top destinations you can zip to in a day
We’ve picked some of our favourite places to visit – all within approximately 30 miles of a Zipcar city (so you can get there and back in your daily free mileage).
If you have any trips you recommend, let us know in the comments box below.
As the summer makes a decisive disappearance we've been looking for the best destinations to enjoy the autumn colours all within a day's zipping distance in an Oxford Zipcar.
Adult entry is £6; Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP
Blenheim Palace is not just the only non-royal palace in the UK; it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, making it a must-see on a day trip in an Oxford Zipcar.
Make the most of your visit to the expansive palace with the ‘Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story’ walking tour, and find out what life was like at the palace from the servant’s perspective. If the weather stays dry be sure to enjoy a crisp stroll around 2,000 acres of stunning parkland and the award-winning Formal Gardens surrounding the palace.
An adult ticket is £4.50; Oxford Lodge, Peacock Gate, Oxford, OX44 9PX
Enjoy taking artsy photographs of the leaves changing (we won’t tell if it’s just on Instagram), or want to awaken your inner child and kick-up the leaves? Then you should definitely head to Harcourt Arboretum this autumn. Spread over 130 acres, including 30 acres of wildflower meadows and over 13,000 native British trees, you’re sure to get your fill of nature with a day trip here.
For first time visitors to the Arboretum, or those visiting with kids, pick up an Arboretum Explorer’s Backpack at the ticket office, packed full of activities and guides to make the most of the site.
If you haven’t had enough of the plant world after your visit, then you’ll be glad to hear your ticket will also get you into the oldest Botanic Garden in the UK, back in Oxford.
Signposted off the A420 between Oxford and Swindon; free entry
Emblazoned into the Oxfordshire countryside, this 3,000 year old White Horse leaps across the ancient chalk valley just outside the village of Uffington. At 110m long, you’ll need to take more than a few steps back to take in this Bronze Age beast carved into the chalk.
Besides this giant chalk creature, you’ll find plenty of legendary and ancient sites close by in the valley (known as The Manger). For one, White Horse Hill is part of the 87-mile Ridgeway National Trail, an ancient chalk ridge stretching from Avebury to the Chilterns. You’ll also find remnants of the last Ice Age in the rippled hill of the Giant’s Steps, carved out by the retreating permafrost. Be sure to visit flat-topped Dragon Hill, where England’s St. George slew the dragon (we know it’s just a legend, but we still had fun re-enacting it). If you’ve got your walking legs on, then be sure to climb to the highest point in Oxford, crowned by an Iron Age Fort. It may only be 262m high, but on a good day you can get views of the surrounding six counties.
This month we’ve been off in the West of England practising our West Country accents and seeing where we can zip to in a day in a Bristol Zipcar.
Train rides start at £6.50 for an adult ticket, individual event prices vary; Bitton Station, Bath Road, Bitton, Bristol, BS30 6HD
Ever fancied becoming Hercule Poirot and solving a train-based murder mystery, or fulfilling that childhood dream of being a steam train driver? Well you can achieve it all on the Avon Valley Railway, near Bitton, Gloucestershire.
This authentic steam railway sails through the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside, making the perfect day out for families, history buffs and train enthusiasts. But it’s not just about the enjoyable ride; Avon Valley Railway offer special events including murder mystery tours and train driver courses (hence the intro; we weren’t suggesting you get up to mischief on your own!), plus you can also take a ride for Sunday lunch and listen to live bands.
Adult ticket is £18; Wookey Hole, Wells, BA5 1BB
While the surrounding family theme park is a little cheesy (think life-size model dinosaurs), the caves themselves are pretty amazing. But that’s not all that’s cheesy – the cave’s constant low temperature make it perfect for maturing Cheddar Cheese – which you can purchase on site (but also in Sainsbury’s).
The system of caves at Wookey Hole have been used by humans for 50,000 years with Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman and others’ remains and artefacts found inside. With these great many years of use, the caves have picked up a few legends and ghost stories along the way, most famously the Witch of Wookey Hole – turned to stone by a monk from Glastonbury. It is also said that the river at Wookey Hole flows out of the underworld.
Adult ticket to the SeaQuarium is £7.99; Marine Parade, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1BE
If you fancy topping up the tan (or to even out your sun burn) then one of the UK’s longest stretches of sandy beach is within easy reach at Weston-Super-Mare. It’s the quintessential British seaside town complete with donkey rides and a pier. The original pier sadly burned down in 2008, but it re-opened in 2010 with new state of the art games and rides, including a 4D cinema, a laser maze and all the classic arcade games.
If you like to enjoy all the sea offers without getting wet, then the SeaQuarium is definitely worth a visit. Stroke Rays, walk through the daunting underwater tunnel and get up close to British sea life, learn about the evolution of creatures from water to land, and much more.
We’ve been in the East of England scoping out some fun destinations to zip to in a day in a Cambridge Zipcar. From miniature railways to race horses, we have had some more, let’s say, obscure excursions this month.
Ely Cathedral adult ticket with guided tour: £7.50; Oliver Cromwell’s House adult ticket: £4.60
This tranquil medieval town nestled in the Fens of Eastern Cambridgeshire makes for a peaceful day out. It’s hard to miss 12th Century Ely Cathedral, which dominates the town-scape; and with an informative guided tour included in the admission price, it’s a must-see for any architecture or history enthusiasts.
If history is your thing, then you’ll also want to check out the home of the ill-fated Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell.
A little known fact (at least we didn’t know) is that Ely is named for its involvement in eel catching in the River Ouse, which still continues today. For a beautiful stroll in the fresh air (and a good dose of eel history) take a wander along the Eel Trail, and, if you’re brave enough, be sure to sample the delicacy at Ely’s award-winning farmers’ market.
Audley End House adult ticket: £13.40; Miniature Railway adult ride: £4.50
If you fancy another dose of history, why not check out the grandeur of Audley End House, just outside of Saffron Walden. Stroll around this Victorian stately home and check out their working stables (the kids can even play dress up).
Just across the road you’ll find the slightly eccentric yet magnificent Miniature Railway. The steam train (which is 50-years-old in 2014), takes you on a 1.5 mile ride through private woodland, and keen-eyed kids (or enthusiastic adults, we won’t judge) can look out for teddies and fairies hiding in the trees.
Race tickets start at £8; racecourse open day adult ticket: £12; National Horseracing Museum adult ticket: £6.50
If you have even the slightest interest in horseracing then Newmarket is a must-see; it is the town where the ‘Sport of Kings’ was born in 1622. Experience the thrills of the sport whether you put a bet on or not (we’re staying neutral on the gambling front), at the Newmarket Racecourse. Take a peek behind-the-scenes and book a tour of the grounds. Or learn a little something about the sport’s history at the National Horseracing Museum.
But if horseracing isn’t your thing, then Newmarket itself is an attractive town, dating back to the year 1200, with its Royal history going back as far at 1605 and James I.
Windsor is not just home to good ol’ Queenie; there’s plenty to see and do in this historic and picturesque Royal town. Whether it’s block-shaped fun with the kids at nearby Legoland, or just a stroll along the Thames, Windsor makes an idyllic escape from the city.
The lucky Zipcar day trip reconnaissance team particularly enjoyed parking up their Zipcar and taking the short walk from Windsor to Eton to explore the grounds of the Prime Minister-generating College (and also far too many Eton Messes).
Plus don’t miss a delicious hot chocolate and cake on the river bank at The Chocolate Theatre Cafe.
White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, EN10 7QA
Adult off-peak summer day ticket: £16
Paradise Wildlife Park is a childhood favourite for quite a few of the Zipcar team (and when we say childhood, we really mean in their twenties). From powerful Siberian tigers to teeny, tiny tropical tree frogs, there are over 400 animals to get up close to.
Plus get all up in a meerkat’s face with a range of zoo experiences to make your day trip extra memorable. What’s more, new to 2013, is the heart-stoppingly adorable white lion cub, Zuri, born in January.
St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP3 9NH
Adult Mid-week day pass: £39 for non-members, £27.30 for members
After a brief flicker of sun early in May, we’ve settled back into winter, so why not make the most of it and hit the slopes at Hemel Hempstead’s Snow Centre. Practice your slalom and your boarding on the 160m indoor slope – covered in real life snow.
If you’re new to the slopes or simply shaky on your skis, there are classes available for all abilities.
Great North Road, Herts, AL9 5NQ
Adult ticket to the House and Gardens: £15.50
Home to the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury, this Jacobean House was completed in 1611 by Robert Cecil, the first Earl of Salisbury. The adjoining Old Palace, dating back to 1485, was once owned by Henry VIII and was the childhood home of Elizabeth I.
The House is filled with Elizabethan relics and Jacobean grandeur, while the expansive 17th Century gardens make for a perfect summer stroll. In the deer park that surrounds the House, you can see the oak tree where the young Elizabeth I first found out she had become Queen.
Hatfield House makes a great day trip for history buffs and families, but at this time of year the park and gardens make the perfect picnic location.
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, and luckily the beaches and seafront attractions of Southend, Essex, are right on our doorstep.
Besides the popular sandy beaches, you can promenade along the world’s longest pier (or take the train to the end), test your bravery on the roller coasters at Adventure Island, or get up close and personal with sharks and rays at Sea Life Adventure.
Leatherhead Road, Surrey, KT9 2NE
Adult day ticket to the theme park and zoo: £32.40
It’s the classic family day out – big cats, gorillas and roller coasters, what more could you want? And it’s all on the fringes of London.
Rides and roller coasters not your thing? Chessington Zoo is over 80 years old and is home to 1,000+ species, from pygmy goats and mischievous meerkats to Sumatran tigers. Plus get interactive with rock pools and rays at the Sea Life Centre.
What are you waiting for? Book your Zipcar and Zip there in a day.
If you have any day trips you recommend, let us know below.