One of our favourite free things to do with kids in Cheltenham is a visit to Pittville Park. It’s a place I went as a youngster and now I enjoy taking my own children too! It’s only now as an adult that I realise quite how amazing this park is. We live in Gloucester now and there’s nothing quite like it here.
Walking around Pittville Park with my children yesterday, I really noticed quite how beautiful it is. I lived in the centre of Cheltenham town for just under 10 years from my late teens through to my mid-twenties and I definitely took the park for granted and never made the most of it.
Now we only visit a handful of times a year with the children and I realise how lucky I was to have such a large park with so many features on my doorstep for so long.
The park has had some major updates in recent years so it’s quite different to when I was a child, but there are still a lot of the same things there too like the boathouse and animal /bird aviaries. It has also improved drastically with updated new play areas, wooden forest play areas and even a new cafe!
In this blog post I will share some of our favourite things to do and helpful information for your visit to Pittville Park in Cheltenham.
Car parking near Pittville Park Cheltenham
Luckily there are lots of free car parking options for Pittville Park in Cheltenham! Most of the areas surrounding Cheltenham town centre are now pay and display parking areas, but thankfully there are lots of free options surrounding Pittville Park.
Many of the immediate areas around the park allow you to park for four hours. I sometimes park on Central Cross Drive or one of the roads near to here and I’ve always found a parking space. Just remember you only have four hours.
Alternatively, you can park for free in the car park behind Pittville Pump Room, just off West Approach Drive.
There are also lots of residential roads nearby in Pittville where you may also be able to find a parking space if you will be longer than four hours or the Pump Room car park is full.
Our favourite things to see and do in Pittville Park Cheltenham
The park has lots of different areas to entertain young children for a good few hours. We love to take a picnic and take our time to let the children play and explore the entire park.
There are also some facilities in the park such as free public toilets next to the large playpark on the east side and three cafes dotted around the park.
Here’s what we like to see and do when we visit Pittville Park:
See the ducks
As we usually park on the east side, we start by walking around the east lake. We walk all the way around and the kids love to spot squirrels and ducks. You can’t take bread to feed the ducks, but there is a machine for 20p so you can buy proper duck food.
Admire Pittville Pump Room
Above the east side lake and by the huge playing area is Pittville Pump Room:
“Standing in regal splendour overlooking the sweeping lawns & lakes of Pittville Park… The Pittville Pump Room is a unique & refined grade 1 listed building. It is one of Cheltenham’s finest Regency Buildings & was the largest of the town spa’s. Here the medicinal waters were dispensed to visitors, & regular balls, fetes & public breakfasts were held. It is now the only place to still sample the spa waters… It is open to the public for general viewing when not in use for private booking events.” – TripAdvisor
Whilst we don’t go in the Pump Room (but we’ve been there before for weddings, school balls and various other events whilst living in Cheltenham), the children do love to play on the bandstand on the lawn outside and the pretty building makes for a great photo opportunity. We sometimes eat our picnic on the lawn in front of the Pump Room.
See the animals
There have been animals at Pittville Park ever since I was a youngster. At the back of the large playing area on the east side are bird aviaries with birds and other animals inside. There are small birds, chickens, cockerels, rabbits and chipmunks. There used to always be peacocks when I was younger, but they aren’t there anymore.
Play in the huge new wooden playpark
I can barely remember the old playpark now, but I do remember it was a lot smaller. A few years ago they really upgraded the east side playpark into a huge new wooden adventure playground!
It’s enclosed and no dogs are allowed in, so the kids can run around safely. Though you’ll want to keep an eye on where they are as it does get really busy!
There is so much for the children to play on and even sand and water to play with. It’s always a challenge to get the kids out of this park to see the rest of Pittville Park!
There are toilets and a cafe by this play area.
Go through the tunnel to the other side
The park has an east and west side which is split by a road. To safely get across there’s a tunnel that goes under the road. It’s like a tradition to walk under the tunnel shouting ‘echo’ as loud as possible with the kids! We did it when younger and now my children do it too!
Walk around the boating lake
On the west side is another large lake with lots of ducks to see. People are allowed to fish on this side too so it’s fun to get close up to the water on the wooden decks. If you want to fish then you’ll need to buy a permit from The Boating House.
Cross the bridge
Halfway down the lake on the west side is a bridge. This is a newer addition that wasn’t there when I was a youngster. It has lots of metal shapes such as a tree, a butterfly and various sports equipment. The kids love to walk over it and say every picture they can see! This is also the perfect Pooh Sticks bridge!
There’s a cafe called The Boating House with outdoor seating and a hatch where you can stop and buy ice-cream and drinks if you have money to spend. You can also hire a rowing boat to go boating on the lake!
Play on the wooden forest climbing obstacles
Dotted around the lake and in the trees on the west side of the park are lots of wooden tree trunks, rope ladders and more wooden adventure equipment to entertain the kids as you walk around the lake.
Paddle by the waterfall
On the furthest side of the lake on the west side, there’s some large rocks that can be climbed and a small waterfall. There are a few stepping stones to cross the lake. The kids love to paddle in the water here on a hot day!
Play in the west side play area
On the far west side near Leisure At Cheltenham is another enclosed kids play area! It’s a smaller one, but we always stop here for a quick play too.
Watch the golfers and skaters
To the top of the west side lake is a golf course and a skate park! You can hear the bangs of the skaters as you approach this part and the kids love to watch them.
Play hide and seek in the trees on the lawns
In front of the park gates are two large lawns, Pittville Lawn. These have lots of old large trees with many of the branches reaching the floor so the kids love to run in and out of the trees playing hide and seek. Again, I remember doing this as a child too!
Enjoy a picnic
There are three cafes dotted around Pittville Park so there are some food, drink and ice-cream options on site, but there are also so many picturesque spots for a picnic! Sit by the west side lake, in front of the Pump Room or in the large childrens wooden play area for some of the best spots!
Phew! I think that’s about everything we do on each visit to Pittville Park. Whilst we always think we’ll never need the full four hours of free parking, we usually do stay for at least three hours on each visit!
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