We’ve just got back home from a week in the Cotswolds, where we stayed in Bourton on the Water. We loved exploring the Cotswolds, with it’s pretty little villages, and although I worried that basing ourselves in Bourton on the Water might have been a bit too touristy, it was perfect for us as a family with young children, as there was so much to do right on our doorstep. Bourton on the Water is the perfect place to spend a whole day, as there are numerous tourist attractions, none of which take very long, so even the shortest of attention spans can’t fail to get bored!
Parking at Bourton on the Water
Parking in the Cotswolds towns is always difficult, but Bourton on the Water is better than most as it has a largish public car park only slightly out of town, up by Birdland and the Maze. Park there and head straight to the Maze! It’s worth noting that many of the restaurants and shops in Bourton on the Water aren’t pushchair friendly as they’re just too small, so leave the pushchair in the car and take the baby carrier if you have one.
The Dragonfly Maze
We always love a Maze, and this one was a slight twist on it, as there was also a quiz to complete, with clues dotted throughout the maze. It’s advised you give yourself 20-30 minutes to complete the maze. You were looking for 14 numbered clues, found in stones set in the ground, and if you can answer all of the clues, you’ll make up a sentence which will tell you how to find the Golden Dragonfly in the house in the centre. If you manage to complete the quiz then you’re better than we are – we managed most of it, but were missing a couple of answers, and once Max had found the house in the centre, he was done. One thing I always love is when a maze has a quick exit after the centre, which this one does. I hate having to get lost again on the way out!
After completing the maze, head to Birdland, where you can see a huge range of birds, including penguins, and, rather randomly, lots of dinosaur figures. This should easily last you until lunchtime, if not longer!
We weren’t overly impressed with the eating places in Bourton on the Water. Despite the pretty setting by the river, we were pretty disappointed. Instead, head further along the High Street, along to The Mousetrap, which offers brilliant food and a really welcoming service. We visited on 2 occasions, and both times had a wonderful meal, with staff who were so accommodating, and great with our children.
Cotswold Motoring Museum
I have to admit I didn’t have huge expectations of the Motor Museum, but I thought it was really well done. It’s small scale, with 40 cars to look at, dating from the early 1900s, through to the 1970s. They’re laid out over a series of different rooms and one touch I thought was particularly good was that there were children’s ‘stations’ in every section with different toys – a farmyard to play with, a tractor to ride on, a shape sorting cube, and even one bit with Cosy Coupes and a track to ride around. Which is brilliant when you are constantly trying to stop your little ones from touching things they shouldn’t.
One of the museum’s attractions is the little yellow car from Brum, which I remember fondly from when I was little. In fact, Brum was set inside the motor museum, and you can watch him driving himself out of the garage and into Bourton on the Water in a little film clip. I didn’t expect it to hold much appeal for Max, but he loved it, and stood looking at him for quite some time!
The Model Village
There’s something so quaint and old fashioned about a model village that I always love. The model village at Bourton on the Water is a replica of the town itself, so it’s fun to spot the landmarks as you walk around, and walk across the footbridges, looking like a giant. And you can even spot a model village inside the model village! It won’t take you long to look around here – 30 minutes to an hour should be enough.
Paddling in the River
Bourton in the Water is the location of the famous ‘football match in the river’ that takes place every year. The water is shallow enough for children to paddle in, which makes for a fantastic place to cool down before heading home.
For me, Bourton on the Water is the perfect place for a family day out. It has so many different family attractions that don’t take up a huge amount of time, and if the weather is good for paddling, you really can’t beat it!