun! You’re washing machine may disagree with us, but mud is perfect for entertaining the little ones! Put on some old clothes and a good pair of welly boots and start splashing in the puddles. This could be followed by some mud painting, the creation of mud pies, or even a mud bath for the plastic toys!

Children standing in a line with muddy boots

Night Hike Discover a world beyond the daylight, where nature comes alive under the enchanting night sky. Step into the moonlit forest, where every rustle and whisper becomes a secret waiting to be unveiled! Choose any of the great locations listed here for your next nighttime adventure!

The night sky with lots of stars

Orienteering Are your navigation skills up for a challenge? Learn how to read maps, interpret symbols, use a compass, and understand the terrain. Perhaps start in Shotover Country Park or use GoActive’s downloadable maps for a romp around Blewbury or East Hanney. The  Cotswold Discovery Trail has two great treasure trail maps where you’ll explore the history and heritage of the Cotswolds, find out more.

Image of map and compass

Pooh Sticks It’s absolutely vital that all participants adhere to the rules of Pooh Sticks! All competitors must drop, and not throw, their sticks into the water at the same time, on the starter's call. The players must then cross to the downstream side of the bridge and wait for the sticks to emerge. The owner of the first stick to float from under the bridge is the winner! 

Cartoon image of Winnie the Pooh and friends playing pooh sticks

Quoits Q was a tricky one but we found a game beginning with Q…Quoits! The objective of the game is to throw the rope quoits onto the peg without missing! Each peg has a different number value. The first player to reach 500 points is the winner!

Riverside Walks at Sunnymead Park and Meadow where you can spot lots of wildlife or try out one of the River Windrush Circular walks between Witney and Burford.

The river at Burford

Skateparks There is a list of Oxfordshire’s skateparks here. It’s not quite an A-Z like this one but you will be surprised at the number of skateparks near you, so check one out and have a go!

A close up, black and white, image of someone's feet on a skateboard

Train Spotting If your family are railway enthusiasts (or ferroequinologists) then why not head over to Hinksey Park where you can walk over the Devil’s Backbone and spot some of your favourite trains. You could also try Aristotle Lane Park and take the kids to stand on the adjacent railway bridges to enjoy the thrill of the trains going under their feet!

A train waiting at Charlbury train station

Umbrella Don’t forget to pack an umbrella for a rainy day walk or to shade yourself from the summer sun. Rainy walks offer an opportunity to connect with nature in a different way; the rain can bring out vibrant colours, fresh scents, and a different ambience in the surroundings. So don't hide away inside when the rain starts to fall, instead, grab your brolly and have some fun!

Someone holding an umbrella on a rainy day

Volleyball Feel the energy of the summer, embrace the sun-kissed vibes, and get ready to dive into the exhilarating world of beach volleyball at Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park in Oxford. Did you know that you can book the volleyball court for free during non-priority hours? Check out the Oxford Beach Volleyball Club for more information. 

A volleyball in the sand

Walking We know it’s an obvious one but walking together fosters quality family time, allowing you to strengthen your bond and create lasting memories. Take a look at some stunning walking locations here

A family enjoying a walk in the countryside

eXplore Coming up with an activity beginning with X was a challenge; we’ve settled on Xplore! Explore something new; venture into uncharted territories, discovering hidden trails, serene lakes, and breathtaking landscapes. Embark on a wildlife expedition, discovering the diverse flora and fauna that call the outdoors their home. So, why spend a fortune on indoor entertainment when the great outdoors offers endless adventures, waiting to be explored for free?

A boy in the woods at nighttime holding a stick in the air

Yoga If you enjoy the great outdoors, and you enjoy yoga why not merge the two and try that out with the family? Yoga can improve your breathing and circulation, develop your strength and flexibility and can have a great calming effect! 

A young child meditating

Zip wires Feel their heart race and hear their laughter fill the air as they zip through the park, experiencing a rush like never before! You can find zip wires at Upper Heyford, Bernwood Road Play Area in Headington, Aston and Cote Play Area, Shipton-under-Wychwood Recreation Ground, and Ladygrove Park in Didcot. We could name more but, sadly, have run out of space. 

A young child on a zip wire




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