It could be an equation: Stratford upon Avon equals Shakespeare. It was the birthplace of the most famous English writer on the planet. It’s the home to the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company. But it’s a sleepy town in West Midlands, so most people ask: why else would you go there if not to live Shakespeare’s life for a few days?
Well, I’m sticking up for this quaint little English town. Sure, you could see Shakespeare’s home and marvel that a literary god was born in a thatch-roofed cottage. Or you could also take this Brit’s slightly different ideas about what to do in Stratford upon Avon.
1. Geocaching in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are probably the most “English” the English countryside can get – quaint little medieval villages tucked in between rolling green hills. For the enthusiastic or eco-friendly, it takes an hour by bus or bike, and for car-drivers it only takes 20 minutes from Stratford. It’s a popular destination for walkers and campers – and now geocachers, apparently.
If you haven’t tried geocaching before, the idea is pretty simple: it’s a 21st-century treasure hunt, where you track down hidden caches using the GPS on your phone. You can follow a whole breadcrumb trail of geocaches along the Cotswold Way.
2. MAD Museum
MAD stands for Mechanical Art and Design, but the museum is also mad. Turns out that science and art don’t only work well together, they’ve had babies – and these intricate sculptures and funny inventions are now living in the MAD Museum.
MAD isn’t just the most original of the things to do in Stratford upon Avon. It’s actually the only museum of its kind in England – why has no one felt this geeky appreciation for mechanical art before?! At least they do now.
3. Rifle Through the RSC’s Dressing Up Box
On your list of things to do in Stratford upon Avon, you’ll probably have “see a Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.” And I bet you’ll think – boy, those actors must have a lot of fun, saying cool things and dressing up. Why leave all the fun to them, though?
The Royal Shakespeare Company can make all your closet costume dreams come true. Next to the cloakroom of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a wardrobe is waiting for you. With a couple of full-length mirrors and a regularly alternating repertoire, it’s hard to resist the urge to try something on. The website says it’s “for all ages“ – that means adults, too, right?
4. Sit where an Attenborough sat
Ah, sorry, not David – Lord Richard Attenborough, the famous actor, director, “Big X” in The Great Escape and a pretty good human being. Being waist-deep in theatrical show business, Stratford really is his kind of place.
But you know one thing you have in common with the lofty Baron and just about every actor at the RSC? The need for a pint. And, being less than a minute’s shuffle from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Dirty Duck can satisfy those needs very, very well. This quirky pub was once called the Black Swan until the nearby base of American GIs gave it its new nickname in World War Two. For the past half a century this Riverside haunt has been a bit of a celebrity magnet – the autographed framed photos might give that away…
5. Ghost Busting!
Stratford upon Avon isn’t just historical – it’s haunted. And of course, the most haunted house in England is now a museum dedicated to Tudor life by day and ghostly tours by night. If you’re at a loss as to what to do in Stratford upon Avon, The Falstaff Experience museum is a good place to get your history and laughs in one spot.
The museum’s website has even – whether jokingly or seriously – put some (questionable) photo evidence of supernatural “orbs” on its website, and seems to suggest you can see these regularly around the beautiful old building that the museum is housed in. Sceptical? There’s only one way to find out…
6. Get Rich Quick
… Or maybe lose it all. Either way, a day at the races is one of the things to do in Stratford upon Avon that shouldn’t be missed. For one, it’s terribly English and an awfully old tradition, don’t you know. Tickets are also surprisingly affordable and the race course isn’t unimaginable far to the town centre.
And the most obvious reason to go: for a bit of betting fun! Of course, you can try to play against the odds or play it safe, or you can do what my family always does: pick the silliest horse name that describes you best. Because, let’s face it, what else are you supposed to do with names like “Leave it to me” and “The Milky Bar Kid”?
A little more intrigued about things to do in Stratford upon Avon?
Now you’ve got enough inspiration about what to do in Stratford upon Avon, start planning your trip to Stratford upon Avon!
Featured image by Ed Webster/Flickr and was modified by Omio.