Three children holding hands

My 20 favourite things to do in Warwickshire (and beyond) with a toddler

After restrictions eased, I loved getting back out there (safely) with my child. In lockdown, he went from baby to toddler, and seeing how much he has learnt over summer, through exploring nature, museums, attractions and play-areas, has brought a tear to my eye at times.

Skip intro and jump to listings.

Last night I was looking back at photos from the last year. It was strange to glance at memories from pre and post-pandemic and I took a moment to really acknowledge how quickly we’ve all adjusted to this new world we are living in.

It’s now normal to be concerned about social distancing measures and hand-washing facilities ahead of your trip to somewhere new, especially with small kids. Navigating one-way systems, imperfect toilet facilities and spontaneous queues with a toddler can be nothing short of challenging (a 1 year old is not literally, cognitively able to understand that they must stand on the 2 metre marker away from the person in front of you, no matter how many times you tell them!).

This is one of the reasons why I re-launched this blog in October 2020. I’ve found the last six months both wonderful and difficult at the same time and have wanted to share my experiences with other local parents because – ahead of going somewhere in 2020 (and I will say it loud for the businesses at the back) – you can never have too much pre-visitor information.

This is why many of my recent blogs you’ll notice will focus on giving you an overview of current COVID-19 safety measures experienced in local attractions, as my mission is to try and make these mammoth trips out a teeny, tiny bit easier for us all!

Phew, that was a pretty hefty introduction, wasn’t it! Now onto the good stuff… the 20 places I have been with my toddler since lockdown restrictions were eased in England. These are all places I have had positive experiences and felt very looked after during a time when going places can be a little more overwhelming… but, I believe, with the right visitor information and reassurance, can definitely be just as fun as ‘before’!

Living on the border of Warwickshire and The Cotswolds, some of these places are ‘beyond’ our county, into Gloucestershire, Coventry and more. I’ve included a real range because, when you’re a parent, sometimes it feels OK to drive an hour and sometimes 15 minutes is enough! All drive times listed below are from S-u-A town centre.


COTSWOLD FARM PARK (Cheltenham, GL54 5FL).

40 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

The best thing I did, definitely my child’s favourite! Too many exciting things to mention – the farm animals, the ride-on tractors, the outdoor woodland messy-play area, the huge playgrounds, the gorgeous cafe and just tons of fresh air, picnic areas and space to socially distance.

COTSWOLD WILDLIFE PARK (Burford, OX18 4JP).

55 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

A lovely day out and loads of grass-space to picnic so take your own food. Most of the animals are outside and across a large site with limited, staggered entry at the moment, so it didn’t feel busy at all!

COMPTON VERNEY (Warwick CV35 9HJ).

20 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Also top of my list. Gorgeous pram-friendly walk, cool outdoor play-area in the woods, huge kids sand-boxes and currently a pop-up cafe outside selling coffee and treats. Season passes from just £16.50 which gets you unlimited access to these areas all year round and no need to pre-book.

STRATFORD BUTTERFLY FARM (Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 7LS).

A short walk from the centre of Stratford.

Can be challenging at time to stick to a paced, one-way system when kids want to run off and chase butterflies. But well managed with lots of guidance, signs and sanitiser. Loved it!

COTSWOLD LAVENDER (Snowshill, WR12 7JY).

35 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

One of the most beautiful sites in The Cotswolds. Fields and fields of gorgeous lavender, plenty of room to explore, benches to eat picnics and a pop-up coffee cart. Only open for a month or so so get your visit in before the lavender is harvested.

OAKLEY WOOD (Leamington Spa, CV33 9QP).

15 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

A hidden secret woodland just outside of Leamington Spa, my go-to place if I fancy an outdoor walk and want to get lost in nature for an hour. The circular walk takes you around the wood and its crematorium – not pram-friendly though so bring your carriers. Parking will be signposted and there is extra in the lay-by opposite the entrance. Free, no booking, just turn up.

BIRDLAND PARK & GARDENS (Bourton-on-the-Water, GL54 2BN).

41 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

I just love this place for an easy and stress-free day out. It’s a small site with a limited number of tickets available so never feels busy and I’ve been a lot of times now, both pre and post-COVID. Spectacular birds and get right up close to the penguins!

BOSWORTH WATER PARK (Nuneaton, CV13 6PD).

55 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Want to go to the beach but don’t want to drive to the coast? Bring your trunks and your sandcastle-making equipment! On a sunny day in August we took a picnic, had a dip and enjoyed the play area. We got there first thing in the morning and it was relatively quiet.

COTSWOLD COUNTRY PARK AND BEACH (Cirencester, GL7 6DF).

1 hour 6 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Pre-book before you arrive and you can even pre-book your pedalo or other water sports. A small beach area which does get quite busy but lots of grass area to enjoy too and a walk which takes you around the lake (not really fully pram-friendly). The best bit was the special ‘confined’ toddler area with shallow water for non-swimmers to waddle without worry!

SANDFORD PARKS LIDO (Cheltenham, GL53 7PU).

45 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Want to swim outside somewhere on a sunny day? We pre-booked a special family-slot at the start of September and enjoyed a dip in Cheltenham’s outdoor lido. Strict rules during social distancing, like no hanging-around on the grass, but just getting the chance to be in the water in the sun for a bit when we’ve missed out on a summer holiday was so special!

NEWBOLD COMYN LEISURE CENTRE (Leamington Spa, CV32 4EW).

25 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

In summer, swimming pools started to open up to the public again after lockdown, but many operate lane-only sessions. Newbold has just reopened its family pool for weekend slots. Pre-book using the Everyone Active app.

BATSFORD ARBORETUM (Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9AD).

33 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Gorgeous surroundings to enjoy a walk with the family – pram-friendly and with a cafe and shop. Pre-booking essential!

LOWER CLOPTON FARM (Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 8LQ).

16 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

One of my favourite cafe spots. Pre-book a table, enjoy a sandwich, little ones can use the outdoor play-area and get local produce from the farm shop afterwards.

OVERSLEY WOOD (Alcester, B49 6LR).

12 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Another hidden gem for walking. Unlike Oakley Wood, I have taken my pram to Oversley a few times – the terrain is rough but with the right pram you will be OK. Free, no booking needed. Do some research first regarding the postcode as it’s easy to miss the turning and get lost. Told you it was hidden!

RYTON POOLS COUNTRY PARK (Coventry, CV8 3BH).

26 min drive from Statford-upon-Avon.

I love Ryton Pools for a morning or afternoon out in nature. Pram-friendly routes, play area, cafe and bike hire. You need to pay for parking.

PLAYBOX THEATRE (Warwick, CV34 6LE).

14 min drive Stratford-upon-Avon.

Has recently reopened for activities including a free baby sensory space, outdoor play area for toddlers and their fab cafe is open too. No need to pre-book everything but check their website for specific details.

RUGRATS AND HALF PINTS (Banbury, OX16 1QY).

25 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

OK, so this one I haven’t visited myself yet but have heard many great things from many great mums about this friendly and well-run soft-play centre which has just reopened with new safety measures. Also has a sister soft-play in Cirencester.

THE WAVE (Coventry, CV1 2PS).

30 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Coventry’s new waterpark runs specific sessions for families and toddlers and what’s on offer inside is EPIC. They have put loads of planning into making their venue COVID-safe and limited availability means you get loads of space to yourself. Pre-booking essential, visit their website for full details.

MALVERN HILLS (Malvern, DY12 and DY13).

55 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

One of my favourite places to drive to for the day when my son was a baby. Strapped in the carrier, we’d climb the hills, picnic at the top and enjoy the breathtaking views. Loads of different car parks and routes so check their website for postcodes, directions and walking routes.

BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM (Warwick, CV35 0BJ).

25 min drive from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Pre-booking essential, we are due to visit here in a couple of weeks but I have heard good things. With a few of their interactive items unavailable, it looks like the rest of the museum is running as normal.


Other related blogs:

The Wave Coventry’s Toddler and Under 5s Sessions

Fun things to do at Playbox Theatre this month

Visiting Batsford Arboretum with kids


Please check individual attraction websites for opening times, full COVID-19 safety measures, directions, postcodes and whether you can turn up or have to pre-book (the latter is likely for almost all options). Photography by Markus Spiske (Unsplash).

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