If you live in England or you are about to visit the UK, one of the first areas you will be advised to explore is Cotswolds. Indeed, there are tons of places to visit in Cotswolds with kids. Cotswolds district is a massive area (almost 800 m2) that is famous for absolutely gorgeous, unique small villages with stunning scenery that you are free to walk or explore by bike. Be sure to spend one of the miraculous family holidays in the Cotswolds.
The northern part is generally considered to have the best villages in the Cotswolds. But locals say it is so vast that you will need to visit Cotswolds for many years to discover the true beauty of this gorgeous district.
- What is Cotswolds famous for?
- How many days shall I spend in Cotswolds?
- What does Cotswolds AONB stand for?
- How to plan my itinerary for Cotswolds with kids?
- When is the best time to visit Cotswolds?
- Accommodation and Cotswold family holidays
- Parking in Cotswolds
- Places to visit in Cotswolds – An Itinerary Planned For You
What is Cotswolds famous for?
As mentioned above, it is famous for its incredibly amazing and best Cotswold villages filled with unforgettable sceneries, green rolling hills, stone walls, woodland, natural hot springs, and Georgian architecture. The architecture is what drives all the locals and tourists to have several days out in the Cotswolds. The majority of the buildings are made from sandy yellow Cotswold Stone making the entire district so attractive to visitors.
A huge amount of wedding photoshoots happen here. You will be surprised but Cotswolds is also considered to be one of the best Instagram spots in the UK.
How many days shall I spend in Cotswolds?
It can be anywhere starting from one weekend and ending up with one week’s holiday. Our suggestion is to keep it to two or three nights. It also depends on your itinerary. Cotswolds AONB is only 43 miles (69 km) away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Bath.
If you come from London, it is wise to stop in Oxford which is located between Cotswolds and London. So, in case if you are planning to visit other towns, you should plan for at least a week. Unless otherwise, three full days is enough to travel Cotswolds with kids.
What does Cotswolds AONB stand for?
AONB means an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cotswolds was designated AONB in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse, and high-quality landscape.
How to plan my itinerary for Cotswolds with kids?
It is important to consider the age of travelers and so plan all activities in the Cotswolds accordingly.
- If you are a couple, you probably have all the time in the world.
- If you plan to visit Cotswolds with a baby, you will enjoy Cotswold’s serenity strolling a buggy with your sleeping baby and holding your husband’s arm.
- If you go with a toddler, pre-plan the activities. Toddler nature won’t immerse into the Earth’s nature so easily unless there are parks with statues of Gruffalo, games on the way, tree climbing, cool playgrounds with slides and swings, ice cream, and hot chocolate with free marshmallows in it. Probably same refers to children. The secret is in the constant engagement. But have no a slight doubt, here are tons of things to do with kids in the Cotswolds.
- If you travel with your beloved pup, Cotswolds is one of the most dog-friendly districts. You are allowed anywhere with dogs, so don’t doubt whether to take your pet with you, and get him in the car.
Another thing to consider is transport. The best way to move around is driving a car, especially if you plan to travel across the entire Cotswolds district and explore a number of Cotswold towns. Buses are available too.
There are a lot of bike trails and paths for you to explore.
Of course, if you travel with kids, you should consider road trip activities and prepare lots of food.
When is the best time to visit Cotswolds?
Since Cotswolds is all about nature and scenery, the best time to visit it would be the time when it blossoms (late March, April, May) or prepares for the upcoming winter (late September, October, November).
Few tips to choose the best time to enjoy Cotswolds with kids in full:
- Avoid crowds.
- Do not visit Cotswolds during bank holidays.
- Pick a sunny day.
Accommodation and Cotswold family holidays
Accommodation is quite expensive in Cotswolds as elsewhere in the UK. Since we were driving, we decided to stay in a glamping pod in the south of Cotswolds near Westonbirt, the National Arboretum.
You can find the best suitable accommodation for you here.
Parking in Cotswolds
Most of the parking is free in Cotswolds during the weekend and bank holidays. However, there is a time limit not exceeding 2 hours of stay per parking area.
Places to visit in Cotswolds – An Itinerary Planned For You
Once you are in Cotswolds district, everything becomes so peaceful and quiet that all you wish is simply to reunite with nature, breathe fresh air and walk, walk, walk. It is very green and has an enormous area for activities, picnics, and camping.
Let us share with you our itinerary for days out with the family.
Westonbirt, the National Arboretum
We left our house in London around 9-ish as we didn’t want to rush. It normally takes around 2.5hs to get to the National Arboretum. So, by the time we reached the park, we were ready for a picnic.
Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Cotswolds preserving and introducing a great plant collection. There are over 2,500 species of trees from all over the world. This is a huge park where you can walk, admire a variety of tree collections, kids can climb some trees too. This is a dog-friendly site, but no biking is allowed unless it is a small vehicle for your child.
For kids’ fun days out there are multiple trails, including Gruffalo Spotters Trail. Numerous events and activities also happen here, such as birthday parties. STIHL Tree Top Walkway is one of the landmarks at Westonbirt Arboretum.
You can book your tickets here.
After such a long day of driving and exploring the surroundings south of Cotswolds, it was a wise decision to accommodate us first in our pre-booked Glamping Pod. This was an amazing idea because the host had three cute Kune Kune pigs and wallabies on site, which was a win-win for our toddler.
North of Cotswolds
There are heaps of places to see in the Cotswolds, so the second day was one of the most intense for us as we determined to explore the entire northern part of Cotswolds. It is a great idea to park your vehicle and cycle all along the area we list below.
Chipping (cēping) in Old English means “a market, market-place”, so Chipping Camden is one of the small market towns in the Cotswolds filled with stone buildings and a tower. It’s a nice place to have an early breakfast too.
Broadway is another small town with numerous cafes and restaurants. But Broadway has one secret place that is so attractive to families. When I say “secret”, I mean it because the gigantic children’s playground is located behind High Street hidden by a very narrow path with no signs on it. Opposite the playground, you will find a couple of horses and a trail to wander around.
Stow-on-the-Wold is another market town. It has a lovely town center with lively streets full of cafes, little souvenir shops, and tunnel paths.
Naunton, however, is a village that lies on the River Windrush, so it is considered to be an area of outstanding natural beauty. It also only 6 miles (10 km) away from the Stow-on-the-Wold.
Now, this is an incredibly gorgeous village and one of the best places to visit in Cotswolds. So peaceful, so tranquil that we would like to knock on one of the doors and ask to stay there for a night. It is quite small but amazing to walk through. It is 6.4 miles (10.3 km) away from Naunton, but only 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the Stow-on-the-Wold.
Upper Slaughter is another small village that is 1 mile (1.6 km) away. First, we wanted to walk there until we realized that there is no pedestrian path and roads are quite narrow, so we drove which was a much safer option.
Both Lower and Upper Slaughters have a River Eye crossing these two villages, lots of flowers, green area, and spectacular views.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in the rural Cotswolds area that is quite popular for tourists and visitors. All because there are numerous fantastic things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water. If you are here, don’t miss out on Birdland Park & Gardens and Greystones Farm Nature Reserve.
You will be surrounded by nature, picturesque walks, great café options. In the Greystones Farm Nature Reserve, you can paddle and explore a couple of uniquely looking houses. Birdland Park & Gardens is a fun activity for kids where they can learn more about wildlife, a variety of bird species, such as Emus, Flamingos, and Owls. There is also a Jurassic Journey for kids to explore.
Among other things to do in Cotswolds, you should definitely visit a Model Village that replicates the Cotswold-stone village of Bourton-on-the-Water with mini gardens.
On the third and last day of our journey we were exploring more of the central part starting off the Castle Combe that is one of the best places in Cotswolds.
Surprisingly, we have spent there the majority of the day, and so rushed to other places later on. Castle Combe is a village with an amazingly beautiful castle. Outside the castle area, you will find tiny cafes which are a perfect place for breakfast or snacks.
There is so much to explore when you enter the Castle Combe area. Don’t be afraid to climb up the stairs on the top of the castle and walk through the forest and gardens.
In the front of the castle, there is a huge play and rest area where we simply had a picnic and took a short nap.
Streets here are extremely narrow and there is almost no sidewalk, so be careful when traveling to Castle Combe, Cotswolds with kids.
If you have got some extra time, Tetbury is another town to visit. It is quite lively and food-orientated, so it is best to visit Tetbury if you are hungry. There is a nice park with a children’s playground area too.
Cirencester is one of the biggest towns I have visited in Cotswolds. Apart from Cotswolds natural beauty, it has a Home Park with the beautiful lake, Cirencester Park, and Abbey Grounds Park. All are perfect for a gentle stroll with your kids and dogs enjoying ice cream and coffee from a pop-up van at the entrance of the parks.
But the best place to visit in Cotswolds, especially if you are with kids on holiday, is an Open Air Swimming Pool which is such a unique place to enjoy the swim and turn this into some incredibly fun days out.
Finally, our last stop, Bibury – the small village that can’t be missed. Indeed, it is one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Cotswolds. It is also one of the best Instagram spots. Bibury is small but absolutely worth a visit. You can drown in this beauty for the entire day. While we were busy taking photos, our son decided to get his feet wet in the nearest river. A super brave thing to do in early April.
Bibury Trout Farm is one place to visit. It closes at 4 pm. The entrance fee is £5 GBP per adult. Gorgeous place with an amazing garden where you can have a picnic and enjoy your friends’ company.
It is a very well-maintained farm where you can feed fishes and also, catch them to do an on-site barbecue. Prices are a bit on the higher side, but you can have the fish you caught yourself. Now that’s not something everyone can experience.
Have an amazing relaxing holiday in Cotswolds with kids!
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