Where to Stay in the Cotswolds with Kids: All You Need to Know
From the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' to the 'Queen of the Cotswolds', here's our guide to the best areas that the whole family will love.
Just a short drive away from London, the Cotswolds are a great place to bring the kids. As dad has probably already explained, it’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) so you’ll be sure to find wide open spaces, historic sites and exciting attractions to keep the little ones entertained. As you already know (or are about to find out), we're experts here at Plum Guide on all things travel so here we're sharing some of the best areas to stay in the Cotswolds with kids.
Bourton on Water
Nestled in a small valley, this village is one of the most well-known locations in the Cotswolds. It’s often dubbed the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ from the numerous little bridges that cross the River Windrush which flows through the centre of the village. (You won’t find moustached Italian men on little gondoliers, but it’s good enough.)
One of the best things to see is The Model Village. It’s a replica of the actual village, complete with miniature trees and a miniature river. There’s even a model village within the Model Village. If that’s too much for your brain to process, how about a trip to the Cotswold Motor Museum? Take a step back in time and discover the collection of 20th century vehicles. Yes kids, we really did used to drive cars like that.
If you find a few hours to spare for some alone time (lucky you), pop into the Cotswold Brewing Company for a quick tour and sampling session. Perhaps you’d rather have a browse around the shops? There’s a whole range of options, from sheepskin fashion to home decor.
If the kids happen to be wildlife enthusiasts, a trip to Birdland Park and Gardens is just what those budding David Attenboroughs need. The park is home to over 130 species of rare birds, including king penguins, flamingos and cassowaries. Not had your fill of wildlife just yet? There’s also Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park. Kids can meet all kinds of farm animals and let loose in the adventure playground while the adults sample Adam’s own beer at the restaurant.
Cirencester is one of our top choices when it comes to where to stay in Cotswolds with kids. Back in Roman times, Cirencester was the second largest town in Britain. While the Romans have long gone, fortunately they’ve left behind plenty of treasures to explore. If the kids (that includes dad) are history nerds, then Cirencester is one large playground.
A good place to start is the Corinium Museum. This place is a treasure trove of Roman artefacts with a particularly impressive collection of mosaics. If you happen to visit during the school holidays, there’s a whole programme of workshops for kids to get them off your hands for a few hours. Hooked on Roman remains? There’s the Cirencester Amphitheatre. While you may not see an intact monument, aerial photos show you how the arena looked in its 2nd century heyday. If that’s not enough, we’ve got one more must-see: Chedworth Roman Villa. Take a trip 10 miles north of Cirencester and you’ll find one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. Unfortunately this one didn’t make it into our collection of homes in the Cotswolds, however, we do have some other options for you well worth checking out.
If you’ve finally managed to drag the kids away from Roman ruins, a good place to head to is Cotswold Country Park and Beach. You can easily spend a full day here, as there’s a whole range of watersports and an inflatable water park. There’s plenty of food and drink options, and you can even hire a BBQ. For more water adventures, the Cotswold Water Park is the UK’s largest marl-lake system with over 170 lakes.
Another place to see is the Elemental Sculpture Park. While mums and dads can admire over 100 pieces of art, the kids can run around the 20 acre patch of woodland. Back in town, head to Pick a Pot & Paint. As the name so helpfully suggests, choose from the selection of pottery, paint your masterpiece which is then glazed and fired in the kiln. A great family-bonding experience.
Known as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ due to its fine buildings, Painswick is a historic wool town and one of the best-preserved settlements in the Cotswolds. There are several notable historic homes in the town. Get the kids to go on a search for the two original ‘donkey doors’ which were onced used as a passageway for donkeys carrying wool.
One of the must-dos in Painswick is a trip to St Mary’s Church which dates back to the 14th century. The churchyard is famous for the 99 yew trees which were planted in the late 18th century. Every time a hundredth tree is planted, it dies, and legend has it that the Devil won’t let it grow (maybe don’t tell the kids this).
It wouldn’t be a trip to Cotswolds with kids if there weren’t some walks involved. Painswick is at the midpoint of the long-distance Cotswold Way. While dragging them along the entirety of this walk may result in something resembling a death march, there are plenty of shorter routes nearby, such as the Painswick Beacon Walk. Up here, you’ll see views stretching all the way to the Welsh mountains.
On the outskirts of town, you’ll find the Rococo Garden which was designed in the 1740s and is full of art exhibits, fun family trails and outdoor theatre. There’s also a maze, woodland walks, magical follies and hidden valleys, so there’s plenty to keep the kids happy.
Sold on a country break and decided on where to stay in the Cotswolds with kids? This area of the UK makes for one of the best cottage holiday destinations around, so you've made a fine choice indeed.