17 Amazing Excursions You Can Enjoy at our Summer Schools
Obviously, the best thing about attending an Oxford Royale Academy summer school is the fantastic lessons to help you understand and engage with your subject of choice. But a strong contender for the second best thing is surely the amazing excursions you have the opportunity to go on. Some of our excursions let you explore the history and culture of the country where your course is taking place; others are educational in a different way; and some are simply good fun. Here are some of the incredible excursions and coach trips you could take on an Oxford Royale Academy programme this summer.
1. Stonehenge (Oxford)
Britain’s most famous ancient monument is in Wiltshire, a coach journey away from Oxford. This ring of standing stones was built between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, and represents an astonishing feat of engineering. That’s first because the stones are incredibly heavy, at around 25 tons each, and were transported from 150 miles away. And second, because Stonehenge is impressive in other ways that aren’t immediately apparent; in particular, the henge is perfectly orientated towards sunset at the winter solstice and sunrise at the summer solstice. Visiting Stonehenge is a glimpse into a remarkable and mysterious past.
2. Blenheim Palace (Oxford)
Another Oxford excursion is to the stunning Blenheim Palace, the only palace in Britain built for neither a monarch nor a bishop. This was the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, and it’s fascinating to visit and walk in the footsteps of the United Kingdom’s best-known Prime Minister. Blenheim Palace isn’t just historic, though; it’s also architecturally noteworthy as a rare example of the English Baroque style. The vast, opulent palace with its equally beautiful gardens is an amazing place to visit and explore.
3. Woburn Abbey and Safari Park (Cambridge)
This is a two-in-one excursion, combining a trip to the magnificent country house of Woburn Abbey with a visit to the associated safari park in the grounds. Woburn Abbey was mostly rebuilt in the 18th century, and has stunning architecture and interiors, as well as a renowned art collection. But the focus of the excursion is the safari park: covering 360 acres, this gives students the chance to see animals such as rhinos, tigers, bears, giraffes and lions – all from the safety of the coach. Penguins, lemurs, sea lions, elephants and wallabies can also be seen up close if you choose to explore on foot.
4. Golfing trips (St Andrews)
St Andrews is known as the home of golf, with some of the oldest golf courses in the world, dating back as far as the 15th century. So naturally we couldn’t have a summer school in St Andrews without including an excursion to play golf in these historic surroundings. Beginner golfers are just as welcome as those with years of experience – after all, where better to try out playing golf for the first time than St Andrews? And the view from the golf course is beautiful, too.
5. The London Dungeon (London)
Want to learn about the history of London – the spooky way? The London Dungeon takes you through the history of the capital with a focus on the gruesome bits, from the Gunpowder Plot, to the Black Death, to Jack the Ripper. The Dungeon is an interactive, immersive experience, with actors, live shows, rides and more to bring history to life and make a chill run down your spine. Part theme park, part history lesson, the Dungeon is frightening and fascinating in equal measure.
6. Hampton Court (Cambridge)
Another stunning palace, Hampton Court is mostly associated with Henry VIII, to whom it was given in 1529, not long after it was built. As Henry VIII is one of Britain’s most colourful monarchs – with war, religious turbulence and a succession of six wives – a visit to Hampton Court is a great opportunity to learn more about him and the world he lived in. Alongside the Tudor parts of the palace that date from its early construction, there’s also a Baroque expansion from the era of William and Mary, making it interesting to compare and contrast the different styles of royal palaces and what was required at each point in history.
7. London Eye (London)
This vast Ferris wheel, reaching heights of 135m, offers unrivalled views over the centre of London. Unlike a typical fairground Ferris wheel, the London Eye rotates so slowly that it doesn’t usually have to stop to let passengers get on and off – they can simply walk off while it’s in motion. It rotates at just 0.6 miles per hour. The result is that each revolution takes half an hour, and visitors have plenty of time to look out over the city, spot the landmarks, take photos and generally get to know London from a whole new perspective.
8. Drayton Manor (Oxford)
Drayton Manor might sound like another stately home, but in fact it’s a theme park with family rides, thrill rides, a section themed around Thomas the Tank Engine, and its own zoo. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re an adrenaline fiend who only wants to go on the fastest rides, or if you prefer calmer traditional rides like the carousel or the dodgems. Further attractions include the dinosaur trail and 4D cinema.
9. Escape Rooms (Yale)
Take on a fascinating and fun challenge at the New Haven Escape Rooms, where you’ll have sixty minutes to pit your wits against the puzzles and mysteries the room posed. Your task is to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape the room before your time runs out. Each escape room has a different theme, and some of the puzzles will be more abstract than others; in some, the first challenge is working out what the puzzle is that you have to solve. This is a great team activity to test your problem-solving under pressure.
10. Sea Life London Aquarium (London)
Oxford Royale Academy students in London can visit penguins, turtles, jellyfish, rays and more at the Sea Life London Aquarium. It’s home to the UK’s largest living coral reef, and there’s also the rainforest adventure section, where you can see crocodiles, piranhas and poison dart frogs. Or how about the shark walk, where the glass floor lets you see sharks swimming past just underneath your feet? For students studying biological sciences, the Aquarium is an educational adventure; for everyone else, it’s simply a fascinating place to be face-to-face with creatures you might never otherwise see up close.
11. West Sands Beach (St Andrews)
This vast sandy beach was made famous in the film Chariots of Fire, but its spectacular views are sure to be enjoyed by anyone – it’s repeatedly won Keep Scotland Beautiful awards. The beach is carefully zoned so that sand yachts and swimmers are kept safely apart, and lifeguards patrol during peak season. In fact, the greatest danger is being hit by a stray golf ball, as the Links are right next to the beach. It’s windy here, which draws windsurfers, kite surfers and stunt kites to the beach along with the walkers, paddlers and swimmers.
12. New York City (Yale)
It’s impossible to summarise the dynamic, fast-paced world of the largest city in the USA in so short a space. On an excursion to New York, Oxford Royale Academy students can see Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the United Nations and more besides. New York is known for its incredible cultural diversity, with over 800 languages spoken in the city, which also has the largest foreign-born population in the world. All this makes New York incredibly exciting and vibrant – a great place to visit, shop and explore.
13. Duxford Imperial War Museum (Cambridge)
Now the largest aviation museum in Britain, Duxford was an active RAF base until the 1960s. Many of the buildings you can see there today date back to the site’s role in conflicts as far back as the First World War. Nearly 200 aircraft are on display, and the museum also holds regular air shows where you can see historic planes take to the skies. If you have an interest in the history of war – particularly in the 20th century – or in aircraft, or engineering more generally, it’s an amazing place to be able to visit, with a remarkable history.
14. Roman Baths (Oxford)
The city of Bath has an ancient past: the hot springs there may have been a shrine to a pagan goddess. When the Romans conquered Britain, they dedicated the shrine to their own goddess, Minerva, and built a temple and bathing complex at the site, which was used for some 300 years. Even by the time of the Anglo-Saxons, people were still marvelling at the Roman ruins, and the remains of the Roman baths, including the curses tablets they requested the goddess fulfil, make for a remarkable place to visit today.
15. State Houses (Yale)
In the Connecticut state capital, Hartford, students studying with Oxford Royale Academy in Yale can visit the magnificent and historic State Houses. Dating back over 200 years, these are the past and present home of justice and politics in Hartford. Also on display is one of the only two portraits of George Washington that were painted during his lifetime. The visit is a great opportunity to explore US history and how that has come to influence the judicial system today.
16. Scottish Deer Centre (St Andrews)
This country park is home to 14 species of deer from around the world, as well as several of their natural predators that are now extinct or endangered in the wild in Scotland, such as wolves, lynx, Scottish wildcats and brown bears. Guided tours of the park provide fascinating insights into this ecosystem as it would once have existed in this part of Scotland. Set in 55 acres of parkland, there’s a vast amount to see, including daily bird of prey shows.
17. Theatre trips (London, Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews)
Take the opportunity to see plays performed in London’s West End (if you’re studying in Oxford, Cambridge, or London) or in the renowned theatres of Edinburgh (if you’re studying in St Andrews). Our theatre trips let you enjoy the delights of live musicals, such as Wicked, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock and many others. You might have seen filmed versions, but there’s nothing quite as exciting or fun as seeing a live performance of a favourite show.
Image credits: Stonehenge; Blenheim Palace; Woburn Abbey; St Andrews golf; London Dungeon; Hampton Court; London Eye; Drayton Manor; escape rooms; London Aquarium; New York; Duxford; Bath; State Houses; wolf; musicals.