Stratford-upon-Avon Day Trips
September 16, 2013 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, for a week from Boxing Day through New Year's Day. I'm looking for ideas for day trips for five of the seven days of my trip. I like cultural sites, nature, homes, museums, local color, history, literature, restaurants. I will have access to a car and I'm also not averse to the train.
posted by tmharris65 to Travel & Transportation around Stratford-Upon-Avon, England (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ms. jason6 and I were in Stratford-upon-Avon a few years ago for a trio of Royal Shakespeare Company plays. While we were there, we visited Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Caslte (strangely owned by the Tussauds Group) in the area.
posted by jason6 at 12:34 PM on September 16, 2013

You're just north of the Cotswolds. So if you like nature you can do some walking.
If I had to recommend one walking book (I own many) it'd be Goldeneye's Cotswold Classic Walks.

There's National Trust properties (use this map) such as the wonderful decrepit 17th century Chastleton House.

For Art, Compton Verney is one of the best galleries outside of London. A gorgeous setting too. Not to be missed.
One of the other best galleries inside or outside of London is the Barber Institute in nearby Birmingham.

Oxford is only an hour drive. Worcester, with its great cathedral is even closer.
posted by vacapinta at 12:34 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Visit Shakespeare's house?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:34 PM on September 16, 2013

Warwick has a good castle open on Boxing Day, second hand bookstores, and interesting buildings.
Oxford you could get to by car. There are the colleges, plus a small natural history museum. Tourists visit for a reason.
Birmingham has a new central library, an interesting art gallery and great food. Around the suburbs there are historic buildings and botanical gardens.
The Black Country Living Museum is open on 27-29 December. It is an open air collection of buildings from the late Victorian era. Also with pub and fish and chip shop. In a similar vein, the back to backs and museum of the jewellery quarter explore industrial and urban heritage in Birmingham city centre.
Nature you can all over the place - there are public rights of way throughout Warwickshire you could explore with a decent map.
posted by plonkee at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2013

Chipping Campden is extremely nice, and not far to the south. The Cotswolds in general are a good place for a couple of days walking/driving.

Stratford itself can be a tourist hell-hole when it's busy, but it has some nice historical buildings and whatnot.

Warwick castle is good fun if you don't mind big, commercial attractions. They put on a good falconry show. The town itself is also worth exploring.
posted by pipeski at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2013

Coventry Transport Museum is supposed to be worth a visit. If you go into Coventry then the cathedrals are also worth popping into. The old one was bombed out and is now twinned with Dresden, the new one is thus quite modern with some nice touches. Coventry does have some decent Indian restaurants also.

Kenilworth castle can combine nicely with food, there are some decent restaurants and pubs opposite.
posted by biffa at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2013

As has been mentioned in your previous questions, you're working with the Christmas opening hours, and potentially the weather.

Take a day or two just to drive around different bits of the Cotswolds. There will be villages and pubs and churches. These are not destination day trips, but mazy rambles along country roads, ignoring your GPS when it's a choice between A and B roads, perhaps pencilling in the bigger market towns for lunch and tea, but mainly about stopping along the way whenever something catches your eye.
posted by holgate at 6:23 PM on September 16, 2013

Just to add to the above:

It sounds like you're arriving afterwards, but in case things change: in rural areas and small towns little will be open on Xmas Day itself, including many restaurants and pubs. However, in and towards Birmingham you will find lots of restaurants open on Xmas Day. Birmingham is 45 minutes away from Stratford.

Before and sometimes even after Xmas, mid market restaurants often serve a Xmas set menu, which is often both expensive and not great. Avoid unless you have a particular hankering for turkey.

Boxing Day is a big shopping day. If that is your thing then cool, but expect traffic and people around shopping centres - especially Birmingham.

If you want a pretty drive and to luxuriate in books and bookshops then Hay on Wye is two hours away (70 or so miles on country roads) - some places may be shut over whole the Xmas period but I suspect most will just be shut on Xmas and Boxing Day. Call their tourist information office beforehand to check. You could make a day of it and do a loop and go via Ludlow (pretty, with a castle and brewery and some nice restaurants and a great food shop) on your outward or return leg. There is also tons of National Trust stuff around there.

Useful resources:

The National Trust - historic houses and castles as well as lovely country walks. See also English Heritage (you can search by town/area), which is a separate organisation. Depending on how many places you want to go to it may be cheaper to become a member of either organisation at the first place you visit.

The Good Pub Guide - great for finding those little quintessential country pubs with the roaring fire and the pint of local ale. See also Sawdays guide - a more bespoke guide and a bit more geared to pub eating.

Walking Britain - a list of free walks you can do.

Some hidden gems in Warwickshire - a list of some interesting gardens as well as some pretty little towns.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

holgate makesa good point about he xmas opening hours, for example, Kenilworth Castle is closed as follows:

Christmas Eve
24 Dec 2013

Christmas Day
25 Dec 2013

Boxing Day
26 Dec 2013

New Year’s Eve
31 Dec 2013

New Year's Day
1 Jan 2014

Warwick Castle is a bit better:

21st December - 5th January 2014
10am - 6pm

25th December
posted by biffa at 6:37 AM on September 17, 2013

Thanks, all! Some exciting possibilities here!
posted by tmharris65 at 3:39 PM on September 17, 2013

As a proud Warwickshire native I have to say it's a great County; with a lot of remarkable places to see and beautiful countryside to explore, I love showing visitors around!

Lovely though it is I have to admit that twixtmas week probably isn't one of the best times to see it; The general sense of post Christmas hangover, cold damp dark English weather with a couple of hours of daylight and damp, cold grey wind-swept days can make it hard to appreciate the charms of anywhere while as a tourist thanks to a lot of the big attractions being closed; the things that are open having reduced hours and the threat of general transport chaos any time there's snow or ice can make it a bit of a trial.

There are some really nice things to see though; as a native I find stratford a bit of a puzzle; while the riverside and bits of the old town are delightful and the shakespeare related bits notable, the rest of the town can seem slightly unremarkable set of chain stores; as far as the must do's for stratford ; seeing something at the RSC (if there's anything on) a boat trip along the avon; and the shakespeare tourist trail are the best bits, there are some good restuarants too; for a very good restaurant meal I always like Lambs on Sheep Street and really rate the Kingfisher Chip shop on Ely street for good fish and chips.

if you can get car, Outside Statford there are a couple of Shakespeare trail places like Ann Hathaway's cottage as well as some excellent National Trust places, Coughton Court is by far my favourite thanks to a beautful setting by the river with fallow deer greeting you at the entrance, but I also rate Baddlesley Clinton; a former moated manor house and Packwood House; a beautiful tudor manor house with an amazing yew garden that reminds you of something out of alice in wonderland! While in the Churchyard at Tanworth in Arden; itself a pretty village there's the well traveled grave of singer and musician Nick Drake who lived and died in the village.

Warwick is a really simple bus trip and is a beautiful town, tourism wise its dominated by Warwick Castle which is one of the biggest and best preserved in the world, but also about the most exploited there are other attractions like the Warwickshire County museums and the Collegiate church of St Mary with the most sublime Beuchamp chantry chapel, as well as some nice shops and cafes and what have you.

Leamngton Spa, a bit further over is a good place for a wander too; a Georgian Spa town its in the same mould as Cheltenham and Tunbridge Wells and is pleasant for a wander and has a good museum in the former pump room, and a beautiful town park.

Between Leamington and Coventry is Kenilworth, though rather a nondescript place it does have a romantically ruined castle looked after by English Heritage.

Coventry is even further away its considered rather unlovely by even its residents despite being historically one of the richest and most important cities in England. While lacking in immediate tourist charm thanks to being levelled by the luftwaffe, its a remarkable place in English History and post war town planning; the new and old cathedrals are very striking and the museums are excellent in putting the city in context though seeing behind the blocky post war facade is a bit of a struggle for some.

There's a lot to enjoy, just wrap up warm, invest in woolly socks and you'll be fine, though it you fancy knowing anything more feel free to drop me a line ;)
posted by Middlemarch at 7:13 AM on September 18, 2013

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Bath. It has lots of interesting historical stuff and the Thermae Spa is really luxurious and fun albeit a bit pricey. Rick Steves has a good page about the city.
posted by Cogito at 4:41 PM on September 18, 2013

« Older What Other Chicago Neighborhoods Are Most Like...   |   Facebook friend request from a stranger? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.