I am sure you have heard of Windsor and the famous Windsor Castle. A visit to this Royal Berkshire town makes for a lovely day out, as it’s just so pretty. There are plenty of shops and restaurants as well as riverside activities and a hidden playground. We have visited many times as we live very close by, but last Monday was the first time we had a whole day out there since coronavirus hit. Today I will tell you about our day and the route we took, which I hope you will find useful if you want to plan a day out there.
Location: Windsor, Berkshire
Windsor and Eton Central train station takes you right into the shops. It’s £3 return from Slough.
Windsor and Eton Riverside train station bring you to the river (as you can guess from the name).
Food: Yes, many restaurants and cafes. Our favourites are Caffe Nero and GBK in the train station, and Foggs inside Daniel department store (the one with hot air balloons in the window).
Toilets: Yes. Inside the train station, inside Daniel, at Batchelors Acre playground and behind the cafe at Alexandra Gardens.
Pushchair-friendly: Mostly yes
(the only bit not pushchair-friendly is at the bridge from the train station to get to the riverside, the lift is out of action).
Batchelors Acre playground in the street behind the shops (near the back entrance of TK Maxx and the library).
Windsor Home Park playground near Windsor and Eton Riverside train station.
Above is a map and I have put the first half of our route in pink, the second half in orange.
Starting at Windsor and Eton Central Train Station
1) We arrive at Windsor and Eton Central train station. This takes you straight into the shopping area at Windsor Royal Station. You’ll immediately see a replica steam train loco by All Bar One and want to take a photo with it. This is where Lily’s favourite Caffe Nero is, where we have been having babycinos since she was 18 months or so. We also like the GBK here.
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How many of you have taken a photo by this train at Windsor train station? If you have visited here, I bet you have! One of the things I love doing is being a ‘tourist’ in our local area, looking for interesting things to photograph and finding places we haven’t eaten at before. I see lots of cool things happening in London but the reality is that’s it’s too expensive and sometimes just a hassle to travel into the city with kids. Windsor and Gerrards Cross are my go tos if I want my kids to feel like they’ve had a day out without travelling far. Tell me, what do you do when your kids want to go out but you haven’t the energy to travel far?
Turn right and walk down the steps past Carluccio’s and you’ll see New Look, H&M and a bit further up Zara and Waitrose, and to your left is Daniel and Yo Sushi and my fave florist Martin Crossley that I always take photos of for Instagram. This area is called ‘Windsor Yards’ if you have a look on the map.
Walk through Windsor Yards, turn left and downhill and you’ll come to Peascod Street. This is basically the High Street. (If you go straight and up William Street past the bigger Caffe Nero, you will find the Jelly Lounge and The Little Gym.) Today though we are going straight to the playground.
You can have lunch at any of the cafes, or grab some food from the Tesco Express on Peascod Street and have a picnic by the playground. To get to the playground, go down the little alleyway by Paperchase. This will lead you to the library, turn left down the road behind Boots. Alternatively go down the little alleyway by Shakeaway and Kokoro. You will come to Bachelors Acre and a lovely little playground and green space. There’s swings and slides and climbing frames etc, quite suitable for young ones. They used to have fountains here that kids loved running through before covid. There are also public loos here.
We have come to this playground so much over the past 5 years that I hardly take any photos of it anymore. This is a photo from one of our first visits – look at tiny Tyler.
A pretty walk by Windsor Castle
After the playground, if you fancy a walk rather than just shopping, walk through to the other end of Bachelors Acre and come out at Victoria Street. You are turning left into Victoria Street and to the end, then left into Sheet Street. The end of Sheet Street will bring you to the edge of Windsor Castle. Here you’ll see an Ancient Well. I don’t know how old it is or if it is actually ancient, or whether this sign has been put there for the tourists!
Rather than walking down the busy High Street, we went behind the well and through St Alban’s Street. It has some pretty buildings and olde lampposts and leads to Windsor Castle. Get your camera ready.
I took no photos of the castle on this day, because you know, when you’re a local you kind of don’t need any more photos of it! Here’s an oldie from my Insta:
This is the very touristy bit, lots of little alleys with outdoor cafes. We visited on a Bank Holiday but to be honest it’s always busy here. The outside tables are crammed together and there is absolutely no social distancing. I was quite shocked that no adjustments had been made with the covid situation. Anyway, back on the High Street is the infamous Crooked House of Windsor (opposite TK Maxx). It is 300 years old and was a tearoom, more recently a jewellers, but today the building is vacant. You can read more about its history here.
Time for a coffee break
After that little wander, you might fancy a coffee. There are a lot of choices, but with all the shops and cafes being in character buildings, they are quite small inside. We walked down Peascod Street and chose to go inside the Krispy Kreme shop – you know my Lily loves their donuts. We do like to sit in the window, it is great for people watching. They have also closed some tables in here so that social distancing is possible when you sit to eat – unlike other places! So we were happy to eat in here.
Toy Paradise in Daniel
Okay, if you have kids, you have to let them have a mooch around the toy department inside Daniel – the big department store of Windsor. Also a good time to have a loo break – their loos are clean and they have a separate room for baby change and feeding for those who need it. This place was my lifesaver when Lily was a newborn. I have spent many hours in this shop over the years, I am sure all local parents will have! This place is a child’s dream – who needs Hamleys?!
We are going to walk along the riverside now and to get there we have to go back through the train station. Exit Daniel at the back entrance by Yo Sushi to get to the station (Windsor and Eton Central). Walk along the platform to the end and you will come to a bridge. The lift unfortunately is closed so if you have a buggy, you will have quite a few stairs to get down. Go down the stairs and you will come to the Coach Park (there are public loos here too if you need them). To the right of the coach park is a lovely park called Alexandra Gardens, and on the other side of the park is the River Thames.
We didn’t stop in Alexandra Gardens today, but it is a lovely space to have a picnic, with a view of the castle. At Christmas they usually have Windsor on Ice here but not sure if that will be on this year. There is a small ‘fun fair’ and miniature golf at the end, and beyond that (behind the railway arches) is Baths Island and Windsor Leisure Centre.
Feeding the swans at the river
You can walk through Alexandra Gardens to get to the river. There are ramps or steps to get down to riverside. It’s sooooo pretty and you’ll see lots of boats. You can hire boats to row or motorboats or go on a river cruise. We walked down towards the bridge by Windsor Castle and there is a shop that sells bird food (dried up bread circles). It used to be 50p a bag, now its £1 per bag! Anyway, the kids love it. One bag each and we walked back up along the river to feed the swans and ducks. It is such a lovely, peaceful activity.
After that it was about 5pm and we decided to have dinner in town. Most of the restaurants are on Thames Street, directly in front of Windsor Castle. You can walk there easily from the river, but be warned, it is uphill and very crowded, whatever day of the week or time of year! You’ll find most of the familiar restaurant chains here on Thames Street and in Windsor Royal Shopping (the train station area). We chose to eat at Thai Square as we were there on the last day of Eat Out to Help Out, which meant queues outside most places. Thai Square was not busy yet and we got a table straightaway. We had a lovely time, and even though the food had some flavour missing, service was quick and it was a treat to eat out. It’s always nice to eat with a view of a castle out of the window!
That brings us to the end of our day. We walked up Thames Street and turned into Windsor Royal Station. Trains leave every 20 minutes so we don’t check times, we just turn up. By the way, that crowd in the photo below was the queue waiting to get a table at Wagamama!
I hope you have found this post useful if you are planning to have a day out in Windsor. It can be daunting not knowing where everything is when you visit somewhere new, so I have included places we have found useful and child-friendly over our many years of visiting this royal town.
If you have been to Windsor before, which is your favourite part? Any places to eat that you recommend?