Things to do in Swindon – Old Town

As promised in our last post on the old railway works, we have put together some more top tips for things to do in Swindon. When you think of our town, you probably imagine lots of drab 60s and 70s concrete buildings. And yes, we do have a few of those – who doesn’t! But … what you might not know is that Swindon also does picturesque, and does it well.

Old Town vibes

It’s certainly worth making the 10 minute drive from our venue to Old Town. This area lies elevated on a lush hill to the south. As the name implies, it is the historic part of Swindon, which pre-existed as a small medieval market town before the arrival of the railways transformed its face forever. While certainly no longer rural, Old Town has managed to preserve a mellow kind of charm that is perfect for a post-game break. 

Things to do in Swindon - Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is located at Aspley House, a converted Victorian residence. Sadly, this local treasure has had to stay closed due to Covid, but hopefully we will see it reopen soon. It is well worth a visit, so do check their website before your visit.

Art and Culture

The art gallery features select pieces from one of the finest collections of Modern British Art in the country. Displays include paintings ranging from the 1880s right up to the modern day, as well as sculpted artefacts and ceramics. The museum, on the other hand, holds a collection of archaeology, geology, natural history and local culture, with some curious miscellanea strewn in for good measure. And of course there is a pretty gift shop to pick up a souvenir for yourself or someone else. 

UPDATE: Aspley House is currently closed and the art gallery and museum are in the process of being moved to a different location. 

Things to do in Swindon - shops on Wood Street in Old Town

Fabulous Food

If you don’t feel particularly highbrow that day, you might just want to amble down Wood Street and around the block. This is not really a place for serious shopping – for that you better head to the outlet. However, it does have some lovely little shops like Young’s, Balula’s Delicatessen and the Food Hall and is perfect for a leisurely stroll. There are also lots of fantastic cafés and restaurants, depending on what you are looking for. We personally recommend Balula’s for their cakes; The Core for their range of juices, smoothies and salads; Los Gatos for the most delicious Spanish tapas; and Rays for their scrumptious home-made ice cream. But there are lots more options and cuisines to pick from – click here for a small overview.

Things to do in Swindon - the lake at the Town Gardens in Old Town

Relaxing Gardens

The Town Gardens are probably Swindon’s best kept secret. Previously a stone quarry, this area was converted into a beautiful park in the late 19th century. If you are visiting at the right time of year, you will be treated to a gorgeous canopy of cherry blossoms or a rare blooming handkerchief tree (yes, that is the actual name, no autocorrect blunder!). Apart from colourful flower beds and a rose garden, it also offers some lovely original features. These include a cast-iron bandstand, a small aviary and an Art Deco concert bandstand, The Bowl. The latter is a prime location for local festivals, theatre shows and more, so make sure to check out whether there is something on while you’re over. Should you have forgotten to get some ice cream earlier or developed a sudden hankering – don’t worry! Rays are omnipresent and also dish out delights from the café next to the bandstand. 

More things to do

If you are staying overnight, there are so many great pubs and bars around, it can be really hard to decide. We recommend you check out The Plough Inn and The Tuppenny, which have a great atmosphere and normally host live music (subject to restrictions, obviously). Or have some cocktails at the fantastic Baila Coffee & Vinyl or Mackenzies, which has a large outdoor terrace.

There is still lots more to explore in Swindon. Next up, Coate Water Park and the Richard Jeffries Museum! So stay tuned – and feel free to browse our selection of escape games (both on site and play at home) in the meantime.