Oxford is more than just the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ and the oldest university in the English-speaking world (but, of course, these attributes are pretty impressive). It is also a vibrant student-centric city, home to some of the best art, the best food, the best parks and the best people in the world. And, we’d know. We’ve been spending our summers there for the past 30 years. Here’s why we think Oxford is the best place to spend a summer:
1. Cornmarket Street
Located at the center of downtown Oxford, this pedestrian-only street is the place to find the thing you’re looking for in Oxford. Whether you want to grab Oxford University souveneirs, a quick lunch, or stop into Jack Wills for an English inspired outfit, Cornmarket is where you’ll be heading. There are also street performers up and down the lane. Keep an eye out for the Bunny Bubble Machine – you’ll know it when you see it.
2. Afternoon Tea
You’re living in England now, so there’s no excuse not to have a spot of tea in the afternoon. Summerfuel Oxford hosts afternoon every day in the student lounge or you can head out for a full service at one of the local tea houses. Even better? Join “Voyages in Afternoon Tea” to learn the history and art of tea drinking.
3. Harry Potter
Many of the Harry Potter sets are based on the historic college architecture in Oxford, especially Christ Church. You’ll feel like you’re wandering Hogwarts or Hogsmeade every turn you take. Be sure to join the Harry Potter tour that Summerfuel Oxford hosts every year to get the full inside scoop.
4. English Sweets (namely Ben’s Cookies, Moo-Moo’s Milkshakes and G&D Ice Cream)
Along with other British “favorites” – Fish and chips, mushy peas, meat pies and bangers & mash – don’t forget to sample Oxford’s finest sweets. We’ll take you on a sweets tour twice during your time in Oxford, or you can head out on your own. Beware, lines for Ben’s Cookies and Moo-Moo’s in the Covered Market routinely snake around the aisles at lunch and can take a while to get through. Also, insiders tip, you can buy cookies at Ben’s and then take them to Moo-Moo’s and have them mix them into your milkshake. Nom nom.
5. The Covered Market
Speaking of the Covered Market, this is the place that has a little of everything. Wander through the stalls to grab a snack (ahem, cookies), fresh flowers, fancy tea or a pair of Hunter Wellington boots. Hint, hint: the boots will come in handy during Oxford’s occasional English downpours and you wouldn’t want to be caught off-guard!
On a warm, sunny summer day, there really is nothing lovelier than heading our for an afternoon of punting on the Thames (which runs through Oxford). It can be a bit tricky to get the hang of, but we promise it’s fun and an ‘only in Oxford’ experience. Plus, there’s nothing funnier than a friend tumbling in the water after a stuck pole pulls you in. At Lady Margaret Hall, we have our own boat house, so punting is a weekly activity.
7. The Lady Margaret Hall Gardens
Perhaps one of the best kept secrets is how wonderful the LMH gardens are in the summer (12 acres!). They serve as reading nook, croquet lawn, cricket pitch, soccer field, outdoor movie venue and less-than-conventional classroom. Additionally, LMH has basketball and tennis courts, so there’s always something to do out-of-doors.
For more insider know-how, check out the Summerfuel Oxford summer blog here: CHECK OUT THE BLOG
You can also check out interviews with last summer’s students about what makes Oxford so special: WATCH THE INTERVIEWS