It may come as a surprise, but Stoke-on-Trent is home to some of the best and most unique days out in the country. We’ve gathered them all in one place in our local guide, so all you have to do is decide whether you want blissful countryside, roller coaster thrills, fascinating pottery museums, or a walk with 140 monkeys.
Activities in Stoke-on-Trent
There’s nothing like a roller coaster to get your heart racing. Without a doubt, one of the most popular activities in the region is a trip to Alton Towers. It’s roughly half an hour’s drive from any one of our three hotels in Stoke-on-Trent, but it’s well worth making the trip to what is widely considered the best theme park in the country.
Ever since the country estate transformed itself into a theme park, it’s built a reputation for being one of the most innovative on the planet, with world-first roller coasters attracting more than two million visitors a year. In total, there are more than 900 acres of rides and attractions to explore, all spread across 10 themed areas, with something for all ages. There’s so much to see and do, Alton Towers even has its own monorail and gondolas to conveniently connect areas of the park so you can cram as many rides into your day as possible.
If you’re staying at our Trentham Gardens hotel, there’s no excuse not to take the time to explore the Trentham Estate. It’s three great attractions rolled into one and right on your doorstep. Arriving into the hotel, you will have seen Trentham Shopping Village; it’s a cluster of over 75 timber lodges housing wonderful shops and some of our favourite places to eat in Stoke-on-Trent, such as David’s Brasserie, Pieminister and RAWR.
Next up is one for animal lovers; Trentham Monkey Forest is 60 acres of stunning Staffordshire woodland which now homes 140 Barbary macaque monkeys. You’re free to amble your way along the nearly mile-long pathway while the cheeky chimps swing, climb and play around you. It’s astonishing just how comfortable these endangered animals are in their surroundings; they’ll happily stroll across the path right in front of you. Try and plan your visit around the forest’s feeding times for the best experience.
The third and final attraction of Trentham Estate is the pièce de résistance, Trentham Gardens. They occupy the grounds of a former Royal Manor, with 725 acres of woodlands, parklands, and lakes that date all the way back to 1086, when they were first recorded in the Domesday Book. The parklands were designed by ‘England’s greatest gardener’, Capability Brown, and since the turn of the millennium, they have undergone an incredible £120 million restoration project to bring them back to their former glory. The entire landscape is picturesque at every turn, the mile-long walk around the lake is incredibly serene, and the revitalised Italianate gardens some of the finest in the whole of the UK. When the weather’s kind, you simply won’t find a better day out in Staffordshire.
Gladstone Pottery Museum
There are no prizes for guessing why the city of Stoke-on-Trent is nicknamed ‘the Potteries’. It proudly stands as the official World Capital of Ceramics thanks to an unrivalled heritage and rich history intertwined with the pottery industry. If you want to take a trip back in time to experience what life was like in a Stoke-on-Trent pottery factory, make your way to Gladstone Pottery Museum. It’s the only complete, original Victorian pottery factory in the city and it has opened its doors to members of the public. Pay a visit and see the iconic bottle kilns for yourself. You can also take to the wheel to try your hand at pottery, or have a go at making your own bone china decorations. A word of warning, by the end of it, you may inadvertently become a member of the ‘backstamp club’, who can’t help but check to see if a cup, saucer, or plate came from the kilns of ‘the Potteries’.
World of Wedgwood
While we’re on the topic of pottery, we may as well tell you about one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most treasured sons, Josiah Wedgwood. He founded the world famous Wedgwood pottery company, and was the first to break ground on the construction of the Trent Mersey Canal. That alone allowed for the import of materials such as china clay from Cornwall, enabled the production of creamware and bone china, and gave the Staffordshire pottery industry the tools to conquer the world.
If all of this pottery talk has piqued even the slightest of interests in the city’s industrial heritage, be sure to pay a visit to World of Wedgwood. It’s near the Trentham Estate, so you could tick off both attractions in one fell swoop. Although, be sure to give yourself plenty of time; there’s a lot to see and do at World of Wedgwood. To kick things off, you can delve into the life and history of the Wedgwood family and their wares by visiting the museum and the incredible collection of pottery which is on long-term loan from the V&A. Then, when you want to get closer to the action, you can go on the factory tour before taking to the potter’s wheel to create your own pot, or pick up a paintbrush and try your hand in the decorating studio.
When it comes to killing time, sometimes you can’t beat a trip to the cinema. The biggest and most popular cinema in Stoke-on-Trent is the 10-screen Odeon in Hanley. It’s less than half a mile from our Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley) hotel, and for your added convenience, there’s a McDonald’s and Pizza Hut nearby so you can grab some fast food before or after seeing the latest blockbuster.