Great Western Railway is Gloucestershire’s leading train provider, connecting the county to a host of exciting destinations from Cornwall to the capital. It also helps to make family train travel easier with fixed price family tickets, free WiFi on board and two for one attraction ticket offers, too.
If the kids are climbing the walls and you’re all out of ideas for where to take them, hop on board a train from Gloucestershire and enjoy a day outside your usual stomping ground.
From fascinating museums to animal-themed adventures, SoGlos rounds up 12 fun family days out, all easily accessible on the GWR train network from Gloucestershire.
Come face to face with the only soft tissue remains of a Dodo; meet Mary Anning’s Ichthyosaur; and see the ‘The Red Lady of Paviland’ – the remains of a Palaeolithic woman from the oldest known human burial in the UK, all within the stunning neo-Gothic surroundings of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
From the whale skeletons suspended from the roof to the seven million objects on display, there’s a breath-taking discovery around every corner.
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is located directly next door to the fascinating Pitt Rivers Museum, too, which documents the weird, wonderful and sometimes challenging history of the human race through its collection of around 500,000 artefacts. What’s more, they’re both free to visit.
Oxford University Museum of Natural History is around 20-minutes’ walk from Oxford station.
Located on Bristol’s Harbourside, science museum We The Curious is an incredible, interactive experience with something for kids of all ages to enjoy. The new Project What If area blends art with science and features 69 exhibits inspired by people from the local area.
Elsewhere in the museum, kids can enjoy a plethora of interactive activities, from making giant bubbles, moulding tactile sand and seeing how astronauts live, to drawing and filming their own animations.
There are also daily shows in the 3D Planetarium; thought-provoking free activities from story time for little explorers to taking part in machine-learning research for more curious minds; and daily events in the John James Theatre of Curiosity, where asking tricky questions is actively encouraged.
We The Curious is around 18-minutes’ walk from Bristol Temple Meads station.
An exciting attraction for older kids, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein transports brave visitors into the spookiest depths of the famous author’s mind.
From the tragic story of Shelley’s early life; meeting a life-sized version of Dr Frankenstein’s Creation, just as she had imagined him in her iconic novel; playing pinball in the room dedicated to Frankenstein in pop culture; to taking on the crazed doctor himself in Victor’s Lair escape room, this attraction is full of surprises. Anyone travelling by GWR train can get two for one tickets to Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein too – see two for one attraction tickets with GWR for more information.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein is around 13-minutes’ walk from Bath Spa station.
Dive right in and experience the ‘wonders of the deep’ at Bristol Aquarium, with hundreds of creatures to meet, from tropical sharks to seahorses. Observe the native fish that call the aquarium’s Sunken Ship home, meet the naturally inquisitive rays at the open-topped Bay of Rays and explore the Urban Jungle with giant plants, terrapins and freshwater fish from the Amazon rainforest.
And for a totally immersive experience, little ones can have a go at the aquarium’s VR experience, to virtually dive with sharks or swim with humpback whales.
Bristol Aquarium is around 17-minutes’ walk from Bristol Temple Meads station.
Bookish families can enjoy an utterly magical day out at The Story Museum in Oxford. From its mysterious whispering wood where the trees share their secrets, to the enchanted library where kids are invited to step inside their favourite storybooks, The Galleries are the perfect place to let imaginations run wild.
While its Small Worlds experience is designed exclusively for babies and toddlers, with picture books, nursery rhymes and fairy tales brought to life through songs and stories, ideal for the very youngest visitors.
The Story Museum is around 13-minutes’ walk from Oxford station.
For a really wild day out, head to All Things Wild near Evesham, where visitors can meet a whole host of animals from cute, fluffy creatures like lemurs, cotton-top tamarins, raccoons and meerkats; slippery and scaly creatures like Caiman crocodiles, iguanas and boa constrictors; to the park’s most popular residents, the Chapman’s zebras.
Dinosaur enthusiasts can take a ride on the Dino Land train and visit the Dino Barn to learn all about their prehistoric pals; energetic kids can explore the indoor beach, pedal go karts or let off steam in the adventure playground; then for little adventurers, there’s a soft play barn and pedal tractors to play on, too.
All Things Wild is around six-minutes’ walk from Honeybourne station.
History-loving little ones will love exploring the historic Roman Baths, which was once one of the most important religious spas in the world. Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Romans who visited to bathe in the thermal spring waters and worship the goddess, Sulis Minerva.
There’s plenty to discover in the museum too, where visitors will find a gilt bronze head of the goddess and a multitude of other Roman artefacts, each with their own fascinating history.
The Roman Baths are around six-minutes’ walk from Bath Spa station.
Children can live out their nautical dreams on a trip to the SS Great Britain in Bristol. The painstakingly restored Victorian vessel was created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and is considered one of the most important ships in maritime history.
Giving visitors a chance to experience the sights, sounds and smells of life onboard, they can explore everywhere from the engine room, with its working replica of Brunel’s original engine, to the promenade deck where first class passengers could wander. Not to mention heading below the waterline to examine the screw propellor that made the SS Great Britain so unique, as well as visiting the Dockyard Museum to discover the ship’s history and how the SS Great Britain made it home after being beached in the Falklands.
SS Great Britain is around half an hour’s walk from Bristol Temple Meads station.
For little ones that love trains, a day out to STEAM in Swindon is a must. The museum of the Great Western Railway has over 400,000 objects to discover, including historical steam locomotives, carriages like Queen Victoria’s Royal Saloon and even a classic Dennis fire engine.
As well as an actual train station platform to explore inside the museum, there are plenty of interactive exhibits too – giving kids a chance to change the signals in an authentic GWR signal box and have a go a driving a steam train in a simulator. STEAM Swindon also offers two for one attraction tickets when travelling by train with GWR, see two for one attractions tickets with GWR for the full details.
STEAM is around 13-minutes’ walk from Swindon station.
Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery offers a serene day out for families, with over 1,500 artworks to take in, dating as far back as the 17th century. As a centre for portrait painting in the late 18th century, some of the most famous portrait painters of the time – including Thomas Gainsborough – worked extensively in Bath, with many of their works on display in the gallery. There’s also a sculpture of William Harbutt – better known as the inventor of plasticine!
The museum has family-friendly exhibitions throughout the year, as well as art trolleys stocked with craft activities for kids to try and fun trails to follow around the museum, too.
Victoria Art Gallery is around eight-minutes’ walk from Bath Spa station.
Oxford’s 1000-year-old castle has an incredible past, with visitors able to learn all about the historic building from its creation during the reign of William the Conqueror to its days as an 18th century prison. As well as a spooky, candlelit crypt to explore, the castle offers panoramic views of the city of dreaming spires from the top of St George’s Tower.
For competitive families with older children, there’s also an escape room experience available from 7pm, where participants have to outsmart the prison warden to break out of one of the castle’s genuine jail cells.
Oxford Castle is around nine-minutes’ walk from Oxford station.
Setting off from the lovingly restored Victorian station at Bitton, families can enjoy a ride in a heritage train carriage pulled by a steam or diesel locomotive at the Avon Valley Railway near Bristol.
Take a walk along the tracks of the 13-mile Bristol and Bath Railway Path to let off some steam; grab a bite to eat at the station buffet; or pack a picnic and pick a spot at the Avon Riverside Station to watch the trains trundle across the girder bridge while you tuck into your lunch.
Avon Valley Railway is a half-hour walk or a 15-minute bus ride on the number 17 service from Keynsham station.
By Chloe Gorman
Monday 07 March 2022
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