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One of the UK’s most visited towns, Stratford upon Avon enjoys a strategic location on the northern edge of the Cotswolds, and the lovely countryside surrounding Shakespeare’s birthplace makes an ideal location for a Cotswolds cottage holiday. The town itself is bursting with history and attractions worthy of a weekend break, and with charming Cotswolds villages, such as Broadway, Moreton in Marsh and Chipping Campden and the historic city of Warwick close by, there is plenty to do and see in the area. Stratford itself can get extremely busy during summer weekends, but off-season is a great time to visit.
The main draw, of course, is the Shakespeare connection, and most visitors start with a tour of the birthplace of England’s greatest playwright and dramatist, and of the other historic buildings associated with him. As well as Shakespeare’s home, visit the residence belonging to Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and the home of his mother. New Place is a fine retirement home bought by the Bard on his return from London, which features a lovely Elizabethan knot garden, while those holidaying with children will enjoy the collection of rare animal breeds at Mary Arden’s House. Another sixteenth century property worth visiting is Harvard House, an intricately carved house once home to the founder of Harvard University.
Other places to see include the Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried, and Hall’s Croft. Attractions in the town include Shakesperience, a high-tech, virtual reality fun study of the life and times of the great Bard, and the unusual and unique Falstaff Experience. Visit by day for a trip into ‘Tudor World’ or by night, if you dare, to experience the ghostly goings on of sixteenth century England. Children will have great fun at the Brass Rubbing Centre, and there’s plenty of opportunity for fun centred on the lovely River Avon, which flows through the town. From picnics and riverside walks, particularly among the gardens surrounding the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to an afternoon on the water in your own hired rowing boat, a short cruise or maybe even a candle-lit dinner cruise, the river offers a relaxing way to experience the town. Take the children to the Butterfly Farm and Jungle Safari and see the country’s largest collection of vividly coloured butterflies, and when it comes to refreshments, there are teashops and restaurants at every turn. There’s a Friday market each week, and Farmer’s Markets also run once a month. Take a walk with one of the town’s Blue Badge guides and really get under the skin of Stratford, where history is revealed on every street corner.