16 amazing attractions within an hour's drive of Gloucestershire

Treat your family to a day out to remember without the long car journey, with 16 of the best days out within an hour of Gloucestershire.

By Eleanor Fullalove  |  Published
SoGlos has rounded up 16 attractions all within an hour of Gloucestershire for fantastic family days out.
SoGlos has rounded up 16 attractions all within an hour of Gloucestershire for fantastic family days out.
In partnership with The Wave  |  thewave.com
The Wave

Offering a waterside café-bar and children’s play park, alongside surf sessions and ‘Play in the Bay’ for youngsters still finding their feet in the water, The Wave on the outskirts of Bristol promises fun for the whole family. Keen to promote the benefits of spending time in the water and a healthy and active lifestyle, The Wave even has 25 safari tents on its very own glampsite, so you can get back to nature and wake up to the sounds of the waves!

If anyone knows that Gloucestershire has an enormous range of activities and days out right here on the doorstep, it’s SoGlos. But it’s also exciting to travel somewhere new – so we’ve handpicked 16 fantastic days out, all within an hour’s drive.

From 'the ship that changed the world' and the world's first 'amazement park' in Bristol, to Bear Grylls-approved adventures and Dairy Milk diving in Birmingham, via the herd of white rhinos in Wiltshire and an impressive collection of dinosaur species from Oxfordshire, where do you want to start?

The Wave in Bristol

While Gloucestershire might be miles from the coast, you don’t have to travel too far to catch a wave. Bristol’s unique inland surfing centre, The Wave, promises consistent surfing conditions year-round.

With its 180-metre surfing lake, people of all ages and experience levels can take to the water, with surf lessons for absolute beginners to non-guided sessions for intermediate to expert level surfers.

The Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham

Boasting Europe’s tallest high ropes course, as well as indoor skydiving, climbing, archery and even a shark dive, The Bear Grylls Adventure at Birmingham’s NEC is an unmissable experience for adrenaline junkies.

The incredible high ropes course has 36 obstacles to tackle, all from 65 feet up in the air. The course is suitable for anyone aged eight or over – as long as they’re brave enough to take on the challenge!

The Roman Baths in Bath

Take a trip through time with a visit to the Roman Baths in nearby Bath – one of the finest examples of Roman architecture in existence, providing an immersive experience full of stunning spots that are perfect for a picture!

Visitors can enjoy an audio tour of the historic venue, read by famous names including Bill Bryson and Michael Rosen; and explore a series of interactive exhibits, ancient artefacts and CGI projections. You can even taste the famous spa water at the end of the tour.

Eastnor Castle

Offering plenty to keep the whole family entertained all day, Eastnor Castle is home to an adventure playground, a knight’s maze, a junior assault course and a woodland play area, allowing children to clamber through the treetops as they take in the spectacular countryside views.

Visitors can even bring their dogs to explore the grounds at Eastnor’s beautiful lake and arboretum. The castle is usually open on selected dates from Easter until the end of September, allowing guests to explore the impressive state rooms and fine art.

Longleat Safari Park

Arguably one of the best safari parks in the UK, Longleat offers an amazing safari drive-through experience, alongside the historic Longleat House and Grounds; and the Main Square where families can enjoy getting up close to koalas, otters, crocodiles, monkeys, and reptiles.

There are also plenty of experiences to enjoy such as riding the Longleat railway, and exploring the family farmyard. With so much to do, Longleat provides a jam-packed day out that families will love.

Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein in Bath

Horror fans will be thrilled to explore Bath’s new attraction, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein. Set across four floors, the immersive experience promises brave visitors the chance to explore the dark world of Mary Shelley and see her vision of The Creation as he was intended in the book, which was written while Shelley was living in Bath.

Offering a multi-sensory experience with sights, sounds and smells to encounter, the unique new attraction is a must for Franken-fans and families with older children – there’s even a Frankenstein themed escape room to try out!

Cadbury World in Birmingham

From discovering the origins of the cocoa bean in an Aztec Jungle, to diving into liquid Dairy Milk in the 4D cinema and getting some hands-on experience in chocolate-making, Cadbury World in Bournville is nothing if not choc-full of fun!

As well as finding out about the Cadbury family that founded the business in Birmingham and how treats like Creme Eggs and Buttons are made, the Cadbury Café even has chocolate pizza on the menu.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Housed inside a stunning neo-Gothic building in Oxford, the University’s Museum of Natural History is home to a large collection of fossils, gemstones, zoology exhibitions and stunning art.

Take a walk down Skeleton Parade, meet dinosaurs and bugs, and come face-to-face with The Oxford Dodo – the most complete remains of a Dodo in the world. What’s more, the museum is completely free to visit, although donations are welcome.

Warwick Castle

Enjoy a day of Medieval fun at Warwick Castle, where brave explorers can enter the Castle Dungeon on a frightening walk-through experience featuring special effects and live actors; or for those looking to step back in time, enjoy finding out about the venue’s history.

See falconry displays, watch the Warwick Bowman show off his archery skills and venture off on an activity trail with Zog the loveable dragon.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol

Board ‘the ship that changed the world’ at Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol. The attraction has a fascinating dockyard museum, where visitors can learn about the ship’s history and take a walk under a spectacular glass sea, as well as getting to explore the historic ship itself.

The ship has been completely restored to its former glory, looking just as it did in 1843, with sights, sounds and smells to complete the experience. Brunel’s SS Great Britain also offers free returns for a year with every ticket, so you can set off on a nautical adventure as many times as you like.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

Visit all five of Shakespeare’s homes in Stratford-upon-Avon with a special tour which begins at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, in the centre of the town.

The walking tour allows fans of the Bard to take in Mary Arden’s Farm, which was Shakespeare’s Mother’s Tudor farm; Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Shakespeare’s wife grew up and their relationship began; Shakespeare’s New Place, the site of the family home Shakespeare lived in for 19 years; and Hall’s Croft where Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna lived.

STEAM in Swindon

STEAM is Swindon’s museum of the Great Western Railway, and is situated right opposite the Swindon designer outlet in a stunningly restored Grade II listed railway building.

Exhibiting the vision of engineering great, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, STEAM explains how the Great Western Railway came to be one of the most advanced in the world. There’s also plenty of places to eat and drink at the nearby Swindon designer outlet centre, or enjoy a spot of retail therapy after your trip.

Bristol Aquarium

Discover the wonders of the deep at Bristol Aquarium. Located in the centre of the city, close to the busy harbourside, visitors can enjoy seeing tropical sharks, seahorses and colourful corals up close, thanks to an undersea tunnel.

A great wet weather attraction, there are events and talks every day, along with opportunities to feed some of the fish, too.

Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo

The Wild Place Project is a family attraction, operated by the team behind Bristol Zoo Gardens. Based just off junction 17 of the M5, the project aims to protect threatened habitats around the globe.

Visitors can see giraffes, cheetahs, zebra; discover Madagascar’s lemurs; tackle the barefoot trail; enjoy a number of play areas; or explore the secret Congo area.

Closer to central Bristol, animal lovers can explore Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton, where you can get up close to lions and crocodiles, before it closes on 3 September 2022.

Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes

The magical Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes in Monmouthsire offers tranquil walks through its beautifully landscaped gardens full of water features and tropical plants above ground, as well as a network of tunnels and grottoes to discover underground.

Although there is limited access for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs, there is free parking on site and a tea room offering drinks and cakes to take away.

Wake The Tiger in Bristol

With this world-first opening in Bristol, you could be among the initial wave of people to visit an 'amazement park', combining elements of an art gallery, a theme park and a film set - Wake The Tiger is open for booking now, with tickets valid from the end of July 2022. 

Transported into the parallel world of Meridia, visitors of all ages can explore 27 different environments, from forests and temples to ice caves, as part of an ‘immersive art maze' from the creative minds behind Boomtown music festival. Debrief in the café after, or head into the city to see what else it has to offer.

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