For a good dose of what Britain does best: good ol' history and fantastically grand estates, take a look at our top choices within easy reach of a Zipcar city.

Of course, 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.


Horniman Museum & Gardens  

Distance from Central London: 8.2 miles

Perched upon Forest Hill you’ll find the eclectic Horniman Museum & Gardens. Inside you’ll uncover everything from exotic aquatics in the basement, to a world-famous stuffed walrus. But the real highlight is outdoors in the gardens. Bask in the warmth of the restored Victorian conservatory and catch a breath-taking view up to London.

100 London Road, London, SE23 3PQ; free entry

Hatfield House  

Distance from Central London: 25 miles

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 or picnic. In the deer park that surrounds the House, you can see the oak tree where the young Elizabeth I found out she had become Queen.

Great North Road, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 5NQ; adult ticket: £15.50


Distance from Cambridge: 16 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

If you're picking up a Zipcar in Cambridge, and 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 as 1605 and James I.


Distance from Cambridge: 16 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

Not too far from Cambridge is the tranquil medieval town of Ely. It's hard to miss 12th Centrury 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. And 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.

Wookey Hole Caves 

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

Blenheim Palace  

Distance from Oxford: 9.5 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

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 (in fact, this tour was devised and directed by a Zipcar member, so you know it's good!). If the weather stays dry be sure to enjoy a stroll around 2,000 acres of stunning parkland and the award-winning Formal Gardens surrounding the palace.

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP; adult ticket to palace, park and gardens: £21.50

Uffington White Horse 

Distance from Oxford: 24 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford Station

Emblazoned into the Oxfordshire conutryside, 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 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 view the surrounding six counties.

Signposted off the A420 between Oxford and Swindon; free entry

Upton House 

Distance from Oxford: 35 miles; Zipcars parked at Oxford station

At grand Upton House, once owned by Lord and Lady Bearsted, you'll be transported back to the jazzy glamour of the 1930s and the lavish house parties the family frequently threw. Get up close to this past life by reading guests' journals, sitting on the sofas and listening to genuine 1930s programmes on the wireless. Lord Bearsted was the chairman of Shell and one of the world's wealthiest men; discover more about his life (and his connections to MI6) with an introductory video as you enter the house (created by a fellow Zipcar member). And if the weather holds out, enjoy a long stroll and a picnic in Lady Bearsted's beautifully crafted gardens, and don't miss the mesmerising Mirror Pool.

Banbury, Warwickshire, OX15 6HT; adult entry to whole property from £7.20 (off-peak)

Copyright National Trust

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