Planning a family day out or holiday in Stratford-upon-Avon? This guide – 11 of the BEST things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon with kids – aims to make sure you and your kids have a memorable time when visiting the medieval town!
Most famous as the birthplace of England’s greatest playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, this Warwickshire market town is renowned for its cultural and historical attractions. Perhaps not as widely known is how family friendly the riverside town is. As we found out during our recent visit, rain or shine, the town offers plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained!
Here are our 11 favourite things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon with kids…
1. Ditch your car and go on foot!
Many of the family attractions in Stratford-upon Avon are conveniently located in the town centre. Parking is widely available however, we recommend that you park your car at the Stratford Marina (Bridge Foot, CV37 6YR) which is a bargain at only £4 for the full day.
From the marina, take a walk along the river side, feed the ducks and watch the boats cruising by! Guided walks around the town are available or if you would prefer you can download a free walking guide here.
2. Discover 250 species of tropical butterfly & come face to face with creepy crawlies
Did you know the UK’s largest tropical butterfly paradise is in Stratford-upon-Avon? Well you do now!
You need to allow at least 90 minutes to explore the Butterfly Farm. My boys were giddy with excitement watching the different species of butterflies fluttering around the tropical flight area and nibbling on fresh fruit. They also loved feeding the fish, learning about the butterfly life cycle and meeting the resident Iguanas – Stumpy and Princess!
Butterfly Farm top tip – Don’t miss the leaf cutter ants hard at work on a rope course, located above visitors heads in the Mini Beast Metropolis. (It took me a while to work out why the rope was ‘moving’. I screamed and grabbed hold of a complete stranger next to me when the penny finally dropped!)
2017 admission price – £7.25 adults, £6.25 children (3-16), under 3’s free, family ticket £22.50. Website – www.butterflyfarm.co.uk
3. Encourage your kids to get hands on and creative
Treat your wannabe inventor, scientist, engineer with a visit to the UK”s only mechanical art museum. The MAD Museum prides itself on ‘encouraging kids to put down their remote controls and be more hands-on’ and it certainly does what it aims to.
My young sons, ages 2 & 5 absolutely loved checking out the eccentric artworks, contraptions and machines, made out of seemingly random objects such as kitchen pots, pans and gizmos. For two hours they ran around excitedly pressing buttons (to be fair so did my husband!), watching flashing lights and working out how things operated. They had to be bribed to leave the giant marble wall with the promise of buying them a marble run kit to build at home from the gift shop.
MAD Museum top tip – Try not to blink as you walk down Henley Street as you may just miss this unique museum. Don’t be fooled though… although it is located in one small room on the second floor of the building it is jam-packed full of interactive mechanical fun for kids, (and big kids!)
2017 admission price – £6.80 adults, £4.50 (6-15), under 5’s free, family ticket £19.00. Website – http://themadmuseum.co.uk/
4. Hit the shops
Yes you read that right! I wouldn’t normally recommend shopping as a family friendly past time. Let’s be honest… most kids don’t enjoy shopping but I assure you they will in Stratford-upon-Avon. Head towards Henley Street, (same street as the MAD Museum) and you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of shops that are catered towards children such as the Nutcracker Christmas shop, (open 12 months of the year), traditional sweet shops, a teddy bear shop and even a magic store – Magic Alley.
5. Treat yourself to afternoon tea
As a quintessentially English town, it’s not surprising Stratford-upon-Avon has lots of places to indulge in miniature sandwiches, tasty fruit scones and beautifully presented cakes.
We enjoyed not one, not two, but THREE afternoon teas during our recent weekend exploring the town. Check out our article featuring the best places for afternoon tea in Stratford-upon-Avon.
6. Take a scenic cruise down the river
In my opinion, there is simply no better way to soak up the character and beauty of Stratford-upon-Avon than a cruise down the River Avon.
My husband and I lived onboard a narrow boat for two years before having children and so our sightseeing cruise brought back many happy memories. It was our boys first river cruise and they thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minute experience. Our boat ride took us under two bridges, past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s and Holy Trinity church before returning upstream. They both loved chatting with the entertaining tour guide, pointing out all the boats and ducks that passed us by and pretending to drive the boat!
Bancroft Cruises top tip – The company run their lovely heated river boat, Rita Ellen, year round (weather permitting), and so it is not an attraction you have to wait until the summer to enjoy. The family owned business prides itself on always having the kettle on and cream teas available for all cruises. (The scones and clotted cream are amazing!)
2017 cruise prices – £5.50 adults, £4.00 children plus refreshments if required. Website – http://www.bancroftcruisers.co.uk/
7. Enjoy birds-eye views over the town and river
For pretty awesome views overlooking Stratford-upon-Avon and the River Avon pop along to the Royal Shakespeare Company and book a trip up the tower.
RSC Tower top tip – You can ride up the Tower by lift, or if you are feeling energetic (or want to burn off your afternoon tea) take the stairs! Push chairs are permitted although we left ours on the ground floor near the gift shop.
2017 tower prices – £2.50 adults, £1.25 under 18’s. Website – www.rsc.org.uk
8. Introduce your kids to the worlds most famous playwright, William Shakespeare
Of course if you are visiting Stratford-upon-Avon it would be a shame not to introduce your kids to the towns most famous past resident. There are many historical buildings and Shakespeare themed events/activities to choose from depending on the ages of your children. If you fancy saving a few pennies you can let them dress up as Shakespeare’s famous characters or take part in some arts and crafts which are both free activities at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
Until the 10th September you can experience Shakespeare on stage at the new RSC family friendly exhibition, The Play’s The Thing which promises to reveal secrets and stories from over 100 years of theatre making in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Alternatively, check out the gardens and artwork at Shakespeare’s New Place or visit Shakespeare’s Schoolroom to see for yourself where Shakespeare went to school and was inspired to become the world’s greatest poet and playwright.
2017 prices – The Play’s The Thing at the RSC, £8.50 adults, £4.25 kids. Various passes available for visiting the historical houses in the town centre. The combined ticket to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place Hall’s Croft costs £15.75 adults, £10.35 children (4-17), under 3’s go free, £41.84 family pass. Website – www.rsc.org.uk
9. Indulge your kids in a little Pokémon Go fun
A church is not the obvious place to take part in the popular reality game, Pokemon Go. Especially one as famous as the Holy Trinity Church, which is the home of Shakespeare’s grave. Incredibly, though the Holy Trinity has embraced the Pokemon game and welcomes fans with open arms. The church was designated as a Pokemon Gym last summer, which means players of the smart phone game can train and battle against each other in the Holy Trinity grounds.
If you remain unsure whether you and your kids will be welcome playing Pokemon Go in the church check out the posters on the church gate which state – “Whether you are looking for Pokémon, Shakespeare or Jesus, all are found at Holy Trinity.”
10. Dine in a kid friendly restaurant
After a day of sightseeing you will be ready to sit down and enjoy some good food. One of the things we absolutely love about Stratford-upon-Avon is that it has a variety of family friendly pubs, restaurants, bistros and cafe’s. Whether you fancy saving some pennies by grabbing a sandwich to eat overlooking the river or pub grub from the towns oldest public house or splashing out on a posh dinner in one of the many luxury hotel restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
We can thoroughly recommend The Quills, an award-winning restaurant of the Stratford Hotel. This four star Q Hotels property is really easy to get to, just a few minutes walk from the town center. We were really impressed with the attentive staff, variety of dishes, and tasty well prepared food. I enjoyed a delicious roast breast of pheasant, served with sage and onion pearl barley risotto and steamed broccoli. It was seriously yummy! My husband opted for a tasty gourmet burger, whilst our boys happily gobbled up cornflake crusted crispy chicken nuggets with lemon yoghurt dip followed by mini doughnuts and dipping sauces.
One of the many things that impressed us about The Quills was the kids menu. Instead of the regular fish fingers and burger options which kids are offered at every restaurant, at The Quills the kids menu provided many healthy and fun options such as baked salmon fingers served with ‘mini trees’ (broccoli).
11. Stay in a 17th Century cottage full of olde world charm
Fancy extending the excitement of visiting Stratford-upon-Avon by staying in a cottage that was around during Shakespeare’s day? We can thoroughly recommend Brassknocker Cottage, booked via Exclusively Warwickshire. A quaint and characterful 400-year old stone cottage, located in Binton, a short drive from all the above attractions. Check out our full review here – Reviewed: 17th century self catering cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Prices from £335.00 to £610.00 per week. Website – http://exclusivelyuk.co.uk/
Disclaimer – This post has been written in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England, the official destination management organisation for Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Kenilworth, Royal Leamington Spa and the surrounding towns and villages. All opinions are, as always, my own.
Copyright – All images copyright Travel Loving Family.
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