Looking for something to do in the Cotswolds? We all know the region has miles of undulating countryside to enjoy, but did you know it has dinosaurs?! Steph Gore (@stephloveshoney) tells us more about her recent discovery…
We are so lucky to live in Cheltenham. Not only are we spoiled for places to visit and things to do in our own town, we are also perfectly placed for Cotswold day trips. Bourton on the Water is a beautiful, busy town just 20 minutes from Cheltenham and boasts a scenic riverside, a wide range of independent shops, as well as a model village, maze and the piece de resistance, Birdland.
For the past 60 years, Birdland has stood in the centre of Bourton and delighted locals and tourists alike. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your day at Birdland with your baby or toddler.
We started by parking in the Rissington Road Car park. We arrived at 12, paid £3 for 3 hours parking and it’s free after 3pm. There are toilets in the car park but you’ll need 20p pieces to use them. Just a couple of minutes walk later, we arrived at the Birdland entrance. Before you even go in, there’s a lot to occupy little ones. Honey found a fact board which she scoured for words she could read and Ace found a fence to look at the ducks through.
Once inside, the experience starts straight away with the handsome and talkative Diamond the parrot. Honey remembered him from last time we visited and kept asking to go back and see him throughout the day. You meet the slightly smelly but totally magnificent penguins next. Little ones can climb the stairs to watch them waddle and swim or stay at ground level to see them dart, dive and play. Honey loved tracing her finger along the glass for the penguins to follow, she definitely made a few feathered friends here! From there, you can wander through the impressive, newly built African Experience area which shows off some incredible and absolutely gigantic birds!
Around the park, things are most definitely geared towards young children. Most of the aviaries are flanked by small stone walls, ideal for standing on and the ponds are surrounded by railings, perfect for peeking through. Signs are mostly low down and have bright pictures on them so they can be noticed and talked about by curious toddlers.
Honey’s favourite attractions were the Caribbean flamingos and the dinosaurs, no you didn’t read that wrong, they have dinosaurs there too! Jurassic Journey is a relatively recent addition to the park and has been popular from day 1! Each dinosaur has an information board and there are low down, easy to operate listening stations so your little ones can learn how to screech like a pterodactyl or roar like a T-Rex. My two enjoyed the archaeological dig pit, although Daddy didn’t, as it meant his car got covered in sand, oops!
There are plenty of picnic benches all over the site and the cafe sells a range of drinks, sandwiches, ice creams and hot meals so you’re covered whatever your preference or budget. Toilet facilities are modern and clean but there aren’t many stalls so the queues can get quite long during peak times. We’ve found it’s easier to be proactive rather than reactive where possible and it’s also good to know that there are toilets in the cafe too. Baby changing facilities are available in both the main toilet block and the cafe. The terrain is smooth throughout (with the exception of the woodland trail through Jurassic Journey) and Ace walked all the way round. Buggies had no problem getting around.
Before we headed home, we had a pit stop at the play area, which was perfect for Honey (aged 4) but just a bit too big for Ace (18 months) to use independently. Luckily, some bigger girls adopted him and once I’d helped him up the scramble net, they took over and showed him what to do!
Here’s a roundup of what makes Birdland Park and Gardens the perfect choice for your family friendly day out. Have a great time!
- Car park close by.
- Safe, clean baby changing facilities.
- Engaging attractions.
- Plenty of picnic benches.
- High chairs in the café.
- Lots of space to run around.
- Indoor and outdoor play areas.
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