With the kids spending an increasing amount of time on the X-Box, I jumped at the chance to visit Blenheim Palace. This Summer has also seen them launch a special offer of #kidsgofree, which makes it a day out of excellent value. (Plus we went on a Monday in August and all food and drink was part of the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme - double bonus!)
Our day of choice meant that the Palace was shut to the public, but our available days were limited but we thought there was plenty to see and do in the grounds, so we were happy to go anyway.
Tickets and an arrival time have to be pre-booked, but this was an easy process and there was plenty of arrival availability. Both can then be shown on your phone, keeping paper and contact to a minimum.
Upon arrival, I was impressed with how everything was set up for social distancing. You can scan the QR to access the website/app and all the information you need to find your way around. There are also maps of the grounds dotted around, showing various attractions and walks available. I'd spied a walk that took in the lakes and brought us out towards the other side of the Palace, which took 2 hours but fast approaching black storm clouds made me think again. We did however wander down to the lakes for a stroll and they were beautiful. You could also hire a boat and take it out on the lake (with a sprained hand and 2 over-eager children wanting to row, I declined!). Instead we headed for a very impressive tree with a huge hole in it that my boys wanted to explore. To our surprise and my youngest's delight it turned out to be one of the two trees used in the Harry Potter films for the Whomping Willow!
After this, we decided that the best way to explore the grounds would be to do the Treasure Hunt through the Formal Gardens. This was, again, very easy and found on the app. Before we knew it we'd been wandering for a couple of hours taking in the amazing grounds designed by Capability Brown. All questions answered and prize draw entered, we headed for lunch and a bit of a rest.
Fed and watered we then took the miniature train to the Pleasure Gardens (you could also drive and park in the separate car park). Here was the fantastic Adventure Playground and the children's summer activities. Unfortunately, the Maze is closed, as is the Butterfly House, which disappointed my two for a second, before they realised that they could do Archery and Tomahawk Throwing (for 8 years +)!! There was also Bushcraft Activities including den building for 5 years +.
All in all, we had a brilliant day. My boys were entertained all day and agreed it had been a great day. We went home exhausted but agreed we'd definitely be back to do everything we'd missed!