Sunday 10 December 2023

(AD) What we got up to in Stratford-upon-Avon

Experiences marked with a * were press/gifted experiences.

Our recent staycation to the gorgeous Stratford-upon-Avon was jam packed, and we still could have done more! We really had the best time, and it's somewhere I'd definitely recommend visiting. I thought I'd give you the lowdown on everything we got up to, with prices and reviews... we had plenty of recommendations from the local Facebook group, which is a good tip if you're travelling somewhere new. The locals always have good ideas on where to go!

For reference, we stayed right in the centre of town in the beautiful Hotel Indigo, Stratford-upon-Avon. We had dinner at the restaurant, The Woodsman, on the Friday evening when we first arrived - this was incredible and I couldn't recommend it more if you want somewhere for a really special meal. Read my full review of the hotel and restaurant here.

Shakespeare Distillery Tour*

So on Saturday morning, after a lovely breakfast, we asked the hotel reception to book us a taxi to our first activity - a gin tour and tasting at the Shakespeare Distillery. This is slightly out of town, but I would SO recommend. We arrived and sat down in the café/bar area, before we were given a really insightful and genuinely hilarious talk on the history of gin and distilling by the wonderful Sarah; after this, Sam took us to see the 'stills' (named after Shakespeare characters, of course) as well as where the gin is stored, bottled and so on. They do everything themselves at the distillery; it's a small business with so much passion for what they do.

The second part of our experience here (which costs £19pp if you're interested!) was the gin tasting, which we were very excited about. You try three different gins or two gins and a rum, which Sarah talked us through - they do various flavours, and there are plenty of mixers, so it's important to know which should be paired together! You try each one straight and then each with a tiny bit of mixer, and then you're treated to a full size drink. If you're driving, you'll get a miniature to take home instead of having the full drink which I think is the perfect touch. You also get 10% off in the shop so we bought a glass each, a tote bag, and a miniature to take home. I so highly recommend this and we might even do it again when we go back with my parents!

Shakespeare Walking Tour

We couldn't visit Stratford-upon-Avon and not see all the Shakespeare highlights, and somebody in the local Facebook forum recommended we book a walking tour with the man himself ...okay, somebody dressed up as him! For £7 each we met at the Tudor World Museum in Sheep Street (slightly early so I popped down the next alleyway and treated myself to a Biscoff cookie from the Cookie Cottage!) then set off with our guide, dressed as the Bard, to see the relevant parts of town. 

We headed to all the hotspots and heard a wealth of information about each place, with some fun jokes and stories along the way. I'd highly recommend this tour if you want to see the highlights and learn some history! It ends at the church where Shakespeare is buried; you do have to pay to go in and see his grave, it was a suggested donation charge of £4 which seemed pretty unavoidable so I paid it to go in. We also managed to catch a choir rehearsal at the church which was beautiful!

The Garrick Inn

There are plenty of pubs in town, and we had heard that the Garrick Inn is one of the oldest; it's now a Greene King, so the food is pretty standard, but I'd booked us a table here for dinner. It was absolutely RAMMED, so much so they closed the doors in the end. The staff were friendly and the service was quick, so I would recommend popping in for a drink but I would imagine there are some much nicer restaurants down Sheep Street for food that's a bit more up-market. Just after dinner we also wandered back up through town as the Christmas lights had been switched on, which was super pretty.

The RSC*

Of course, I was desperate to see a show at the RSC - sadly there wasn't an actual Shakespeare play on at the time, but we were gifted a pair of tickets to see The Box of Delights. This is a really family-friendly festive play about a young boy tasked with saving Christmas after a chance encounter with a Punch & Judy man on the train home from school. It wasn't exactly my kind of play but the talent was brilliant and the set looked great too, and the RSC is such an iconic venue that it's a *must* if you're wondering what to do in Stratford-upon-Avon of an evening.

The Old Thatch Tavern

I really wanted to pop in to the Old Thatch Tavern for a drink because it was opened 400 years ago this year (2023) which was the year Shakespeare's First Folio was published AND the year Anne Hathaway, his wife, passed away. It was fairly expensive for a pub but really cosy, so we stopped for a drink and played some trivia on the TV just to say we'd been in! Shoutout to Owen of the Stratford Town Walk who gave me soooo much info and facts about the local pubs before we visited, if you can get on one of his tours I'm sure it'd be amazing.

Stratford Butterly Farm*

Sunday morning was a really crisp, windy day and we were booked in to visit Stratford Butterfly Farm. We walked here, which took us over the River Avon so that was nice - there is a foot ferry that I really wanted to try but it doesn't run during the winter months. We arrived at the Butterfly Farm and dumped our coats, then headed into the tropical area fullll of butterflies, the odd moth, a whole section about cocoons, an area with snakes, stick insects, a crocodile and more. This was a really fun way to spend an hour or so, and perfect if you're looking for child-friendly activities in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is a fantastic gift shop, too!

We of course popped to see Shakespeare's house one last time on our way to the station - and I wanted to show off my cute new sweatshirt* from Lighthouse, which I adore!

There is plenty to see and do in Stratford-upon-Avon, especially if you're a Shakespeare fan! The gin distillery tour and the walking tour were my highlights for sure, but everything we did was well worth doing if you're looking for things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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