ONE of the first rules of parenting on vacation? Compromise.
And if you’re in the mood for a historical jaunt but your kids don’t care, there’s the perfect place to win both of you over.
Blenheim Palace – royal favorite and seat of the Duke of Marlborough – is situated on the edge of the chocolate village of Woodstock and just 20 minutes from the center of Oxford.
It’s close enough to the dreamy towers that you could take a trip during a weekend getaway, but there were more than enough natural adventures here to keep any kid happy.
First stop is the new adventure playground, hidden behind the walled garden in the grounds of the imposing 16th-century castle.
It opened for £1.3million this year and is one of the best I’ve seen.
It costs £7 per adult or child, on top of the hefty £35 for adult entry to the palace/grounds and gardens, £20 per child aged three to 16.
But it’s worth it thanks to immersive connection zones with secret chambers, climbing nets, tunnels, slides, suspension bridges (and giant carrots!) spread across terrain larger than a soccer field.
You can even take a little Thomas the Tank Engine themed train to and from the castle if your little legs can’t quite make the hike.
Tickets are limited on some days, but you can book them in advance to avoid the queues – and remember, you could easily spend a day with this beast.
The playground has everything you need – except shelter from the rain – including an on-site cafe and decent toilets.
And since it’s designed and built for kids ages two to 12, it offers everything from a super zip-line area to a dedicated toddler area.
There’s also a lovely artificial stream that runs through the middle of the playground – fun to paddle in (and probably bathe in as soon as you exit the playground).
And that’s not all. The Palace is always coming up with fun themed activities for the kids.
There is currently an adventure quest with 11 clues scattered around the playground.
The winner will receive a ten year family pass, ten visits for a family of four to the adventure playground, a week’s stay at Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat and more.
And if you don’t want toGive out the extra for the new playground. Just outside this adventure zone is a giant hedge maze, a butterfly house and a pizza restaurant, as well as plenty of picnic spots.
In fact, the kids might be so happy from all the playing that they might even be willing to walk you through the palace itself.
You can stroll through the gilded state rooms with their priceless collections of portraits, tapestries and furniture.
And there are even tours upstairs – so you can peek into the private chambers and secret corridors of the Marlborough family – and downstairs to see how palace staff live.
The beautifully manicured grounds and gardens overlooking the River Glyme are stunning and easy to imagine the characters– including the Churchills who used to live there – trudge around.
And there are enough ice cream trucks everywhere to put a smile on the face of even the unhappiest child.
If you fancy staying in these areas, the McDonald Bear Hotel in Woodstock is for you.
Full of old-fashioned charm and beautiful bespoke rooms, it’s the perfect place to keep a sense of history alive.