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Non Shakespeare things in Stratford Upon Avon

Getting away from the bard for a brief period

Stratford Upon Avon town centre by river
Stratford's River Avon

Things Shakespeare are of course the main draw to Stratford-upon-Avon. We cover these on our dedicated Stratford Shakespeare page.

This page looks at those things to see and do in Stratford-upon-Avon that are not connected to Shakespeare.

A lot of people like to take a wander down to the attractive canal boats on the River Avon - or the more adventurous might want to hire a boat for themselves!

There are two parks either side of the River Avon; the Recreation Ground is on the southern side, while Bancroft Gardens is on the northern side. Each has their own character and facilities.

Stratford-upon-Avon also boasts quite a few independent shops and cafe's to get something to eat.

Shopping and tea rooms in Stratford Upon-Avon

High Street, Stratford upon Avon
Enjoy walking the old fashioned High Street

One of the most long lasting and popular pastimes when visiting Stratford is to visit a tea shop for a cream tea.

Stratford, does not have the biggest shopping centre also has most of the chains making their presence felt. Some of them like M&S and BHS also have cafe's.

Your problem regards pubs and restaurants is simply the wide choice.

Around the canal boat basin, there are some quirkier places to eat and shop, including river dining cruises.

The River & Canal Basin Stratford-upon-Avon, parks and gardens

Stratford-upon-Avon Big Wheel
Stratford-upon-Avon Big Wheel

The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal was built in the 18th century and runs north from Stratford towards Birmingham linking with the British waterways network. Narrowboat holidays are a popular holiday with the British and the canal basin in the centre of Stratford is a natural focus for visitors.

The canal basin is a magnet for visitors, where the canal meets the River Avon in the very centre of town. There is plenty of space and grass. Some canal boats have been converted into shops, even art galleries.

Many simply sit by the side of the river watching all the activities with an ice cream.

Recreation Ground

The Recreation Ground is right by the river (southern bank) and offers picnic tables, paddling pool, outdoor gym, bowling club, mini golf, play equipment for children, a bandstand, the Stratford Big Wheel, toilets and a sports club.

Bancroft Gardens

Bancroft Gardens is adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the northern bank. It has wide grass lawns and gardens with views of the river. Here you can enjoy open air performances. The popular Stratford Town Walk and Ghost Walk also leaves from here.

You can even hire boats here for a bit of relaxing boating down the River Avon.

Other attractions in Stratford Upon Avon

Butterfly Farm at Stratford

Europe's largest butterfly farm where you can enjoy some of the world's most spectacular and colourful butterflies flying around you. This is supplemented by similar exhibits on various other insects.

Harvard House Stratford

Owned by Harvard University in the USA. John Harvard instrumental in founding Harvard College was around in Shakespeare's time and married his second wife at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford on 8 April 1605.

Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus - getting around Stratford independently

Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus
Stratford-upon-Avon hop-on, hop-off bus

Like so many tourist towns and cities, a hop on, hop off open top sightseeing bus operates in Stratford.

At Stratford it is particularly useful as a couple of Shakespeare attractions, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's House are well outside walking distance from the town centre.

The bus has ticketing options which includes admissions to the Shakespeare properties. The main starting point of the buses is by the bridge next to the main Tourist Information Centre. For independent visitors there is also a stop very close to the train station.

There are 12 stops including all 5 Shakespeare properties, Holy Trinity Church and the RSC theatres.

You can also purchase a ticket that combines the Ho Ho service with a river cruise on the River Avon.

Frequencies are broadly every 30 minutes with increased frequencies, every 15/20 minutes at the peak times in summer and weekends. During the summer months live guides are available, at other times audio guides are provided (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and Kid's Commentary).

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