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Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated Jul 26, We may earn a commission from affiliate links. Birmingham is Britain's second largest city, and its location in the West Midlands makes it a great place to begin exploring the Cotswolds and Malvern Hills areas — especially by canal. Birmingham's canals were a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution that saw the city boom, and today this extensive canal network is used mostly for pleasure boating. The city in fact has more canals than Venice, with one of the top fun free things to do in Birmingham being exploring the preserved canals and historic buildings of the iconic Gas Street Basin.
These days, the city is best-known for its jewelry and food stuffs, as well as its numerous cultural activities and festivals. One of the best of these is one of the world's largest St. Patrick's Day Parade s. Just 20 miles southeast of Birmingham is Coventry, the center of Britain's motor industry and a delightful place to visit on a day trip.
To ensure you can cram as much as possible into your England Midlands' travel itinerary, be sure to refer to our list of the top attractions and things to in Birmingham. Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues. The heart of Birmingham revolves around the pedestrian-friendly Victoria Square, an area that can be explored via the Birmingham City Centre Path.
Along the way, you'll discover the attractive old Town Hallbuilt in and a masterpiece of Victorian architecture. Resembling a Roman temple, this impressive structure features 40 ornate Corinthian columns made of Anglesey marble. It's been the center of the city's music scene since hosting the first performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah in Nowadays, its impressive Symphony Hall, with its world-class acoustics and stunning auditorium, regularly features A-list singers and performers and is also home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Adorning the forecourt are two memorials, one to Queen Victoria and another to inventor James Watt. The Renaissance-style Council Housewith its famous "Big Brum" clock a slang phrase for Birmingham is close by. Other old-city sites to visit include pedestrian-only Chamberlain Square and the Central Library. The library is home to the largest Shakespeare collection outside the United States 50, volumes in 90 languages. Just a short stroll northeast of the city center is the Coffin Museum. This fascinating attraction showcases the history and traditions of coffin making and funerals, and is well worth including on your Birmingham travel itinerary.
Guided tours are available. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, opened inis considered one of the finest such museums outside London. Its art treasures include a collection of works by Pre-Raphaelite painters, as well as artwork from the 17th to 19th centuries and sculptures by Rodin and James Tower.
There are also interesting displays related to the city's history, including archaeological finds dating back to the Stone Age, along with the impressive Pinto Collection, with its 6,plus toys and other items made of wood. A gift shop is located on-site, and if you're interested in a great high tea experience, the exquisite Edwardian Tearooms is worth a visit. If there's time in your schedule, pay a visit to The Ikon Gallerya contemporary art museum located in a heritage building that's worth exploring.
Official site: www. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Another great tourist attraction that should be included on your West Midlands travel itinerary is The Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Spread across 15 acres in the affluent suburbs of Edgbaston, these 19th-century gardens are easy to get to from the city center and home to countless species. A visit is very much like stepping back in time, thanks to the perfectly preserved Victorian-era glasshouses and other period park features.
It's particularly well known for its collection of bonsai trees, including one that's over years old. Other on-site amenities include a gift shop, a tearoom, plus playgrounds for the. Families traveling with budding young scientists won't want to miss Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum. This award-winning museum includes a large of fascinating science-related exhibits, many of them hands-on and interactive. Highlights include an impressive collection of steam-powered machines, from locomotives to tractors, as well as industrial machinery, many related to Birmingham's important role as an industrial center through the centuries.
Other fun displays include a chocolate packaging machine and the Spitfire Gallery, with its authentic WWII-era aircraft including one of 10, Spitfires made locally. Be sure to also visit the Science Garden, with its human-sized hamster wheel. The Thinktank Planetarium, with its fascinating tours of the stars and planets, is another great way to keep the kids entertained. Pride of place goes to the aquarium's massive million-liter ocean tank, with its unique underwater tunnel, which allows visitors an uninterrupted view of the diverse sea life on display, including everything from reef sharks to giant turtles.
All told, some 2, critters call the aquarium home, including numerous rare seahorses, giant octopi, lobsters, crabs, and stingrays. The attraction's big stars, though, are its playful otters look out for Mango and Starskyalong with its penguins. Housed in the impressive Penguin Ice Adventure habitat, these fascinating creatures are fun to watch as they frolic. A 4-D cinema is also on site and offers regular educational programming.
If time and budget permit, book one of the fun behind-the-scenes or penguin-feeding experiences. Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham.
The Jewellery Quarter is an area of Birmingham that is steeped in tradition. Here, more than jewelers' workshops and silversmiths produce 40 percent of Britain's jewelry, chiefly in the vicinity of the Clock Tower on the corner of Vyse and Frederick Streets and around the Georgian church of St. Also worth checking out is the nearby Hall of Memory opposite Baskerville House, erected in to commemorate the 14, city men who lost their lives in WWI, and St. Paul's Square with its attractive church. If time permits, be sure to pop over to the Pen Museum.
Situated in the Jewellery Quarter's old pen factory, this first-rate museum showcases the city's former role as a hotbed of pen making along with the history of writing instruments. A special treat is having the opportunity to make your own steel nib using the same machinery and techniques used in the 19th century. Also fun is the reproduction Victorian schoolroom, where guests can practice their penmanship using traditional quills. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham. Built inSt. Philip's Cathedral the third smallest in England began life as a parish church and was elevated to its present status in The cathedral was gutted during a bombing raid inbut foresight saw its famous stained-glass windows by Burne-Jones removed a few weeks prior.
Today, these ificant treasures — returned to their rightful place when the cathedral was rebuilt in — are a highlight of any trip to Birmingham. Be sure to check the cathedral's website prior to your visit for details of talks, seminars, exhibits, and concerts. Another religious structure worth visiting is St.
Martin's Church. Dating from the 13th century, it also features windows by Burne-Jones. Located close to Birmingham University, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts houses an excellent collection of art from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The building itself should also be explored, especially for its excellent statue of George I.
If time permits be sure to check out the institute's schedule of classical lunchtime and evening concerts. Well worth visiting and within easy walking distance of the city center, the Birmingham Back to Backs attraction is a unique collection of the small back-to-back homes once so prolific throughout the city. Built around a central courtyard — in this case, Court 15 — in the midth century, these homes offer a unique insight into the often difficult conditions in which the working classes lived. Interesting displays also provide an insight into these workers' important contribution to city life.
Other highlights include a traditional s sweet shop, along with a souvenir shop, or participating in one of the fun workshops held here regularly. For a first-rate tourist experience, consider booking one of the attraction's two cottages for an overnight stay. Admission is by guided tour only. Ring-tailed lemur at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.
This fun city-run attraction on the edge of Cannon Hill Park is a small zoo that's home to a variety of animals including red pandas, lemurs, and meerkats. Established inthe zoo has also become important for its research and breeding programs. A variety of fun experiences are available for kids, including some that allow unique hands-on experiences based around the care and upkeep of a variety of the gentler species. Located in Cadbury's Bournville manufacturing site, just a short drive from Birmingham, Cadbury World is one of the area's largest and most popular attractions.
It welcomes more thanvisitors each year. With a focus on fun, visitors get to discover the history of chocolate, as well as the manufacturing process through a of excellent themed interactive exhibits. Along the way, guests learn the story of the Cadbury business, one of the world's largest confectioneries, as well as having a chance to enjoy theme-park-like attractions suitable for families.
A highlight is exploring the Bull Street attraction with its replica shops reminiscent of the s. Be sure to also try your hand at making your own confectionary, as well as getting in some shopping in the world's largest Cadbury's sweet shop.
Afterwards, be sure to spend a little time exploring the picture-perfect village of Bournville itself, built by the Cadbury family after specifically to house their large workforce. Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.
In the town of Dudley, just nine miles west of Birmingham, The Black Country Living Museum occupies a acre site and offers visitors a vivid insight into the history of mining hence the "black". An old mine shaft and reconstructed turn-of-the-century industrial community consisting of 50 authentic buildings — many of them dismantled and rebuilt on the property — can be explored. It's also fun to explore the neighboring network of canals, a part of the adventure that takes place in an authentic narrow boat once used to transport coal.
Other highlights of this fascinating open-air museum include the chance to interact with costumed guides well-versed in the histories of the local people. There are also plenty of unique shopping opportunities, vintage trams, buses, and commercial vehicles, as well as a traditional English fun fair from the 19th century. Located between Birmingham and Coventry, Sarehole Mill Museum is an old water mill that dates back to the mid s.
Located on the River Cole in Hall Green, it's fun diversion if you're able to get here, and contains fascinating exhibits on its history, as well as one that deals with J. Tolkien, who as lived only a few hundred yards away. If you're looking to spend a few days sightseeing in Birmingham, we recommend these centrally located hotels in Birmingham located close to popular museums and tourist attractions such as the National Sea Life Centre:.
Easy Day Trips : The city of Manchester makes for a fun day trip from Birmingham, with its museums and revitalized city center being easy to get to by car or train. Lovely Liverpool is about the same distance and as easy to get toand is popular for its many Beatles-related things to do. Although a little further afield, Bristol can also be enjoyed in a day, with a stop at the beautiful Cheddar Gorge being a must-do along the way. Great Weekend Getaways : The charming city of Chester makes for a great weekend getaway when in England, and is famous for its historic city walls and medieval architecture.
Another historic cathedral city worth staying at is Durhamwhich also features a well-preserved castle and numerous cobbled streets. The northern city of Hull is not without its charms, too, including its museum quarter and excellent maritime museum. England Travel Ideas : Be sure to set vacation time aside for a visit to England's capital, the city of Londona popular place to visit for its ancient castle the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. The English Lake District makes for another great place to stay, famous for lovely Lake Windermere and its endless water sports and hiking opportunities.
The lovely city of Winchester is another great option, especially as it's located close to the country's top tourist attraction, Stonehenge. England Travel Guide. Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated Jul 26, We may earn a commission from affiliate links Birmingham is Britain's second largest city, and its location in the West Midlands makes it a great place to begin exploring the Cotswolds and Malvern Hills areas — especially by canal. See also: Where to Stay in Birmingham Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
Address: Chamberlain Square, Birmingham Official site: www. Address: Westbourne Road, Birmingham Official site: www. Enjoy a Concert at St. Philip's Cathedral St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham Built inSt. Address: Colmore Row, Birmingham Official site: www. Address: Inge Street, Birmingham Official site: www.
Address: Pershore Road, Birmingham Official site: www. Address: Linden Road, Bournville Official site: www. Address: Tipton Road, Dudley Official site: www. Another good luxury option is the Genting Hotela four-star property that offers a mix of rooms and suites, a restaurant with great views over the city, and a spa. The Edgbaston should also be on your list and is a delightful boutique hotel featuring elegant en-suite bedrooms, a great restaurant, and a posh afternoon tea.
Mid-Range Hotels : The wonderfully named Staying Cool at Rotunda is a great mid-range priced hotel offering a sleek de, serviced apartments, floor-to-ceiling windows, and comfortable beds. Hipsters and those who enjoy attractive old buildings should look into the Frederick Street Townhouse located in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, with cozy rooms, great beds, and old-style bathtubs. For a truly unique experience, book into the new Boatel Birminghamfeaturing accommodations for up to eight guests in three rooms aboard a classic canal barge.
Budget Hotels : The Staybridge Suites Birmingham is a great choice for those seeking a cheap Birmingham hotel and features affordable suites with kitchenettes, a free breakfast, and fitness center. So, too, is the Premier Inn Birmingham City Centrewith its budget-friendly rates, central location, wonderful staff, and great breakfast.
Be sure to also look for hotel deals at the Hilux Birminghaman apartment-style hotel within walking distance of top attractions that offers quality bedding and clean accommodations. More Related Articles on PlanetWare.
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