Stroll with Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon Avon
The birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon was originally a quaint medieval market town. Now it carries on its history through Shakespeare tours and lovely weekly markets.
If you are looking for a lovely day trip (or you a huge Shakespeare fan), look no further than Stratford-Upon-Avon. Full of quaint shops, markets, swans, boats, and of course Shakespeare, the town is really enjoyable to explore. Although I stuck to the Shakespeare aspect of the town, there are ghost tours, museums, and even a butterfly farm that you can visit. As you can see from the map, the town isn't that big, so it's easily walkable on a nice sunny day.
WHEN TO GO:
Stratford-Upon-Avon really is a walking town, so I'd try to go while the weather is nice. Keep your eyes open for festivals, most are held in the spring and the summer, but can be found on the tour website. Highlights include Shakespeare's birthday in April and a river festival in July. Also if you go on a Saturday, you get the added benefit of the markets and the tour given by Shakespeare.
Located in the West Midlands, you can get to Stratford-Upon-Avon by train, bus or a rental car. Stratford-Upon-Avon is about 2 hours north west from London and an hour from Birmingham by train. Since it is a little bit away from everything, I'd recommend blocking out most of the day for this day-trip, and maybe overnight if you book an evening play with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
As the birthplace of Shakespeare, the town is proud of their famous son and pays homage to him with tours of his home, his daughter's home, his school, and his final resting place. A tour I recommend was one that leaves from the tourist center at 2 pm every Saturday. It is only 5 pounds and is given by "the actual Shakespeare". The website with more information is here.
Additionally, the Royal Shakespeare company performs his famous plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theater. Rumor has it that they perform Hamlet with the famous composer Tchaikovsky's skull (so creepy and cool). A schedule for the performances can be found here.
DINING & SHOPPING:
Like most British towns, Stratford-Upon-Avon is full of varying pubs to get a bite in. British food is typical, and if you are feeling up for a snack you can head over to the barges off the river Avon and grab a coffee or some food from there. Here is a list of the top restaurants if you are having trouble making a decisions from all the great places to eat.
Stratford-Upon-Avon has many stores along its roads, however they also have a large market (after all, they were a medieval market town). These markets are from Friday through the weekend, and more information can be found about it here.
OVERALL, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a neat town that is great to walk around on a Saturday while the market is going, Shakespeare comes back from the dead to give tours, and the weather is nice so the swans are all about the lake. The only thing I will say about the town, is that even on a Saturday, it seems to close down early (around 5-6), so if you don't have plans to see a play or partake in a ghost tour, I'd plan on leaving around then and heading back to whereever your UK travel base is.
Attractions: Shakespeare Tour, Royal Shakespeare Company, Butterfly Farm, Tudor Museum, Ghost Tour, Swans