As much as some urbanites may think sometimes, big cities and their surroundings are not all that Britain has to offer. With Zipcars also in Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, more of what this great country has to offer is within easy reach. Here are our top picks of things to see and do near Bristol.
Feel free to suggest your own ideas below, the best ones may even be rewarded.
Look out for these icons for advice on the trip's suitability:
= dog-friendly = young family-friendly
(Just remember to put your dog in a carrier when you take him or her in a Zipcar, them's the rules.)
Plus we've indicated the destinations' nearest Zipcar city and the closest Zipcar to the train station for Londoners making a real break away from metropolis.
Distance from Bristol: 13 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
Take a tour of the famous historical Roman Baths, walk on 2000 year old pavements and watch the steaming waters; this is a truly magical experience – voted the most romantic spot in Britain. While you can’t take a dip in the ancient baths, if you fancy soaking in the naturally warm waters of the Minerva Bath for yourself you can go for the spa package – giving you access to the modern Thermae Bath Spa, as well as a 3-course meal and access to the Roman Baths themselves.
Abbey Church Yard, Bath, BA1 1LZ; adult entry from £13.50
Distance from Bristol: 34.5 miles; Zipcars available at Bristol Temple Meads Station
Longleat is the oldest safari park outside of Africa, and as such they know how to make a fun day out of it. From your Zipcar you can spot lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and more. You can even feed the giraffes at the African Village. Take a detour into the Monkey Drive Thru, but don’t linger too long – as you can expect, they can be pretty cheeky! Bringing the kids along? Take the Deadly Safari and let TV’s Steve Backshall help you track down the park’s deadliest hunters (all via a CD guide). You even get a certificate for completing it! And once you’ve finished your safari ride, park up and head into Adventure Park to meet more animals and all kinds of fun for the children (like a bat cave and a castle!).
Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW; adult online advance ticket from £26.77
Distance from Bristol: 23 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
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, just a little ways from Bristol, 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!
Wookey Hole, Wells, BA5 1BB; adult online ticket: £15.30
Distance from Bristol: 3.3 miles; Zipcars available at Bristol Temple Meads Station
If you fancy a spot of learning alongside pretty plants, then Bristol University’s Botanical Garden is the place to go. Find out how plants evolved from the sea onto the land millions of years ago (yes, it wasn’t just freaky fish who crawled out of the sea!), enjoy the warm temperatures of the Mediterranean glasshouses, and learn how plants have been used for medicinal purposes throughout the centuries.
Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, BS9 1JG; adult ticket: £3.50
Distance from Bristol: 23.5 miles; Zipcars available at Bristol Temple Meads Station
You can enjoy trees from temperate climates around the world, in three distinct areas of Westonbirt Arboretum. Take a Victorian-style promenade along the boulevards of the Old Arboretum, get lost in the sprawling Silk Wood, and enjoy a picnic on the Downs grasslands. To make the most of your trip take one of the many self-guided tours on offer. They even offer a downloadable audio guide for blind and partially-sighted guests.
Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8QS; adult ticket from £5 (depending on the season)
Distance from Bristol: 24 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
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 of Bristol 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, the 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.
Marine Parade, Weston-Super-Mare, BS23 1BE; adult ticket to SeaQuarium: £8.50
Distance from Bristol: 3 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
This dense woodland, within easy reach of Bristol, not only grants fantastic views across the Avon Gorge to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, but of the main constellations in the sky. Leigh Woods have been awarded Dark Sky status, meaning you can stargaze with the naked eye, away from disruptive light pollution.
Leigh Woods, Bristol, (approx.) BS8 3PA
Distance from Bristol: 22 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
If you fancy learning the secrets of turn in points, apexes and how to drive like a racer, a day out at the Castle Combe Circuit is definitely for you. With many different packages available, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit you. Ranging from driving a Lotus, to a single seater, to a Ford, there is something for a whole range of drivers.
Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 7EY; track experiences from £40
Photo credit, clockwise from left: Castle Combe Circuit, Tim Crisp, Mark Campbell, Castle Combe Circuit, Mark Campbell
Distance from Bristol: 4 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
You won’t find many castle estates complete with their own caves, let alone with free entry. For a cheap, but nevertheless fun, day out just a stone’s throw from Bristol, then Blaise Castle is your destination. Besides the castle and the caves, there’s also a children’s play area, gardens to meander through, plus you can go horse riding.
Kings Weston Rd, Lawrence Weston, Bristol, BS10 7QS; free entry
Distance from Bristol: 27 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station
For a relaxing day at the park within driving distance of Bristol, John Coles Park is for you. Enjoy a drink at the café, or let the children enjoy the play area whilst you sit back on the grass and enjoy the many beautiful views. There are also tennis courts and flower gardens, in case children’s play areas aren’t your scene.
Fleet Rd, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 1NZ; free entry