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Dating as far back as the 11th Century, the long-standing Oxford Castle is much revered for its unmarred history. Birthed on the grounds of an erstwhile Anglo-Saxon settlement, this medieval castle once commanded much military as well as cultural significance. It was built on the orders of a Norman nobleman, hence being a stirring window into the military, penal and administrative legacy of Normandy. However, today, the castle and its many ruins lie nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire in all their antiquated glory. Among the medieval remains of the castle is a motte, a cavernous crypt chamber adorned with Norman capitals and columns and the enchanting St George's Tower. Also renowned for its role as a prison, this ruinous castle speaks of a forgotten heritage interweaved with timeless lores and legend. What is more, is that the castle offers tours led by colorful and costumed characters. Over the years, the castle has been preserved and is something of a time capsule, entrancing visitors with poignant tales of its eventful existence.
The Playhouse is Oxford's major theatrical venue, and after some years of financial difficulty, it is currently enjoying a new lease of life. It stages a range of modern and classical productions by both major companies and student groups, and puts on traditional pantomimes over the Christmas period. Centrally located in Beaumont Street, it is within easy walking distance of the bus station and about a 15 minute walk from the railway station. The theater also runs the Burton Taylor Theatre (round the corner on Gloucester Street) which presents student productions and focuses on new and controversial drama.
The Odeon Oxford on the Magdalen Street is the place to see a big movie in town. At full strength, it can take up to 800 people with its multiple screens, and there's always something worth seeing here. Cinema is so popular in Oxford that it's always a good idea to book in advance, especially at weekends. If you're looking to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster, head to Magdalen Street.
Celebrating the idea that storytelling is at the heart of human culture, the Story Museum explores and promotes stories in various media. Visiting children and their families have many opportunities to engage in hands-on learning exhibitions that involve reading, drawing, lab experiments, and author talks. The museum also runs outreach programs to local schools and school groups.
Alice's Shop Oxford is an endearing store selling local souvenirs, located in the St Aldate's neighborhood of the city. The shop is believed to be the place where Alice, daughter of Henry Liddell would come to spend time browsing adorable articles. She used to live at the nearby Christ Church, and is known to have inspired the all-time classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This store, today, sells cute accessories like brooches, pendants, mirrors, bracelets, charms, earrings, etc and attracts numerous little girls. During Christmas, the shop sells an array of ornaments and Alice in Wonderland-themed figurines.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an inseparable part of the history of Oxford, and through the Mad Hatter's Tea Party Cruise, visitors get to relive the timeless classic. The tour which begins at the Folly Bridge is actually an enactment of the "Golden Afternoon" when Alice Liddell went boating on River Thames with mathematician Lewis Carroll. It was then that Lewis Carrol narrated the whimsical tale to Alice and her sisters. The tour lets visitors enjoy picturesque views of the city, and Oxford's gorgeous meadows and colorful gardens look particularly mesmerizing aboard an intimate vessel. The cruise delights children because of its enchanting history, it pleases adults because they part take in their favorite fairy tale, and it bewitches couples for it's a one of a kind romantic tour. As the name implies, the tour comes complete with "Eat Me" cakes and "Drink Me" tea at the eponymous tea party.
Completed in 1858, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History contains a wonderful exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, plus numerous curiosities including the remains of a dodo. This is a traditionally styled museum, but nonetheless holds delights for all the family. Venture upstairs to find the vast zoology, mineralogy and geology displays. At the rear, is the Pitt Rivers Museum which houses one of the world's finest collections of anthropological and archaeological exhibits. Also found within the premises of the museum are a souvenir shop and a Café.
This pool is a brightly lit family facility which has recently been upgraded. The water temperature is adjusted frequently to reflect the climate, so it's never too cold for comfort. There are lifeguards in attendance, hot and cold food and drink can be bought on the premises, and free parasols are provided. Sun loungers and deck chairs are also available for hire. The pool is popular at peak times, but is big enough to cope with a lot of swimmers.
The Pegasus is home to the Oxford Youth Theatre, and stages productions ranging from Shakespeare to cutting-edge new writing. It also showcases the work of local dancers and dance companies, provides a venue for up-and-coming bands, and runs drama clubs and workshops for all ages. The theatre is next door to the Magdalen Arms pub at the Iffley Road end of Magdalen Road in the east of the city, few miles from the city center. A bus service (to Rose Hill) stops almost outside. All tickets must be paid for by the day before the performance. After that, unpaid-for reservations are released for sale.
Once a functioning farm in Whitey, Cogges Manor Farm is a place where visitors can witness and learn first-hand the operation of farming. Visitors are taken through a step-by-step guide on the development and evolution of the farm and its residents since its inception in the Saxon times. Through various workshops, training courses and educational events, individuals can learn about varied practices of food production and animal breeding.
If you can't get to the seaside, let it come to you. This 25-meter pool comes complete with a wave machine and beach area. There's a flume if you want to slide down into the water, as well as a fitness studio with sunbeds, a restaurant and bar, and a creche to take care of the little darlings while you have fun. Another bonus is that the changing facilities have just been improved. This is a great place for family days out.
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is situated midway between Oxford and Cheltenham and set out on 160 acres (64 hectares) of landscaped parkland. This park offers a wealth of attractions for all ages to enjoy. White rhinos, Asiatic lions and birds of prey are just some of the regular attractions but there are also many special one-off events, such as car rallies that take place here. Families will love the cafeteria, adventure playground, picnic areas and narrow-gauge railway which runs from April until October.