Even though there is so much to see and do in the Midlands of England, the region is often overlooked by tourists. Visitors usually go from the cosmopolitan South over motorways across to the North without even coming through to the area that gave birth to Shakespeare, the Industrial Revolution and the greatest batch of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. Even if you’re no history buff and literature doesn’t excite you, there’s still much to do. Looking for places to explore and have a little fun? Here are the best things to do in the Midlands of England.
Shopping in Birmingham
The Bullring markets make up a small part of the retail heaven that is in the UK’s second largest city. Most of the city center is covered with several huge, multi-leveled modern malls. Indian brides from all over the UK and Europe make their way to Birmingham to purchase sari fabrics and wedding accessories in The Rag Market. Just a few blocks away is The Mailbox, which got its name because it was once a Post Office designed to look like a typical British mailbox. The Mailbox is the center for luxury fashion. A few miles away, in the Jewellery Quarter, you will find gems and precious metals custom designed. You can also catch the work of up and coming jewelry designers at hundreds of jewelry shops and jewelry-related businesses. Anyone who loves to shop will be in heaven visiting Birmingham.
Visit Princess Diana’s childhood home
Althorp, Princess Diana’s childhood home and final resting place, is open to the public during certain times of the year. You can find specific dates on the Althorp website. The house has been the home of the Spencer family for over 500 years and its collections are amazing. There are 650 portraits, probably the finest portrait collection in all of Europe, including a room full of family portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was a family friend. Visitors enter Althorp through what was known as The Wootton Hall. It is named for the artist John Wootton who painted the country scenes that cover the walls of the room. As you approach the home, you may notice several sheep munching happily on the lawns and fields. They are not decorative, and at one time, Althorp was home to a flock of 19,000 sheep.
Try your luck at Broadway Casino
There is always a poker tournament going on at Broadway Casino, Birmingham’s leading independent casino. In addition to a wonderful gaming floor and one of the leading poker rooms in the U.K., they also have a beautiful restaurant serving up delicious dishes. Also on site is a stylish bar and lounge area, The Manhattan, where guests can enjoy drinks while they relax. The bar can get extremely crowded at times, as this is a very popular place. If this isn’t your scene, you can always skip the crowd and enjoy the same casino games from your computer or phone at Zyngapoker.com or Pokerstarscasino.com. Whatever you choose, the Broadway is definitely worth visiting, as they are more than just a casino.
Climb up to Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln, in the East Midlands, is at the very top of the town and the pedestrian street that leads to it is so steep it’s actually called Steep Hill. It is so steep that most of the street is lined with railings so that pedestrians can cling on and get to the top. However, if you don’t want to make your way from Lincoln’s retail district and waterfront without hiking up the hill, there is also a bus. Lincoln has an extremely well preserved Medieval Quarter as well as some interesting Roman remains. The Cathedral, one of the earliest specimens of the English style known as Perpendicular Gothic, was, until the mid 16th century, the only man made structure in the world that was taller than the Pyramids. After you visit the Cathedral, you can find your way down through the Cathedral Quarter to the ruins of the Medieval Bishop’s Palace. It’s said to be haunted and is definitely creepy to visit during dark.
Hunt for Robin Hood’s lair in Sherwood Forest
The Major Oak, which is between 800 and 1,000 years old, was said to be Robin Hood’s hiding place and the shelter where he and his band of Merry Men slept, hidden from sight and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. At the Sherwood Forest Visitor Center, you can find out the best ways to explore this ancient woodland. There is plenty of information about walks, wildlife and legends that you’re able to explore. An important feature of this forest is the number of truly ancient oak trees here. There are at least 1,000 that are thought to be at least 500 years old. If you’re particularly fond of the English folklore, you will really appreciate this attraction.