Proudly proclaiming the fact that it is "Europe's largest", the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm affords a peaceful retreat away from all things Shakespearean. Hundreds of butterflies can be viewed at close quarters, many of the species sporting spectacular colors. For those interested in less attractive, more frightening creatures, other insect displays are available, including stick insects, leaf-eating ants and the world's largest spider.
If you are footsore and weary from shopping or sightseeing, why not see Stratford-upon-Avon from a different perspective? Hop aboard one of the modern passenger boats operated by Bancroft Cruisers from the wharf at the Stratford Moat House and take a 35 minute sightseeing cruise down river. Note that there are spaces on the larger boats for up to three wheelchairs. Bancroft Cruisers are also available for charter bookings, complete with on board bar facilities.
For those who like their leisure activities passive, this is an ideal spot to relax. Feeding the ducks at the water's edge is about as energetic as it gets! However, there are lots of things to see including the colorful narrow-boats moored in the canal-basin and the impromptu street-entertainers. And that is not all. On one side of the gardens is the splendid Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and on another is the truly inspirational Gower Memorial. The Gardens are also just a short walk from the town center, making them particularly popular with visitors recovering from whistle-stop tours of Stratford's heritage sites.
A short drive north-east of Birmingham brings you to this well-respected zoo known as Twycross Zoo on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border. It is home to a wide range of animals and places a strong emphasis on conservation. Its breeding programs for endangered species are helping to conserve wild species on the brink of extinction. Animals range from lions to parrots and there is a playground and picnic area as well as a gift shop. There are also feeding shows, special exhibitions and regular talks during the summer season.
This unique house was built for residential purposes in 1878 by George Alfred Haden Haden-Best. The house is located along with the previously constructed Haden Hall in a 55 acre (22.26 hectares) estate and was bought over for public subscription. The estate is now used as a park for the public and the Haden Hill House has been converted into a small museum. This museum attracts a large amount of visitors with its list of programs and activities for all ages. The house is designed in a Victorian style and houses many Victorian objects. The museum has special services to aid school visits and holds many interesting activities for school children. The Oak House inside the house is also rented out for private events, most prominently weddings. This glorious house is a much-loved place to visit in the locality.
City Sightseeing is a company that is dedicated to help tourists explore cities. This touring company runs buses along specified routes covering different tourist locations. The bus has a guide who gives the tourists information on the place of visit and assists them in the English language. The company also has pre-recorded commentaries in languages like German, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Check website for details.
Set facing the Winterbourne House & Gardens in Edgbaston, the Martineau Gardens is one of the biggest flower gardens in the area, covering more than two acres (0.80 hectares). Home to hundreds of species of plants, shrubs, creepers, and trees, making it a great place for casual strolls and nature walks. The garden is extremely eco-friendly is the recipient of the prestigious Green Flag Award thrice for its positive impact on the Ecology of the region. Various events such as the Nettlefest are held here to raise awareness regarding nature conservation.
By the turn of the last century, it was clear that the inhabitants of the eastern part of Birmingham's increasing urban sprawl were in need of an open space. Ward End Park, which opened in 1903 on 54 acres purchased by the city, was the solution. Today, it remains as a great Edwardian park, with mature trees and a boating lake. There are also conservation areas within the park, which is especially popular with young families.
The Witton Lakes are a pair of man-made water bodies which were created as drinking water reservoirs for the city of Birmingham. These lakes are fed water from two natural brooks, namely- Kingstanding and Bleak Hill. The brooks fill the first lake and then overflow into the next one which is known as the Brookvale Park Lake, after which they spill into the River Tame. Built in the 19th century the lakes were initially fit to supply drinking water to the city, but due to industrialization in the city it was deemed unfit for consumption. At present the lakes are maintained by the Birmingham City Council as a place of interest for leisure purposes.
The Beacon Way is a long distance walking road for those seeking some adventure. The road passes through the Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve and contains scenery that will make you stop and stare a little longer. This road extends to around 40 kilometers (24.86 miles), starting from the Victorian Sandwell park farm and ends at the heritage Chasewater Railway. It connects to another important road called the Heart of England way. En route you will encounter beautiful gardens, woods, lakes and canals adorning the charming countryside. The Beacon Way is the best way to enjoy the natural bounty of England. You can also enjoy cycling here.
Managed by the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, the award-winning Sandwell Valley Country Park is a public country park located near the beautiful Tame river. It comprises lush green meadows, golf course, tennis courts, football grounds, horse riding areas, an adventure playground, and a RSPB visitor center. The park has excellent amenities for the visitors and offers a myriad of activities to enjoy. Adventure lovers can enjoy mountain biking, cycling, bird watching, and walking. The park was founded on the site of a 12th Century priory in the 1960s and has a few remains of the bygone era as well. The park is also home to an old Victorian farm, the Sandwell Park Farm that is home to rare and endangered animals like the Berkshire pigs and Hereford cattle. There are tea rooms in the park where visitors can grab light refreshments. In short, the park has something for everyone. Sandwell Valley Country Park is an ideal place to escape the pace.
Cotteridge Park is a Victorian Park which covers an area of 22 acres. This wonderful private park is the venue for a number of local events and activities that include from musical performances, child-friendly workshops and fitness programs to suit all ages. Featuring a basketball court, tennis court, community orchard, an amphitheatre, play areas, etc. the park is the ideal getaway for a fun-filled family day out within the city itself.