Commonly called England’s second city (although Manchester likes to dispute that), the metropolitan hub of the Midlands has transformed from a gloomy industrial landscape to a welcoming, vibrant city with a thriving nightlife scene, excellent restaurants and trendy boutique hotels . The surrounding area is full of places to go and things to see and do – here are a few of our favourites.
Back To Backs
The National Trust doesn’t just run stately homes – you can also visit a number of more humble dwellings. Back to back houses were once common, although many have now been demolished. However, you can now visit the only remaining such houses in Birmingham, which will give you an insight into how working people lived in the 19th century. Visits are led by a guide, so you can learn a lot about the lives of people like your ancestors. You can find more information here.
How many BBC shows do you and your kids watch? Visiting BBC Birmingham is a must when you’re in the city, so that you can see how the shows you watch are made. There’s a lot of work that goes into producing a show, and you’ll learn how ideas make it to the screen. And if you’ve always thought that presenting programmes must be easy, you can try your hand at reading the news. Doctor Who fans will jump at the chance to have their picture taken with the Tardis.
If you’re a fan of quirky and unusual museums, then the Pen Museum is a must. Pens were a significant industry in the city’s past, and this little museum was actually once a pen factory. You can try writing with quills and other implements or even make your own pen nib. And if you’re local, you might enjoy taking one of their calligraphy classes. In a time when we’re far more used to typing than writing, take this chance to rediscover the past and experience how we used to communicate
Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve
There are plenty of green spaces in the city and its vicinity, so you can head off for some fresh air and exercise (when weather permits!). Babbs Mill offers plenty of room for the kids to let off steam, with sporting facilities, a play area, and even a skate park. Being a nature reserve, it’s a great place to teach your kids about wildlife and nature. Why not see how many species you can spot? There are also walking trails. Visit at dusk, and you might spot bats or owls.
Thinktank Science Museum
Kids (and big kids) love interactive museums where you can touch the exhibits and try things out. This science museum will be right up your street if you hate museums that put everything behind glass. It’s a fantastic way for your kids to learn about science and astronomy (you can also watch shows in the Planetarium). You’ll find plenty of talks and activities included in the price of admission – be sure to book in advance if your kids are interested in these.