While you’ll never be short of things to do in while staying in Birmingham, it’s always nice to get out of the big smoke and explore the picturesque West Midlands countryside. Here are a few of our favourite places to visit around Birmingham.
If you're staying in Birmingham but feel like venturing beyond the city limits, try one of our top day trips
Fan of Lord of the Rings? You’ll want to check out Sarehole Mill, a beautiful old water mill next to where author J.R.R Tolkien grew up in the 1890s. Just four miles from Birmingham city centre, the mill itself and the surrounding countryside are actually the inspiration behind ‘The Shire’ in both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Today, the 250-year-old mill has been converted into a museum where you can see the original waterwheels, gears and ovens, and relax around the tranquil Mill Pond. Of course, you can get your Hobbit fix by following the Tolkien Trail, which takes you past Tolkien’s childhood homes, and the nearby Moseley Bog, his inspiration for the ‘Old Forest’. Hardcore fans can continue the trail all the way up to Perrott’s Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks, two towers that look remarkably like the Two Towers of Gondor, Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith.
Go to shopping heaven
Shoppers will want to grab their purses and head to the Birmingham outskirts for the famous Solihull shops. Here you’ll find international and local designers, your favourite high street brands and independent boutiques where you can pick up quirky souvenirs. Once you’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, you can explore the rest of vibrant Solihull – visit the lovely rural villages, catch a show at the NEC and Genting Arena, or simply escape to the countryside and kick back in the 1,500 acres of parks and open spaces. There are also five golf courses if you fancy a day on the green!
Take to the canals
Venice might be known for its canals, but – as any Brummie will proudly tell you – there are actually more miles of canals in Birmingham than Italy! There are several moorings throughout the city, so all you have to do is sit back and float down the canal. Day trips from Birmingham take you through the city’s central canals, Gas Street Basin and down to the suburb of Edgbaston, the home of the University of Birmingham.
The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution
Approximately 30 miles north-west of Birmingham is Ironbridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ironbridge was one of the first areas associated with the start of the Industrial Revolution and has many iconic sights, including the world’s first Iron Bridge, the Blists Hill Museum, which details the history of the Industrial Revolution, and the Blists Hill Victorian Town, a full working replica of what the area looked like in the 1820s. If you’re travelling with a car, it’s also worth continuing along the River Severn to the ruins of Buildwas Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian church with preserved tiled floors and decorative stonework.
Stratford-upon-Avon is less than an hour’s drive south from Birmingham and is a quaint historic town with beautiful Tudor houses and cobblestone lanes – best known around the world as the birthplace of the Bard himself. It’s like stepping into a real Shakespearean world – you can visit his childhood home, his wife Ann Hathaway’s cottage (which is also where they started dating), and the Holy Trinity Church, where he is now buried. As you would expect, Stratford-upon-Avon is also a theatre-rich town, so make sure you try to catch a performance and show, but beware as they book out pretty quickly. For something completely different, you can also go on ghost walks and haunted tours, complete with mediums, psychics and spooky stories told by candlelight. As you can see, there are plenty of places to visit in Birmingham and its surrounds!