Keeping little ones entertained can be tricky at the best of times — not least when it’s grey and miserable outside — but worry not, as there is an abundance of indoor activities to try out in Gloucestershire.
In this hot list, SoGlos has rounded up 26 of the best places to take the kids in Gloucestershire when you're looking for fun indoors, from marvellous museums and farmyards, to adventure parks and climbing venues.
Spend a day as a Roman at the Corinium Museum
Located in the second largest town in Roman Britain, Cirencester’s Corinium Museum offers a fascinating look at what life was like in the Roman times, including impressive mosaics and a Roman garden to explore, alongside amazing artefacts like prehistoric jewellery, an Anglo-Saxon shield, ancient tombstones and Tudor coins.
Experience new heights at Boulders
Escape the elements and head to Boulders in Cheltenham, where you'll discover an impressive indoor climbing venue that's great for all weather — but especially perfect for a rainy day! The family-friendly venue introduces young people to the skills they will need to climb safely and well in order to start their bouldering journey.
Moo-ve it at Cotswold Farm Park
There’s plenty of under-cover activities for families to enjoy without getting soaked at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park. Small ones can romp around the heated soft play area, with all ages enjoying playing in the huge covered sandpit and meeting the farm park’s residents in the sheltered animal barn.
Travel back in time at Dean Heritage Centre
Discover hours of indoor entertainment at the Dean Heritage Centre, which offers five on-site galleries exploring the history of the Forest of Dean from the Iron Age to the present day. There’s also a forester’s cottage and Victorian schoolroom, so kids can step back in time. And, if it happens to brighten up, don’t miss exploring the Gruffalo trail.
Enjoy a family show at the Everyman Theatre
You’re never too young to be introduced to the magic of live theatre and Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre hosts a number of family-friendly shows — including touring productions and the theatre’s ever-popular panto!
Tread in the footsteps of Harry Potter at Gloucester Cathedral
Expelliarmus! Eagle-eyed youngsters can discover which of Gloucester Cathedral’s cloisters doubled as the corridors of Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and The Half Blood Prince at the iconic attraction — with plenty more to discover there, too.
Go back in time at a castle
A day out steeped in history, with plenty of indoor exhibitions to keep families educated and entertained in a downpour, there are three castles to choose from in and around Gloucestershire, including the stunning Sudeley Castle and Gardens in Winchcombe, the striking Berkeley Castle, near Stroud, and Eastnor Castle in nearby Ledbury.
Splash about at Slimbridge Wetland Centre
On a rainy day, kids are sure to have heaps of fun splashing around in Slimbridge Wetland Centre’s outdoor wet playground and Welly Boot Land, with plenty of shaded woodland to take shelter.
Tee off at Mr Mulligan's Lost World Golf
Located in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter, Mr Mulligan’s has two 18-hole adventure golf courses to choose from, giving kids — and grown-ups — a chance to test their putting skills on a variety of different crazy golf obstacles. There’s also electro-darts and shuffleboard to try out, too.
Take aim at Laser Tag
Kids can put their aim to the test and challenge their friends in a battle of Laser Tag, situated at Gloucester’s popular JDR Karting arena. With a variety of different games to choose from, complete with amazing props and a multi-floor arena, it promises to be an exciting experience.
Burn rubber at JDR Karting
Do you feel the need for speed? Gloucester’s JDR Karting offers children aged between four and 15 the chance to put pedal to the metal and race around one of its two tracks. And if that wasn’t enough, indoor Segway experiences are also available for kids over the age of six.
Tuck into a sweet treat at Creams Cafe
Take cover from the rain and tuck into some scrumptious sweet treats at Creams Cafe in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter. Let the kids choose from sweet sundaes, wonderful waffles or perfect pancakes.
Embark on an incredible VR journey in Gloucester
Set off on an incredible journey without ever leaving the county at Gloucester’s VRXPERIENCE, where children can go head-to-head in races; put their nerves to the test and brave exciting rollercoasters; and play a choice of more than 100 fun virtual reality games.
Get a strike at tenpin bowling
Whether it’s striking out on the bowling lanes, playing video games or getting competitive at air hockey, Stroud Bowl, Tenpin in Gloucester and Roxy Lanes and Hollywood Bowl in Cheltenham all provide a fun and safe haven away from the wind and rain. Bowling with little ones? Ask for a ramp to help them take aim and gutter guards, too.
Test your skills at Ninja Warrior UK Gloucester
Daredevil kids can get competitive at the first Ninja Warrior UK Gloucester in the south of the country. Based in Gloucester, the centre offers little ones the chance to climb, balance, jump and swing across different obstacles using and developing their ninja skills. Aspiring ninjas can even brave the famous Warped Wall!
Challenge yourself at an escape room
With a whole host of worlds to explore including Doctor Who, Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland themed rooms, The Brewery Quarter’s Escape Hunt in Cheltenham is the perfect place to escape the drizzle with older kids. Teams will embark on ground-breaking missions while trying to find clues, solve puzzles and complete challenges all before the time runs out.
Venture underground into Clearwell Caves
Go underground to escape the drizzle, with a visit to Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean. Hear the miners’ stories, explore nine impressive caverns and soak up the atmospheric displays, with plenty to keep young visitors enthralled.
Enjoy some rough and tumble at Play Farm in Cheltenham
When the weather is horrible outside, keeping the little ones from bouncing off the walls can be difficult, but at Cheltenham Brewery Quarter’s Play Farm they can do just that! Offering a fun, safe and affordable indoor environment, Play Farm allows parents to relax while their children have the freedom to explore freely in its sizeable play frame.
Hop aboard the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
Take shelter from the rain on board the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, which runs between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Children under five years old can travel free of charge and there’s also free activity sheets available from the stations to keep the kids entertained throughout the journey.
Create a painted pottery masterpiece
Families can get creative with some pottery painting fun in Gloucestershire at the Paint It Yourself Pottery Company in Cheltenham, offering pint-sized Picassos the opportunity to create their own mug or plate masterpieces. With the chance to immortalise tiny footprints, or handprints proving popular with parents, too.
Cook up a storm at a cookery school
On a rainy day, there’s nothing better than staying inside and baking something delicious to eat – and mini cooks and young foodies will be in their element with a cookery class at Harts Barn Cookery School in the Forest of Dean. With a whole host of classes to enjoy including chocolate-making, festive fun and even a family cooking experience, it’s ideal for when it’s grey and miserable outside.
Clamber around at Cotswold Clubhouse
Located on the outskirts of Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswold Clubhouse is a fun-filled soft play centre with plenty to entertain children up to the age of 11. There's a separate space for under threes, a reading nook and an on-site cafe, too.
Get lost in a book at a Gloucestershire library
Providing hours of educational entertainment, the county’s libraries offer children the chance to get lost in a good book or enjoy time on the computers. While storytelling, book clubs, craft sessions, poetry workshops, baby bounce, rhyme time and much more will keep little ones of all ages busy — and learning — without them even realising!
Make a splash at Leisure at Cheltenham
Make a splash without heading into the rain with a swimming session at Leisure at Cheltenham, which has lots to offer littles ones including a main pool, a teaching pool and a diving pool, as well as a fun-filled Splash Pad — an indoor aquatic play zone for children up to the age of eight.
Meet Brum at Cotswold Motoring Museum
Cotswold Motoring Museum in Bourton-on-the-Water is the home of television star, Brum. Meanwhile, visitors of all generations will enjoy the attraction’s impressive toy collection, which includes everything from pedal cars and model aeroplanes, to jigsaws and board games.
Discover the Museum of Gloucester
Families can find a skull and discover some amazing artefacts from thousands of years ago at the Museum of Gloucester, or take a trip back in time and join auxiliary Roman soldier Lucius for a fascinating visit underground.