Top 10 Things To Do In Cheltenham

Hi, I’m Steph from stephloveshoney. My family and I live in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and I’m here to share my top 10 things to do if you’re heading our way!

Top 10 things to do in Cheltenham

Two children standing next to a lake with a hill in the background
The beautiful Washpool at Cleeve Hill

1. Enjoy Pittville Park 

Whether you have children or not, Pittville Park has something for you. There is plenty of free, on street parking (check signs for time restrictions) or you can pay to park in Pittville Pump Room’s car park. The Pump Room is open (when there are no events on) for visitors who wish to see the building built to commemorate the fame Cheltenham enjoyed as a spa town. The Pump Room also has a cafe if you wanted to stay for coffee or lunch. 
Walking the perimeter of the park is lovely, take in the beautiful trees and flowers and enjoy the wildlife hosted by the upper and lower lakes, see if you can spot the famous swans and the Pittville Heron!  The Boat House Cafe offers boat, tennis court and golf club hire, along with a delicious range of food, ice cream and drinks. For children, there are two play areas in Pittville Park, one large with a vast array of equipment for all ages, as well as aviaries and cages housing rabbits and other small animals. The other, smaller play area (on The Boat House side of the park) is best for younger children, you will also find trim trails, obstacle courses, a skate park and a basketball court on this side of the park. 

2. Go for a swim at Sandford Park Lido

Open from March to October, Sandford Park Lido is a heated 50m swimming pool with a smaller children’s pool and 4 acres of beautifully kept grounds where you are welcome to relax, play and eat your picnic after your swim.  As well as general swimming sessions, they also offer swimming lessons, lifesaving course and exercise classes. On site, there is a cafe and play area, so you can really make a day of it! 

A view of Cheltenham Racecourse without horses
Watch a race or enjoy a walk at Cheltenham Racecourse

3. Watch some horse racing at Cheltenham Racecourse

If you are a fan of horse racing, Cheltenham Racecourse has a packed schedule. There is a park and ride car park at the racecourse too, so if horse racing isn’t your thing, you can leave you car there and head into town or park and enjoy a walk around the perimeter of the racecourse.

4. Explore Dowdeswell Forest and Lineover Wood

Park up in the lay-by at the side of the A40 for direct access to Dowdeswell forest. This is a lovely place to walk with the family and dogs are welcome. Children will love playing in the stream and climbing all the wonderful trees and there are stick dens to be found (and made) if you head up the hill. At the top of Dowdeswell, you can search for the source of The River Chelt and follow the stream down to a peaceful ‘fairy glen’. Across the A40, you will find Lineover Wood, which has many different paths to explore. If you walk up the hill on the left-hand side of the car park, you will be rewarded with a stunning view over Cheltenham. Both locations are ideal for picnics, but if you’d rather buy yourself lunch, Dunkertons Cidery is close by and they have a delectable range of drinks and eateries to choose from.

5. Eat, drink and be merry at The Brewery Quarter

This is Cheltenham’s entertainment centre. Whatever cuisine you are looking for, there’s a good chance you will be able to enjoy it at one of The Brewery Quarter’s many restaurants. There are also some great options for drinking, with highlights including The Botanist, Brewdog and Flight Club. After eating, you can watch a film at Cineworld or have a game of bowling at Hollywood Bowl. The Brewery Quarter is right next to the town centre and you can walk to the shops in 2 minutes.

3 children with sticks walking down a path surrounded by woodland
Exploring Pittville Park in Cheltenham

6. Visit one of the Festivals

Known as ‘The Festival Town’, we really are spoilt for choice here in Cheltenham. The main festivals (run by Cheltenham Festivals) start in March, when famous singers and musicians descend upon the town for the Jazz Festival, then the Science Festival takes place in June, the Music Festival happens in July and my favourite, the Literature festival is here in October. There is always something going on and these festivals have so many free activities, alongside their paid events. Cheltenham also plays host to a food and drink festival in June.

7. Go for a walk on Cleeve Hill

This is the perfect place to blow off the cobwebs. Free parking can be found in lay-bys on the way up the hill or you can pay a small fee to park in the quarry car park near the golf course. There are lots of different routes you can take, a quick stomp to the masts is a popular activity, a short but scenic walk. Our favourite is the walk to The Washpool, it’s stunning there and so peaceful. We also love going over the top of the hill and walking down to The Bill Smyllie Butterfly Reserve, which has more stunning views and a magical woodland grove with some beautiful trees to climb.

8. Grab some bargains at Southam Car Boot Sale

Held on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, the gates to Southam Car Boot Sale open at 8am. For a small admission fee, you can browse to your heart’s content and pick up pre loved items. Take cash as there is no access to cashpoints on site.

9. Trawl the charity shops on Bath Road

Bath Road is a lovely area of Cheltenham. It is home to some fantastic cafes and independent businesses, as well as the best selection of charity shops in Cheltenham! Park at the Bath Terrace car park and as you leave the car park, you will see your first three charity shops to the left, right and dead ahead! Once you’ve done the two on the car park side of the road, cross at the traffic lights and make your way along the main road, stopping off at the other charity shops you will find there.

10. Visit the Cheltenham Paint Festival sites

The Cheltenham Paint Festival hosts incredible works of art in a wide array of locations across town. All the artwork is on show throughout the year and it’s well worth a look! The whole trail is 5 miles long, but you don’t have to do it all at once if you don’t want to! There are 30 pieces to find, created by over 170 artists. Some of the larger pieces have been in situ since 2017, while other locations are repainted each year.

I hope you have a great time in our beautiful town! If you’re looking for further inspiration in the Gloucestershire area, feel free to follow our adventures on the blog and Instagram.

Images taken by Steph, used with permission. 

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