- Children’s Walking Tour. A short walking tour of Oxford lasting 1½ hours incorporating the main sights and concentrating on the aspects of Oxford which would most interest children, including the Harry Potter filming locations, Alice in Wonderland, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The walk can include an optional visit to the University Museum of Natural History and/or the Pitt Rivers Museum.
- Junior City Guiding Course. Suitable for children from 8 upwards, this sightseeing tour visits Oxford’s key historical sights and gives children a challenge in the form of a question sheet about Oxford and its history. All those children answering the questions correctly get a Junior Guide’s Certificate!
- City Sightseeing Tour on a Double-Decker Bus. An excellent sightseeing alternative for children who get bored easily or who might find a walking tour too tiring. This double-decker bus tour includes most of the main sights in Oxford and takes approximately one hour - if you stay on the bus for the whole tour. Alternatively, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you like at any of the twenty stops to go exploring.
The bus departs from Oxford Railway Station or the Gloucester Green bus station approximately every 15 minutes from 0930 until 1600 (November – February) and 1800 (April to September). Some of the buses have English-speaking guides and others have taped commentaries in up to 11 languages.
- The University Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum. A wonderful place to spend an afternoon and it’s free! The Natural History Museum houses an extensive collection of insects, fossils, rocks and local dinosaur finds. There is also a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus rex, an observation beehive and Alice in Wonderland’s Dodo. The building itself is one of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture with a wealth of naturalist carving and a huge glass roof over the central museum court, which is supported by cast iron shafts. Children’s activities take place every Sunday from 2.00 – 4.00 and it has a small shop which has books, dinosaur kits, fossils and puzzles etc. The Pitt Rivers Museum is a real Aladdin’s cave of treasure and various curios including clothing, weapons, musical instruments, a totem pole, a witch in a bottle and a gruesome collection of shrunken heads!
- The Ashmolean Museum. Britain’s oldest museum housing the University’s impressive collections of British, European, Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities. There are also European paintings and drawings from the Renaissance to the 20th Century, sculpture, silver, ceramics and musical instruments as well as coins and medals. Oriental art includes Chinese, Japanese, Islamic and Indian metalwork, ceramics, paintings, textiles and sculpture. Children will be particularly interested in the Egyptian mummies, King Alfred’s jewel, Guy Fawkes’ lantern, Henry 8th’s hawking glove and stirrups and Powhatan’s mantle!
- The Museum of the History of Science. This museum is housed in the old Ashmolean Building, the oldest public museum building in the country, opened in 1683. The exhibits include scientific instruments dating back to antiquity, Islamic and European astrolabes, a fine collection of early chemical apparatus , watches and clocks, medical instruments, the original penicillin apparatus and Einstein’s blackboard. A must for keen young scientists!
- Towers. Children might enjoy climbing up inside one of Oxford’s towers for a panoramic view of the city:
* Carfax Tower. Open daily 10.00 – 5.30 (Apr – Oct) and 10.00 – 3.30 (Nov – Mar) except Dec 25th – 1st Jan.
* University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Steep spiral staircase but excellent views at the top. Best tower to visit with little ones as the gaps in the balustrade are all reinforced with thick metal mesh, making it safer.
* Sheldonian Theatre. This is not a tower but you can climb up to the cupola at the top for a bird’s eye view of the city and it has the added advantage of being under cover if it is cold or wet. Older children will find the inside of the domed roof fascinating.
- Ice Skating at the Oxford Ice Rink. If the kids need a break from sightseeing you can take them ice-skating at the Oxford Ice Rink. Public sessions normally take place daily from 10.00 – 12.00 then from 2.00 – 4.00 and from 7.00 – 9.00 p.m. Don’t forget to take gloves and thick socks!
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