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A day in Oxford-highlights to see/do?

Cameron

500+ Posts
I'm thinking of spending most of a day in Oxford, then taking the bus or train from there to overnight at the Heathrow Hilton before my 11:00 am flight the next day. I'll be training from Moreton-in-Marsh after being on @Kathy's "Return to the Cotswolds" experience. I will have been to London prior, so I don't want to go back into the city.

I've found that the Tourism Office in Oxford has left luggage storage, so that's reasonable.

What is the best afternoon tea -- and, how to make reservations? Casual dress code preferred, as I can't change for tea if my luggage is stored.

Your favorite highlights/must see/do?

I've been there only on a rainy day, so I don't feel like I got a feel for the place. I spent a lot of time in the Ashmolean, so I don't need to repeat that site.

Are there any boat excursions that you recommend?

Best place for a light dinner (assuming I've had a tea)? Best place for a good dinner, if I've not had a tea? No seafood/fish, please.

Thanks!
 

Kathy

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
I loved the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum... and you would too! Part of the garden borders the river. https://www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk/

And I always love peeking into any of the colleges you can visit... the opening times vary.

I also really enjoyed the Inspector Morse tour... for fans only! (Charley lasted about 10 minutes.)

Kathy
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Have you been to the Bodleian Library? It can only be visited as part of a tour and is a fascinating place. Part of it was used for the library in the Harry Potter films.

If you want somehing quirky, there is always the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Cathy has already mentioned the Colleges. Christ Church is on everyone's list, possibly followed by Magdalene and both of these do get busy. Worcester Collge has lovely gardens. Don't miss the smaller, less visited colleges. Exeter and St John's have nice small chapels and are both free to enter...

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is worth a quick look if passing. This is supposed to have a very good cafe, although I've not used it.

If you want to climb up a church tower, that of St Michael at the North Gate is the easiest as it has a modern wooden staircase.

 

Cameron

500+ Posts
I loved the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum... and you would too! Part of the garden borders the river. https://www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk/

And I always love peeking into any of the colleges you can visit... the opening times vary.

I also really enjoyed the Inspector Morse tour... for fans only! (Charley lasted about 10 minutes.)

Kathy
Good ideas! I do like the Inspector Morse series, so I'll look into it.

Thanks.
 

Cameron

500+ Posts
Have you been to the Bodleian Library? It can only be visited as part of a tour and is a fascinating place. Part of it was used for the library in the Harry Potter films.

If you want somehing quirky, there is always the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Cathy has already mentioned the Colleges. Christ Church is on everyone's list, possibly followed by Magdalene and both of these do get busy. Worcester Collge has lovely gardens. Don't miss the smaller, less visited colleges. Exeter and St John's have nice small chapels and are both free to enter...

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is worth a quick look if passing. This is supposed to have a very good cafe, although I've not used it.

If you want to climb up a church tower, that of St Michael at the North Gate is the easiest as it has a modern wooden staircase.
I've not been/done these things you've mentioned. I'm bookmarking all the suggestions. Thanks.
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
Our son-in-law is from Oxford and his parents and extended family still live there, so we have visited quite often the past 3 years...the last time being this past October. The colleges are wonderful to visit as is Bodleian Library. We are fortunate enough to have family members who work at both Magdalen College and Bodleian Library, so we we have gone on private Sunday tours of both...and we were even allowed to climb Magdalen Tower this past October for amazing views over Oxford.
My favorite pub is Eagle and Child. For dinner, we enjoy Brown’s (because we like the menu) and The Oxford Kitchen. If the weather is nice, sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the river at The Head of the River is lovely and the food is quite good. Unfortunately, because we now have so much family there, we do not eat out all that often.
I will ask my daughter’s mother-in-law about the best place for afternoon tea and get back to you...I have never been to one there myself.
If you want to take a boat on the river, have you thought about punting? It is an iconic Oxford experience...this is the place we like:
http://www.oxfordpunting.co.uk/
We have spent a total of 2 weeks in Oxford the past 3 years and there are still so many places I want to see on future visits!
 

Cameron

500+ Posts
Our son-in-law is from Oxford and his parents and extended family still live there, so we have visited quite often the past 3 years...the last time being this past October. The colleges are wonderful to visit as is Bodleian Library. We are fortunate enough to have family members who work at both Magdalen College and Bodleian Library, so we we have gone on private Sunday tours of both...and we were even allowed to climb Magdalen Tower this past October for amazing views over Oxford.
My favorite pub is Eagle and Child. For dinner, we enjoy Brown’s (because we like the menu) and The Oxford Kitchen. If the weather is nice, sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the river at The Head of the River is lovely and the food is quite good. Unfortunately, because we now have so much family there, we do not eat out all that often.
I will ask my daughter’s mother-in-law about the best place for afternoon tea and get back to you...I have never been to one there myself.
If you want to take a boat on the river, have you thought about punting? It is an iconic Oxford experience...this is the place we like:
http://www.oxfordpunting.co.uk/
We have spent a total of 2 weeks in Oxford the past 3 years and there are still so many places I want to see on future visits!
Great info!

I don't think I can punt with my shoulders (rotator cuff injuries). I'm getting physical therapy and just hope to get rid of the pain by summer. I used to do a lot of kayaking, but sold our kayak a few years ago.

Thanks!
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
Great info!

I don't think I can punt with my shoulders (rotator cuff injuries). I'm getting physical therapy and just hope to get rid of the pain by summer. I used to do a lot of kayaking, but sold our kayak a few years ago.

Thanks!
I totally understand...my husband is finally pretty much recovered from the pain from a small tear in his rotator cuff that happened when he fell a year ago this month. The second cortisone shot finally seemed to do the trick after months of physical therapy and a 2nd and 3rd doctor’s opinion.
If you have any interest, you can go out punting with a chauffeur who does the rowing while you sit back and enjoy the views. It really is a lovely way to see Oxford from a totally different viewpoint...very peaceful and relaxing...especially if it is a nice day.
http://www.oxfordpunting.co.uk/hire-a-chauffeur
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
I'm thinking of spending most of a day in Oxford, then taking the bus or train from there to overnight at the Heathrow Hilton before my 11:00 am flight the next day. I'll be training from Moreton-in-Marsh after being on @Kathy's "Return to the Cotswolds" experience. I will have been to London prior, so I don't want to go back into the city.

I've found that the Tourism Office in Oxford has left luggage storage, so that's reasonable.

What is the best afternoon tea -- and, how to make reservations? Casual dress code preferred, as I can't change for tea if my luggage is stored.

Your favorite highlights/must see/do?

I've been there only on a rainy day, so I don't feel like I got a feel for the place. I spent a lot of time in the Ashmolean, so I don't need to repeat that site.

Are there any boat excursions that you recommend?

Best place for a light dinner (assuming I've had a tea)? Best place for a good dinner, if I've not had a tea? No seafood/fish, please.

Thanks!
Regarding a place for afternoon tea, here is the response I just received from our son-in-law’s mother regarding her recommendations:
My first recommendation is The Randolph Hotel, it's in the centre of Oxford, we took Kristen there a while ago. It's a very traditional English hotel - I really like it there.
Remember we all ate together at Brown's after the Cotswolds in October? I'm fairly sure they do afternoon tea there, too.
There's a nice place called the Crazy Bear, but it's about 6 or 8 miles from the city centre.
There's a place on the High Street called the Grand Cafe, small but nice.
There's a nice cafe /restaurant on the top of the Ashmolean Museum, I think they serve Afternoon tea.
I think for the whole experience/ atmosphere /environment, the Randolph Hotel takes a bit of beating.
Talking about this Pat, is whetting my appetite for a nice afternoon tea .....”
I hope this gives you a few ideas, Cameron.
 

SusanSeattle

100+ Posts
Cameron, if you want a casual tea, then I would recommend the cafe outside of St. Mary's church. You can have tea and a scone and enjoy them sitting outside in their small garden.

I would second Kathy's recommendation for you to visit the botanical garden, given your interest in gardens & it also gets you out of the crowds (Oxford is filled to the brim with foreign students in the summers.)

I've done the general Oxford walk & the Morse (huge fan) walk and enjoyed them both. One of the fun things I learned on the general walk is that Exeter college carved objects which spell out the name of the first female head on its building after she retired. The walks are a great way to get a feel for the town in a short time.
 

Cameron

500+ Posts
Thanks @Mom83 and @SusanSeattle -- looks like I have great options! I think I'll find plenty to do for the better part of the day, and find the perfect tea.

Did any of you travel to Heathrow from Oxford? I took the train from Moreton-in-Marsh to Heathrow, so I assume there will be fewer changes from Oxford? I assume the train is preferable to bus? I travel light -- a lightweight roller and small backpack (if I can wear it on my shoulders!)
 

SusanSeattle

100+ Posts
I've traveled from Heathrow to Oxford using the bus. It's really easy as you leave from Heathrow and don't have to go through London. The train requires you to change in London at Paddington.

The bus stop is also closer to the tourist info center where you plan to leave your luggage.
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
Our daughter's in-laws always take the bus...they say it is much easier and more direct than the train. We always have a rental car or get picked up, so we have never taken public transportation.
 

veronicafrance

100+ Posts
Absolutely the Pitt Rivers collection and the Natural History Museum (same building). They are exceptional and not to be missed. No-one seems to have mentioned bookshops ... the Waterstones in Oxford is good, but you should definitely visit Blackwells too.
 

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