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Best Things to do in Oxford with toddlers or baby 2024

Best Things to do in Oxford with toddlers or baby 2024

Are you looking for the best things to do in Oxford with toddlers or babies? As a local Oxfordshire mum, I am always visiting the city with my kids and in this guide we will share both well known and hidden gems things to do in Oxford with young children. 

Best Things to do in Oxford with toddlers

So what are the best things to do in Oxford in toddlers? Firstly we will look at the best Oxford museums for toddler before looking at the other family friendly attractions to visit in Oxford with young children and preschoolers.

Best Museums in Oxford for Toddlers

Oxford is a city that is renowned for its university and its’ museums. In this section of the guide we will look at the each of the museums in depth to tell you how toddler friendly they are, and what you should do in each of them with young kids. 

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Toddler in Stroller and child in front of Iguandon skeleton at the museum of natural history in Oxford

Best Things to do in Oxford with toddlers

Whenever we go to Oxford the first place my children ask to visit is the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. While this museum is a lot smaller than it’s London counterpart, which is a great museum for toddlers in London, we actually find this museum more manageable with toddlers and babies. 

While the most famous exhibit here is the dodo, which coincidentally is the museum’s logo, we always head straight to the dinosaur exhibits. There are two huge replica skeletons on display in the main hall, an Iguandon and T Rex which both of my children always make a bee line for. 

But there is also part of a Megalosaurus, trilobites and hands on sections which really engage toddlers. 

So if you have a dinosaur fanatic toddler like I do this should be the first place you put on your Oxford itinerary. 

Story Museum

The Story Museum is a place my children go back to again and again, both with its as a family but also with their schools. Rennovated in 2020, the museum is really interactive and has exhibits that are specifically aged at toddlers. 

The museum is split into distinct themed areas of the Whispering Wood, Small Worlds, City of Stories, and the Enchanted Library. But what I love is there are exhibits that relate to books that even my toddler knew. We played interactive Pooh Sticks from Winnie the Pooh, and found things relating to a bedtime favorite Owl Babies and my son’s favorite author Julia Donaldson who penned The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom to name just a couple. 

You will need at 90 minutes to 2 hours to experience the museum in full, and with the special events programmes in the school holidays you can spend even longer here and is a brilliant place to visit with toddlers.

But please not this is not one of the free things to do in Oxford. 

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is actually in the same building as the Natural History Museum in Oxford. While not as explicitly toddler friendly as the above, it is worth a visit while you are in the building. Just be sure to pick up one of the family friendly trails when you head in. 

Museum of Oxford

As the name suggest the Museum of Oxford tells the story of the city. It is at heart a social history museum and has everything from Roman archeology to paintings and cars. So whatever you like there will be something to interest you here. 

The Museum of Oxford also offers family friendly backpacks which have activities for children around the museum as well as a great programme of activities during the holidays. 

Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean is an art and archaeology museum which on the surface may not sound toddler friendly. However the museum has done a lot to make the collections accessible even for toddlers. If you want to visit this museum with toddlers we recommend grabbing the multimedia guide which is aimed at families as well as the sketch pads and family packs which will make your visit more enjoyable for toddlers. 

The museum also offers baby and toddler sessions, which can be subscribed to for those on the area longer. These sessions are led by museum staff and are a great way to get your little one excited about museums. 

River Cruise

Oxford is a city on two rivers, The Thames and the Cherwell and no visit to the city is complete without spending some time on the river. 

Now most people have punting on their Oxford bucket list but this is not something on recommend with toddlers (more on that later). For this reason we instead recommend taking a river cruise to view the city from a different perspective. 

There are usually 50 minute and 90 minute cruises and with toddler attention spans we definitely recommend doing the 50 minute one. 

Bus Tour

Although there are a lot of amazing walking tours in Oxford, we recommend doing these with older children. Instead a good way to learn about the city while saving little legs is by jumping on board the Oxford hop on hop off bus tour. 

My kids never fail to enjoy sitting on the top deck of an open top bus so this is something they love. However you do miss some of the central Oxford attractions by going on bus. Oxford is a city designed for pedestrians and cyclists which precludes the bus from going in some places. 

It is worth noting however that you may have to collapse your stroller to board. 

Oxford Botanic Gardens

If you are visiting Oxford in Summer or spring then the Oxford botanic gardens are an absolute must. Adults will love seeing the variety of plants on display while toddlers and babies will enjoy the open space and freedom a visit to the botanic gardens provides. 

Port Meadow

If you want to visit a green space with your toddler in Oxford the you simply must visit Port Meadow. This is the largest green space in the city and provides a good place for toddlers to blow off steam.

We like to take a picnic with us to Port Meadow on a nice day and enjoy the sunshine. 

Visit the Oxford Colleges

Now you may not think that you can visit Oxford colleges with toddlers and babies who can be noisy. But for me no visit to Oxford is complete without visiting at least one. 

Now depending on the day and time of year you visit will depend on what colleges are open – please check the college website before you travel so you know where is open on your dates. There are 39 colleges that make up the University but our favorite colleges to visit with toddlers are: 

Magadeln College 

Magdalen College in Oxford

Best things to do in Oxford with toddlers

We love this college as it is set in a deer park next to the river. My kids love watching the deers and punters on the river as we stroll around the grounds. 

Also this college os very close to the Oxford Botanical gardens so can be combined easily. 

New College 

Woman with baby at Oxford New Colelge

Best Things to do in Oxford with a baby

Again I am a big fan of gardens and the New College has one of the most beautiful gardens in Oxford. 

Christ Church College 

Christ Church College is one of the most popular colleges for tourists to visit mainly because of the Harry Potter connection. Although I don’t think this is the most toddler friendly of all the colleges, it is definitely one of the most beautiful and if you are traveling with older children they will love to spot all of the filming locations from Harry Potter here. 

Oxford City Farm

When both of my kids were toddlers they loved a farm. There is just one farm in Oxford city limits, the aptly named Oxford City Farm. Here toddlers can learn and connect with where their food comes from swell as get hands on with some farm yard animals. 

The Covered Market

covered market, oxford

The Covered Market is an institution in Oxford. It is a great place to pick up Oxford souvenirs but also grab some snacks. Kids will love peering through the window of the impressive cake shop, having an ice cream at the amazing IsCream Gelateria or grabbing a milkshake at the famous Moo Moos. 

Oxford Ice Rink

While this one isn’t one for those traveling with babies, it is great for those with toddlers. We first took our toddler when she was 3 as the Oxford ice rink actually has toddler sessions. Grab a penguin skating aid and let your toddler loose on the ice. 

Carfax Tower

If you are traveling with toddlers or babies you may want to bring a carrier with you as there are 99 steps to get to the top of the tower. But trust me it will be worth it as Carfax Tower has one of the best views of the city. 

Westgate Shopping Centre

Another great place to get a view of the city is the Westgate Shopping Centre. Although I don’t recommend spending too much time here, as I don’t know about your toddler but mine hates shopping malls. But it is worth visiting for the view and for the family friendly restaurants located here.

Headington Shark House

Shark house In Oxford

Family friendly things to do in Oxford – the Headington Shark House

Now I don’t recommend going out out you way to view this one, but if your passing nearby your toddler will love seeing the Headington Shark House. A regular Oxford terrace house with a large art installation shark eating the roof. 


Punting in Oxford

Best things to do in Oxford with kids

I know punting is at the top of a lot of people’s Oxford bucket lists but I don’t recommend doing this yourself. People end up in the river more frequently than you would imagine and with a fidgety toddler it can be quite a stressful experience. 

However if you want to go punting in Oxford with kids there is a way. There are dedicated companies such as Let’s Go Punting Oxford which offer family friendly punting tours that are chauffeured by expert punters. This is much more enjoyable with toddlers than trying to do yourself. 

Things to do Near Oxford 

So now you know what to do in Oxford itself with toddlers, we will turn our attention to nearby things to do that are great for toddlers. 

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim palace is only 20 minutes from the city and is the only non-royal palace in England. It is famed for being the birthplace and home of Sir Winston Churchill, but is also an amazingly toddler friendly day out from Oxford. 

As well as the palace, the grounds also have impressive gardens, a beautiful children’s playground, a butterfly house, a maze and even a miniature train ride. And if you are visiting Oxford at Christmas then you absolutely will want to visit the Blenheim Palace Lights which are renowned in Oxfordshire. 

Milletts Wildside

Milletts Wildside is a great place for toddlers just outside of the city. It has a great falconry centre where you can watch displays and get up close with the animals. 

FAQS about visiting Oxford with toddlers

Can you use a stroller in Oxford?

If you are visiting Oxford with a toddler or baby we definitely recommend having a stroller with you. Oxford is a city best explored on foot and can be tiring for little legs so we do recommend bringing a stroller with you. 

However if you plan on punting with a baby, climbing to the top of Carfax Tower or heading on the open top tourbus you may also want a carrier with you. 

Looking for inspiration on visiting other UK cities with toddlers? Then check out these guides: 

Trish @ Mum's Gone To

Monday 13th of March 2017

I've only been to Oxford a couple of times which is crazy when you think how beautiful and historic it is. I hadn't realised the Harry Potter links - I keep finding these wherever I go!! #farawayfiles

Wandermust Mummy

Tuesday 14th of March 2017

I know I've started to spot them all over too


Friday 10th of March 2017

Oxford is just down the road for me so I'm a frequent visitor. You're right about timing your visit carefully - it's busy all year round but I tend to avoid summer and Christmas visits as much as I can. My top tip is to use the Park and Ride as there's very limited and expensive city centre parking. #Farawayfiles

Wandermust Mummy

Saturday 11th of March 2017

Yes you are quite right about the park and ride

Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

Thursday 9th of March 2017

We haven't been to Oxford in ages. Thanks for inspiring me to return with the children - they'd love it there. I went to a wedding in Christ Church College chapel - it really was rather special. Wonderful to read your family adventures on #farawayfiles

Wandermust Mummy

Thursday 9th of March 2017

I bet that was spectacular


Thursday 9th of March 2017

I love walking around universities. And I think Oxford seems lovely. I'd love to see it for myself. #farawayfiles

Wandermust Mummy

Thursday 9th of March 2017

It's stunning - I love universities but this may be my favourite

Erin Gustafson

Thursday 9th of March 2017

Have never been to Oxford, with or without baby! I have always thought the punting looked super fun - maybe with older kids! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles