As the birthplace of world famous playwright William Shakespeare, it’s been a magnet for tourists for centuries. But, as a local, how often do you visit the amazing attractions right on our doorstep? Here are some of the best things to do and places to go and in this market town with a colourful 800-yaer history.
For many visitors, this house is a bit of a shrine as it’s the place where the world famous playwright was born and grew up. It’s been welcoming visitors for over 250 years. See the rooms where he dreamt up all those plays and where he spent the first five years of married life with Anne Hathaway. There are exhibitions, costumed guides, live performances, a garden, gift shop and cafe.
The world famous Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) performs throughout the year at its riverside home. And if you don’t want to take in a show, why not go on a tour, see the views from the tower, take a selfie in front of the iconic riverside building or have lunch in the rooftop restaurant? There are generally lots of children’s activities too, like a dressing up box and a play cart.
You can’t beat wandering along Stratford’s canal basin near to the famous RSC theatre and tucking into a locally-produced ice-cream. Explore all the different coloured boats, go on a sightseeing boat tour or board a restaurant cruiser. There are nice cafes serving speciality coffees and barges serving food too. It’s also a good place to go if you’ve packed a picnic as there are pretty gardens where you can sit back and watch the world go by.
Described as “a mixture of Wallis and Gromit, Heath Robinson and Scrapheap Challenge”, this museum offers the whole family a chance to experience and interact with machines. MAD stands for Mechanical Art and Design and you can expect marble runs, high-tech robots and intricate moving contraptions. It’s said to be the only specialist attraction of its kind in the UK and features a wacky gift shop.
This thatched farmhouse was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife and features beautiful gardens. It’s in Shottery, around a mile from the town centre, and you can follow a well sign-posted footpath to reach it by foot. There are also woodland walks, a sculpture trail and a family activity tent that runs from April to October. The Butterfly Farm features waterfalls, ponds and tropical plants with hundreds of exotic butterflies flying within a large greenhouse that visitors can walk through. Watch the butterflies’ lifecycles in the Caterpillar Room and check out the fascinating and strange in Insect City where stick insects, beetles and leaf-cutting ants can be found. You can even get close to dangerous spiders in Arachnoland – home to the world’s largest spider.
Located on the River Avon next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, this is a lovely place to relax as a family. There’s a large sundial, a swan fountain, a Shakespeare memorial, a performance area, two bridges over the canal basin and lots of flowers and places to sit.
This is a museum, vintage tea room and antique centre, but it’s the play barn that families love the most. Set on the former RAF Snitterfield site, there’s a mixture of exhibitions in the four galleries including one on Winston Churchill (free entry) and another featuring the tail section of a Wellington bomber.
This is a soft play with a difference – it’s a childsized town designed especially to encourage role play. Children get to meet Roary the Lion Mayor of this child-sized town, visit the café, grocery store, building site, hairdressing salon, fancy dress rail, emergency corner and doctor’s surgery.
Experience the sights, smells and sounds of a Tudor farm whilst exploring the house where Shakespeare’s mother grew up. Explore the centuries-old barns and original dovecote, watch geese herding and falconry displays, visit rare breed animals and try out the nature trails and adventure playground.
There’s plenty here to keep kids of all ages entertained. As well as the usual swings, slides and climbing frames, there’s also a zip wire and a large sandpit. Head there in the summer to use the mini pool and water features which include a pirate ship. The surrounding fields are nice for picnics and ball games too. This opened in 2016 after a £1.8 million restoration. Visit to see where William Shakespeare would have spent his school years. You can sit in the very room where he would have been a pupil in the 1570s and see the council chamber where his father served as mayor. An interactive experience with projections and films.
Steeplechasing has taken place at Stratford Racecourse since 1755. Racing takes place regularly between March and November, with many of the top jockeys riding here. Look out for the summer racedays when there’s children’s entertainment and kids can get in for free.
This course sits on the banks of the River Avon and offers a good test of skill for players of all ages.It has even hosted the National and Midlands Open.
This is a small independent museum set in an original Tudor property. It doesn’t have artefacts or period furniture but instead recreates different areas of Tudor life, interweaved with stories of Stratford’s history.
If you want a whistle-stop tour of the town and a chance to learn all about its history, hop on one of the sightseeing Open Air Buses. It will take you to most of the major attractions included in our guide, including Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s House.
Avon Boating, established in 1898, offers rowing boats, self drive motor boats, punts and canoes from late March to late October. You can explore more than three miles of the river and enjoy a picnic under the willows.