Travelling along the M5 this summer? Long car journeys don’t have to mean constant cries of ‘are we neeearrrly there yet?’, expensive, soggy service station sandwiches and hours and hours of pure motorway. 

If you’re passing through the West Country along the M5 this summer, there are some great places to break up the journey around Bristol. 

Stretch your legs at a castle, fend off hunger rage with an afternoon tea and ward off boredom with some wonderful wildlife encounters...

  • Junction 13 

Berkeley Castle

Image - Berkeley Castle Lily Pond, credit Angharad Paull

Berkeley village and castle

You’re spoilt for choice here. The picturesque village of Berkeley is home to a number of wonderful pubs but is also the seat of Berkeley Castle - a gorgeous fortress that has been continuously inhabited by the Berkeley family for nine centuries. The castle has been embroiled in all sorts of historic events, from a murdered king to a wedding that spawned Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These days the castle also runs family-friendly events and open-air theatre performances. Close by, you can visit Dr Jenner’s House, Garden and Museum. (he discovered the smallpox vaccine). Plenty to talk about on the rest of your journey!

Stepping stones

Image - Stepping Stones at WW Slimbridge Wetland Centre

WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Junction 13 is also the turn off for WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre. Wear out restless children with a visit to see the Severn estuary’s birdlife. As well as up close experiences with wildlife, there’s a Welly Boot Land for splashing around, canoe safari, soft play area and playground. Just try keeping them awake on the car journey after all that! You’re welcome.

Cattle Country Adventure Park

Cattle Country Adventure Park makes a welcome break from nursery-rhyme singing and ‘Let it go’ on repeat. Giant slides and soft play take care of indoor activities while outdoors you’ll find play a climbing net, ride on mini tractors, willow maze, adventure castle and a boating lake, plus lots more.  There’s plenty of animals to coo over too. 

  • Junction 14

Tortworth court

Image - De Vere Tortworth Court

De Vere Tortworth Estate

On the fringes of beautiful Cotswold land, just a few minutes from junction 14, Victorian country mansion De Vere Tortworth Court makes a great stopover to extend a holiday or stretch sleeping legs.  Set in 30 acres of grounds, with their own arboretum harbouring some 300 trees, a gym and spa, you’ll leave refreshed, relaxed and ready to hit the road again. Make sure you fuel up in one of their restaurants before you go.

Thornbury Castle

Image - Thornbury Castle

Thornbury village

Venture off the motorway at junction 14 (southbound) or 16 (northbound) to the pretty market town of Thornbury - a great place to potter round shops and sample excellent restaurants or gather some ‘ginspiration’ from Bramley & Gage’s distillery tour, where 6 O’clock Gin is made. 

Thornbury Castle

Don’t miss luxurious Thornbury Castle - once owned by King Henry VIII and now a gorgeous hotel with exquisite food. Reward yourself after a stressful drive with afternoon tea in the elegant surroundings before sleeping like royalty in one of the sumptuous bed chambers, including one which has the widest bed in the Kingdom!

  • Junction 17

Camp baboon

Image - Wild Place Project's Camp Baboon

Wild Place Project and Camp Baboon

Tired of tarmac? Hop off the M5 at junction 17 for Wild Place Project, in the midst of wide open, beautiful countryside. Here you'll find woodland walks and habitat-themed areas of parkland filled with their native wildlife. Visit eland, cheetah, zebra and Gerry the Giraffe in Banoue National Park, let kids run wild in the Fun Fort or get adrenaline pumping in Leap of Faith.

For those who want to plan ahead, book a glamping adventure at Camp Baboon. A unique opportunity to get after hours tours, up-close animal encounters, bush craft skills and entry into Wild Place and Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The Mall

Image - The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

Bristol has some of the best shopping in the South West and you’ll find a sprinkling of indoor retail therapy just off junction 17. The Mall offers free parking, over 150 shops including department stores and High Street favourites as well as a whole host of restaurants and cafes - many of which are open until 9pm.  Don’t fancy dragging the kids round the shops? Send them off to interactive exhibition Morph Still Naughty at 40 taking place at the Mall from 14 July - 5 Sept.  There’s also AirHop Bristol - one of the world’s biggest trampoline parks, a bowling alley, soft play and cinema nearby. 

Afternoon tea at Berwick Lodge Hotel

Berwick Lodge

Image - Berwick Lodge Hotel

A classy country house in magnificent grounds just outside Bristol, a visit to Berwick Lodge Hotel will make you feel like you’re a world away from your long motorway journey.  Indulge in a wicked afternoon tea in their sunny garden or linger over an 8-course tasting menu in the award-winning Hattusa restaurant. Spend the night in one of their beautiful rooms for some proper R&R before continuing on your way.

  • Junction 18

Suspension Bridge

Image - Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Destination Bristol

Let someone else take the wheel by using the park and ride off junction 18 to enjoy a visit into central Bristol.  On your way into the city, you’ll follow the River Avon and pass under the breath-taking Clifton Suspension Bridge.

  • Junction 19 & 20


Image - Tyntesfield House, credit Angharad Paull

Tyntesfield House & Gardens

If you watch Sherlock or Dr Who, chances are you’ve already seen a fair bit of Tyntesfield House & Gardens.  Owned by the National Trust, there are trails and walks in the grounds, an adventure and sculpture trail for youngsters and exciting events taking place this summer, including Junior Rangers Club which will be running activities like 'feeling sheepy', 'nuts about birds' and 'hairy caterpillars'.  The Cow Barn restaurant serves locally-sourced food, or there’s afternoon tea in the Pavilion Cafe. You can also stay in the pretty cottages in the grounds.

Clevedon Pier


The M5 runs parallel to some spectacular North Somerset coastline and where better to ease stiff limbs than with a wander along the beach? Come off at junction 20 for quintessentially English seaside town, Clevedon (where much of ITV’s Broadchurch was filmed). Eat at one of the cafés overlooking the Bristol Channel, go for a splash in the Marine Lake and wander along the Victorian pier, before skimming pebbles into the sea.

  • Junction 21


Grand Pier Weston

Image - Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare is a lovely coastal spot with miles of sand to play on. Don’t miss the Grand Pier - home to a 300-metre indoor go-kart track, F1 simulators, arcades and rides. Or opt for the more traditional English seaside experience and sniff out donkey rides, ice cream and fish and chips.

Find more inspiration for things to do in Weston-super-Mare

  • Junction 22

Cheddar Gorge

Image - caving at Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

Steer away from the motorway to world-famous beauty spot, Cheddar Gorge and its striking cliffs and caverns - the 3-mile cliff-top Gorge Walk is one of the finest in the country. Daredevils can clear driving-fogged minds with an X-treme adventure caving expedition deep inside the Mendip Hills. Also nearby you’ll find Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions  - stroll through the prehistoric Valley of the Dinosaurs before seeking out the famous Witch of Wookey Hole.

Bikes on board? Cyclists should head to The Strawberry Line which runs between Yatton and Cheddar and is part of the West Mendip Way.

Read more

Events Calendar

Things to do in Bristol

Getting around Bristol

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Are we nearly there yet? Motorway breaks near the M5 and Bristol


Berkeley Castle
Aerial shot of Berkeley Castle Bristol

Berkeley Castle is a beautiful and historic Castle, begun in 1117 and still remains the home of the Berkeley family. It is a great day-out for all the family, hosting special events on bank holidays and during school holidays

WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Animal Collection
WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre Flamingos

At WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre you can have a taste of the wild, without having to get your feet muddy - unless you want to!

De Vere Tortworth Court
De Vere Tortworth Court exterior

A grade II* listed Victorian mansion, Tortworth Court offers all the grandeur of an elegant Cotswolds hotel alongside the hotel facilities of a premier four star hotel.

Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle
Tea Room/Coffee Shop
Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle

Enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea in splendid surroundings at Thornbury Castle.

Camp Baboon at Wild Place
Camp Baboon Wild Place Project

Camp in a luxury cabin amongst the exotic and endangered animals at Wild Place Project.

Wild Place Project
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Bear at Wild Place Project

Discover a world of animal adventures – right on your doorstep! Wild Place Project is the perfect fresh-air destination, with 50 acres to explore. Say ‘hello’ to bears, giraffes, zebras, gelada ‘baboons’, cheetahs, meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs, among many others.

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
Shopping Centre
The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is one of the premier shopping destination in the South West.

Morph: Still naughty at 40! at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway
Morph: Still naughty at 40! at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

A celebration of all things Morph, as the beloved character marks 40 years since his creation by animation legends Peter Lord and David Sproxton.

AirHop Bristol

Ultimate bouncing fun for kids and big kids! Over 140 interconnected trampolines that span right across the floor and up the walls on our Main Court - plus Obstacle Course, AR Trampolines, Wipeout, Dodgeball, Foam Pit, Slam Dunk and Battle Beams. Jump into happy at AirHop Bristol.

Berwick Lodge
Guest House
Berwick Lodge Bristol outside

Escape the hectic pace of everyday life and indulge in some well-deserved relaxation. Deep in the heart of the South West, nestled within exquisite surroundings, is Berwick Lodge – a hidden secret just waiting to be discovered.

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Historic Site
Clouds over Clifton Suspension Bridge Bristol - CREDIT GARY NEWMAN

The world famous bridge and the iconic symbol of Bristol, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1831 and completed in 1864 after his death

National Trust - Tyntesfield
Historic House/Palace
National Trust - Tyntesfield

At its heart Tyntesfield is a Victorian country house and estate, which serves as a backdrop to the remarkable story of four generations of the Gibbs family. Their tale charts the accumulation of wealth from the guano trade, transformation of a Georgian house to a Victorian Gothic masterpiece and the collection of over 50,000 objects.

Clevedon Pier
Sunset at Clevedon Pier

Clevedon Pier, built in c1869, partially collapsed in c1970, was re-opened in c1989 and is now fully restored with grants from North Somerset Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Wookey Hole Caves & Attractions
Family Fun
Wookey Hole Caves & Attractions

There’s always fun and adventure to be had at Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions... Hidden away beneath the Mendip Hills is a spectacular underground network of breath-taking caverns!