Day Trips from Bristol
There are some fantastic places of interest and some beautiful countryside within easy reach of Bristol. The M4/M5 motorway connections bring the Cotswolds, Bath and North Somerset within easy reach. A good starting point is to take a trip to the Cotswolds - an area famed for outstanding countryside, ancient towns and lovely sleepy villages. The local honey-coloured limestone used for construction seems to make the dwellings and civic buildings come alive with a warm, welcoming glow. The typical Cotswold town of Tetbury is a favourite. Other popular family days out in the Bristol area include feeding the wild birds at Slimbridge Wild Fowl and Wetland Trust, exploring the caves at Cheddar Gorge or visiting the beach and famous pier at Weston Super-Mare. There are also historical buildings to visit and steam train trips to be taken near Bristol. Explore this page to find out more. To make the most of the area it is best to hire a car although some of these attractions can be reached by bus or train.
Tetbury is a beautiful 16th -17th century Cotswold market town with stylish buildings, many still looking as they did 300 years ago. One superb example is the pillared market house in the center of the town where markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The origins of the town sprang from the wool trade and if you are lucky enough to visit on the last Monday in May you will witness the historic "Woolsack" day, when Tetbury is alive with locals enjoying the street fair and competing in the famous Woolsack race when contestants demonstrate their fitness by carrying a sack of wool up a hill! The town has a wide variety of specialist shops including butchers selling locally farmed meat, a specialist cheese shop and a marvelous range of antique shops. The Long Street antiques mall alone features over 40 dealers on two floors specialising in everything from antique jewellery to pictures and furniture. Highgrove,the home of HRH the Prince of Wales is just outside the town and, in the main street you will find Highgrove shop that sells goods from the Royal Estate and other items by selected craftsmen. There is an abundance of cafes, pubs and restaurants in the town so why not make a day of it? You will need a car to visit Tetbury.
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
The National Arboretum is just three miles from the traditional Cotswolds market town of Tetbury. Managed by the Forestry Commission and with 17 miles of walking trails it boasts 2,500 different tree specimens from the UK and further afield. The best time to visit is in the autumn when the colours on the tree are fantastic. The facilities for children at the Arboretum are outstanding and include "Exploratree", a play area for young children and toddlers and, the "Natural Play Trail" where 5 - 11 year olds can explore the different play zones hidden amongst the trees of the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. Westonbirt Arboretum has a cafe, restaurant serving lunches or you can take your own picnic and dine in the open air using the picnic benches and tables set amongst the trees. You will need a car to visit this attraction.
Dyrham Park , a National Trust property, is set in a beautiful deer park 12 miles east of Bristol. At the foot of a dramatic driveway stands a late 17th century stately home set in 110 hectares (272 acres) of garden and rolling parkland. In addition to exploring the baroque house and garden, visitors can enjoy panoramic views across the countryside towards the Bristol Channel. On display in the house are 17th and 18th century collections of paintings and furniture. A popular highlight is a visit to the Victorian domestic quarters that gives an intriguing insight into life below stairs. When in the grounds see if you can spot the historic herd of fallow deer and then take the children to the play area in the Old Lodge to run off steam. There is a shop and a tea room. You will need a car to visit this attraction.
Just 15 miles from Bristol, Bath was designated by Unesco as a world heritage site in 1987. The city is known for its stunning Georgian architecture, museums and the world famous Roman Baths. Some "must sees" are the stunning buildings in Royal Crescent (awarded 2nd place in 2010 "google street view best streets") , Pultney Bridge and the Jane Austen Centre. Don't forget to take your swimming costume if you want to enjoy the Thermae Bath Spa where the stunning rooftop pool affords amazing views of the city and surrounding area. The shopping in Bath is 1st class - head to Milsom Street for the latest fashions. Restaurants, pubs and cafes are plentiful. Bath is a small city and so is easy to explore on foot. Parking is difficult but there are regular bus and train services from Bristol.
Slimbridge Wild Fowl and Wetland Trust
Less than an hours drive from Bristol, Slimbridge is a great day out for all the family. Open all year round it plays host to a wealth of wildlife and a huge collection of flamingos, swans, ducks and geese. Pick up some bags of wheat grain from the grain store before you start your explorations and feed the birds as you go round -many of the ducks and geese will feed straight from your hand! A variety of activities and events offer fun for all the family including paddling down the kilometre long canoe safari trail, pond dipping for nymphs, water boatmen and water fleas and splashing round in the outdoor wet playground - "Welly boot land" - don't forget a change of clothes! Hundreds of thousands of birds visit the reserve throughout the year and the 13 hides offer you great spots to see those currently in residence. You can eat in the restaurant whilst enjoying fantastic views of the Caribbean flamingos and if the weather is good you can enjoy a picnic on the terrace. Make sure you visit the shop to pick up a momento of your visit before you leave. You will need a car to visit this attraction.
Berkeley Castle and Edward Jenner Museum.
These attractions are run separately from each other but are located side by side. Berkeley Castle has been occupied by the Berkeley family since the late 12th century and inside you can view wonderful collections of furniture, rare paintings and silver. Regular guided tours include visits to the King’s Gallery, where Edward II was held prisoner and later murdered, the Dining Room to see the family silver and portraits, the Kitchen which contains original features and the Clock Tower & Beer Cellar were the musty scent of the barrels still lingers. The castle is surrounded by beautiful Elizabethan gardens and you can also visit the Butterfly House, home to over 25 species of tropical butterflies. Click here for information on opening times. The Edward Jenner Museum is housed near to the castle in the home of Edward Jenner who discovered the smallpox vaccine in 1796. Here, you can visit the exhibitions to capture the passion he had for his work and learn about his work in immunology and natural history. You will need a car to visit these attractions.
The Long Drawing Room, Berkeley Castle, Berkeley Castle, Bristol
Avon Valley Railway
Re-visit the era of steam and enjoy stunning views of Avon Valley whilst chugging along in a carefully restored steam train.Trains run on selected days from Bitton Railway Station, an original Midland Railway station painstakingly restored by volunteer members. Many railway artefacts, posters and signs are on display in the the station building along with plentiful information about the Avon Valley Railway and the Bristol to Bath Railway line. A former British Railways train carriage houses a tearoom and there is patio area outside for sunny days. Fun for all the family! The attraction can be visited by car or bus service number 42 from Bristol.
Cheddar Gorge and Caves
Cheddar Gorge is a 3-mile long ravine in the Mendip Hills close to the village of Cheddar in Somerset. This popular area attracts around 500,000 visitors a year who come to admire the show caves with their spectacular stalactites and amazing calcite sculptures. It is said that Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, thought to be around 9,000 years old, was found here. Many visitors take the stunning Cliff Top Walk through the Nature Reserve to admire magnificent views whilst those who feel less energetic climb aboard the open-top bus for a tour of the dramatic landscape. Afterwards the many shops selling local produce including locally produced Cheddar cheese, ciders and clotted cream and souvenirs complete the day. You need a car to visit this attraction.
Wookey Hole Caves
Wookey Hole provides a wealth of attractions for all the family the most famous of which is the Wookey Hole Witch who, according to legend, was turned to stone by a monk from nearby Glastonbury. Nowadays a modern day "witch" delights visitors with tales about about witchcraft and magic. After exploring the wonderful world of the caves, visitors can have a go at making paper in the 19th Century Paper Mill, try their luck in the Victorian Penny Arcade and laugh at their images in the Magical Mirror Maze. Other attractions for children include the Wizards Play Barn, Toddlers Play Area and Pirate Play Area. You need a car to visit this attraction.
Donkey rides, sandcastles, ice-cream cones and wind-breaks - all the ingredients of a traditional English seaside resort. Weston Super-Mare fits the bill! With a long sandy beach and all the usual seaside attractions the resort can be enjoyed at any time of year. In summer the sounds of happy children paddling, playing ball games and building castles fill the air. In winter the beach and promenade are transformed into a popular and more tranquil walking area. The most popular all year round attraction is the newly rebuilt Grand Pier and its indoor theme park where visitors can experience traditional attractions such as dodgem cars and the helter- skelter.The pier also boasts modern arcade games and hair-raising rides. If you are feeling hungry after all the fun you can buy really food fish and chips on the pier. You can get to the resort by bus or train.
Wells is a medieval city and is the smallest city in England with about 12,000 residents. Most people visit Wells to admire the 13th century grand Cathedral which remains remarkably unspoilt - the impressive front wall retains over 300 of the original medieval statues. Other historic buildings include the moated Bishop's Palace, St Cuthbert's Church and Vicars' Close with its stunning cobbled street. On Wednesdays and Saturdays a lively market selling local goods and produce is held in Wells Market Place. Wandering round the narrow streets is a pleasant diversion from big city life. Wells can be reached by bus.
The Torbay Express runs from Bristol Temple Meads Station to Kingswear in Devon on most Sundays from July to mid-September. This12-hour return trip on a mainline, steam-hauled train, complete with classic coaches, delights steam enthusiasts and those who fancy taking a trip down memory lane. The train follows the scenic Brunel’s Great Western Railway line through rural Somerset and along the spectacular South Devon coastline. A stop at Taunton gives passengers the opportunity to watch as the engine takes on water and to view the train. You can opt to leave the train at Paignton, a popular seaside resort, or travel on to the final stop at Kingswear and take the ferry over the picturesque River Dart to Dartmouth. This gives you around 4 -5 hours to explore before you return to Bristol.