What to do in and around Nottingham (by all of us!)

posted in: Blog, UK | 63

Jess (who’s 13) writes: This Summer, our family spent a fantastic four days exploring Nottinghamshire. We visited some fantastic places, ate mouth-watering food and created amazing memories. There are some true gems to be found in and around Nottingham, and here are our favourite places to learn, eat and have fun…

We have created a video that sums up our stay, which you can watch below:

We stayed in a Woodland Rustic cabin at The Sherwood Hideaway, a small group of luxury lodges in the middle of Sherwood Forest. There were only around twenty lodges in the Hideaway, meaning that it was quiet and peaceful. Our cabin was much larger than expected, and had a TV, a few sofas, big beds, lots of space and a hot tub! This was fantastic, and we had loads of fun sitting and talking while the jets roared.

The Hot Tub
Jess and Robert in the hot tub!

Robert and I loved playing badminton in the grass with free racquets provided from the main cabin, and ran around in the trees. There were rabbits and cows nearby, which was quite cool. The Hideaway is self-catering, so we made sure to bring food. There was a Tesco about a 10 minute drive one way, and a Co-Operative the other way. Mum loved the Molton Brown bath and shower products, and I liked the biscuits on our pillows!

The Cabin
Our cabin from the outside

Day one:

Zip wires, segways and cycling…

Robert (aged 10) says: One of my highlights of the trip to Nottingham was doing Go ape as it’s not every day you get to go tree climbing in the centre of Sherwood Forest. The whole course took about 2-3 hours and was 909 metres long.

After putting on our suits and having had our safety briefing about how to use all the metal hooks and thingymebobs (it was all very confusing) we climbed up a ladder and started tree climbing. There were six stages in all, each getting harder and higher. Each section had an assortment of tunnels, wobbly bridges and ladders and they all ended with a zip wire, the longest of which was around 140 metres. At some points you could pick between the easier or harder option but if you were under-eighteen you had to stick with your supervisor (that was dad) at all times. Some of my favourite tasks were where you get across by placing your feet in small swinging metal circles, where you jump off a platform and land in a giant net before climbing back up, and going across an extremely hard wobbly bridge. A funny story is when I got stuck climbing up a ladder (one of the easiest obstacles)! I loved Go ape so much and I could do it again, I don’t think dad could though!

The Zipwire

Robert enjoying the Go Ape! zip-wires…

Sarah writes: While Brian and Robert were enjoying (well, Robert was enjoying!) Go Ape!, Jess and I hired segways to drive through the forest. This was brilliant fun and a really different way to get around.

We had never used segways before and so we were given a safety demonstration first. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d remember everything I’d been told, but it wasn’t too complicated and, after a short practice, we were off into the forest. I loved travelling on the segway, especially when we were allowed to go a little faster. The only thing I didn’t like was when our instructor decided to take us on a very windy path. The segways are quite wide, so I didn’t find this at all easy and could feel myself getting stressed…

We loved going through the forest on segways!

We had an hour on the segways, which can go up to a maximum of 13 mph. Afterwards we ate in the cafe where we were impressed by the choice of food on offer, and especially the delicious Snickers cake!

Jess says: After lunch, we all hired bikes from a shop right next to Go Ape, called Sherwood Pines Cycles. There were three routes – green, blue and red. The green route was the easiest, but we took it as we were quite tired from the Go Ape and the segways. The route was around forty minutes long, and went through the picturesque forest. The trees were beautiful, and it was easy to see where we were going. The only annoying thing was that the gears on my bike weren’t working properly, so I had to push really hard to go uphill. However, the rest of the family really loved it!

It was beautiful to cycle through the forest.

Go Ape costs £25 for a child aged 10-15 and £31 for an adult. The Segway Tour costs £35, while hiring bikes cost £9 for an hour for an adult and £8 for a child, or £15 for an adult for two hours and £12 for a child.

Day two:

Remembering the past: The Holocaust Museum, Oliver Cromwell and a very old castle

Jess says: Day two of our trip started by going to The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, which we have written about here. The museum was shocking, informative and unbelievable – I think that the things in there are facts that everyone should learn about.

Memorial at the National Holocaust Centre near Newark, Nottinghamshire
Memorial at the National Holocaust Centre near Newark, Nottinghamshire

Sarah writes: We were really excited about visiting the brand new National Civil War Centre as we love history and know this is a very important part of the British story. It is based in Newark, which is about 20 miles outside Nottingham and which also boasts the most gorgeous ruins of a castle which was where King John died and which was partly destroyed in 1646 at the end of the English Civil War. It’s well worth a look, and it’s also lovely to walk along the river, which runs beside a park.

The Civil War exhibit is mainly in one room, with a cinema at the end. It has obviously had a great deal of its budget spent on interactive and digital aspects, and there are computer games to play, as well as a tour to follow in the town itself (you can download the app onto your phone to do this). It was fun to try on costumes and there was certainly a great deal of artefacts to see.

Dressing Up
Robert dressing up as a soldier at the National Civil War Centre

However, my impression was that it wasn’t so much a national Civil War Centre as a local one. Most of the exhibits and information are about Newark’s role in the war, and if you are not local, they are a bit confusing. We definitely felt that there needed to be more context about the war, its causes and even chronology.

All the staff were lovely and very open to the suggestion that it needed some kind of introduction to put it all into context – I don’t think we were the first people to suggest this!

We did really enjoy some of the other local history on display in the other rooms, including an incredible gold iron age torc. It was absolutely beautiful.

Jess says: I think that I enjoyed the museum more than the rest of the family as I had just finished studying the civil war and Cromwell at school! Therefore, I knew the basics and found it really interesting to see things that tied in with my class’ learning. However, I too got slightly lost at points.

Scrumptious quiche and salad from Gannets cafe in Newark

There are lots of lovely places to eat just a short walk from the centre. We had a delicious lunch at Gannets Cafe in Newark, which was really close to the city’s incredible castle. I had a tomato rissole with mint yoghurt, mum and dad both had quiches and Robert indulged on toast and jam! The cafe also served mouth-watering salads with every meal, and there were loads of cakes and desserts. I had a fantastic elderflower and lemon cake, and dad had a sticky toffee pudding.

A visit to The Civil War Centre costs £7 for adults and £3 for 5-16 year olds. 

Day three:

Robin Hood, Mario Karts and 30 different veggie burgers…

Sarah writes: This was our Nottingham day and our first visit to the city. We had a great time and only wished we had longer to spend there – the Galleries of Justice looked particularly good fun – and Robert would have loved the chance to play in the summer beach in the centre of town, but we only had time to look!

We started our day with a Robin Hood walking tour, courtesy of Robin himself, the very charismatic Ezekial Bone (or Ade Andrews as he may well be known in real life). Robin is an actor, and hugely knowledgeable, which is a perfect combination for a guided tour. You can see him in our video too.

Standing with Robin Hood in front of the Robin Hood statue
We were shown around Nottingham by Robin Hood!

We all learnt so much on this tour, from the original name of Nottingham (the rather less appealing Snottingham!) about the city’s hosiery and lace industry, its Nottingham’s caves and how you can just rub sand off Nottingham castle. We learnt about a man called Boot who set up a very successful chain of chemists (and saw the original flagship store), and admired the architecture around us. And of course we also learnt about Robin himself – or the men said to be Robin, and how the myth developed. It seems the idea that he was a nobleman (Robin Of Loxley) it has much to do with Walter Scott and Ivanhoe, rather than any basis in truth. We would actually have liked even more Robin Hood input and stories.

Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem – the oldest pub in the UK.

This was a great way to see Nottingham as it took us around the city. We even visited the oldest pub in the UK!

(Tickets cost £12 for adults and £7 for under 14s).

Jess says: We all loved our brilliant lunch at The Alley Cafe in the city centre. It is a restaurant with loads of vegetarian or vegan food, meaning that Robert (who has lots of allergies) could eat something other than chips! Thee were vegan pizzas, soups, sandwiches and much more, as well as vegan cheesecakes, ice-creams and tiffin. They had special fruity drinks and everything I had was fantastic. Although the service was pretty slow, there was a large range of food and everything was really good.

A Sinclair Spectrum computer seen at the National Videogame Arcade
A Sinclair Spectrum computer seen at the National Videogame Arcade

Robert writes:  I loved the National Video Game arcade as we don’t have any games like this at home. There were so many different games to play from an old fashioned Donkey Kong to brilliant new racing game. There were games using guitars, games that involved shooting birds with a gun and even one that involved destroying monsters with a table tennis bat and ball. I liked some simple ones as well just with one button. There were quite a few of these in the brilliant temporary exhibition jump (those rooms change every few months) I liked playing Mario Cart where you actually had to pedal on a bike to make your cart go faster. I also enjoyed a game where you drove a car around and had to shoot other vehicles but if you put an object on the screen that would stop the cars from getting through. Another car game I liked was one where you were playing football. There were some games there that were amazing and I loved playing them. Jess has written about it here.

National Video Game Arcade
In front of the National Video Game Arcade…

Jess says: My favourite meal of the entire holiday had to be at Annie’s Burger Shack, also in the city centre. The menu is composed of loads of starters, drinks, and thirty different burger options! Some of them sounded really strange (The Vermonter is “a burger topped with two pancakes, crispy strips of bacon and lashings of authentic American maple syrup”), but others sounded incredible. I eventually decided on The Caribbean – a jerk spiced burger topped with Caribbean Jerk sauce, onions, peppers and a pineapple ring. Each burger came with a side of chips, and you could choose from four different options.

We ate incredible burgers and hot dogs from Annie’s Burger Shack…

What was so special about Annie’s was that every burger can be made vegetarian or vegan, so we were all able to eat the burgers. They made a special effort with Robert and his allergies, and made him a hot dog that he could eat. This was fantastic, and mum and dad really appreciated it. All of our burgers was utterly delicious, and I was stuffed by the end of the meal. After an incredible cheesecake for me and a vegan apple cake for Robert, it was time to go back to our cabin. I would happily go back for another meal…

Day Four:

A Victorian workhouse, a very old tree and lots and lots of ice cream…

Brian writes: We loved our stay at The Sherwood Hideaway, and we even got the chance to see The Major Oak, the tree which according to folklore was used as a hideout by Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

We drove to the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, near the village of Edwinstowe, and then walked about twenty minutes through the beautiful woods (on a surfaced path) before reaching the huge tree which is thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.

The tree is fenced off but you can get quite close. It is oddly shaped and it looks as though several trees have fused together. Some of its limbs are propped up by wooden poles.

The Major Oak
The Major Oak – an ancient tree which was crowned England’s tree of the year!

There are various information boards near the tree, which told us that the tree was not named after its size, but that Major Hayman Rooke included the tree in his popular 1790 book about the ancient oaks of Sherwood. It then became known as The Major‘s Oak, and later simply The Major Oak.

It was also interesting to read that the Major Oak would have only been an acorn when Robin Hood was meant to have been gallivanting around Sherwood Forest!

I would highly recommend a detour to see the tree if you are already in Sherwood Forest. There is also a small Robin Hood exhibition in the Visitor Centre, which was free to enter, and is well worth a visit too.

The Victorian Workhouse
The Victorian Workhouse in Southwell was the base for workhouses all across the country!

Jess says: I didn’t know anything about Victorian workhouses, which is why I found it so interesting to take an audio tour around the Victorian Workhouse in Southwell. The workhouse, which was built in 1824, could house up to 160 destitute people seeking refuge from life on the streets and was the base for the other workhouses all around the country. I was amazed by how tough and pointless some of the work was (by the paint peeling off the upstairs walls, people can tell that the workers had to paint and repaint walls constantly, just to have something to do). We were also shocked by how segregated the inmates were – children, the elderly and the able bodied men and women were all separated, and could rarely see each other.

The Rooms
Taking an audio tour around the rooms

We took an audio tour of the workhouse, which was really interesting and engaging as it told a story. We walked through the yards and saw scratchings on the walls, saw the bare rooms where the inmates slept, went through the cellars, looked at the schools and so much more. It was fascinating to find everything out, and I really enjoyed the audio tour. We must have been in the workhouse for about an hour and a half, and we spent a while looking at the small exhibition at the end. I would definitely recommend it.

Tickets for the workhouse cost: £7.70 per adult and £3.85 per child. A family ticket is £19.25.

Robert writes: We had lunch at the Newfield Dairy and Ice Cream Parlour and it was great. On top of lovely food and friendly staff their ice creams were fantastic. Instead of boring flavours like vanilla and chocolate there was Turkish Delight, fudge and so many more weird but delicious flavours. As I can’t have milk it was great that they had sorbets, not mentioning the toppings plus a flake or wafer. I ordered sprinkles and my sorbet was covered in them. As well as the sixteen flavours, sundaes were also on the menu, including a jelly bean sundae. Yum. Every week they change the flavours so there is always something new on offer. And they make it all on site!

Ice cream
Robert enjoyed his sprinkle-covered ice cream!

Jess says: Overall, the whole family had such a good time in and around Nottingham. There was so much to do, for every member of the family. We did a lot, ate some incredible food and had a lot of fun, and also got to relax in our own hot tub. My only thing to mention is that it was slightly difficult to find all the places we were going, so bring a sat nav!

Disclosure: we were lucky that our holiday was organised in conjunction with Experience Nottinghamshire, while our stay in the Sherwood Hideaway was complimentary. However, all our views and comments are made honestly and we were not given any suggestions for what to write.

The Sherwood Hideaway offers luxury lodges in the heart of Sherwood Forest. A three-night weekend getaway at the Sherwood Hideaway from 18 September starts from £555 for a two bedroom lodge sleeping up to four people. For more information and to book go to Sherwood Hideaway or call 01623 824594.

More by us:

Visiting The National Holocaust Museum in Nottinghamshire

Cakes, a Castle and Cathedral – What to do in Lincoln

We’ve linked up with #CountryKids this week. Pop over there to see more great posts about fun in the outdoors! Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

North East Family Fun

63 Responses

  1. Christine

    Wow, you packed a lot into the four days! I’ve never thought if visiting Nottinghamshire before but you’ve made it sound rather tempting….

  2. samiya selim

    We love Nottingham! Was great having this as our neighbour when we lived in Sheffield. Great post on so many of the fun things one can do here! We love Sherwood forest, and everytime we have guests, they all want to go here 🙂

  3. Laura

    Oh wow what an action packed weekend and perfect for kids. I love the look of that cabin – just my type of holiday

    Laura x

  4. Amanda

    Looks like you guys had a blast! What a great place for a family vacation. There’s so much to do and something for everone.

  5. Globalmouse

    What a great list of adventures! I really like the sound of the segways, what a different way to explore. I have been to Nottingham but not done half of these activities! Thank you for linking up to #GlobalKids 🙂

    • Jess

      We did so much, but the segways were a definite highlight. It was really cool to whizz down the forest!

  6. noel

    What an adventure packed vacation, I’m sure your kids must have loved all the amazing activities, looks fun!

  7. anna

    I love that your kids have an input on the blog as well! It’s an awesome way to get them involved!

  8. David

    This is a great overview of all the options in Nottingham! Go Ape sounds like a fun time, and I love the statue of Robin Hood!

  9. Kara

    I really want to visit Nottingham and do the Robon Hood festival. Kian would adore the gaming centre too

  10. Sonia

    Sounds like you had a great time in my home town. I haven’t done any of these except for the seaways at Go Ape! Will have to explore a little closer to home I think 😉

  11. Louisa

    You’ve packed so much into your break. I’m pinning this for future reference, I’d especially like to visit Sherwood Forest #countrykids

  12. Sue Reddel

    Wow! There sure was an amazing amount of fun things to do in Nottingham for your whole family. I think Robert’s smile at the end says it all.

  13. Wandering Carol

    Just the names of Nottingham and Sherwood Forest sound so romantic to a Canadian. I love travelling through the UK but have somehow never thought of putting Nottingham on my list. It is now!

  14. Rossana

    Love that Major Oak – what a splendid tree! The kids looked like they had a wonderful time – love making those memories! 🙂

  15. Ness

    My father was born in Newark so we go there quite a bit. I’ve never been to the Civil War museum though but we have stormed the castle ruins plenty of times!

  16. Joanne Dewberry

    We went to Nottingham at the beginning of August to the Robin Hood festival. We also tried out Go Ape at Sherwood Pines. I’ve been to Sherwood Forest before but not Sherwood Pines its gorgeous. We love the castle too, always so much to see and do. Great post!

  17. Hannah Wood (staveley)

    We went to a similar place like this as was so good and yep the hot tube 🙂

  18. Robin

    I didn’t realize Sherwood Forest was a real place. That tree just seems to hold so many secrets. Must be incredible in person. Were others in the vicinity shaped like that?

  19. Jackie

    Ziplining is really fun! Do you know if 10 years old is the standard age for kids to go ziplining? I’d love to bring my nephews!

    • Jess

      There was a smaller course for 6-10 year olds, and a larger course for kids aged 10+. Both of these had zip wires 🙂

  20. Coombe Mill

    It looks like you guys really did manage to pack a lot into your short break, it’s impressive how many of the sights you managed to see. It’s great that there were so many different Café’s that were so accommodating for food allergies, sometimes they can be quite difficult to find. I bet the boys loved their tree top experience at Go Ape, the segway rally sounds like loads of fun, I’d definitely have rather done that. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    • Jess

      We had such a fantastic break, and the segways were brilliant! It was so much fun to zoom around the forest.

  21. Jen

    We visited nottingham for the first time this year and my boys loved Go Ape. I wish we had longer so we could visit more like you did

    • Jess

      We did, and there was so much to do. The Workhouse in Southwell was amazing, and a definite highlight.

  22. Lindsay Nieminen

    This looks like such a fun family holiday.
    I think my boys would love learning all of the Robin Hood history (and stop at the video games arcade as well). I might have to go at the tree climbing myself (the three boys are a bit wussy when it comes to heights)
    thanks for sharing!

  23. sam- happyhomebird

    I absolutely must schedule in a trip to Nottingham as there is so much I want to see. The museums look good although interesting about the Civil War one and how they could improve it – bit of an interest of mine. Yum at all the food!

    • Jess

      You are right – there is so much to do! I loved learning about the civil war in school but think that the Civil War Centre was a bit unclear and confusing.

  24. Tonya

    My husband and I are hoping to visit the UK next spring and I’d love to explore Nottingham. What a charming area!

    • Sarah Ebner

      There is masses to do in the UK – let me know how long you’ll be here and what you’ve seen before and we can swap suggestions!

  25. North East Family Fun

    Wow there is lot to do isn’t there – we stayed at Sherwood Forest a few weeks ago but were just passing through so didn’t have much of a chance to explore. I think my children would love to join the Robin Hood tour. Thanks for linking to #traveltales

  26. katja - globetotting

    I can’t believe that you managed to fit in all these activities in just 4 days! This really does sound like a fantastic trip and I love all the interesting things you learnt (my kids naturally find ‘Snottingham’ hilarious!). Thanks for all these great tips, I hope to get up there soon!

  27. Joanne

    Nottingham is one of those places I really don’t know (apart from a very hazy night out sometime in 2002, which we don’t talk about any more) and it looks like there’s some fab things to do. We LOVE Go Ape too, and the videogame museum looks ace. That’s one for the list. Thank you for linking up to #SummerFaves

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