Ok so as a travel blogger I often get asked by friends, family and colleagues to recommend family friendly activities in our nearest touristy town, Stratford Upon Avon. So here goes…
I’ve restricted this list to just those places and activities that are actually in the town or that are accessible (easily!) from the centre without a car (and with children!). I’ll blog at a later date about other incredible family entertainment options that are slightly further afield (although some are already featured on the blog so check that out in the meantime!)
1. A trip to Stratford wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of the Shakespeare properties. Shakespeare”s Birthplace is right in the centre (although sadly perhaps not the most interesting one for the littlest of people). Our firm family favourite is Mary Arden’s Farm. It’s slightly out of town but is well served by the tourist bus. Another option is Shakespeare’s New Place – right in the centre and a lovely space to allow little people to run around freely!
(A few pictures from Mary Arden)
2. A play at the recreation ground. This is a firm family favourite. It is suited for all ages, with a paddling pool in warmer months, a giant sandpit as well as more grown up climbing frames etc. Conveniently, there are some public toilets (with changing facilities) within the park and parking is available nearby (paid either by cash or one of the mobile parking apps). There are plenty of open grass areas down by river so if the weather allows a picnic and a spot of boat watching would be an ideal option. It is a reasonably long walk back into the town for little legs. Our two enjoy the chain ferry that whisks you over to the other side of the river in no time at all (and for the grand total of 50p per child!). There are a range of other activities in or near to the Rec (as it is commonly referred to!) – there’s a mini golf (although we’re yet to try this), football pitches as well as the Butterfly farm (see number 3!). Plenty of scooting possibilities (regulars to my blog will know that we are always on the hunt for safe places to let our little ones scoot!) – so an alternative to the chain ferry would be to scoot back along the river and over the bridge for great views of the RSC theatre.
3. A trip to the Rec could easily be combined with a visit to the Butterfly farm. Stratford Butterfly Farm is the largest and most comprehensive attraction of its type in Europe. This is a perfect indoor activity (although it can get pretty warm so wear layers!).
4. Trip up the RSC tower to admire the views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Little legs can opt for the lift or alternatively brave the steps! Whilst you’re visiting the theatre why not explore the costumes and dress up boxes for children on the ground floor of the theatre.
5. Child’s afternoon tea at RSC, in the Rooftop restaurant is a complete delight (in fact we are big fans of the restaurant in general – they have a fab child’s menu and the food for mummy and daddy is equally excellent!). The afternoon tea for children is so imaginatively presented (in fact we’re always very jealous of it!) – coming presented on a mini wooden picnic bench with cake pops and delicious sandwiches. An alternative would be Fourteas – a beautiful 1940s tea room or Box Brownie that sells simply the most divine chocolate brownies (the breakfasts are pretty yummy as well!). You can get them to take away (not that I’ve done that of course!) Box Brownie is right up next to Shakespeare’s birthhouse.
6. MAD museum. The MAD Museum is the country’s only permanent venue for mechanical art. This indoor gem is easily missed – it’s upstairs above the post office. You can pop in and out during the day with a valid ticket. It has a whole room dedicated to a giant build your own marble run as well as a whole load of other interactive displays. We highly recommend it. You need to leave buggies downstairs in the porch – so you may want to plan for this.
7. Trip to Hoorays ice cream parlour. A trip to Stratford with little people would not be complete without a visit to this wonderful ice cream parlour. All the ice cream (and there are 38 flavours!) are made on site using traditional methods. They also serve wonderful waffles and nice strong coffee! There is a nicely equipped play area in the corner (with a wooden garage, a princess palace etc). If you find yourself there on a Friday afternoon book in for their waffle and wine (for a bargain £5!), Alternatively, I love their ice cream palettes (served on an artists palette you can choose up to 10 different flavours…its a hard life!).
9. Have a lazy Saturday morning trip to the Stratford Picture house for one of their child friendly viewings. Ideal for when the weather is not on your side.
10. Hire a Bike and a meander along the Greenway, taking in the views of the race course. There’s a fab play park and at weekends (and during the summer months) a cafe runs out of an old railway carriage (does great bacon sandwiches!). You’d need a picnic if you were heading here over lunch time.
If you’re looking for activities outside of the town check out the other entries on my blog – Warwickshire and surrounding area.
Enjoy the town and do get in touch to let me know about your trip!