14 fantastic outdoor family activities in Gloucestershire

Whether you're a sporty, adventure-loving or culture-seeking bunch, SoGlos has rounded up 14 fantastic outdoor activities that families can enjoy together in Gloucestershire.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Child on a high ropes course in the forest
Get outdoors in Gloucestershire with these fun activities to enjoy with your family.

Soak up the fresh air and enjoy some quality family time, with SoGlos handpicking 14 outdoor activity ideas for fun-loving families in Gloucestershire.

Spanning heart-pumping sporting activities and adventures for all ages, to more laid-back and leisurely pursuits, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and try a new hobby with loved ones.

1. Take to the trees in Gloucestershire

Go on a high-ropes outdoor adventure in the ancient woodland, with a visit to Go Ape’s sites in the Forest of Dean. Go Ape Mallards Pike includes zip wires, swings, rope ladders and obstacles galore with its Treetop Challenge suitable for ages 10 and upwards.

While younger children can still get involved in the outdoor action at Go Ape Beechenhurst, which welcomes mini adventurers over a metre-tall, who can go canopy exploring, trail blazing and zip wiring on its Treetop Adventure course. With the all-new Treetop Adventure Plus providing more of a challenge for brave kids over six

2. Pick up a racket in Gloucestershire

The family-friendly East Glos Club on Cheltenham’s Old Bath Road has 28 outdoor tennis courts for generations to practice their serves, volleys and smashes – including 17 all-weather courts that are open throughout the seasons.

It’s also home to the south west’s first padel courts, giving families the chance to try the popular tennis-squash hybrid for themselves. Racket players of all abilities are welcome at the club and there’s a fantastic junior programme for children aged three to 15, too.

3. Meet the animals in Gloucestershire

Animal-loving families can meet feathered, fluffy and even scaly varieties at one of the Gloucestershire’s popular attractions – with everything from farm parks to wildlife centres offering outdoor activities.

A few options include Cotswold Farm Park, with its resident rare breed farm animals; Slimbridge Wetland Centre, where you can see flamingos, kingfishers and ducklings; and Crocodiles of the World just over the Oxfordshire border, where visitors can get close to alligators and crocs.

4. Play king at castles in Gloucestershire

Offering the chance for adults to soak up history and for kids to explore, families can walk in the steps of royalty by spending a day out at one of Gloucestershire’s magnificent castles.

Outdoors, Sudeley Castle is home to an assault course and adventure playground that's sure to delight youngsters, while Berkeley Castle kids can hunt for mythical creatures on its dragon trail. And just over the border at Eastnor Castle, families can roam through acres of parkland, following lakeside trails, climbing trees or letting loose on zip lines, suspended walkways and rope swings.

5. Discover gorgeous gardens in Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is full of stunning gardens that are bursting with life throughout the seasons – perfect for leisurely strolls and stopping to smell the flowers.

The 18th century Painswick Rococo Garden is full of bright colours and quirky follies, with a woodland play area and children’s trails, while the beautiful Batsford Arboretum has glorious green spaces to let the kids run free. Or head to Hidcote Manor Garden for an art-inspired experience and secret gardens to discover.

6. Explore woodlands in Gloucestershire

Get out in the fresh air with a woodland walk, kicking leaves, soaking up the sights, and blowing off the cobwebs with the whole family in tow.

From the themed trails in the Forest of Dean to the magical world of Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire is brimming with tree-rific places to explore as a family.

7. Get on your bike in Gloucestershire

Explore the Gloucestershire countryside on two wheels with a family bike ride at one of the county’s many beauty spots. With SoGlos’s 11 places to get on your bike in Gloucestershire packed with inspiration.

Cannop Cycle Centre has a family-friendly cycle trail as well as thrilling downhill trails for more experienced mountain bikers. There’s also Pedalabikeaway offering bike hire for a morning, afternoon or full day.

8. Hunt for the Gruffalo in Gloucestershire

He might have terrible tusks, and terrible claws. And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws… but intrepid explorers will find Julia Donaldson’s famous Gruffalo lurking in the woods all over Gloucestershire.

Follow the Gruffalo Trail at the Dean Heritage Centre in Soudley, look out for sculptures of the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child at Westonbirt Arboretum, or head to the Forest of Dean where adventurous families can have a go at Gruffalo Orienteering at Mallards Pike or try the Gruffalo Spotters trail at Beechenhurst.

9. Fly on a trapeze in Gloucestershire

There’s a fun opportunity to fly high above Cheltenham’s Pittville Park on an outdoor bar-to-bar trapeze rig with All Bars Flying Trapeze Club.

Take to the skies and learn to ‘fly’ between the bars, under the watchful gaze of the club’s professional instructors. Recommended for children aged eight and above, classes are open to everyone, with taster sessions for absolute beginners to face their fears.

10. Putt some holes in Gloucestershire

Fore! A game that’s completely accessible for novices and youngsters, crazy golf offers a light-hearted activity, with outdoor courses across Gloucestershire.

Brand new for 2021, families can play 12 holes at Aces Minigolf behind Dobbies Garden Centre in Gloucester, while there’s the pirate-themed Sherdon’s Adventure Golf between Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. With Krazy Golf Lydney in the Forest of Dean.

11. Ride a steam train in Gloucestershire

Step back in time and hop onto a steam train for a journey that’s sure to excite children, parents and grandparents alike.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway runs heritage railway rides through the Cotswolds; Dean Forest Railway encompasses five stations to hop on and off at, plus a range of heritage, diesel and steam vehicles; while the smaller Perrygrove Railway offers the chance to enjoy a short journey through the woodland.

12. Try archery in Gloucestershire

The whole family can feel like Robin Hood and his Merry Men – or Women – with an archery session at Forest of Dean Adventure.

For the more competitive, Hillside Archery has combined archery with dodgeball to make archery tag, for an adrenaline-fuelled family day out.

13. Head underground in Gloucestershire

Clearwell Caves, the well-known Forest of Dean attraction near Coleford, promises plenty of underground exploring fun, a fascinating history and some amazing natural sights.

The hidden world within the atmospheric caverns is suitable for youngsters and adults alike, with visitors age seven and over also able to go on deeper, adventure caving trips.

14. Climb to new heights in Gloucestershire

Energetic families can get active with a climbing or bouldering session outdoors in Gloucestershire, with centres dotted throughout the county and offering facilities for all ages with a head for heights.

Outdoor climbing venues include Far Peak in Northleach, which is home to activities including bouldering and a range of climbing courses. Adventurous families can also try scaling rock faces in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley with rock climbing courses from Rise and Summit.

More on Go Ape Forest of Dean

More from Outdoors