1) port Meadow
In the summer months in Oxford, the sun comes out and people head to Port Meadow.
If you set yourself up for a day there you won’t be disappointed. Pack some games, your swimmers, a picnic and Port Meadow will provide the scenery.
You wouldn’t expect to find a large stretch of ancient open meadowland in the city, but that’s precisely the charm of this tranquil slice of Oxford countryside. Take a walk through the wildflowers, past grazing horses and cattle, before stopping for a pint at the ever-popular 17th-century pub, The Perch.
Punting is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in Oxford. Last summer I took my eight-year-old niece out for a “sail” along the beautiful rivers of Oxford, and we were constantly in a fit of giggles as our attempts to make punting look as easy as the professionals did not go as planned. As we sang “Just Around the River Bend” (a Disney classic), we had our picnic, applied some more sun cream and used teamwork to get ourselves back to the boat house. We treated ourselves afterwards to a G&D’s ice cream, the perfect end to an exciting adventure.
The quintessential Oxford activity is also the best way to see many of the city’s riverside sights; you can’t visit Oxford without giving punting a try.
Pack a picnic, stow away your phone and be prepared to get soggy. Read our Guide to Punting for more information and crucial advice on how not to fall in. Hire a boat from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, pack a picnic and go for a punt down the scenic River Cherwell. It’s a quintessentially Oxford, timeless way to spend an afternoon – especially when the sun is shining!
3) The Covered Market
Oxford Covered Market has always been an attraction for visiting tourists, providing a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink. We are proud that the majority of our businesses are independent and with some going back generations.
The market is open to the public from 8am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sundays. However, all the businesses have their own opening times and some do not open on Sundays, so please check Traders.
We’re also performing Don Quixote in The Covered Market this summer!
4) bill SPECTre’s Ghost Tour
Join Bill Spectre, a professionally trained actor on his award-winning theatrical ghost trail of Oxford as he lifts the lid on this great seat of learning. This entertainment-based tour is illustrated with props and illusions. Bill, in costume with his black top hat, will lead you through the streets of Oxford and reveal the darker side of this most ancient city. There are two meeting places, depending on the length of tour you would prefer.Meet at Oxford Castle & Prison for the 1-hour 45-minute tour.
Alternatively, meet at the Oxford Visitor Information Centre on Broad Street for 1 hour and 15-minute tour.Walk Route: From Oxford Castle & Prison or Oxford VIC 30mins later
The Ghost Trail tour takes place every Friday and Saturday at 18:30, also on Sunday 26th May, whatever the weather.Bill specialises in private group bookings, please contact him for further details.
Tickets are available online or in person at the Oxford Visitor Information Centre (15-16 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AS), or from Bill Spectre, who will be dressed in his distinctive black top hat, outside Oxford Castle Unlocked on the night.
5) Cowley Road
Vibrant, diverse and now increasingly gentrified, Cowley Road is the artery running through the “other Oxford” and the site of the city’s annual summer Carnival.
Good for window shopping and coffee shop hopping by day; even better for eating out, pub crawling and live music by night. Some of our favourite places here are Moya, Yeti,and the James Street Tavern.
Cowley Road Carnival happening this Sunday! It would be a mistake not to be in Cowley this Sunday to take part in the dancing, listen to the music and try all of the cuisines that Cowley Road has to offer.
6) The Sheldonian
This breath-taking Grade I listed building, the first major design by world-famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is where it all happens for Oxford University students. Inside these hallowed walls students are admitted to the university and receive their degree. The theatre also regularly holds classical music concerts, so treat yourself to tickets to really experience the grandeur of the place for yourself.
7) University Parks
Spread out across 70 acres, University Parks is a green oasis right in the heart of the city. With a great choice of walks, a stunning collection of trees and plants and plenty of open-space, it’s the perfect spot for enjoying a relaxed picnic and watching the world go by. Chances are you’ll be able to catch a game of cricket, lacrosse, football or even Quidditch – yep, you read that right!South Parks Road, Oxford, England, OX1 3RF, United Kingdom.
8) Radcliffe Camera
No trip to Oxford would be complete without taking in the grand architecture of the Radliffe Camera. Dominating the city’s skyline for centuries, the “Rad Cam” was originally built to house the University’s Radcliffe Science Library and now serves as a reading room for the Bodleian Library.
Radcliffe Camera Radcliffe Square, Oxford, England, OX1 3BG, United Kingdom
9) Blackwell’s Bookshop
Wondering why a bookshop is on this list? Blackwell’s isn’t your typical bookshop! An integral part of University life, Blackwell’s is the biggest academic and specialist bookseller in the UK, stocking hundreds of thousands of titles. The famous Norrington Room boasts a whopping three miles (5km) of shelving, earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest single room selling books.
10) Thirsty Meeples
As with all British summers, you can almost guarantee there will be at least one day of rain. Here at Creation, we know the importance of a wet weather back up – what better way to spend a rainy afternoon then surrounded by thousands of board games in Oxford’s leading Board Game Café.
With fantastic staff who have all the board game knowledge and a great bar offering tea, cake and sandwiches, you’d be surprised at how many hours fly by when you have great company and unlimited entertainment. However, if I were you, I’d steer clear of Monopoly – it seems to cause nothing but family feuds and grumpy faces.
To find out the best things to do with children in Oxford read Top 5 family activities in Oxford.
To enrol your children in our School of Creativity head to our education page.
And to get your theatre culture fix you can have a look at what we’ve got on here.
Culture trip; Sarah Dawson
Flickr: Ed Webster