We hired a driver for a day trip beyond the busy city to bucolic Oxford. Just over an hour by train or a little more by car, we arrived at what one would imagine the oldest (there is evidence of teaching as early as 1096) university in the English-speaking world would look like...except even more beautiful.
Oxford University is comprised of 39 colleges all set in more than a campus but an entire city with buildings from the 15th-17th centuries. Oxford has educated many notable alumni, including 28 prime ministers of the United Kingdom. We wanted to have fun soaking in what one of the most prestigious collegiate research university cities offered and found unique museums, shops, gardens and architecture.
First stop was their incredible Museum of Natural History. There was an ice cream truck parked by the entrance and a cute cafe on the second floor with proper snacks to refuel before our second stop: the Pitt River Museum, conveniently located right behind. Both equally mesmerizing with the school's scientific extensive collections of geological and zoological specimens all housed in stunning architecture with a more manageable, dainty footprint in comparison to what the museums actually hold. Both are open 7 days a week from 10am - 5pm.
The weather was beautiful so we decided to check out the town after exploring a few pretty colleges first. We found the flagship bookstore of Blackwell's - probably the best academic book retailer we've ever been to. It was hard to leave the 5 stories of bookshop, but surrounding it are cute streets filled with many shops and cafes including plenty with University of Oxford gear and souvenirs. We skipped the busy pedestrian streets with a referral from a JAM friend local and ate the best late lunch at all day brasserie Browns with the best ice cream after on Little Clarendon Street around the corner.