The information in this section has been provided by local parents, carers and children. We list their recommendations of places to take the kids within easy reach of Steeple Aston.
For up to date information and new ideas follow the blogger Little Oxplorers | Let’s get the kids outside This is written by a mum based in Oxford who keeps her page up to date with things to do in Oxford and the surrounding villages.
In Steeple Aston
Baby and Toddler group – Thursday mornings in term time in the Sport and Recreation Centre building (OX25 4SF)
Steeple Aston Pre School holds fund raising events open to the public such as film evenings and fetes.
Dr Radcliffe’s Primary School has a very active group of parents who organise fundraising activities to support the school.
Walks with a buggy
In the heart of Oxford, Christ Church Meadow is a large area of tranquil pasture. It borders the rivers Cherwell and Isis and provides opportunities for picnics and river walks. It is free, and open to the public until dusk each day. The paths are easy and wide enough for a double buggy.
Enter the meadow through the Memorial Garden entrance on St Aldates, through a gate between Merton College and Corpus Christi on Merton Lane, or through a gate at the eastern end of the Meadow next to the Botanic Gardens. The nearest car park is Westgate shopping centre, or you could Park and Ride.
The University Parks consist of over 70 acres of parkland bordering the River Cherwell. They include sports areas and a large collection of plants and trees in landscaped surroundings.
There are is no car park nearby, so either Park and Ride, or you may find a two-hour parking space in Keble Road, Norham Gardens and Fyfield Road (subject to availability).
Early in 2011 improvements were made to the footpaths in Adderbury which mean that the Village Trail is now walkable with a buggy. The Village Trail is approximately 1.8 miles (3 kms) long and is a tour around some of the most fascinating buildings and features of this historic village.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock (6.4 miles)
An annual pass for an adult costs £38, child £22.00, family ticket (2 adults 2 children) £99. Just buy a one-day ticket and then convert it to an annual pass. There is no charge for children under three.
You can walk in the park and formal gardens, which have wide smooth paths. There is also a café, a train, a butterfly house, an adventure park and much more.
Twenty-six acres of green space close to Banbury town centre, bordered by the River Cherwell on one side and the Oxford Canal on the other. Also a large playground.
Oxford’s largest park with aviary, paddling pool (July & August), duck pond, three playgrounds and a miniature steam railway fromApril to October. If driving, you can enter the park via Harbord Road (off Banbury Road).
An ancient, well-maintained 88-acre wood with some very pretty footpath routes which are good for buggies and young children. It’s filled with bluebells and primroses at springtime.
From Ardley at J10 of the M40, go onto A43 and turn right at the Esso garage roundabout (Baynards Green) onto the B4100. Take the first turning on the right. A short way down is a car park on the left hand side where you will also find a map of the woods.
The largest area of common land in Oxford, Port Meadow runs alongside the River Thames, and is home to lots of horses and cows, and ducklings in the spring. Park in Wolvercote car park for a nice but long circular walk. You can also walk into centre of Oxford from here.
Properties with lovely grounds accessible with a buggy are Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury and Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckingham.
Also Oxfordshire County Council has downloadable leaflets on short easy walks in the county under a mile long and accessible to all users including those with mobility difficulties, wheelchairs, and pushchairs. For more information, please click here.
Walks for small children without a buggy
Lower Heyford circuit
From Heyford station car park, cross the bridge over the railway, and go left along canal, over the lift bridge and back through the village. Turn right at the pub then down the footpath at the end of the lane, and back over railway bridge.
Points of interest for children: railway bridge for watching trains, ducks to feed, bridge to pull up and down, park just over bridge, Bell Inn pub with garden (good for hide and seek) or Kizzies waterside bistro.
Park down the bumpy track behind village green. The quarry is about 1/4 mile walk down the track. Steps, lane or path leading down in to quarry, big flat area to run around at bottom, scree to scrabble around in, some trees, canalside, picnic benches. More of a place to run around than a walk though you might be able to walk down the canal path if it’s not too muddy.
Evenley Wood Garden (9.3 miles)
Lots of woodland paths with beautiful flower displays through out the year, starting with snowdrops in February. There’s a cafe and a children’s scavenger hunt. Admission £9 for adults , £1,50 for children age 4 to 16, family season ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) £75.
National Herb Centre, Warmington near Banbury (14 miles)
Specialist garden centre and café with a play area and access to nature trails and paths Also a variety of activities throughout the year.
Wroxton Abbey, near Banbury (14 miles)
Abbey Grounds open but no facilities and no dogs allowed. Park on street. Particularly nice in the summer as you can take a picnic and walk around the lake.
Park outside the church (pictured here) in the little car park. Go through the churchyard, down the path to the stream opposite the Abbey and gardens. There’s a small waterfall, lots of daffodils etc in spring, leads along edge of gardens up to open fields/hill, at which point you turn around unless you want a much longer walk, but very pleasant.
Eating and Drinking
We are very lucky to have numerous pubs and cafes in our own village and surrounding villages where you could stop and get a drink or something to eat and then go for a walk and enjoy the surrounding countryside:
Playgrounds and Play Areas
Steeple Aston has a very good and popular play area, but there are plenty of others nearby.
Ardley – in football ground – very small play area, but the bit behind the football building (free access) has a zip wire/ pulley.
Souldern – big slide and reasonable range of other park stuff, big field, good for throwing leaves in the autumn (and strict anti-dog fouling policy), nice pub in village with garden (haven’t eaten there).
Waddesdon (NT) – good play area with zip wire etc.
Windmill, Deddington – good playground and lots of activities
Middle Barton – wooden playground next to big field to run around.
Spiceball Park, Banbury – this is large and a very good place to let children run around and there is a picnic area with tables. It has facilities for all age groups such as swings and a climbing frame for small children seesaw, and various roundabouts as well as swings and a climbing frame for older ones plus a skate park.
Garth Park, Bicester – entrance off Launton Road. A nice selection of playground activities plus lots of space to run around near the band stand. Cafe and skate park. Small car park, or use town centre car parks.
Cutteslowe Park – this has a variety of attractions including a train, an aviary, a playground and lots of space to run around in and fly kites. If driving, go through Kidlington and you can enter the park via Harbord Road (off Banbury Road).
Upper Heyford – has a climbing frame where children can only get high if they can climb there (ie it does not have easy steps up which could otherwise enable small children to get dangerously high for their climbing ability). On left when you go down Camp Road but difficult to park.
Rectory Farm, Stanton St John – free, bouncy castle and slide, sand pit, climbing stuff, café and pick your own fruit and veg.
Rugrats and Half Pints – this is an excellent soft play centre with separate facilities for smaller and larger children and a cafe. (Through centre of Banbury towards Tesco, go straight on instead of turning into Tesco shopping precinct, take first left and it is on the right) Beaumont Road OX16 1QY. Also hosts children’s parties. See https://www.rugratsandhalfpints.com/banbury
Yarnton (7.7 miles)
Yarnton Garden Centre Soft play. For babies to eight-year-olds, The Magic Garden offers a variety of activities in different sessions. Book in advance https://www.yarntonhomegarden.co.uk/department/yarnton-magic-garden-childrens-soft-play/
They also host children’s parties.
Warwick (27 miles)
Warwick Children’s Play Village offers indoor play sessions for babies, toddlers and older children. Pre-booking strongly advised
Birdland , Bourton on the Water (19 miles)
Birdland has over 500 birds in a natural setting, including the only King Penguins in England. There are over 50 aviaries as well as toucan, tropical and desert houses. Café and children’s playground.
Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power near Cheltenham
This is very good for little children, allowing them to stroke the rabbits, see baby animals.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford
There is a wide variety of birds, mammals (including rhinos, camels and zebras, reptiles and insects. It also has a train and adventure playgrounds for children of different ages.
There is a restaurant as well as refreshment kiosks around the park and picnic areas ,
Fairytale Farm, Chipping Norton
Described as a sensory and learning experience for all the family, Fairytale Farm is divided in to six zones which include an Enchanted Walk and a Fairy Dell. There are animal handling sessions throughout the day when children can meet Alfie the Alpaca and his friends – ponies, pigs, goats, chickens etc.
Odds Farm, High Wycombe
“A kid’s farm for all ages!” Lots of animals, playground, facilities for under-fives. Fab! See www.oddsfarm.co.uk.
Rookery Open Farm, Stoke Bruerne, near Towcester
Lots of small animals – lambs, calves, pigmy goats, miniature ponies. Within walking distance of the canal and locks. Also Waterways Museum nearby.
Butterfly Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon (25 miles)
Around 2,000 butterflies of 250 species as well as other insects, frogs iguanas and minibeasts along with wildflowers and tropical plants.
Water Fowl Sanctuary & Children’s Animal Centre, Wigginton Heath, near Chipping Norton.
Access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Small animals, which children can hold. Extensive grounds containing ponds of ducks, geese etc. Play and picnic areas. Small and very friendly.
Swimming pools suitable for young children
This leisure centre has two pools, a crèche, a children’s soft play area and a café as well as exercise and sports facilities.
Spiceball Leisure Centre
Tel: 01295 257522
This leisure centre has a training pool, and a crèche.
Bicester Leisure Centre
Tel: 01869 253914
Tremendous fun with a lazy river, plumes and some of it is outside.
Aqua Vale Swimming & Fitness Centre
Marston Ferry pool, Summertown
Ferry Sports Centre
Tel: 0844 8933 222
Tel: 01865 467060
Chipping Norton Leisure Centre
The depth is changed here on two days a week.
Tel: 01608 645154
Swan Pool & Leisure Centre, Buckingham
Has a creche and runs a Nightwave Kids’ Fun Evening.
Buckingham MK18 1AE
Tel: 01280 817500
Woodstock Open Air Pool
The pool is open from April to September.
Woodstock Open Air Pool
Tel: 01993 811 785
The Lido at Chipping Norton,
There are a limited number of parking spaces at The Lido so you can park in the free public car park in Albion Street and turning left out of the car park walk along Albion Street turning left into Fox Close. You’ll find the pool 100 yards away at the end of Fox Close. See www.chippylido.co.uk.
SnowSlope, Milton Keynes
Indoor skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding etc for children from age three. See www.snozoneuk.com.
Museums and discovery
NB Major local art galleries are listed in the Arts and Entertainment section of the website.
Bekonscot Model Village and Railway, Beaconsfield (just off M40 J3)
Includes picnic facilities and playground.
Tel: 01494 672010. www.bekonscot.co.uk
Bletchley Park, Bletchley, Milton Keynes
The famous Home of the Codebreakers has lots to see including the famous World War 11 Enigma machine and, in the National Museum of Computing, the rebuild of Colossus, the world’s first programmable computer. This attraction is more suitable for older children, but under-12s are admitted free and there is a children’s play area.
Telephone 01908 640404 or see www.bletchleypark.org.uk.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton nr Aylesbury
This rail centre has plenty of interest for train enthusiasts young and old. It is a working steam museum with lots of exhibits ranging from a giant South African locomotive to a royal dining car. There is a miniature railway, and special days out with Thomas the Tank Engine will appeal to younger children. Tel: 01296 655720 See www.bucksrailcentre.org.
Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford
Suitable for older children and teenagers. Take the Park and Ride from Water Eaton to Magdalen Street. No pushchair access. Collection of scientific instruments and some family-friendly events. Tel: 01865 277288. See www.mhs.ox.ac.uk
Lookout Discovery Centre, Bracknell, Berks.
Interactive science and nature exhibits. Nature trails. All ages. Tel: 01344 354422. www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/lookout
Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Bucks
For 6 -12 year olds. Open daily. Workshops, events and storytelling during school holidays and at weekends. Park in pay-and-display car park in Great Missenden. Tel: 01494 892192 See www.roalddahlmuseum.org.
The Story Museum, Pembroke Street, Oxford
This unusual museum celebrates stories in all their forms. It has exhibitions and events for all ages. There are drop-in sessions for babies and toddlers, as well activities for older children particularly in the school holidays and at weekends. There are visits from famous children’s authors and storytelling and craft workshops for adults. They also cater for schools and visiting groups. The museum has a shop and a café selling light refreshments.
Tel: 01865 790050. Website: www.storymuseum.org.uk
Turweston Aerodrome (12 miles)
Café open to the public where you can watch the planes take off and land. See Turweston Flight Centre
Oxford Bus Museum, Long Hanborough, near Witney
Collection of 40 buses used in Oxfordshire over past 100 years, plus fire engines and bicycles. Also Morris Motors Museum. Tel: 01993 883617. See www.oxfordbusmuseum.org.uk
Oxford Castle Unlocked
For the first time in 1000 years, the secrets of Oxford Castle have been Unlocked revealing episodes of violence, executions, great escapes, betrayal and even romance.Walk through these ancient buildings and experience the stories that connect the real people to these extraordinary events. Activities such as science workshops, Victorian theme days etc. For more information, go to www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Museum houses the University’s scientific collections of zoological, entomological and geological specimens. It’s a Grade 1 listed building, renowned for its spectacular neo-Gothic architecture. Among its most famous features are the Oxfordshire dinosaurs, the dodo, and the swifts in the tower. It won the Guardian Family Friendly Museum award in 2005 and there is a full programme of family activities running throughout the year. Tel: 01865 272950, see www.oum.ox.ac.uk
The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock
The museum is in Fletchers House, Park Street in the centre of Woodstock. It has a Children’s Gallery and a programme of free children’s activities. The garden is suitable for young children to run around in, but the café is too small for buggies. See www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/the_oxfordshire_museum.
There is a Dinosaur Garden with:
- Fossilised megalosaur footprints discovered at Ardley Quarry which have been carefully installed in the walled garden
- Meet the life-size megalosaur – as big as a bus!
- Explore the new garden with its Jurassic plants
There are also dinosaur costumes to try on and other dinosaur-related activities for children in the Children’s Gallery. Children must be accompanied at all times.
The garden is suitable for young children to run around in, but the café is too small for buggies. See www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/the_oxfordshire_museum.
Outings for older kids
Older children and teenagers will enjoy many of the outings suggested above, but here’s a list of activities that might appeal to them especially. Many thanks to Alison Moran and Anna Thatcher for many of these suggestions.
Junkyard Golf, Westgate Centre, Oxford
Under-18s are only permitted on Sunday to Thursday before 6pm, and they must have an adult with them. Off-peak price £8.50 per person. Advanced booking recommended.
Gravity Golf, Oxford
36-hole indoor adventure golf. Open from 10.00am daily during the school holidays.
The Wave, Coventry
Indoor water park with high-speed slides, a splash zone, the Wave Pool and the Lazy River.Open Friday evenings and weekends in term time, every day in the school holidays. Online booking only. Cost £12 for kiids, £16.50 adults
Clip and climb, Bicester
Suitable for adults and children from 4 years. Open daily during the school holidays. From £10 for one-hour’s climbing.
Climbquest, Milton Keynes
From age 4. Under-13s must be accompanied by an adult. Costs £14.50 for under-16s for a 90 minute session, including safety briefing.
Indoor Skydiving, Milton Keynes
Flying in a wind tunnel, From age 3. Flyers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (over 18 years of age). Prices from £29.99.
Scramm Live Escape Rooms, Banbury
Three different escape rooms. Groups are locked in a room for 60 minutes and have to use their puzzle solving skills to find a way out. From age 10. Groups of up to 4 need at least one participating adult. Costs from £20 per person.
Escape Hunt, Westgate Centre, Oxford
Indoor and outdoor games for kids from age eight. Under-16s must be accompanied by a paying adult over 18. Also, remote escape rooms via Zoom. Costs from £25 per person for an indoor game.
Parkrun, Spiceball Park, Banbury, Langford Fields, Bicester, Cutteslowe & Sunnymede Parks, Oxford & elsewhere
Parkruns are weekly community events which take place all around the world. Saturday morning events are 5k and take place in parks and open spaces. On Sunday mornings, there are 2k junior parkruns for children aged four to 14. Entry is free but you must register online before your first visit.
Heythrop Zoological Gardens, Chipping Norton
A private zoo which specialises in exotic animal training. Private visits and animal encounters must be booked in advance. Animal encounters have different minimum ages eg 14 years for zebras and sloths, 10 for hippos.
Ten-pin bowling and karaoke, Banbury
Costs £7 for kids, £8.50 for adults. Less for a group.
Ten-pin bowling and arcade games, Oxford
Costs for kids from £6.15, adults £7.15. Hollywood-style diner.
Children aged between the ages of 8 and 13 are classed as child drivers (or ‘cadets’) and can take part in family race experience sessions. Adult drivers are 14 years or over. The minimum height for cadet drivers is 1.3 metres tall, and for adult drivers is 1.52m.
Local clubs and classes for children
For more information about activities in Steeple Aston, please click here.
Also Cherwell District Council runs holiday activities for children from age five including sports roadshows and arts activities. For more information please click here.