Now more than ever, many of us are looking for free days out in our local area. Luckily, the West Midlands has lots to offer both indoors and outdoors. There’s everything from museums to wild swims to walks and picnics. If you’re looking for activities in a particular area, please click on one of the links below to take you to the relevant section. For more things to do in the area from family or dog friendly attractions to ideas for a rainy day, head to my comprehensive days out guide.
Free things to do in Herefordshire
16th Century Painted Room (Ledbury)
At the bottom of Church Lane, builders restoring one of Ledbury’s oldest timber framed buildings made a discovery. Under layers of paint and wallpaper was an extensive painting that had been painted straight onto the plaster. Restoration work revealed that it was one of the best examples of Elizabethan Wall Paintings ever discovered. Visitors will be taken on a tour to learn about the floral designs based on Elizabethan Knot Gardens. Check the Ledbury Town Council website for opening dates and times, booking is essential.
Arthur’s Stone (Dorstone)
Located about a mile walk from Dorstone village, Arthur’s Stone is an English Heritage managed site that is free to visit. Its huge stone slabs mark a neolithic burial chamber. Legend has it that King Arthur killed a giant there. It is free to visit anytime and directions and more information about the place are on the Arthur’s Stone English Heritage website.
Bodenham Lakes (Bodenham)
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust manage Bodenham Lakes as a wildlife refuge. Not all of the nature reserve is accessible but the parts that are allow access for walking trails through orchards and meadows on the riverside and lakeside. It’s a great place to explore and spend a day with a picnic. Parking and entry are both free and visiting is encouraged from dusk to dawn any day.
Bromyard Local and Family History Centre (Bromyard)
This quirky museum is run entirely by volunteers. In their exhibition room, the display changes annually. There is always a display of photographs and other items from their archives and a volunteer will show visitors around and answer enquiries. The also have a research room for conducting historical research with the help of their material. It is free to visit the centre and some small charges apply for use of research room facilities. As a voluntary organisation, they do rely on donations. This is not open every day, so do check the Bromyard Local and Family History Centre website for opening days and times.
Butcher Row House Museum (Ledbury)
Many items of local historical interest are displayed in Butcher Row House museum in Ledbury. Artefacts include armour worn during the battle of Ledbury in 1645 and ancient musical instruments. The house itself would once have been located on the High Street, but it was moved to Church Lane for preservation. The museum is open from April to October and entry is free. Check opening dates and times on their website.
Canwood Art Gallery and Sculpture Park (Checkley)
Canwood Art Gallery and the huge outdoor sculpture park host works by numerous artists, many of which are for sale. It is free to visit and look around at the art and sculptures. The building itself is interesting, generating its own energy with solar panels and heating using a ground source heat pump. It only opens at certain times of the year so do check the Canwood Gallery website to see whether it is open.
Dore Abbey (Abbey Dore)
Dore Abbey near Hay-on-Wye used to be the site of a large Cistercian monastery. It fell into disrepair during the dissolution of monasteries in 1537. The church was rescued in the 1630s and used as a parish church. These days it is free to visit the ruins of the abbey and the church, although they do suggest a £3 donation. It is located in a peaceful setting beside the River Dore so it is a nice area to walk in as well as visiting the abbey itself. More information is available on the Dore Abbey website.
Hereford Museum and Art Gallery (Hereford)
It is often difficult to find free indoor attractions, but Hereford Museum and Art Gallery is just that. The building itself is a Victorian Gothic structure. Inside, there are various exhibitions from fine art to photography. These are always changing, so do check their website to see what’s there as well as opening dates and times.
Hereford Cathedral (Hereford)
As well as being a beautiful building, Hereford Cathedral is of great historical significance. There is thought to have been a place of worship on the site since AD696 and architecture from its rebuild in 1107-1148 can still be seen today. It is free to visit the cathedral during permitted opening hours. They do charge visitors to see the Mappa Mundi and the chained library.
Hereford’s skatepark is a charity skatepark run by volunteers. It is free to visit and keen skaters come from far afield to use it. A skateboard shop and coached sessions are on hand for those who need them. They can also lend you equipment including a skateboard, helmet and padding. Profits from the shop go towards the upkeep of the skate park. There are no toilets on the site but there are some in B&Q and the leisure centre which are both nearby. The skatepark has designated times for particular age groups including Sunday mornings for under 10s on scooters. Check the skatepark website for more information.
Kington Museum (Kington)
The Kington Museum is located in the stable block of what was the King’s Head Inn. Its four rooms portray the history of Kington and surrounding areas from prehistoric times. Its exhibits change frequently to cover different eras and include a model of Kington Railway Station with working model trains. The museum is a charitable trust so admission is free but they do rely on donations to operate. It is not open every day so do check the Kington Museum website for opening dates and times before visiting.
Ledbury Old Grammar School Heritage Centre and Art Gallery (Ledbury)
Ledbury is a beautifully historic town with its black and white buildings and its market house. The Old Grammar School is a Grade II listed 16th century building. It is black and white with such low doors that you have to duck to get in. Downstairs, the Heritage Centre tells Ledbury’s history through its trades and buildings. Quizzes are available for different age groups which are an entertaining way to learn about Ledbury’s history. There is also an art gallery upstairs. The building is run by volunteers and opens daily from Easter to October. Do check they are open before travelling. More information is available on the Ledbury Places website.
Longtown Castle (Hereford)
The English Heritage managed site of Longtown Castle is an impressive ruin that is free to visit. There are no facilities there and limited off-road parking is available near the entrance to the castle. It is a great place for a picnic with a view across the Black Mountains and there’s plenty of space for children to run around. You can find more information about visiting the castle on the Longtown Castle English Heritage website and also read about its history.
The Master’s House (Ledbury)
The Master’s House in Ledbury is part of the St Katherine’s Hospital complex. Between 2011 and 2015, restoration was carried out to transform it into a community library, archive and community hub. If you are interested in the history of the building, you can visit for free. Volunteers give regular tours to tell people about the building’s history. It will be necessary to book. Head to the Master’s House website to read more about its history and book a visit.
Weobley Trails (Weobley)
Weobley in Herefordshire is full of fascinating black and white buildings. In Medieval times, it was a market town and its nail, glove and ale making were worthy of note. Its lack of rail and canal connections meant that it fell into poverty during the industrial revolution. These days though, it is a beautiful and fascinating place to visit. Anyone with an interest in its history can download a self-guided heritage trail with map and audio files. For children, there’s a detective trail leaflet to download that combines learning and fun. Both trails are available on the Weobley website.
Wigmore Castle (Leominster)
Wigmore Castle near Leominster is a ruin that was dismantled to prevent its use during the civil war. It is buried up to the first floor in most places, but a lot of its fortifications remain at full height, including the keep. The castle is a 15 minute walk from the nearest parking area. There are lots of steep slopes and steps and the site can get muddy in wet weather. Full details on the castle and how to get there are on the English Heritage Wigmore Castle website. You can also read about its history.
Free things to do in Shropshire
Acton Burnell Castle (Shrewsbury)
These days, Acton Burnell Castle is a red shell made of sandstone. It was constructed from 1284 to 1293 and abandoned by 1420. It remains a fascinating example of a fortified manor. Whilst there are no facilities onsite, it remains an interesting place to visit. Dogs on leads are welcome and the castle offers a flat, grassy walk. Parking is available onsite for five cars and one minibus. From the car park, there is a flat walk through a wood to reach the castle. For more information, head to the English Heritage Acton Burnell website and read about its history.
Bridgnorth Castle and Gardens (Bridgnorth)
Founded in 1101, Bridgnorth Castle is a historic and unique landmark in the town. Its square tower was built during Henry II’s reign and attacked by Cromwell’s Roundheads in 1646. A three week siege was successful and Cromwell ordered the castle to be demolished. Parliamentarians destroyed the castle, leaving it as you can see it now. The castle leans at a 15 degree angle, 4 times more than the leaning tower of Pisa. These days, visitors can admire the spectacular view across the river Severn and enjoy a stroll around the beautiful Castle Gardens, where the town’s war memorial stands. For more information about the history of the Castle and Gardens, head to the About Bridgnorth website.
Bridgnorth Town Hall (Bridgnorth)
Bridgnorth’s black and white town hall was constructed in 1650. These days, it is open to visitors with free admission. It offers an insight into the history of the area. It is worth visiting on market day and combining your visit with a stroll around the Bridgnorth market. More information is available on the Visit Bridgnorth website.
British Ironwork Centre (Aston)
The British Ironwork Centre is located in 90 acres of grounds where ironwork sculptures are on display throughout. Look out for a spoon gorilla, made from over 40,000 spoons. Its design was created as a collaboration with Uri Gellar. There are also two indoor showrooms and children’s activities take place all year round. They do ask that visitors don’t take picnics in order to allow the centre to remain free. They rely on people buying food at their café if they eat at the Ironwork Centre. Find out more about the British Ironwork centre on their website.
Buildwas Abbey (Ironbridge)
Buildwas Abbey is an English Heritage site that is free to visit. The ruins of this Cistercian abbey are incredibly well preserved. The 12th century church remains unaltered and the tiled floor of the vaulted chapter house is surprisingly intact. The ruin is located in a wooded area beside the river Severn. There is free parking for around 20 cars. For full information, head to the English Heritage Buildwas Abbey website.
Cae Glas Park (Oswestry)
Oswestry’s huge city centre park is a popular tourist attraction. A children’s play area, floral displays and bandstand are free to visit. Live music often takes place in the park and other activities are available at a small cost including crazy golf, tennis and bowling. For more information, visit the Oswestry Town Council website.
Cantlop Bridge (Shrewsbury)
Built in 1813, Cantlop Bridge is thought to have been either designed or approved by Thomas Telford. It is located next to the road and can be accessed by parking in a nearby layby, as detailed on the English Heritage Cantlop Bridge website. Its pretty, riverside location is the ideal place for a quiet picnic. You can also read about its history.
Carding Mill Valley (Church Stretton)
I have included this as a free day out because unlike many National Trust places, this is free even if you are not a member. However, do bear in mind that there is a charge for parking. Carding Mill Valley is hugely popular among locals and visitors alike. It is a great place for walking, wildlife spotting and having a picnic. For a long walk, you may want to tackle the 5 mile Long Mynd walk. Directions are provided by the National Trust. Wild swimming is welcome in the reservoir and it is a popular place for a dip. You can find more information on the National Trust Carding Mill website. Additionally, I found this post about the top 10 things to do at Carding Mill.
Clee Hills and the Corvedale (Ludlow)
Among the Clee Hills and the Covedale, visitors can discover a variety of walks. Choose between walking in a nature reserve, seeing historic castles or visiting the historic market town of Ludlow. The Clee Hills were mined in the past but now most mining has stopped and the landscape is much more wild. More information on the area is available on the Visit Shropshire website.
Comer Woods (Quatford)
Part of the Dudmaston Estate, Comer Woods are free to visit and dog friendly. There is a fee for car parking although it is free for National Trust members. A variety of walking routes offer woodland walks passing by beautiful pools and an opportunity to spot wildlife. Cycling is also welcome with both family cycling trails and more challenging mountain bike routes. Toilet facilities are available and food is served at the Shepherd’s Hut or you can take a picnic. Further information is available on the Comer Woods website.
Cosford RAF Museum (Shifnal)
The Cosford RAF Museum offers an incredible amount of entertainment for a completely free day out. In fact, it is so large that they are sure you won’t be able to see everything in one day. However you could visit the hangars to learn about 100 years of the RAF. See the transport and training planes in hangar 1. Check out the planes from different countries and learn about the cold war. Children will love the test flights hangar with its hands-on fun and flight exhibition. To find out more about all the exhibits, opening hours and to book your visit, head to the RAF Cosford Museum website.
Mere Lake (Ellesmere)
Ellesmere is a beautiful market town on the Llangollen Canal. The town is next to Mere lake, an idyllic picnic spot. You can walk from the Langollen Canal to the Mere visitor centre. There, you’ll find a children’s play area and woodland walks. The Canal and River Trust provide further information on visiting Ellesmere.
Granville Country Park (Telford)
Granville was the last deep mine in Shropshire to close down. These days, wildlife has taken over the previously industrial area. Old furnaces and an old winding house can be seen among the woodland. There are footpaths and walking routes around the nature reserve and dogs are welcome. Further information is available from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Haughmond Hill (Shrewsbury)
Haughmond Hill is a Forestry England site that is free to visit. Parking costs £1 for two hours or £2 all day. Four walking trails are available in the area, two of which are suitable for buggies and mobility scooters. The other two are longer and may be uneven and muddy. At the front of the hill are beautiful views of the River Severn, South Shropshire and the Welsh Hills. A cafe, toilets and picnic areas make this the ideal place for a relaxing day out. Dogs are welcome at this attraction. For more information, head to the Haughmond Hill Forestry England website.
The Iron Bridge (Ironbridge)
Shropshire’s Iron Bridge was the first of its kind in the world. These days, it is one of the most iconic symbols of the Industrial Revolution. Managed and maintained by English Heritage, the Iron Bridge is free to visit. There is a nearby pay and display car park at Station Yard and the bridge is a great place to start exploring the Ironbridge Gorge. For more information, visit the English Heritage Iron Bridge website.
Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Reserve (Oswestry)
Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Reserve in Oswestry is a vast reservoir that stretches into Powys. It is free to visit and offers a variety of walking and cycling routes, including the 12 mile circumference of the lake. A sculpture park, riverside walk and waterfall are also worth exploring. Numerous facilities are available including car parking, toilets and a visitor centre. Full information is available from the RSPB.
Mortimer Forest (Ludlow)
Wildlife-rich Mortimer Forest is a fantastic place to see birds of prey, small birds, butterflies and reptiles. There are fallow deer in the forest as well. Its four car parks are free to use and it is a popular place for walks and picnics. Walking trails cater for all from the easy access trail at Vinnalls Car Park with two half mile loops, through to longer and more challenging walks. Mortimer forest is also the venue for the Ludlow Parkrun. To find out more about the forest, head to the Forestry England website.
Offa’s Dyke Path (Oswestry)
The Offa’s Dyke path runs for 177 miles along the England / Wales border. You can pick up a portion of it at Oswestry and the route takes in many heritage sites and iconic landscapes. Many people take accommodation along the route and walk all or a large amount of it over the course of a couple of weeks. However, it is equally possible to pick a small section and walk it for a day. More information is available on the Oswestry website.
Old Oswestry Hillfort (Oswestry)
Old Oswestry Hillfort is an English Heritage managed site that is free to visit. Parking is also free. The hillfort is thought to have been the site of an Iron Age tribal settlement. Access to the hillfort is via steep, uneven paths. Cycling is not allowed and dogs must be on leads due to grazing animals. Further information is available on the English Heritage website and you can read about the history of the hillfort.
Severn Valley Country Park (Bridgnorth)
The variety of activities at Severn Valley Country park make it an ideal place to visit. Facilities include a refreshment kiosk and toilets. The car park costs £1.20 for two hours or £2.30 all day. A children’s playground, pond with a dipping platform and various activity sheets are great for families. Walking trails and cycle paths around the park are a great way to explore. An easy access trail has been specially designed for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There are picnic benches around the park. Further information is available on the Shropshire Great Outdoors website.
Shrewsbury Abbey (Shrewsbury)
Founded in 1083, Shrewsbury Abbey is of great historical significance. Kings have made pilgrimages there and it hosted the first Parliament. These days, it is a quiet and peaceful place to visit, enjoy the spectacular architecture and learn about its history. Shrewsbury Abbey is free to visit although donations are appreciated. Further information is available on the Shrewsbury Abbey website.
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre (Craven Arms)
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre offers access to the 30 acre Onny Meadows beside the river Onny. This consists of a variety of walks including wheelchair accessible paths. At the Discovery Centre itself there is parking, toilets, free wifi, a café, a shop and a gallery. There is also a visitor information centre for the Shropshire Hills. There is an entry fee for the gallery. For full information about the centre, head to their website.
Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike and Outdoor Pursuits Centre (Church Stretton)
If you have your own mountain bike, you’ll only need to pay parking charges to access the Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike centre. From there, visitors can access mountain bike trails and skills courses that are free to use. The centre also offer trail maps for £1 and bike hire and cycling guides are available. An onsite pub, the Station Inn is a nice place to stop for a drink or a meal while you’re there. A campsite and camping pods are available onsite too. More information is available on the Mountain Bike Centre website.
Stiperstones National Nature Reserve (Church Stretton)
The Stiperstones National Nature Reserve is formed by the majority of the Stiperstones Ridge, part of the Shropshire Hills. It is a wildlife haven that is appropriately restricted so mountain biking, rock climbing, orienteering and other activities are by permit only. Its quartzite rock makes the area sparkle even on dull days. Interesting birds including red kites, red grouse, ravens and skylarks can be seen in upland areas. Other wildlife and plants also flourish here. There is public access to the reserve through the NNR car park. Here you’ll find information including walking routes and a 650 metre long all-ability trail. For more information, head to the Shropshire National Reserves website.
Telford Town Park (Telford)
Telford Town Park is notably more exciting than it sounds. It is worth bearing in mind that there are lots of activities that do cost money. For example disk golf, adventure golf and the Sky Reach climbing and high ropes adventures. However, there is also plenty to do for free. Stroll around beautiful gardens or follow a heritage or nature trail around the park. Let children enjoy the impressive play areas or bring a bike and explore 14 miles of off road cycle paths. There’s a café to buy food and plenty of places for a picnic. Find out more on the Telford Town Park website.
Quarry Park (Shrewsbury)
The Quarry Park in Shrewsbury comprises 29 acres of parkland. It includes the Dingle at the centre of the park, a floral display cultivated by Percy Thrower who looked after the park for 28 years. The River Severn circles the outskirts of the Quarry. It is an ideal place to walk, picnic and relax. Toilet facilities are available at the Quarry and it is dog friendly. Full information is available on the Original Shrewsbury website.
Whitchurch and Grindley Brook (Whitchurch)
Walking from Whitchurch to Grindley Brook along the Llangollen Canal takes about half an hour. It’s a great walk for spotting boats and wildlife, always a favourite for children. Alternatively, its fine to cycle along the towpath. A café and a pub along the way are ideal food stops if you want to buy something. Alternatively to keep it completely free, bring a picnic blanket to lay on the grass as there are no picnic benches. For full details, head to the Canal and River Trust website. Before setting out for a walk, you may enjoy a visit to the Whitchurch Heritage centre. This free museum has exhibits and displays relating to the town’s history.
Whitcliffe Common (Ludlow)
Whitcliffe Common nature reserve is a Wildlife Trust managed area located near to Ludlow Castle. It is free to visit and dogs are welcome. A variety of footpaths stretch from the river Teme across open grassland with rocky cliffs and even a waterfall. Views of Ludlow Castle and across the town are spectacular. Further information is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Whittington Castle (Oswestry)
The beautiful ruins of Whittington Castle and its grounds are run by a community group, keeping it free to visit. A tea shop on site offers food and drink. Parking costs £1. Guidebooks and guided tours are available for a small fee or visitors can look around at their leisure and read signs with information about the castle’s history. More information is available on the Whittington Castle website.
The Wrekin (Wellington)
Mostly known as a recognisable Shropshire landmark, the Wrekin is also a great place to explore. Parking is available at the Forest Glen car park managed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust but it does get really busy there. You can also park in Wellington and walk through the Ercall Woods or walk from Ironbridge or Little Wenlock. There are well maintained paths up the main routes or you can take quieter footpaths that are a bit more challenging. Full information is available on the Discover Telford website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire
Ancient High House (Stafford)
Built in 1595, the Ancient High House Tudor building was visited by Charles I in 1642. These days it’s a museum containing extensive period furniture which is also home to the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum. Visitors can also learn about how the house was built and exhibitions by local artists are hosted in two separate galleries. The museum is free to visit with the exception of certain events. More information is available on the Staffordshire Borough Council website.
Apedale Country Park and Heritage Centre (Knutton)
Apedale Country Park was an open cast mine up until the 1990s. These days, it is Staffordshire’s newest Wildlife Trust Country Park and has been reclaimed by wildlife. Follow a family nature trail, go pond dipping or take part in guided walks, educational activities or other organised events. Further information is on the Wildlife Trust website. Apedale Heritage Centre is located within the Country Park. Here, you can learn about the industrial heritage of the area. The museum is free to visit and there is a café onsite. There is an additional charge for mine tours that take place at weekends and bank holidays. More information is available on the Heritage Centre website.
Beacon Park (Lichfield)
The formal part of Beacon Park, Museum Gardens, features beautiful floral displays and avenues of trees. A fountain is the centrepiece and several statues are also located in the park. For children, there are two playgrounds full of equipment. Pond dipping, woodland walks and a community garden are also featured. Additional events and activities take place on particular dates. Pay and display parking is available nearby and food can be purchased from the park’s kiosk and bistro. Full information is available on the Lichfield Parks website.
Biddulph Grange Country Park (Biddulph)
Explore the Victorian landscape of Biddulph Grange Country Park with spectacular views, natural features and pool with a stone boat house. The visitor centre showcases a century old hydroelectric scheme. Easy access paths for wheelchairs are provided as far as the main pool. Beyond that the site is on a hillside. Toilet facilities are open from 7am to dusk each day and there is an onsite café. Dogs need to be on leads due to grazing animals. Full information is available via Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Brampton Museum, Gallery and Park (Newcastle-Under-Lyme)
Brampton Park boasts beautiful gardens including a rose garden and sensory garden. There’s also plenty of open space and lots of trees to enjoy. Families will enjoy visiting the aviary and small mammal area, children’s play area and sand pit. Even the miniature railway is free to ride although the volunteers who run it do appreciate donations. Sculptures are dotted around in the park and there’s also a café and toilets available. The museum and gallery located in the park are both free to visit as well. Various activities and exhibitions take place during the year. Head to the Brampton Museum website to see what’s on and for full information.
Branston Water Park (Burton upon Trent)
Part of the National Forest, Branston Water Park is a former gravel pit that now provides a home to many animals and plants. It contains Staffordshire’s largest reed bed. A small visitor centre, children’s play area and toilets make it an ideal place for a family day out and a picnic. A cafe is also available. The site is accessible for wheelchairs due to a level path around the whole area. Full information is available on the National Forest website.
Burslem Park (Stoke on Trent)
Burslem Park contains ornamental fountains and a Victorian terrace garden. A lake, rockery, mosaic and sculpture are also of interest and the site is accessible for wheelchairs. There is an onsite café and children’s play area as well as a sports court and playing field. Toilets and baby changing are available. Further information is available on the City of Stoke-on-Trent website.
Cannock Chase Forest (Burntwood)
Cannock Chase Forest Forestry England site is popular with walkers, dog owners and mountain bikers. There is a charge for parking but it is otherwise free to visit. There are additional activities that cost money but you can easily spend a day there without paying for more than parking, especially if you bring a mountain bike and a picnic. A children’s play area, dog activity trail, mountain bike skills courses and cycling tracks are just a few of the free activities on offer. Plenty of picnic areas are dotted around the place and there’s a cafe if you do want to buy food. Further information is available on the Forestry England website and you can read my review of a dog friendly family day out at Cannock Chase Forest.
Castle Ring (Cannock Chase)
The Iron Age Hill Fort at Castle Ring is over 2000 years old and forms the highest point on Cannock Chase. From the car park, the top of Castle Ring can be accessed up some steps. As well as boasting views across Beaudesert Old Park and Trent Valley, this makes a great starting point for longer walks around the area. Visitors are asked to keep to main paths to avoid disturbing rare species of dragonfly, butterfly and lizard. Full information is available on the Cannock Chase council website.
Central Forest Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Located in the city centre, Central Forest Park is a popular green space for cycling, walking, skateboarding and other sports. Loose shale in a pit mound is a good place to find carboniferous fossils. The largest street skate park in Europe is within the park, as well as an adventure play area and climbing boulders. Wheelchair access and free parking are both available. The park is dog friendly and has public toilets and free parking. Full information is available on the Visit Stoke website.
Chasewater reservoir and country park offer everything from adventurous water sports to nature trails and bird watching. Barbecues and picnics are allowed and there are some great cycling routes. Chasewater Innovation Centre is a source of visitor information and also hosts exhibitions of local artwork and children’s activities. A café serves light refreshments. Fees apply for water sports and to ride the heritage railway. Full information is available on the Chasewater website.
Cheddleton Flint Mill (Leek)
Cheddleton Flint Mill is a water mill that once ground flint to make pottery. These days, visitors can learn about the water mills and look around a museum period cottage, canal and other exhibits. Admission is free and donations are welcome. There is a charge for group visits when arranged by appointment outside of standard opening hours. The site is operated by volunteers so opening times vary. They try to make sure they’re open from midday to 4pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. Full information is available on the Flint Mill website.
Croxden Abbey (Uttoxeter)
The free entry English Heritage site at Croxden Abbey once housed 70 Cistercian monks. Its ruins include fragments of the 13th century church and infirmary and the 14th century lodging for the abbot. Visitors can learn about the history of the abbey through information panels on site. Access is from Croxden Lane where you can park in a lay-by but there is a very limited amount of parking available. There are no onsite facilities. Full information and opening times are available on the English Heritage website.
Deep Hayes Country Park (Leek)
Located in a former industrial area, Deep Hayes Country Park now consists of woodland and meadows with pathways and pools. A visitor centre with information boards details walking routes and a bird hide is located near feeding stations and bird boxes. Free parking and toilets are available onsite. Full information is on the Woodland Trust website.
Managed by Forestry England, Dimmingsdale is regarded as the hidden beauty spot of North Staffordshire. A variety of walking trails take in rolling countryside, streams, ponds, woodlands and lakes. The Rambler’s Retreat serves snacks and parking is free. Dogs are allowed and there is a picnic area at Dimmingsdale. Further information is available on the Forestry England website.
Downs Banks (Oulton Heath)
Downs Banks comprise a landscape of heath and woodlands with a stream running through its length. Head up to the highest point to spot distant landmarks including the Long Mynd and the Wrekin. Look out for a kingfisher by the stream and the friendly cattle grazing in the area. Paths may be uneven and dogs are welcome. Parking is available and a mile and a half of surfaced paths provides access for rugged wheelchairs and buggies. Benches are available at regular intervals. Full information is available from the National Trust.
Doxey Marshes (Stafford)
Doxey Marshes wetland is considered one of the best bird watching sites in the country. It’s free to visit but there is no dedicated car park. The below website gives a few options of where to park. Dogs are welcome with on and off lead areas well marked across the reserve. Look out for grazing animals. Most paths across the reserve are surfaced but access may be restricted if there is flooding. Bird hides and pond dipping platforms offer the opportunity to get up close to wildlife. A wax rubbing trail can be downloaded from the website and you’ll need to bring crayons with you. Full information is available from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
Elmore Park (Rugeley)
Not far from Rugeley Town Centre, Elmore town park has a play area, flower beds, grassed landscape features and skateboard facilities. Adjacent to it is Hagley Fields, with a larger skate park and a popular pet’s corner with chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds. In the centre of Elmore Park is a pool with a horseshoe shaped. Trees around the pool offer some shade. Look out for fish, ducks and even terrapins in the pond. Further information is available on the Cannock Chase Council website.
Elford Hall Garden (Tamworth)
The free to enter, wheelchair friendly Elford Walled Garden is a volunteer-run project to provide a community amenity. Within the area are allotments, flower gardens, an orchard, sensory garden and many historical features. Toilets are available and refreshments are sold on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays by volunteers. A bothy is always open for shelter and a drink-making area can be used for a donation. Picnic tables and boules game areas are free to use and fruit and vegetables can be purchase from the produce table in exchange for a donation. A library houses books for visitors to swap or buy. Full information is available on the Elford Hall Garden website.
Greenway Bank Country Park (Brindley Ford)
I am struggling to find much information about Greenway Bank Country Park. A few websites mention it and it seems to be a 100 acre area containing formal gardens, woodland, the Serpentine Lake and Knypersley Reservoir. Enjoy Staffordshire mention a visitor’s centre and children’s adventure playground. I can’t find any opening hours or information on parking but it looks like a beautiful place to visit. If you head to the Woodland Trust website and click on the photo, there are 15 photos you can scroll through to see the playground, lakes, woodland and a beautiful looking waterfall.
Guildhall Prison (Lichfield)
At the back of the Lichfield Guildhall, visitors will find a small display relating to the building’s history as a prison from 1548. Information tells tales of law, criminals and what happened to them from the prison’s inception to the its close in 1848 when it continued to be used as a police custody area until 1900. Learn about the last criminals to be hanged in Lichfield’s gallows during 1810, martyrs who were burned on the market square during the 17th century and many between. The cells are open 10am to 4pm on Saturdays from April to September. Full information is available on the city council website.
Hanley Park (Stoke on Trent)
One of Stoke-on-Trent’s Heritage parks, Hanley Park is near to the train station and city centre and has free parking. It boasts a floodlit, all-weather sport zone that can be use for tennis, hockey, basketball, cricket and football. A Bowling green, bandstand, lake, fountains, children’s play area, sensory play and sculptures make it an ideal place to visit with the whole family. Dogs and children are both welcome and there are picnic areas and toilets. The park is accessible for wheelchairs and has accessible toilets. Full information is on the Hanley Park website.
Highgate Common (Swindon)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust manage Highgate Common, a lowland heath that is full of rare wildlife. There are eight car parks on the common and toilet facilities including accessible toilets are available at the Cory Community Centre. Paths across the heathland and woodland may be muddy or uneven. Dogs are allowed. Look out for holes in the sandy paths where ground nesting bees and wasps have made their homes. 140 types of solitary wasps and bees are thought to live on the common and many are rare in the UK. For that reason, the common is a SSSI. Look out for dragonflies, glow worms, butterflies and beetles too. There’s a miniature monsters trail for families to spot the creepy crawlies on the common. Grass snakes, lizards, cuckoos and other birds can also be seen and heard in the area. Full information is available eon the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust website.
Longton Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Known also by the name of Queen’s Park, Longton Park is renowned for lakes, horticulture and its trees. One of the city’s heritage parks, it is home to three bowling pavilions and a clock tower. Skate boarding facilities make it popular among children and teens and there are also tennis and multi-use sports courts. The park is accessible, has free parking and public toilets and dogs are welcome. It is open from 8am until dusk each day. Full information is available on the Visit Stoke website.
Lud’s Church (Gradbach)
There is surprisingly no church at Lud’s Church. It is in fact a huge rocky cleft in the hillside, located in an area known as the Black Forest. A landslide caused a huge section of rock to detach from the hillside. The cleft is only a couple of metres wide but more than 15 metres high in places and 100 metres long. Local legend says that Robin Hood used the cleft as shelter. The church can be reached by parking at the car park and walking past a youth hostel, crossing a tributary of the river Dane on a footbridge and heading uphill. Full details are on the Peak District information website.
Middleton Lakes (Tamworth)
Middleton Lakes is an RSPB managed nature reserve in the Tame River Valley with woodland, wetland and meadows. Trails cover several kilometres with a variety of birds to spot including kingfishers, lapwings and herons. Hides are available for watching the birds and binoculars can be hired. A small visitor centre sells some refreshments and picnic areas are available.
There is parking for 50 cars which can fill up quickly. The car park is open from dawn to dusk. There is no mention on their website as to whether there is a parking charge. A children’s play meadow has a small trail for children with opportunities for wild play such as den building. You can hire equipment for bug hunting and pond dipping. Toilets are in the Middleton Hall courtyard, about 250 metres from the RSPB car park. They also have a cafe that serves hot and cold drinks and meals. Full information is on the RSPB website.
Mow Cop (Stoke-on-Trent)
Often known as Mow Cop Castle, Mow Cop is actually a Folly. It lies right on the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire, the car park postcode is in Staffordshire but the folly is on Cheshire’s southernmost outcrop. The tower was built to be a summerhouse for local Lord of the Manor Randle Wilbraham in 1754. The location has a small car park and there are no toilets or other facilities. Start at the car park to follow the Mow Cop trails and learn about the history of the area. Full details are available from the National Trust.
Museum of Cannock Chase (Hednesford)
The Museum of Cannock Chase is a free attraction with lots of fun and learning for the whole family. Interactive toys and games are available for children and visitors can find out about Cannock Chase itself as well as visiting a 1940s room, coal mining gallery and miners cottage gallery. A coffee shop sells to and cold drinks and snacks. There’s also a visitor information area, gift shop and children’s quizzes. Lots of local walks start at the museum and additional events and exhibitions take place throughout the year. Admission times change according to the season so do check the website before visiting.
National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas)
The National Memorial Arboretum is a national centre for remembrance. Developed on a reclaimed gravel work area, the arboretum is next to the Tame and Trent rivers. Volunteers planted trees in the area and it is regarded as a place of joy to remember people in an environment full of trees. The first memorial was the polar bear memorial, a tribute to 49th West Riding Infantry Division. Since then, the armed forces memorial has been added and new memorials are dedicated each year. A remembrance centre now tells the story of remembrance as well as providing facilities for visitors.
The arboretum now hosts events including remembrance services. Entry is free, donations are appreciated and at present, booking is essential. A dog walking route is available for people visiting with dogs. Regular family activities take place and a children’s play area and picnic areas are available. For more information and to find out what’s on when you visit, head to the National Memorial Arboretum website.
Parkhall Country Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Idyllic Park Hall Country Park is a National nature reserve with sandstone canyons, lakes, woodland and heathland. It is a beautiful place to walk with free parking and light refreshments sold on site. Further information is on the Visit Stoke website.
Potteries Museum and Art Gallery (Hanley)
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is free to visit, although they do charge to see certain exhibitions and events. The museum holds a vast collection of Staffordshire pottery as well as items of natural science, decorative arts, archaeology and social history. The Potteries Museum is also home to some artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard. A cafe and toilet facilities are available. There is also a separate area to eat food that you bring with you. Further information is available on the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Website.
Red Lion Farm (Haughton)
Red Lion Farm is free to look around but visitors are expected to eat and drink in their tea room or buy some ice cream. The farm has cows, sheep goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, a donkey and some horses. For an extra fee you can visit the owl sanctuary. There is also a caravan park and dog grooming room on site. Full information is on their website.
The Roaches (Leek)
The Roaches nature reserve is managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. It’s a popular place for walking and climbing and it’s dog friendly. Hillsides covered in heather, vast rock faces and an abundance of wildlife draw in thousands of visitors every year and it’s free to visit. The Roaches is a SSSI and a conservation area. The best panoramic views of the area are available from the top of the stone steps to the left of the stone cottage. Look out for the legendary mermaid of Doxey Pool or find an area where you won’t see a soul in the woodlands at the northern part of the estate. Look out for peregrine falcons, red grouse and hairstreak butterflies. Full information is available on the Wildlife Trust website.
Rudyard Lake (Leek)
Two and a half mile long Rudyard Lake is set amongst dramatic scenery and owned by the Canal and River Trust. It was the place where Rudyard Kipling’s parents first met and where channel swimmers and tightrope walkers have demonstrated their skills. These days, a narrow gauge railway runs alongside the lake. The lake is free to visit and walk or cycle but there are charges for additional activities such as fishing and launching boats and SUPs. A visitor centre has plenty of information about the area and its history, as well as toilet facilities. There are plenty of picnic tables for visitors to use and a cafe is located at the activity centre. There’s lots more information about visiting the lake on their website.
Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (Lichfield)
Samuel Johnson was best known for writing a dictionary of the English language. He spent his first 27 years living in the townhouse that is now a museum dedicated to his life and times. Admission is free but at present it is important to book online before you go. Head to the museum website to check seasonal opening times and book your visit.
Thought to be one of the best examples of a Norman earthworks within the UK, Stafford Castle has revealed its secrets to archeologists who have excavated it in recent years. These days, a visitor centre tells the castle’s history using audiovisual displays. Armour, costumes and exhibitions uncover another layer of local history and visitors can even try brass rubbing and coin minting. A gift shop sells cold drinks and ice cream and various events take place throughout the year. More information is available on the Stafford Borough Council website.
Stapenhill Gardens (Burton upon Trent)
The woodland, open grassland and formal gardens of Stapenhill Gardens make it a community focal point and regular events are held there. Facilities include a play area, toilets (including accessible toilets), tarmac paths and picnic benches. Dogs are welcome and refreshments can be purchased from nearby shops. Full information and summer and winter opening hours available on the East Staffs council website.
Stowe Pool (Lichfield)
Stowe Pool is a hub for sports and leisure activities. Visitors can have a picnic or a family game of football or rounders on Stowe Fields. Children enjoy the play area with its swings, slides, climbing frames, fireman’s pole and zip line. Fitness fans will enjoy the outdoor, all-weather gym and mile-long walking and running loop. Further information is available on the Lichfield Historic Parks website.
Tamworth Castle Grounds
Floral terraces and open grass areas lead from Tamworth Castle down to the River Anker. At the top of the terracing is a bandstand where free concerts take place during the summer months. An adventure play area and skate park keep children entertained and a cafe and toilet facilities are available. An outdoor gym, tennis courts, pleasant river walks and a water refill station make it a great place to visit for all ages. The grounds are free to visit but there is an additional charge for some activities on site such as cycle hire, tennis court booking and crazy golf. Further information and opening times are available on the Tamworth Borough Council website.
Tittesworth Reservoir (Leek)
Tittesworth Reservoir is free to visit but there is a charge for parking. The cost is £3 for two hours or £5 all day. There are two footpaths for walking near the reservoir, one is 1.5 miles long, the other is 5 miles. It is also a lovely place for bird watching and there’s a children’s playground for 2-15 year olds including a sand pit. A wild play area is located near the Churnet river where children can build dens. Picnic spots are dotted around and toilets and a café are available on site. Dogs on leads are welcome. There is a water sports centre at Tittesworth with a fee to hire or launch vessels. The cheapest option is launching a vessel of your own, which costs £6 per vessel per day. Further information is available on the Severn Trent website.
Wall Roman Site (Lichfield)
Once located on the Roman military road to north Wales, Wall was a staging post that played an important part in Roman control of the empire. Here, Roman messengers, officials and soldiers could rest themselves and their horses. Nowadays the remains of a public baths and an inn are visible. A museum educates visitors about life in the area and numerous excavated finds are on display. The site is managed by English Heritage and owned by the National Trust and free parking is available 50 metres from the entrance. Check opening times on the website before visiting because they vary between summer and winter. Toilet facilities are available when the museum is open but it is closed throughout 2020 due to covid. Dogs on leads are welcome. Full details are on the English Heritage website.
Westport Lake (Stoke-on-Trent)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Westport Lake is popular for walking and bird watching. It’s an ideal day out for families and nature lovers. The visitor centre cafe has a balcony with panoramic views across the water. Visitors can walk around a mile-long level footpath beside the water or venture into the conservation area on the ‘health walk’. Family activities take place throughout school holidays and the lake has lots of local and migratory wildlife. A children’s play area is located by the visitor centre. Parking is free and toilets are available. Full details and opening times are on the wildlife trust website.
Wildwood Park (Stafford)
The pretty canalised location of Wildwood Park makes it a popular place to visit and a haven for nature. Facilities include a car park, toilets, skate park, play area and an outdoor gym. Tennis courts and football pitches are available to hire for an additional charge but the park itself is free to visit. Further information is available on the Staffordshire council website.
The Wolseley Centre (Rugeley)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust refer to the Wolseley Centre as “a hidden oasis”. It boasts a visitor centre overlooking the lake with a cafe, gift shop, toilets and learning pod. The centre is Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters and has recently undergone a refurbishment. Events take place throughout the year and there are 26 acres of grounds for visitors to explore. Accessible footpaths weave across the area, great for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Visitors can feed the ducks, walk along a boardwalk and look out for nature sculptures around the grounds. Sensory and wildlife gardens are fascinating for children. Dogs on leads are welcome. Full information on the centre and events taking place there can be found on the wildlife trust website.
Free things to do in Warwickshire
Abbey Fields (Kenilworth)
Set in the dramatic Finham Brook valley, Abbey Fields boasts views across of both the town and Kenilworth castle. A lake, grassy areas, trees and historic buildings make it a fascinating place to visit. Walk along the Brook or round the lake to the castle. Enjoy a children’s play area and trim trail gym equipment. Some areas of the park offer good wheelchair access and there are accessible toilets and baby changing. Tennis courts are free to use but other facilities including the Abbey Fields swimming pool may incur a charge. Dogs are allowed but cycling is not permitted. Find out more here.
Bancroft Gardens (Stratford-Upon-Avon)
Beside the River Avon and Royal Shakespeare Theatre, you will find beautiful Bancroft Gardens. Vast riverside lawns and gardens make a lovely place to relax on a sunny day. Visitors can explore the gardens including the human sundial, two accessible bridges over the canal basin and lock, numerous statues, flower beds and the beautiful swan fountain. Visit Stratford have more information about Bancroft Gardens.
Battle of Edgehill Exhibition (Radway)
The Battle of Edgehill exhibition is located inside St Peter’s Church in Radway, a village lying on the former battlefield. This modern exhibition consists of artefacts, information, interactive displays and films about the battle and its impact on local people. From here, you can explore the village and surrounding landscape to extend your visit. To find out more about the exhibition and the battle itself, head to the Battle of Edgehill Exhibition website.
Bedworth Heritage Centre
Bedworth Heritage Centre has two separate exhibition spaces. In the town’s former Parsonage you’ll find the Parsonage Exhibition, while the Nurses House is situated just a few metres away. Part of the nurse’s house is set out as a silk weaver’s cottage. Each year the space usually hosts three exhibitions reflecting different aspects of the town’s history. Check the website for opening days and times before visiting because it is only open a few days a week. Find out more about the space and what’s on now on the Heritage Centre website.
Burton Dassett Hills Country Park (Southam)
Burton Dassett boasts rolling hills set in 100 unspoilt acres. Ideal for walking, kite flying and picnics. Enjoy the view of the local area from the top and stroll through Fox Covert woodland on the surfaced footpath. There is a £2.50 parking fee for cars and staff can provide visitors with an information leaflet. Refreshments are available from ice cream and coffee vans at the weekend and during school holidays. Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are open 9am to 3pm every day excluding Christmas Day. Dogs are welcome and dog bins are available. Further information is available from Warwickshire County Council.
Caldecott Park (Rugby)
Located in the town centre, Caldecott Park is known for its award winning flower beds. Facilities include a two children’s play areas, a tennis court, bowling green, bandstand, cafe, toilets and baby changing. Dogs are allowed but must be on a lead. The park is fully accessible with paved paths and accessible toilets. Full information is available from Rugby Borough Council.
Chesterton Windmill (Chesterton)
One of the most famous landmarks in the county, Chesterton Windmill overlooks Chesterton village and had been there for nearly 350 years. Restored in the 1960s and 70s, the windmill is now open to the public at certain times only. Entry is free and on-road parking is available nearby. As the windmill is only open on Heritage weekends during spring and autumn, it is essential to check the website for opening dates and times before visiting.
Crackley Wood (Kenilworth)
Ancient Crackley woodland is a Wildlife Trust managed nature reserve. Shady paths, open glades and plenty of wildlife make it a lovely place for a stroll. The site is 14 hectares in size and has a circular, flat path around it. Parking is available on Crackley Lane and dogs are allowed. Children will enjoy a brass rubbing trail an activity sheet is available to print off to take on your visit with you. Full information is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Chedham’s Yard (Wellesbourne)
Winner of the BBC’s Restoration Village competition in 2006, Chedham’s Yard is a recreation of blacksmithing and wheel making during the 19th to 20th centuries in original buildings. Visiting is free on Saturdays when a guided tour will be available. They anticipate people spending around an hour and a half to two hours there. An on site cafe shows a short film about the wooden wheel and sells souvenirs. The yard is only open on particular days and times so do check the Chedham’s Yard website before you travel.
Draycote Water (Dunchurch)
Severn Trent owned Draycote Water is free to visit although there is a charge for the car park and for taking part in watersports. It is a great place for cycling, walking and birdwatching. The site has paths suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs and an accessibility guide is available on the website. With plenty of space and benches around the country park, picnics are welcomed but barbecues are not permitted. Food is also available from the cafe. Dogs are not allowed to walk around the reservoir but there are some short dog walks in the surrounding country park. For full information, visit the Severn Trent website.
Great Central Walk (Rugby)
Great Central Walk cuts through the middle of Rugby, following the path of the former Great Central Railway from Newton Picnic site to Oxford Canal. The path stops there and starts again from Hunter Street, running through to Only Lane. The route is a nature reserve cared for by Rugby Borough Council and the Wildlife Trust and is ideal for walking and cycling. Look out for an assortment of butterflies and birds. Full information on the location and history of Great Central Walk is available from Rugby Borough Council.
Hartshill Hayes Country Park (Nuneaton)
Hartshill Hayes Country park is well known for its bluebells during spring. That said, it is worth visiting anytime due to spectacular views across four counties from the hillside. Two woodland areas make up the site and an adventure play area will keep children entertained. Toilets including accessible toilets are available. Dogs are welcome and a kiosk sells drinks and snacks during weekends and school holidays. Full information is available from Warwickshire County Council.
Hatton Locks (Hatton)
Hatton’s series of 21 locks, otherwise known as the “stairway to heaven” is a lovely place to start a stroll along the towpath. Or consider cycling, running or even canoeing. Food and toilets are available at Hatton Locks Cafe and the Hatton Arms. Or, you can take a picnic to enjoy beside the towpath. Children will enjoy seeing the narrow boats and following the activity trail along the flight of locks. Look out for ducks, swans and moorhens. You might even see a newt, grass snake, slow worm or badger if you’re lucky. Full details are available from the Canal and River Trust.
Heart of England Forest
The Heart of England Forest is a lovely project aiming to plant a huge, native woodland in the heart of the country. It stretches along the Worcester / Warwickshire border from South Birmingham to North Cotswolds. Along the way you’ll find rivers, rolling countryside, market towns and Arden and Feckenham forests. Six car parks serve different parts of the forest so head to the website to find your nearest one. Follow a waymarked walk from a mile and half family stroll to longer, more challenging hikes. Not all areas of the forest offer public access so it is worth finding your ideal route from the Heart of England Forest website before you visit.
Henley-in-Arden Museum and Heritage Centre
Located in the town’s High Street, the Henley in Arden Museum and Heritage Centre celebrates Henley’s history from the Norman Conquest right up to current times. The building itself boasts original architecture dating back to 1345. Look around exhibits, head to the reading room to look at the town’s document, video and audio archives and learn about a different period of history in each room. From a victorian schoolroom to a Mediaeval room and traditional kitchen, there is plenty to see. Head outside to the courtyard for a wartime display and Anderson shelter. Full information is available from the Heritage Centre. Check opening dates and times before travelling because it is not open all year round.
Jephson Gardens (Leamington Spa)
Jephson Gardens is Leamington Spa’s formal park. Sculptures and colourful flower beds attract the eye whilst the sensory garden is a feast for all the senses. A glasshouse holds fish and tropical plants and children will enjoy the play area in Mill Gardens where you’ll also find Leam Boat Centre. Watch geese and ducks on the lake or simply stroll around the sculpture collection and gardens. It’s a great place for a picnic and dogs on leads are welcome everywhere except for the play area. Full details and the history of the site are available from Warwick District Council.
Market Hall Museum (Warwick)
Warwick’s Market Hall Museum was recently refurbished to tell Warwickshire’s story. It touches on how both natural and manmade landscapes have made the county what it is. Exhibits include a stuffed bear, thought have been shot in Victorian times. There’s also a beehive, deer skeleton, tapestry map of the county, dinosaurs, historic costumes and two hoards of silver Roman coins. This eclectic collection is free to visit and at present tickets need to be booked in advance. With a shop, cafe, toilets, baby changing rooms and accessible platform lift, the museum is a lovely place to while away a few hours. Warwickshire County Council have more details including opening times and booking information.
Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery
Situated in Riversley park, the Nuneaton and Bedworth museum offers events, exhibitions and activities. Permanent exhibitions cover fine art, local history and author George Eliot. Galleries have children’s activities and there is also a tearoom and museum shop. It is free to visit, but advance booking is essential at present. Head to the Borough Council website to find out opening times and what’s on during your visit.
Pooley Country Park (Polesworth)
A third of 62 hectare Pooley Country Park is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. You are welcome to bring your dog to stroll around the landscape of the former colliery, including several pools, a canal and woodland. Head to the visitor centre first to find out what’s on during your visit and the best places to go within the park. Grab refreshments from the tearoom and let children enjoy the fun play area. Full information and opening times are available on the Warwickshire County Council website.
Recreation Ground (Stratford-Upon-Avon)
Known locally as the Rec, Stratford Recreation Ground is a large open space. It hosts activities such as the Stratford River Festival and Shakespeare Marathon. A big grass area is available for recreation and sports. Facilities include football pitches, changing rooms, a playground, paddling pool, outdoor gym, bandstand and toilets. Full details are on the Stratford District Council website.
River Avon walk (Stratford-Upon-Avon)
If you are looking for a relaxing way to pass a couple of hours in Stratford, why not take a picnic and walk along the river Avon? The walk takes in both sides of the river, as well as Avonbank Gardens and Bancroft Gardens. You could also spend some time at the brass rubbing centre that you pass on your route. Details of the walk including starting and finishing points are available from the Stratford Upon Avon website.
Roman Alcester Heritage Museum (Alcester)
The Roman Alcester free museum is full of objects from Alcester’s history as a Roman town. More than a hundred archaeological digs have taken place in the area in the past 80 years, revealing fascinating facts about the Roman town that used to be located here. At Roman Alcester museum , visitors can learn what life was like during Roman times from the 1st to 4th centuries AD. Each exhibit is labelled and has a QR code that you can scan with a smartphone to find out more about the object. The museum is fully accessible with accessible parking. Full information including opening dates and times is on the museum’s website.
Royal Pump Rooms (Leamington Spa)
The magnificent Royal Pump Rooms Spa is home to the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum. It is free to visit with regularly changing exhibitions and artwork. The main art gallery displays fine and decorative art and the display changes every two years. A family gallery called Haddie’s Gallery is aimed at children who can learn about life in Victorian times from Haddie the circus elephant. A local history gallery tells of the town’s development and a temporary exhibitions gallery hosts an array of exhibitions depicting everything from local history to modern and historic art. The museum is free to visit with regular events taking place. Head to the Royal Pump Rooms website to find out opening dates and times and what’s on.
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and the World Rugby Hall of Fame
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum offers an eclectic mix of art, history, archaeology and rugby. View fascinating art conditions, learn about the area from the archaeology collection or browse the Redding Photographic Collection. Delve into social history or head for the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Here you’ll find great moments and people from the history of the game, located in its birthplace. An interactive exhibition guides you from rugby’s humble origin’s through to the international game played by 7.73 million people worldwide. Before visiting, find out full details and check opening dates and times on the Art Gallery and Museum and World Rugby Hall of Fame websites.
Forming a five mile section of the West Midlands Cycle Route, Stratford’s Greenway is well surfaced, making it ideal for wheelchair users and cyclists as well as walkers. There is no traffic on the route, so it’s a great family cycle but there are some minor roads to cross. Full information including location and car parking is available from Warwickshire County Council.
St Nicholas Park (Warwick)
Located near to iconic Warwick Castle, St Nicholas Park has plenty to do for the whole family. There is a fee for some activities including the fun park rides and the boating centre. However, there is also lots to do for free. A playground, skate park and outdoor paddling pool will keep children amused. Take a stroll around the gardens and enjoy a picnic. A cafe also serves meals, drinks and snacks. For something a little more active, follow the Measured Mile, a route around the park that is exactly a mile long. The park has toilets and baby changing facilities and car parking is available nearby. Full information is on the St Nicholas Park website.
Southam Recreation Ground
Southam’s Recreation Ground is an outdoor venue and play area, known locally as the rec. It consists of a vast open green space in the centre of Southam with a natural amphitheatre and is often used for events. There is a good children’s play area and plenty of space for picnics and running around. Full information is available from Southam Town Council.
Sutton Cheney is a village beside the Ashby Canal. From here, you can explore the local area. Follow the Bosworth Battlefield Circular Trail and visit the place where Richard III died. It is recommended for walking (with or without a dog), cycling, fishing and canoeing. A cafe and toilets are available. Wildlife lovers can get a free copy of the nature and duck spotters guides. The Canal and River Trust have more information about Sutton Cheney.
Swift Valley Nature Reserve (Rugby)
Swift Valley Nature Reserve is managed by the Wildlife Trust and recommended for birdwatching, dog walking and getting away from it all. The 24 hectare site has a large car park and animals graze the area from April to November. Landscape includes grassland, woodland, hedgerows, wetland, the River Swift and a disused canal. There are relatively flat walking trails with some kissing gates and some surfaced pat. s. Dogs are allowed. Full information is available from the Wildlife Trust website.
Ufton Fields (Southam)
Ufton Fields is a former limestone quarry that now has pools with reeds, bullrushes and pondsedge growing beside them. A wetland habitat has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has 28 species of butterflies and 24 species of damselflies and dragonflies. There are some wheelchair and buggy accessible paths on the site but wooden kissing gates on the path entrance are prohibitive for mobility scooters. Dogs are welcome but most be kept under control. Full information is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Victoria Park (Leamington Spa)
This riverside park is ideal for families with a well equipped playground and free tennis courts. A state of the art skate park opened in 2016 and there’s plenty of space for walking, running and ball games. A paddling pool is open at certain times and a cafe serves meals, drinks and snacks. Free parking and public toilets are available and the park is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Warwick District council have full information about the park.
Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum (Rugby)
This little free museum is situated opposite Rugby School where the game of rugby first began. They have been stitching match balls by hand on the site for more than 180 years. Any rugby enthusiast will appreciate the memorabilia and the location. The museum is based on four themes. Origins, players, game and ball. Visitors can learn about the manufacturing process of the ball, how the game began due to William Webb Ellis and how the sport became what it is today. There are no staff in the museum and visitors show themselves around but sporting heritage tours are available to book. For full details and opening times, head to the museum website.
Welcombe Hills (Stratford-Upon-Avon)
Welcombe Hills Nature Reserve is a beautiful place to walk with stunning views, grassland, wild flowers, ponds and woods. Look out for woodpeckers, sparrowhawks, owls, finches and treecreepers. A tragic death in the location is thought to have inspired William Shakespeare’s writing of the death of Ophelia in Hamlet. An audio trail guides visitors around whilst telling the secrets of the nature reserve. Find the monolith, have a picnic or enjoy a peaceful walk in the woodland. Full information about the location is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Free things to do in West Midlands (county)
Allesley Park (Coventry)
Historic Allesley Park is a huge green space between housing estates. It has tarmac footpaths, a children’s play equipment and a natural play area. There are plenty of places to have a picnic and dogs are welcome. The park has public toilets and a pavilion selling cold drinks and snacks. It is accessible for wheelchair users. Full information is available from Coventry City Council.
Bantock House Museum (Wolverhampton)
Set in a 43 acre Parkland, Bantock House has been restored to the Edwardian era. Visitors can learn about Wolverhampton’s history and view exhibits revealing what life was like during Edwardian times. Admission is free to both the museum and the park surrounding it. Facilities include a cafe, toilets, baby changing, picnic areas, gardens and an outdoor play area. Full information is available from Wolverhampton Art.
Barr Beacon Local Nature Reserve (Walsall)
The important geological site at Barr Beacon lies beside a geological fault running along the Black Country. Hopwas Breccia sandstone and “Kidderminster Formation” rocks are visible around this Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Views from the summit stretch across the local area and pebbles at the foot of rock faces may contain fossils. Visitors are free to collect pebbles from the foot of the rock face but not from the rock face itself. There is a free car park at Beacon Barr but no other facilities are available. More information about the site and its history are available from the Black Country Geopark website.
Bilston Craft Gallery (Wolverhampton)
Bilston Craft Gallery’s displays tell the story of Bilston’s history. Beginning with rocks and fossils of international importance and precious minerals that allowed industry to flourish here. Exhibits include objects originating from the town’s industries from jewellery to bicycles. Learn about famous companies from the area and check out the family friendly dinosaur room to meet Barry the Baryonyx. Full information including opening times is available from Wolverhampton Arts.
Interestingly, Birmingham Cathedral was built as a parish church on 1715. The grade 1 listed building is a lovely example of English Baroque architecture. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find stunning stained glass windows and remarkable treasures telling the tale of Birmingham’s heritage. Find out more about the cathedral and when you can visit from the cathedral website.
Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary (Sutton Park)
Birmingham is one of several sites across the UK managed by The Donkey Sanctuary. Based in Sutton Park, the sanctuary is free to visit although they of course appreciate donations. Visitors can see the donkeys and learn about them from staff. Do check opening times before visiting because all sanctuaries are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Details of reopening will be on their website.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is located in a huge, landmark building in the city centre. It consists of forty galleries displaying everything from art to social history, ethnography and archaeology. Admire art masterpieces, visit the Staffordshire Hoard or check out the temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year. Full information about the museum and art gallery is on the Birmingham Museums website.
Bourne Pool and Waterside Walk (Little Aston)
Located behind WM Wheat & Son garden centre, Bourne Pool and Waterside walk is a lovely place to immerse yourself in nature. The pool was created in 1443 to power an iron mill by damming Bourne Brook. Now, a beautiful waterside walk takes in bridges, paths and pools and children will enjoy feeding the fish. Full information is available from WM Wheat & Son.
Cannon Hill Park (Moseley)
Cannon Hill Park is an indoor and outdoor space with lots going on. Whilst you need to pay for most of the activities such as fairground rides, zoo and mini golf, there are two free playgrounds and plenty of green space to enjoy. With 80 acres of formal parkland and 120 acres of woodland and conservation areas, it’s a popular place for running and dog walking. Much of the park is accessible for wheelchairs, as is the MAC building. Toilets, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are available. For full details, head to their website.
Cofton Park (Northfield)
Cofton Park is made up of 135 acres of fields and trees adjacent to the Lickey Hills. Its football pitches, woodland and open grassland attract visitors looking to get outdoors and active. Coften Plant Nursery is located within the park. Full information is available from Birmingham City Council.
Coombe Abbey Park (Coventry)
The woodland, lake and formal gardens of Coombe Abbey Park stretch across 500 acres of landscape designed by Capability Brown. It is ideal for a walk, stroll or picnic for all the family with plenty of wildlife to spot and beautiful countryside to explore. Children under 10 will enjoy the visitor centre play area, while those aged 8 to 15 can have an adventure in the climbing forest. Other activities include pond dipping, duck and swan feeding, a bird hide and an orienteering course. Toilets and a cafe are available and barbecues are not permitted anywhere in the park. Dogs are welcome and need to be kept on a lead except in designated off-lead areas. The park is free to visit but there is a charge for car parking and for some activities. Full information is available on the Coventry City Council website.
Coventry Canal Basin
Bishop Street canal basin in the centre of Coventry forms the final part of the Coventry Canal. Here you’ll find shops and boat hire, historic architecture and a great starting point for a canalside walk or cycle. Look out for the bronze statue of James Brindley, part of the Canal Art Trail. There’s a tea room to grab something to eat and it’s a short walk from here into the town centre for other amenities. Further details are available from the Canal and River Trust.
Dorridge Park and Dorridge Wood Local Nature Reserve (Sollihull)
Dorrige Park is a large open space where you can book a football pitch, enjoy a picnic or let children run around. Car parking is free and there are bus stops and train stations nearby. A walking trail, organised walks and conservation days keep visitors busy and activities often take place here. Discover wildlife and nature in the woods or head to the large playground with the children. Here you’ll find trampolines, a climbing boulder, apace nets, a variety of swings and climbing equipment. Full information including accessibility information is available from Solihull Borough Council.
Earlswood Lakes (Solihull)
Terry’s Pool, Engine Pool and Windmill Pool make up Earlswood Lakes. This is a great place for walking or bird watching. Enjoy the scenery, take a look at the historic engine house or watch sailing boats drifting by. A craft centre on site has a tearoom and toilets as well as units selling items made by local craftspeople. Full information is available from the Canal and River Trust.
A 2.8km path runs around Edgbaston Reservoir. It is a popular place for picnics in the summer and walkers and runners use the path all year round. Look out for wildlife including birds, newts and bats. Organised events allow volunteers to help rangers look after the reservoir’s wildlife. Full information is available from Birmingham City Council.
Elmdon Nature Park (Solihull)
Elmdon Nature Park is both a local nature reserve and a green flag park. A great space for families, it has wide open spaces and plenty of opportunities for relaxation and adventure. A children’s playground, outdoor gym, football pitch, tennis courts, lake and walking trails will keep you busy. Car parking is free and there are bus routes and train stations nearby. Full information is available from Solihull Borough Council.
Haden Hill House Museum and Haden Old Hall (Cradley Heath)
Haden Hill House Museum is situated in a the former home of a Victorian gentleman. Its period style furnishings offer a fascinating insight into life at the time. The museum is surrounded by beautiful, vast parkland. The house itself was built in 1878 when the parkland was inherited by George Alfred Haden Best who had grown up in the neighbouring Haden Old Hall with his aunt, uncle and sisters. Still boasting many of its original features, the museum in the house now keeps children entertained with lively events and activities. The old Hall is also a museum, furnished with victorian artefacts. However, it is merely a shell due to fire damage and only partial restoration. Full information on visiting the museum is available on Sandwell Borough Council website.
Handsworth park occupies a huge area that often hosts events. Two children’s playgrounds provide equipment for both older and younger children. A ranger service offers nature walks, conservation and other activities and toilets are available. A boating lake and leisure centre are located in the park as well as a multi-use games area and a 2km walking or running route. Full information is available from Birmingham city council.
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (Coventry)
Delve into the history, art and culture of Coventry in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. Find out about modern art, the natural world and classic paintings. Interactive displays, temporary and permanent exhibitions and even the building itself provide plenty of fascinating things to see. The museum is free to visit and often hosts talks and workshops for all ages. The museum is accessible and breastfeeding friendly. Toilets and a cafe are available. Full information and opening times are on the museum’s website.
Ikon Gallery (Birmingham)
Ikon gallery in Birmingham city centre has two floors of temporary exhibitions. It showcases work by from all over the world in a variety of formats including film, sound, mixed media, painting, sculpture and photography. Entry is free but it’s essential to book in advance. For opening times and to book head to the Ikon website.
Kings Heath Park
Kings Heath park is designed to be accessible for everyone. It is generally flat with paths and ramps are in place for access to the house and plant nursery shop. Public toilets are available in the park and it boasts two playgrounds. One for children aged 1-5 and one for 5 to 12 year olds. Lots of wildlife makes its home in the green space and family events and activities teach children about nature. A 2km path is ideal for walking or jogging. Birmingham City Council have full information about visiting.
Lapworth Museum of Geology
Lapworth Museum of Geology is a free to visit exhibition that is part of Birmingham University. Visitors can explore 3.5 billion years of life on earth by viewing objects from one of the best geological exhibitions in the UK. Interactive exhibits stand alongside fossils and state of the art galleries to bring the museum to life. Learn about everything from fossils and rocks to earthquakes, volcanoes and dinosaurs. Full information about visiting and what’s on is available from the museum website.
Leasowes Park (Dudley)
The landscape in the Leasowes is grade 1 listed by English Heritage. It is thought to have been one of the first natural landscape gardens in England, having been designed by William Shenstone from 1743 to 1763. This historically important landscape boasts open grasslands, wooded valleys, lakes and streams. Having been managed with wildlife in mind for hundreds of years, it is an important habitat for plants, animals and birds. Full information on visiting is available from Dudley Borough Council.
Library of Birmingham
Birmingham’s striking city centre library is a tourist destination in itself. It showcases photography, archives and rare books and boasts a modern gallery space allowing public access to its collections. Its BFI Mediatheque space allows people to view the National Film Archive. A studio theatre, informal performance areas, outdoor amphitheatre, dedicated children’s and teenagers’ spaces make it the most visited tourist attraction outside of London. Full information on visiting is available from Birmingham City Council.
Lickey Hills Country Park (Rednal)
The Lickey Hills cover an area of 524 acres to the south of Birmingham. It’s a great place for a family day out, picnic, walk, kite flying and wildlife spotting. Its geology and animal habitats are fascinating and encourage diverse wildlife. Off road paths are available for walking, cycling and horse riding. For children, there’s an adventure playground and a Tri-golf course. A free table tennis table near the visitor centre is a popular way to pass the time and rounders equipment is available to borrow. The visitor centre has lots of ideas of things to do and there’s also a cafe, gift shop and indoor and outdoor seating there. Toilets including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are available. Birmingham City council have more information about visiting.
Lightwoods Park (Bearwood)
Lightwoods Park and house offers lots for families to explore including a skate park and children’s play area. Inside the house there is a tea room and community room. Outside you will find paths to stroll around, drinking fountains, a 19th century bandstand and formal gardens. Full information is available from their website.
Malvern and Brueton Park (Solihull)
Solihull’s Malvern and Brueton Parks merge into one large park in the heart of Solihull. With free car parking and plenty to do, it is a great place to take a picnic and enjoy a completely free day out. Look out for the Brueton Tree Trail, local nature reserve, woodlands, ornamental gardens, lake, cafe, pond, sensory garden, walking trails and tennis courts. A modern children’s playground is full of up to date equipment including trampolines, swings and climbing zones. A visitor managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has plenty of information on what to do in the area as well as a tea shop, toilets and adventure play area. For full information including visitor centre opening times, head to the Solihull Borough Council website.
Mary Stevens Park (Stourbridge)
Alongside the facilities at Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge, regular community events and wildlife, heritage and fitness activities take place there. Look out for the outdoor gym, play area and water feature. Tennis courts and a multi use games area are great for getting active. Children will enjoy feeding the ducks with food from the activity centre and cafe and free parking is available. Full information including opening times is on the Dudley Borough Council website.
Millison’s Wood Local Nature Reserve (Meriden)
Head for Millison’s Wood local nature reserve to see mature woodland with abundant wildlife including rare birds and butterflies. A well signposted walking trail is a lovely way to explore the area. Full information is available from Solihull Borough Council.
Moseley Bog (Moseley)
It’s not often you get the opportunity to visit a bog. It’s one of those landscapes that is very difficult to navigate without ending up caked in mud. Fortunately though, Moseley Bog on an old millpond site is well equipped for visitors. Both wet and dry woodland and fen vegetation are on the bog site itself, with more woodland to explore in adjoining Joy’s Wood. Parking is available both onsite and nearby, dogs on a lead are welcome and visitors can follow walking trails throughout the reserve. Many of the routes are wheelchair accessible. Full information is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Netherton Park (Dudley)
Netherton park’s grassy areas are popular for impromptu team sports while sunny and shady spots make ideal picnic areas. Well managed paths are great for walking and running. The park also boasts a children’s playground, floodlit multi sports area, outdoor gym, football pitches, wildlife areas and links to walking routes along the canal. For more information, head to the Dudley Borough Council website.
The New Art Gallery (Walsall)
The free to visit New Art Gallery in Walsall boasts a collection of modern, historic and contemporary art. They aim to increase enjoyment and understanding of arts using dynamic exhibitions as well as events and education. The third and fourth floors focus on visual contemporary arts, while the first and second floors host more traditional art collections. They regularly have artists in residence in their studio and there’s also an art library, family gallery and Costa cafe to visit. Head to their website for opening times and events.
New Hall Valley Country Park (Sutton Coldfield)
New Hall Valley consists of former farmland. Its 198 acres of countryside is nature reserve including wetland meadows, listed buildings and Plants Brook stream. There is no children’s playground on the site itself, but children will enjoy the parks near to the Elm Road and Meadow Close entrances. Take a picnic and look out for heron, dragonflies, kingfishers and voles near the brook. There are walking and cycling routes and an outdoor gym. A 2km path is ideal for running as well so it is a great place to get active outside. Further information is available from Birmingham City Council.
Northycote Farm and Country Park (Wolverhampton)
Northycote Farm and Country park offers a breath of fresh air just 10 minutes drive from the centre of Wolverhampton. 90 acres of fields, woodland, meadows and Berry Brook make it a lovely place to explore. Visitors can see the animals too. Pigs, chickens and sheep. Tearooms area available from Tuesday to Sunday with indoor and outdoor seating and hot and cold breakfasts, lunches, drinks and snacks. It’s a great place for a picnic too and events taking place throughout the year are listed on the Northycote Farm website.
Oak House Museum (West Bromwich)
Oak House Museum is based in a historic building built in around 1620. Learn about the family who lived in it, how the house got its name and what life was like in the 17th Century as you look around the traditionally furnished house. The museum is free to visit with a programme of regular activities for all ages. Outside is a children’s playground and grounds to explore. The first floor of the house is not accessible for wheelchairs although the upstairs of the visitor centre is accessible. Dogs are not allowed other than assistance dogs. Full information is on the Oak House Museum website.
Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve (Wolverhampton)
Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is a 60 acre area of countryside where wildlife habitat is more important than anything else. Wander through ancient woodland and meadows with a river, pools and the remains of an old mill. Check out the ancient yew tree, thought tore 2000 years old. Look out for rare bats, badgers birds and plants. A car park, toilets and walking paths are available. Full details and opening times are available from Wolverhampton Parks website.
Priory Park (Dudley)
Just five minutes walk from Dudley town centre, Priory park has plenty to keep families entertained. A community cafe and public toilets serve visitors to the tennis and basketball courts, multi sports area, cricket practice zone, five aside football pitch, pond, children’s play areas and well managed walking paths. Explore historic ruins, have a picnic in the seating area or stroll around the woods. The majority of the park is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs with tarmac paths and paved areas. Full information is available from Dudley Borough Council.
Sandwell Valley Country Park
Sandwell Valley RSPB reserve is free to visit but donations are welcome and parking costs £3. The site boasts a visitor centre, toilets, picnic area, nature trails and a children’s play area. Refreshments are available to buy. Look out for unusual ducks and other birds that make this urban green space their home. Make a den, enjoy a natural play trail and den building area, look for secret paths or play in a mud kitchen. Regular events take place here and details of those as well as opening times and things to do and see are provided by the RSPB.
Sheldon Country Park (Birmingham)
Sheldon Country Park and Old Rectory Farm are free to visit. The parkland covers more than 300 acres with wetlands, grassland and woodland. Broad paths have been put in place to improve accessibility including a nature trail from the main carpark that has a hard surface. A children’s playground and toilets are available. Why not have a picnic in the airport viewing area? Have a look around the traditionally managed farm and see their animals including ponies, goats, cows, pigs and birds. Three football pitches are available as well as a 5km walking or running route. Full information on the location and activities are provided by Birmingham City Council.
Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve (Wolverhampton)
Smestow Valley boasts walking and cycling paths, picnic benches and car parking. Refreshments from the Station Cafe, an Edwardian railway station cafe popular for its tea and cake. A former railway track offers a flat cycling route or you can walk alongside the canal and watch the boats go by. Look out for birds and wildlife and explore the woodland, meadows and Smestow brook. Further details are available from Wolverhampton Parks website.
Saltwells Local Nature Reserve (Dudley)
Saltwells Local Nature Reserve was planted by Lady Dudley in the 18th century to hide the impact of coal mining from the landscape. Its 247 acres now represents one of the biggest urban nature reserves in the UK. Check out the 16 species of Dragonfly in Daphne Pool, explore bluebell woodlands and old clay pits full of orchids. Climb a hill or check out geological sites of special scientific interest exposed by coal mining. Full details are available from Dudley Borough Council.
Shirley Park is a community space full of equipment including a modern play area, rugby and football pitches, outdoor gym, skate park, tennis courts, formal walkways, ornamental gardens and a dog agility area. Full details including opening hours and car parking information are available from Solihull Borough Council.
Sutton Park (Sutton Coldfield)
Sutton Park is a 2400 acre national nature reserve just six miles from the city centre. Its vast heathland, woodlands, marshes and wetland offer a wide variety of habitat for wildlife. Wild ponies and cattle can be seen in the reserve and a donkey sanctuary is located within the park as well. A visitor centre, toilets, a gift shop and car parking are available. Two children’s playgrounds are located in the park, as well as several restaurants. Visitors can take part in walking, cycling horse riding and running with paths and bridleways including a 5km walking track. Full information on Sutton Park is available from Birmingham City Council.
A 15 minute walk from Walsall train station, Walsall Arboretum boasts a boating lake, tennis courts, lakeside cafe, open playing fields and a children’s playground complete with splash pad. It’s ideal for sport and activity with plenty of space and well managed paths for walking as well as formal gardens. Further information and directions area available from the Visit Birmingham website.
War Memorial Park (Coventry)
Coventry’s War Memorial Park opened in 1921 as a tribute to soldiers from the area who lost their lives in the First World War. These days, along with commemorative memorial plaques, the park offers of sports facilities, an outdoor fitness trail and a water feature for children to play in. A cafe, toilets and car parks are all available here as well as children’s play areas and a multi-use games area. Sports pitches need to be booked and there is a fee to use them. Full information on visiting the park is available from Coventry City Council.
Ward End Park (Birmingham)
The 54 acres of Ward End Park have bene open to the public since 1904. These days there are two children’s playgrounds, a lake, basket ball and tennis courts and plenty of space for walking, running and picnics. For more information on the park and Ward End Park House, head to the Birmingham City Council website.
Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery
A Victorian, purpose built museum is home to the Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery. Permanent collections include a nostalgia room with everyday objets that date back to the 1960s and 70s, fine art, old toys and Ruskin pottery. Temporary activities and exhibitions also take place throughout the year, with additional events during school holidays. The museum is free to visit and has a platform lift for access to the first floor. Sandwell Borough Council provide full details and opening times.
West Park (Wolverhampton)
Wolverhampton’s West Park was established as a municipal park during Victorian times. It is considered one of the most unspoilt examples of a Victorian park in England. Around 43 acres in size, it boasts a lake, landscaped green area, tennis courts, a children’s play area, tearooms, picnic spaces and a heated Victorian Conservatory. Full details, events and opening hours are available from Wolverhampton City Council.
Willenhall Memorial Park
Established in the 1920s, Willenhall Memorial Park is a tribute to those from the area who died during the First World War. Facilities include a children’s play area with wheelchair friendly roundabout, multi sports area, skate park, splash pads, outdoor gym and a cafe. Wide, tarmac paths make the park accessible and there are also free tennis courts although you need to book those in advance. Further information on the park and how to get there is available from Walsall Council website.
Woodgate Valley Country Park (Bartley Green)
The vast area of countryside in Woodgate Valley Country Park incorporates meadows, hedgerows, woodlands and ponds. Bournbrook runs through the park. A visitor’s centre, children’s playground and cafe make great pitstops if you are exploring one of the park’s many walking routes. The Woodgate Valley Urban farm within the country park has an entrance fee of £1 per adult and children are free. Further information about the park including opening times and its history are available from Birmingham City Council.
Free things to do in Worcestershire
Abbey Park (Evesham)
Evesham’s Abbey Park is open daily with parking available in a multi-story car park. Its open grass areas, children’s play area and water fountains make it an ideal place for a family day out and a picnic. A skate park will keep children entertained while the lily pond, trees, shrubs and access to the river make a lovely backdrop for a walk. Details are available from Wychavon District Council.
Abbey Park (Pershore)
Like its namesake in Evesham, Pershore’s Abbey Park boasts plenty of green space and a children’s play area and splash pad. Admire views of the historic Abbey and look out for the tree sculpture. Wetland habitat can be visited using the boardwalk to avoid getting wet and muddy. Worcestershire Vale and Spa website has further details.
Arrow Valley Country Park (Redditch)
Arrow Valley Country Park is a huge area of open space with plenty of things to do. The River Arrow runs through its 2.5 square miles of countryside and Arrow Valley Lake offers another water feature and additional wildlife habitat. Arrow Valley Visitor Centre is situated at the lakeside where there is a cafe and toilets. Follow a family art trail, explore way marked walking trails or follow the permanent orienteering course. Further details are available from Redditch Borough Council.
Bewdley Museum takes visitors back in time to explore the area’s Georgian heritage. Enjoy craft demonstrations, hands on activities, tactile displays, artefacts and a sensory herb garden. Other attractions include a cafe, bar and craft studios. From here, you can also access the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Gardens with its ornamental fish ponds. Dogs on leads are welcome. Further information is available on the museum website.
Blossom Trail (Evesham)
Evesham’s blossom trail is a 45 mile long signposted route, best enjoyed in spring to appreciate the colourful blossoms of apple, cherry, pear and plum trees. The flowers usually bloom from March to May. Full information on the route and its history is available from the Visit Evesham website.
Bredon Hill (Pershore)
Looming impressively over the local landscape Bredon Hill is steeped in history. It once hosted an Iron Age hill fort dating back to before the 1st century AD. A hoard of roman coins was found here in 2011 and earthworks of a medieval castle can still be seen. At the top of the hill is a small building called Parsons Folley. Visitors can also see prehistoric megaliths, follow well defined walking trails and enjoy a picnic at nearby Elmley Castle. For further information including how to get there head to the Discover Worcestershire website.
Brinton Park (Kidderminster)
Kidderminster’s Brinton Park is a popular open space. A children’s play area and splash pad entertain little ones, while older children may prefer to visit the skatepark. Tennis courts, toilets, a sensory garden and a pop-up cafe are also available in the park. For full details, head to the Brinton Park website.
Broadway Activity Park
Broadway’s activity park is great fun for children of all ages. The three acre recreation site was transformed to contain four separate play areas. Each is targeted at a different age bracket with appropriate play equipment. Between the four areas is open grass and the site also boasts a picnic area. Broadway itself is a lovely village to stroll around with lots of cafes, restaurants and small shops. Further information on the play area and the village itself is available from the Broadway website.
Clent Hills (Romsley)
The Clent Hills is a National Trust managed area that is free to visit. Parking costs £3 per day for non-members and is free for members. A cafe and toilets are available on site. The area is popular with walkers and mountain bikers. Dogs are welcome and must be on leads around livestock, on the easy access path and in the car park. Several suggested walking routes and further information about the area are on the National Trust website.
Cob House (Wichenford)
A fisheries may seem like an odd place to visit with children but these days, Cob House does much than fulfil its original purpose. A small play area for children sits beside the large Mayfly cafe. Visitors can also visit and feed the reindeer, alpacas, goats and chickens on site and take a stroll around the lake. The Mayfly cafe is dog friendly but dogs are not allowed onto the fisheries. Cob House is free to visit although paid activities do take place here. They do not allow picnics because revenue from the cafe allows them to keep visiting free. Further details and events information is on the Cob House website.
Cripplegate Park (Worcester)
Worcester’s Cripplegate Park is set just outside the town centre, opposite Worcester Cricket Club. A children’s play area, picnic area, climbing frame, zip wire and assault course are all free to use. Toilets are available in the park and lots of cafes and restaurants can be found nearby. Further information including parking and a map of the park are available from Worcester City Council.
Droitwich Spa Heritage and Information Centre
The Droitwich Heritage Museum offers a fascinating insight into the area’s history. The tourist information centre is in the same building and they can direct visitors to other things to do in the area. The museum itself contains the Salt Museum, telling the story of the town’s salt making industry. The Droitwich Calling exhibition informs visitors of the history of the BBC transmitting station in the area whose masts can still be seen on the skyline although it closed in 1989. Visitors can also learn about the history of the town’s lido, delve into archives relating to Droitwich people and history and view temporary displays and exhibitions. Full details and visiting information are on the museum website.
Elgar Route (around Worcestershire)
Worcestershire is well known for its connections with Edward Elgar. The Elgar route takes in his favourite places as well as his former homes and his grave. The route is free to follow but there is a charge for entry to the Elgar Birthplace Museum at the Firs unless you are a National Trust member. The full route is detailed on the Visit The Malvern website.
Fort Royal Park (Worcester)
Historians will find Fort Royal Park’s location fascinating because it is situated on the site of the Battle of Worcester, the last battle of the English Civil War that took place in 1651. Regarded as the birthplace of democracy, the site was visited by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the USA. These days, a well equipped children’s playground can be found on the site. Modern play equipment for all ages is themed around the site’s civil war history. From here, visitors can use a QR reader on a smartphone to follow the Fort Royal Memory trail and learn about the history of the area. Pay and display car parks are available nearby and full information can be found on the Worcester City Council website.
George Marshall Medical Museum (Worcester)
Within the Charge Hastings Education centre for healthcare staff is the free George Marshall Medical Museum. Here, you’ll find exhibits from George Marshall’s collection of medical objects. The museum illustrates the development of medicine over the last 250 years and visitors can see everything from criminal death masks to a Victorian operating theatre and traditional apothecary shop. Details and opening times are available from Worcester Medical Museums.
Gheluvelt Park (Worcester)
Worcester’s Gheluvelt park is popular with families, particularly during the summer months when the splash pad is open. Free parking is available and most of the park’s paths are well surfaced and accessible for wheelchairs. Other facilities include separate play areas for older and younger children along with toilets and a cafe. Two table tennis tables within the park are free to use but visitors will need to bring their own equipment. Further information is available from Worcester City Council.
Great Malvern Priory
Dating back to 1085 when it was built as a monastery, Malvern Priory is a welcoming, accessible place to visit with toilet facilities available. It is also dog friendly. A small shop in the priory sells gifts, cards and books. Visitors can admire the beautiful building and visit Annie Darwin’s grave. Children are welcome and a small children’s area often has activities such as colouring available. There are numerous cafes and restaurants nearby and it is a great starting point for walks around the area including the Malvern Hills. Find out more on the Malvern Priory website.
Great Witley Church
Located next to Witley Court, Great Witley Church is elaborately decorated church with gilded decorations Antonio Bellucci ceilig paintings, Joshua Price painted glass windows and a Michael Rysbrack monument. The vaults in the crypt are open to the public as well as the church itself. The popular church garden tea rooms offer hot and cold drinks and food. Further information is available on the Great Witley Church website.
Hartlebury Common (Stourport)
Hartlebury Common just outside Stourport is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its lowland heath landscape. It is also one of the most important nature reserves in the area. Visitors can park at the common and use the picnic area. Several walking paths and a viewpoint area available and there is a pub called the Old Rose & Crown adjacent to the common where food is served. As well as the heathland, landscape includes a bog, woodland and a pool. Look out for wildlife on your walk, children will enjoy a spotter sheet detailing plants, animals and birds available from the Hartlebury Common website.
The Hive (Worcester)
Worcester’s huge library at The Hive is an imposing and unusual building. On the lower ground floor, you’ll find study areas, gaming stations and comfortable chairs to relax in. On the ground floor is the children’s library and Story Island outside teaching area. A cafe and the Studio theatre are also on this level. Above that, you’ll find the archaeology service and archives. Level 3 is the main public library with a silent study area on level 4. Further information on the building and events held here are available from The Hive.
Infirmary Museum (Worcester)
The interactive Infirmary Museum is located at Worcester University’s city campus. It tells medical stories from the Worcester Royal Infirmary that was on the site from 1771 to 2002 through a combination of science, history, technology and art. Visitors can meet characters from different eras, learn about medical technology and challenge their ideas of mental health. A cafe, toilets and baby changing areas are all available in the building. Further details and opening times are available from the Medical Museums website.
Kingsford Forest Park (Wolverley)
Kingsford Country Park and Kinver Edge are on the Worcestershire / Staffordshire border and comprise more than 200 acres of woodland and sandstone cliffs. Walking trails around the area offer beautiful countryside views. Down in the valley, you can see caves carved into the rock where people once lived. To see restored rock houses, head to National Trust Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses. However, whilst Kingsford Country Park is free to visit, there is a charge for visiting the Rock Houses unless you are a National Trust member. Four circular walking trails of various distances are available to explore around Kingsford Country Park. For more information, head to the Discover Worcestershire website.
Knapp and Papermill Nature Reserve (Alfrick)
The Knapp and Papermill nature reserve near Alfrick is a beautiful, Wildlife Trust managed area of countryside. Walking trails around the reserve can be muddy and slippery. Beautiful Leigh brook runs through the reserve and visitors often spot kingfishers. Other wildlife to look out for includes adders, dragonflies, damselflies and even otters. Parking at the reserve is extremely limited so it is advisable to get there early and avoid busy times. Further details are available from the Wildlife Trust.
Malvern Hills (Malvern)
Ten miles end to end, the Malvern Hills offer beautiful walks and stunning views from the top. There are well maintained and tarmac parts in some places but it goes without saying that they are all hilly. The hills are popular with walkers, climbers and mountain bikers. Signposted mountain bike trails aim to keep cyclists to designated paths to keep both them and pedestrians safe. Further information on visiting the Malvern Hills is available from the Malvern Hills Trust website. I also have a selection of suggested walks on the Malvern Hills.
Malvern Hills Geocentre (Upper Colwall)
The Malvern Hills Geocentre offers visitor information for the whole of the Geopark Way. The official visitor centre is within cafe H2O at the centre. See fossils from the hills and huge maps of the area on the walls. Ipads within the cafe offer a wealth of information to visitors. The cafe also serves a selection of light lunches and refreshments. Further information is available on the Geocentre website. As well as the Geocentre cafe, Sally’s Place kiosk at the foot of the British Camp is popular for its hot food at breakfast and lunchtime along with drinks, snacks and excellent cake.
Middle Littleton Tithe Barn
One of the best preserved tithe barns in the UK, Middle Littleton Tythe Barn is a National Trust managed, grade 1 listed building that is free to visit. Built in the 13th or 14th century, the barn would have been used to store tithes and rents. This was a tenth of each farm’s produce and it was given to the church. There are no facilities on site, but visitors can buy refreshments from the Fleece Inn, a nearby National Trust owned pub. Check the National Trust website for opening times and further information.
Morton Stanely Park (Redditch)
Morton Stanley Park offers a selection of walks with beautiful views and plenty to keep the children entertained. Well equipped play areas, zip wires and grass football pitches are ideal for getting children outdoors and active. Dogs are welcome and will need to be kept on leads in some, clearly marked areas. Further information is available from Redditch Borough Council.
Pepper Wood (Bromsgrove)
Pepper Wood is an important Woodland Trust area of community woodland that is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Visitors can explore a network of signposted trails. A surfaced, mainly flat bridleway runs through the wood that is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. The site has a small car park with space for six vehicles. No toilets are available on site. Look out for a variety of wildlife including fallow deer. Further information is available from the Woodland Trust.
Pershore Abbey was originally the site of a Mediaeval Benedictine Monastery. Visitors will see a fine example of Early English and Normal architecture. The nave was destroyed by Henry VIII in the 1600s. The Abbey is free to visit although they do ask for donations to help with the building’s upkeep. Full details and opening ours are on the Abbey website.
Priory Park (Malvern)
Malvern’s Priory Park was once the garden of Priory Mansion, now the local council building. The park itself is beautiful with trees, streams and a pond with a beautiful bridge across it. A bandstand in the middle of the park hosts concerts on Sunday afternoons during the summer. A small children’s playground is great for little ones with climbing equipment, a slide and other play equipment. The park is right behind Malvern Theatres which has a small cafe. It is also a short walk into town. Paths within the park are wide and well surfaced. Further information is available from the Visit the Malverns website.
Route to the Hills (Malvern)
If you’re in the mood for an uphill walk, start at historic Great Malvern Railway Station and follow the Route to the Hills. The route takes you through Priory Park and up into the town centre before you carry on heading upwards into the beautiful Malvern Hills. Learn about Malvern’s history including its Victorian Water Cure, links to Edward Elgar and why Malvern is thought to be the real Narnia. Visitors can collect a free guide book from Malvern’s Tourist Information Centre or Museum of Local History. Find out more about the route from the Visit the Malverns website.
Sanders Park (Bromsgrove)
Sanders Park is an important open space in Bromsgrove. Facilities include a skate park, multi sports areas, a modern children’s play area, sensory garden, cafe and toilets including accessible facilities. A brook runs through the park in a valley and visitors can start here for three local walks of various distances. Further information is available from Bromsgrove’s local government website.
Stourport’s basin was once a busy inland port here the River Severn meets the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. These days, the basins have been restored and offer to tell the secrets of their history to visitors. It is ideal for walking and canoeing and there are pubs nearby serving food as well as a steamer company running boat trips. Whilst visiting the basin is free, there is a fee for boat trips and for using the Treasure Island Fairground. Look out for bats at dusk and you may even be lucky enough to spot an otter. More commonly, visitors see moorhens, ducks and swans. Further information on visiting is available from the Canal and River Trust.
Tardebigge Locks (Tardebigge to Stoke Prior)
With a total of 30 locks, Tardebigge is the longest lock flight in the country. Start on the towpath by Tardebigge Wharf and see a tug called “the Birmingham”, built in 1912. It was originally designed to pull horse drawn boats through tunnels on the cannel. From here, you’ll continue along the route and see the Tardebigge Flight that allows boats to ascend or descend 220 feet. Further information on the route is available from the Canal and River Trust.
Tiddesley Wood Nature Reserve
Tiddesley Wood nature reserve offers a woodland environment ideal for walking. The former deer park provides a habitat for many species of animals, birds and insects. A car park is available and dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads due to sheep grazing. The woodland is open daily from dawn to dusk and a 2km long stony path leads from the car park into the wood. Away from this main track, paths may be muddy. Further information is available from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.
Trimpley Reservoir (Bewdley)
Popular with wildlife watchers, bird spotters and walkers, Trimpley Reservoir is an enjoyable, free day out. Car parking is available and dogs are welcome but there are no toilets. The site is hilly and may not be ideal for wheelchairs. Fishing and sailing are both paid activities that take place at Trimpley, but the site itself is free and visitors can bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the peace and quiet. Further information is available from Severn Trent Water.
Tudor House Museum (Worcester)
Tudor House Museum is based in one of the city’s oldest streets. It is free to visit and located in a Timber framed building with its original embossed ceiling. It tells the “Lost story” of Worcester’s weaving and cloth making. Embroiderers have created a pelmet to go on the Tudor bed in the museum and will be making curtains and a counterpane to go with it. The museum also houses the Changing Face of Worcester project, archiving and digitising photos and slides originally owned by two brothers who put on slide shows for local residents. Further information about visiting the museum is on the Tudor House website.
Upton Ham Nature Reserve (Upton Upon Severn)
As a riverside town, Upton Upon Severn’s floodplain is both beautiful and necessary. Known as The Ham, the 60 acre flood plain is one of the UK’s oldest Lammas meadows. No pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers are used on it and it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Lammas meadows offer an insight into the past as strips of the land are allotted to people to take the hay and grazing is shared. Enjoy a stroll across the meadow to the River Severn where you can follow the riverside path. Further information on the Ham is available from the Visit the Malverns website.
Upton Upon Severn Heritage Centre
If you are visiting Upton Upon Severn, its iconic landmark, the Pepperpot is a good place to start. Inside you’ll find Upton’s Heritage Centre with displays providing an insight into the town’s history. The building itself used to be a church before it was declared too small in the 1879 and another church was built elsewhere in the town. The nave was dismantled in the 1930s and the former churchyard turned into a garden. In 1953, the pepperpot was declared to be an ancient monument. Further information about the heritage centre is available from Upton Upon Severn’s information website.
Victoria Park (Malvern)
Malvern’s Victoria Park is a popular local attraction with lots of facilities to get people active. A well equipped children’s playground, skate ramps, tennis courts and football pitches are all free to use. There is a cafe on site for refreshments and it is a short walk from Malvern Link. Further information is available from the Visit the Malverns website.
Waseley Hills Country Park (Rubery)
Waseley Hills Country Park is an ideal place for dog walking, cycling, kite flying and picnics. Walk up a big hill for panoramic views of the area or visit the Windmill Cafe for hot and cold drinks, meals, snacks and doggy ice cream. A children’s play area and orienteering course are available for visitors and a visitor centre offers information about the area. Two signposted trails offer walking routes of different distances. Toilets and car parking are available and parking charges go to the upkeep of the country park. Further information is available from Worcestershire County Council.
Worcester Cathedral encourages visitors and often has events taking place. Of particular note is its display of Christmas trees each year. A shop and cafe on site plus interactive touch screens to learn about the building’s history make it an interesting place to visit. A cathedral was first built on the site in 680 and it became one of the country’s most important monastic cathedrals in Anglo-Saxon times. These days, there are fun activities for children to keep them amused while looking around and the cathedral makes a good starting point for exploring the city or for a stroll along the River Severn. Further information including opening times is on the cathedral’s website.
Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum (Worcester)
Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum is located in a Victorian building and hosts various exhibitions, activities and events. Entry is free and visitors can check out the dinosaur footprints, history of Worcestershire sauce, a Roman mosaic and an authentic totem pole. Interactive galleries tell the takeoff the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavlry and the Worcestershire Regiment. There is even a Victorian Chemist shop. Contemporary art exhibitions, a historic picture collection and exhibits gathered from across the world make the Museum and Art Gallery a fascinating day out. An on site cafe tempts visitors with light meals, drinks and impressive cakes. For further information , head to the Worcestershire museums website.
The beautiful Worcestershire woods is a favourite place with locals. Not least because adjacent to the wood are two large children’s play areas, a huge field and a decent cafe with toilet facilities. Parking is available for cars and bicycles. A route circular walk around the woodland is ideal for children to burn off some energy and dogs are welcome. Head to the Worcestershire County Council website for further information.
The Forestry England managed Wyre Forest offers a host of activities, some free and some paid for. It is an ideal place for a day out with three walking trails and a family cycle trail, children’s play area and cafe. Dogs are welcome in theorist and the cafe and there is even a dog wash. Paid activities include Go Ape and Nordic Walking. Car parking is available. For further information, head to Forestry England.