Straddling the border between England and Wales, Shropshire has a fabulous mix of gorgeous countryside, historic castles and bustling towns. There are numerous ways to spend a day in the county, dining on a delicious Sunday lunch aboard a steam train, hiking in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty or browsing the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.
There are plenty of attractions in Shropshire that kids will enjoy too. You could take them on a boat ride across the Mere in Ellesmere, or to see the horses ploughing up the fields at Acton Scott Working Farm.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best attractions in Shropshire, perfect for a family friendly day out, or something just for the adults.
Days out in Shropshire
Author: Ben BromleyDay Out in the Midlands Expert
Ben specialises in group travel in destinations around the world.
He lives in Warwickshire, and his favourite day out is in Stratford Upon Avon.
1. See Shrewsbury from the river
If you’re in the Welsh border town of Shrewsbury for the day, then why not see the sights of the town by boat?
The vessel ‘Sabrina’ plies the River Severn through the town, carrying up to 60 passengers across its three decks. There are scheduled day trips, an evening cruise and the boat is even available for private hire. Guests can see the sights from the outdoor top deck, or relax with a drink on the lower level, in a comfortable lounge area. Trips last for around 45 minutes and there is live commentary from the knowledgeable guide onboard, who’ll take you through all the sights you sail past.
2. Enjoy Sunday lunch on the Severn Valley Railway
This attraction actually begins in Kidderminster, in the neighbouring county of Worcestershire, but it’s a great way to enjoy a view of the rolling hills which make up Shropshire’s Severn Valley. A mouth-watering Sunday lunch is served every weekend aboard the steam train as it chugs through the countryside, with guests choosing to dine in either a 1930s Great Western Railways Carriage or the more expensive first class carriage, styled on the 1940s.
Stewards are on hand throughout your three course meal and there’s plenty of time to enjoy the view before you complete the 16 mile journey to Bridgnorth.
If you can’t make it on Sunday or don’t fancy a large meal, then the railway also serves cream teas on similar journeys through the week.
3. Take a Shropshire Raft Tour
Shropshire Raft Tours operate a range of activities suitable for anyone who wants to explore the county by water. Kayaks and canoes are available to hire, or you can join a rafting tour on the Severn, passing such attractions as the Iron Bridge on your way from Ironbridge to Jackfield.
Life jackets and other safety provisions are provided, and your raft will be skippered by a qualified professional.
The company also rents electric bikes, which can be a fabulous way to explore the area on land.
4. Explore Stokesay Castle
Perhaps the best example of a medieval manor house in the whole of England, Stokesay Castle was first constructed in the 13th century and has undergone numerous changes and restorations throughout history.
Visitors can explore the beautiful manor house and the more traditional castle battlements, including a spiralling climb up to the top of the tower, which yields incredible views of the surrounding Shropshire Hills.
After you’ve spent an afternoon exploring the castle, you can enjoy lunch and a cup of tea in the onsite tearoom. English Heritage members will be glad to know that entry to the castle is free, whilst normal ticket prices are approximately £8.30 for adults.
5. Walk to the top of the Wrekin
No day out in Shropshire would be complete without making the most of the verdant English countryside that the county is known for.
One short walk that can be undertaken is the climb to the top of the Wrekin. Legend has it that a fearsome giant dumped a mound of soil here after giving up on his plans to destroy the town of Shrewsbury following a conversation with a very brave cobbler, who used his bag of used shoes to convince the giant that Shrewsbury was miles away and not worth his time.
The walk to the top is incredibly scenic, with wonderful views to be enjoyed from the peak. It isn’t a particularly long walk and there is a café halfway along the route where climbers can enjoy a drink and a snack to recharge before continuing their ascent.
6. Visit the RAF museum at Cosford
Fans of military history won’t want to miss a visit to the RAF museum at Cosford. There are numerous incredible exhibits, including an iconic Vulcan plane suspended from the ceiling and a Cold War exhibit, focusing on the struggles of the west against the Soviet Union in the latter half of the 20th century.
Other famous planes on display include the German Messerschmitt and Japanese Kawasaki, sure to fascinate any aeroplane fanatics out there. Entry to the museum is free and it’s a fantastic way to while away a few hours.
7. Stroll through the gardens of Benthall Hall
Benthall Hall is managed by the National Trust, and as with all of their properties, makes a fantastic day out for the entire family.
The hall is located in a picturesque setting, above the gorge of the River Severn and there are beautifully decorated gardens to stroll through, as well as some fine examples of Tudor architecture.
If you fancy a spot of afternoon tea and a slice of cake, then the onsite tearoom will be happy to oblige.
8. Explore Hawkstone Park
Hawkstone Park is around 15 miles north of Shrewsbury, and it’s one of the best outdoor days out in Shropshire.
The highlight of this 100 acre parkland is the famous Follies, a range of dramatic sandstone hills that have been developed to create breathtaking gullies, caves and rock towers.
The scenery here is some of the most impressive in the county and there are several suggested walks to follow in order to get the most from your visit. These range in length from one hour to three.
If you prefer not to walk, there are 4X4 safaris of the park, taking you to the most impressive rock formations.
The highlight of the site is the fantastic contrast between stunning natural scenery and manmade structures, with new discoveries to be made around every corner.
9. Visit Ludlow Castle
Another of Shropshire’s impressive castle sites, Ludlow Castle dates all the way back to the Norman Conquest in the 1000s, when it was constructed to guard the border between England and Wales. It has a rich and turbulent history, culminating in its abandonment in 1689. It fell into disrepair and it is these ruined fortifications which are now open to the public.
The castle remains impressive and hosts numerous events throughout the year, including Shakespeare plays and the annual Ludlow Food and Drink Festival in September.
10. Take the kids to see the Battlefield Falconry Centre
Kids will absolutely love a visit to the Battlefield Falconry Centre in Shrewsbury.
Home to more than 30 magnificent owls, hawks and eagles, the facility offers amazing falconry demonstrations and visitors can even enjoy the opportunity to hold one of these beautiful birds.
Other attractions at the centre include a Hawk Walk and a Bird of Prey Experience. Professional handlers are on site throughout and full safety briefings and equipment are provided before any visitors handle the birds, for the welfare of both people and animals.
11. See the Iron Bridge
The famous Iron Bridge is one of the UK’s 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, placing it in the company of such wonders as Blenheim Palace and the Palace of Westminster.
The bridge was constructed in 1779 and is famous for being the first major bridge in the world to be constructed from cast iron, in one of the first great acts of the Industrial Revolution. A £1 million renovation in the last few years has restored the bridge to its former glory, with a stunning red exterior.
12. Explore Dana Prison
Another of Shrewsbury’s best days out, Dana Prison is a fascinating place to visit for those with an interest in crime and punishment.
A jailhouse tour of the disused prison unveils Victorian prison wings and Georgian cells.
Your guide will tell you about the grim conditions endured by the prisoners and the executions which took place within the prison walls. If you’re feeling brave then you may wish to join one of the prison’s night tours or even a ghost tour.
There are also escape rooms at the prison, where you can try and orchestrate your own escape.
13. Visit Acton Scott Working Farm
Take a step back in time to the Victorian era with a visit to Acton Scott Working Farm. A vast range of interactive activities, demonstrations and performances show what life was like for farm workers back in the 19th century.
Large and powerful horses still work the land and these amazing animals will help to keep the kids entertained.
There’s a café on site and if you have a bit more time to spend then you could join a course in traditional Victorian workmanship, such as breadmaking or blacksmithing.
14. Take a boat ride on the Mere
A mere is a lake, pond or wetland, much shallower than traditional bodies of water.
The mere at Ellesmere is the largest in Shropshire and is found in a tranquil setting. The banks of the mere are covered in woodland and there are pathways winding around the entire area, making for a lovely stroll.
In summer you can enjoy a picnic around the mere, and there are boat operators on the lake during the warmer months, which are a sure way to keep the kids entertained.
The medieval market town of Ellesmere is just a short walk away so you can combine your day at the mere with a stroll through these ancient streets and a bit of shopping.
15. Delve into history at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
Following extensive restoration and renovation, the historic Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery reopened to the public in 2014. It is found in the main square in the town centre, so is easily reachable for any day tripper to Shrewsbury.
The facility displays countless artefacts and artwork from across the Roman, Tudor and Stuart periods of English history, as well as the famous Shropshire mammoth – the best preserved woolly mammoth skeleton ever found in England. In total there are more than 300,000 thousand items across a broad historical spectrum. For a history buff, it doesn’t get much better than this anywhere in Shropshire.
Entrance is very affordable, at just £4.50 for adults and £2 for children.
Days out in Shropshire
As you can see, there are endless ways to spend a day out in Shropshire.
Shrewsbury is probably the place with the most attractions and a great place to start, but you’ll also want to delve into the local countryside and take a walk in some of the best scenery to be found anywhere in England. There are numerous great museums and historic sites to keep adults entertained, as well as a range of more active adventures, such as sailing and hiking opportunities. And as one of the UK’s few UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a trip to see the Iron Bridge is an absolute must.
However you choose to spend your day in Shropshire, you will be sure to enjoy magical experiences that will stay with you forever.