Whether you want to explore the UK’s largest tropical butterfly farm, test your skills at one of the town’s golf courses or head inside to catch a film at the Everyman cinema, we’ve rounded up some of the best activities in Stratford-upon-Avon for you to enjoy.
Activities in Stratford-upon-Avon
If you’re in the Waterside area of Stratford-upon-Avon near to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and find yourself with an hour or so to spare, be sure to check out the Bancroft Canal Basin. It’s a lovely place to walk around, plus, there are a handful of boat-based businesses that are permanently moored in the basin.
So you can grab a snack from The Baguette Barge or the Ice Cream Boat or experience fine dining on a boat, all aboard the Countess of Evesham. Find out more out about the The Countess and other restaurants in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Fancy some outdoor fun? On the opposite bank of the River Avon, in The Recreation Ground, make your way to Stratford Mini Golf. The course itself was designed by players for players, which means it’s challenging as well as fun. Stratford Mini Golf has hosted both the National and the Midlands Opens since it opened in 2001. Don’t confuse this with ‘crazy golf’; what mini golf lacks in giant, colourful theme-based obstacles, it more than makes up for by being a genuinely enjoyable test of skill.
Also near The Recreation Ground, on the North East corner of the public park, you’ll find Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm – the UK’s largest tropical butterfly paradise, which is home to hundreds of species of these most beautiful of mini beasts. The butterfly farm itself is in a lovely setting, with waterfalls, carp-filled pools and tropical plants and flowers. In the Discovery Zone, you can see some of the largest and most camouflaged caterpillars in the world. What’s more, if you’re lucky, you could see a butterfly hatch from its chrysalis in the Emerging Cage. But it’s not all about butterflies. The Minibeast Metropolis showcases all kinds of creepy crawlies, including stick insects, longhorn beetles and some of the world’s largest tarantulas.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s other popular indoor activities are more familiar, but no less fun. Clip ’n Climb at the Stratford Leisure Centreis great, especially for any beginners looking to get into climbing. They use the latest equipment, which helps to hold the slack while you’re climbing, and gently lowers you to the ground after you’ve reached the summit. There’s also a speed challenge wall, so once you’ve got to grips with climbing, you can take on your friends and family to see who is fastest.
Of course, if you’ve got some time to kill and perhaps the weather has driven you indoors, going to the cinema is always a good option. You’ve got two to choose from. The Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse on Windsor Street is a fully-licensed two-screen cinema with a programme that hosts both the latest blockbusters and arthouse indie releases. Meanwhile, the recently opened Everyman Stratford in Bell Court has quickly become the most popular cinema in town, with four state-of-the-art screens, as well as a bar where you can enjoy something to eat, drink or order something to your seat.
When you want to go for a wander, there are a number of walking tours in Stratford-upon-Avon that let you take in the town’s sights while you’re stretching your legs. Stratford’s Historic Spine, for example, is a short, roughly one-kilometre route that begins at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and finishes at The Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was buried.
Along the way, you’ll also pass the Garrick Inn (the oldest pub in town), Harvard House (A.K.A. the ancient house), the Town Hall, Shakespeare Hotel and the New Place Gardens, taking in six centuries’ worth of architecture.
If that sounds like too much sightseeing and not enough walking, then you can make your way along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Split into two sections – The Northern Stratford and The South Stratford – the 25-mile route begins in the suburbs of Birmingham at the Kings Norton Junction and its guillotine-gated stop-lock. From there, you’ll make your way through some picturesque Warwickshire countryside and villages, including Wilmcote where you can take a break and visit Mary Arden’s Farm – the working Tudor farm that was once the home of Shakespeare’s mother.
Boat & bus tours
With such a beautiful stretch of the river right on the town’s doorstep, it would be a shame not to take to the water when the sun’s shining and the weather’s warm. If that kind of thing floats your boat, you’ll be glad to hear that Avon Boating has been giving people the opportunity to hire out their small rowing boats for over 100 years.
They also run passenger vessels if you’d prefer a skipper and a motor to do all the hard work for you, so you can sit back and cruise along at your heart’s content.
If you want to get from one side of the River Avon to the other, then you can take a trip on Malvolio. No, not the antagonist from The Twelfth Night; this Malvolio is the name of the Stratford-upon-Avon Chain Ferry that operates back and forth between the Avon Bank Gardens, south of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and The Recreation Ground.
If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land take a trip on one of Stratford’s Sightseeing Open-Air Bus Tours that take in popular sights, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm, Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and The Holy Trinity Church.