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.
A trip to Stratford is not complete without a visit to the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The theater was built in 1926 following fire damage to the 1879 original structure. Fortunately it was not completely destroyed during the fire; parts of the original building, a cross between a German castle and French chateau, are still clearly visible. A second auditorium, the Swan Theater has also been incorporated into the older part.
Stratford Picture House is a stylish modern cinema with open spaces and natural wood floors, a much lighter feel from some of the more dark and dingy theaters. The bar hosts regular "Art in the Bar" exhibitions of local artists that are always worth a look. Note that admission prices vary.
If you are looking for a day out in the open, a bit of drama and the chance to place a bet or two, look no further than the Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse. Steeple chasing has taken place here for almost 250 years with 14 meetings held each year between March and November. In between cheering on your favorite filly, enjoy refreshments from a tempting range of eateries and bars, or at the large picnic area at the center of the course. Although relatively small in size, the course is counted as one of the region's best. The racecourse also offers rental space for a variety of events, including corporate functions, wedding receptions and private parties.
These fine gardens, opened in 1832, were designed by John Claudius Loudon, a leading garden planner and horticultural journalist. The gardens offer you the chance to see some of the most beautiful greenery in the world along with stunning glasshouses. Attractions besides plants include indoor aviaries, a restaurant with a fantastic view of the gardens, a children's adventure playground, a gift shop and plant center and a gallery displaying work by local artists.
This square has transformed over the past decade from a grassy slope where office workers would picnic on a summer's afternoon to a pedestrian-friendly European plaza accessible all year. Birmingham's Town Hall and Council House are located on the square, but graded steps replace the slope and there's now a large fountain containing a sculpture known fondly by locals as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. Stone lamps and statues of sphinxes adorn the grounds, as does a statue of Queen Victoria. Victoria Square has now become a popular meeting point and relaxing place to people watch.
The Attic Theatre, located just above the Lazy Cow Pub, is the top fringe theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The theater is now home to the Tread the Boards Theatre Company, but the site was home to Stratford's very first theater in the 15th Century, and some original pieces of the theater still remain. For entertaining theater in an intimate and fun setting, check out a show at the Attic Theatre.
This award-winning museum in a Tudor period mansion has interactive exhibits, Shakespeare tours, night-time ghost tours, and organized school visits that bring 16th-century Elizabethan England to life. Visitors can take a seat at a period dining table, rest on a monarch’s bed and throne, and listen for spirits by candlelight.