Wet weather activities in Oxford and Oxfordshire – 10 and a half things to do indoors!

wet weatherAh dear. Another wet and dismal half-term has just gone. I shouldn’t be surprised, but one always has higher hopes for May than October or February. Never mind, it’s inspired me to put this post together and maybe some of the following suggestions will help for the future. I’ve made a list of some of the wet weather contingency plans for our fair county and I hope it provides some inspiration when the little darlings are already bouncing off the walls at 9am and you’re wondering if it’s too early to broach the Pinot Grigio…

Crocodiles of the world, Burford

Yes, it really is called Crocodiles of the World and it’s the UK’s only crocodile-only zoo! It’s open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm 365 days a year, bank holidays, school holidays and all – so it really is a good contingency plan, as well as a great option for small people obsessed with ‘crocodinos’. It also presents lots of learning opportunities, so caters to a wider age-range than you might think. Definitely better than another day in front of CBBC.

Living Rainforest, Henley

More reptilian fun to be had here just outside Henley-upon-Thames. The Living Rainforest is home to 700 species of plants and animals. Watch birds, butterflies and lizards roam free in the tropical glasshouses so you can explore the rainforest without leaving the UK.  The outing of choice for many of the young families I know, especially since a ticket is valid for the rest of the year – good value for money if the weather is poor!

River and Rowing Museum, Henley

Yet another Henley-upon-Thames offering I’m afraid. The River and Rowing museum is a strange combination celebrating the River, the international sport of Rowing and the town of Henley on Thames. The Wind in the Willows exhibit is probably the best bit for entertaining the younger members of the family, but there are various family-friendly exhibits and events so it’s worth checking the website. As with the Living Rainforest, one ticket gets you admission for the remainder of the year, so add it to your parenting toolkit!

Pottering About, Blenheim Palace 

Not something my toddler terrorist is quite ready for yet I don’t think but for well behaved older children then an hour or two in this charming pottery-painting studio would be a pleasant way to spend a rainy day – you could make something nice for Granny/Father’s Day/Teacher at the end of the year.  Keep them entertained *and* cross off one of those pesky entries from your ‘presents to buy’ list.

Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock 

This was recommended to me by a friend and – I’ll be honest – I’m not entirely sure what they do. However it looks like they run lots of activities for children and families at a very low cost, if not entirely free.  If you’re at the end of your tether then this has to be a better option than letting them mess up the sitting room with yet another den and indoor picnic, right?

Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage

It’s free! It has a cafe! It’s not finger painting or experimental cooking or anything else that will make a mess of your house. It has galleries interpreting the cultural heritage of the Vale of White Horse region and a number of events happening throughout the year. If you go, please let us know what you thought…

Bowling at the Kassam Stadium

With an all-singing, all-dancing leisure complex there’s not just the Bowlplex – a twenty four lane bowling alley and fourteen table pool hall – but a Vue cinema, four restaurants, a Gala Bingo, a childrens’ entertainment centre and a health centre. Something for everyone and all indoors!

Bowling at Oxford Bowlplex

Here’s our half [see title]- a second bowling venue! Touting itself as ‘the great indoors’ this is the other bowling option. Offering baby changing, the option to bowl in one’s own shoes, free parking and a Costa Coffee this looks family friendly – or parent friendly at least – to us! Let us know what you think by leaving a review.

Natural History Museum, Oxford

From dodos to dinos this museum has lots to interest and entertain small and big people alike.  With extra events organised on a regular basis there may even be something special just when you need it – oh! And insect cases on the top floor will surely appeal to the creepy-crawly minded. Don’t forget to visit the newly opened cafe with views over the dinosaurs. Brilliant!

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

The Pitt Rivers is a strange, murky place of hidden treasures (or horrors, depending on your view of shrunken heads!). They can lend you a torch if you request it, which adds an extra layer of delight for most children, though some may find it a little overwhelming, so be aware. Admission is free, though, so give it a try if you’re in the area!

Story Museum, Oxford

The 26 characters exhibition currently showing at the Story Museum is fabulous for any children who love their books. Not just pictures on a wall, this exhibition is interactive and allows visitors to step inside the magical world of some of the best-known books – literally in the case of the Narnia exhibit, where you can push your ay through a wardrobe of fur coats!

Other ideas

Obviously there is always the cinema or swimming, or you could even bundle them up in their waterproofs and hit the parks and playgrounds anyway – at least you’ll have them mostly to yourselves!  Let us know if you’ve been to any particularly good cinemas, pools or playgrounds and maybe we can do a post on the best ones to visit in the county

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