Looking up what to do for a great day out in the West Midlands?
The West Midlands is filled with the heavier brick and mortar of England – industrial footprints that saw the region flourish in earlier centuries. Birmingham and Dudley were at the centre of the Industrial Revolution; even today, they hoard ironworks and craft kilns among the modern developments and fun attractions.
Trust us, there’s a LOT of fun day trips in the West Midlands to enjoy.
What fascinates me the most however is the historical content in the rich spaces between these iron-studded cities. The surrounding areas of Leicester, Warwick, Coventry and Shrewsbury are brimming with nature-bound things to do. Even better, your days out in the West Midlands are characterised by ornate churches and ruins and manor houses-turned museums.
There are so many fun things to do in the West Midlands.
The best way to make the most of the days out in the West Midlands is to go by car, although there is public transport available too. Let’s take a look at some of the best day trips in the West Midlands shall we?
Best day trips in the West Midlands
By MapleMidlands Connoisseur
Maple’s extensive knowledge of England is hard to beat! She’s lived all around England, and spent the last ten years writing about the country for various publications.
1. Walk in the footsteps of royalty at Kenilworth Castle
Parts of Kenilworth Castle may be crumbling brick and mortar, but the medieval fortress turned Elizabethan palace stands strong hundreds of years after its conception. When I first stepped foot into the Great Hall, it was all too easy to imagine the majestic sight it must have been back in the day. Marvel at the arched doorways and ceiling-less walls before stepping over into the Elizabethan garden.
While it doesn’t have the grand, white-stone façade of Leicester’s Gatehouse, the immaculately designed garden showcases life as medieval royalty.
Visitors can enjoy a staple English tea at the Stables Tearoom after exploring the interactive exhibition – learn about the castle’s 900-year history and its famous inhabitants!
If you’re visiting as a family in the summer, note that there’s a free fun adventure quest that trails across the grounds. Great for a day out in the West Midlands.
2. Go silver with J.W.Evans Silver Factory
Birmingham is the place to be on a day out in the West Midlands, but what exactly should we be doing?
One of my top suggestions is to learn about the city’s industrial past through an unusual and fun perspective. Nestled within the Jewellery Quarter is J.W.Evans Silver Factory, workshops hidden behind four terraced houses.
It literally is stepping back into time with your cozy 10-people tour, from the wooden cabinets and peg hooks to the work benches and exposed brick walls. Original designs and reproduced manuals are lying around next to well-worn coats. Check out the drop stamps and fly presses, the working equipment strewn around the tables. It’s an amazing heritage.
3. Admire the stunning Coventry Cathedral
Coventry might not be the thrill-seeking adventure you set out for but it is a West Midlands treasure. Formerly known as the Cathedral Church of St Michael, everyone refers to it as Coventry Cathedral. It’s the third cathedral of Coventry, its predecessor having been bombed during World War II.
You’ll see the ruins of the first parish church; the modern structure is a work of art beside it.
Sir Basil Spence designed the space alongside a host of other artists and architects – the result, a stunning masterpiece with hand-painted glass. But even before you glimpse the intricate glasswork, the elaborate vaulting and spires of the exterior wall will impress you. The tower in particular carries lofty details – if you don’t whip out your camera to memorialise this sight, I don’t know when you’ll come across a similar level of artistry!
Coventry Cathedral also makes for one of the best day trips from Birmingham there is.
4. Tour around the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Birmingham is a prime base to travel from if you’re spending a week or so in the West Midlands. Don’t forget to enjoy the in-city attractions either; any art lover should visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Free entry is just one sprinkle of many as you’ll find a hearty collection that spans ceramics, metalwork, fine art, ethnography and art forms that delve into historical exhibits. Natural history and archaeology are also explored topics, alongside local and industrial history. One of the most cultural days out in the West Midlands there is!
It’s worth an hour or two, maybe three if you spend some time at the tea rooms. If you’re hesitating thinking that it’s just like any old museum out there, let me correct you and say that it offers great insight into how the West Midlands shaped up over the centuries.
5. Explore the town of Dudley
When planning days out in the West Midlands, don’t overlook the ground zero of the Industrial Revolution: Dudley. Effectively a ‘capital’, it led the charge in the 18th and 19th century, churning out ironworks, limestone quarries and kilns. An interesting fact I learnt was that the anchor and chain of Titanic was actually made here!
The highlight is the Black Country Living Museum, which acts as an open-air museum with old cottages, cobblestone streets, iron workshops and more in their original iteration. You can also visit the 13th-century Dudley Castle, or the 4km long Dudley Canal Tunnel. It’s a great West Midlands day trip if you have some time to spare.
6. Dudley Zoo and Castle
If you’re visiting Dudley Castle, make sure you check out the Dudley Zoological Gardens located on-site as well!
I had never seen a zoo on castle grounds so this was a pleasant surprise. First opened in 1937, it lives on with its 12 modernist animal enclosures. The animals are well cared for by passionate staff; the zoo is easy to navigate as well.
Spare an hour or two after sightseeing inside the castle and its surrounding estate.
In fact we really need to add Dudley Zoo to the best zoos in England list on this site.
7. Explore the lavish Witley Court
One of the best days out in the West Midlands is no doubt Witley Court, featuring dramatic ruins and surrounding woodlands. The grand pillars and roomy corridors are enough to convince you that before a disastrous fire in 1937, Witley Court was once a decadent country house that hosted parties, balls and noble gatherings in the late 1800s. It’s not difficult to imagine secret rendezvous in the gardens either – the intricate layout, ornate terraces and pavilions are perfect for romance!
I find the Perseus and Andromeda fountain stunning; unfortunately, I missed the ‘firing’ that happens every day between April and October.
Make sure to pick up an audio guide to find out what life was like back in the day. Apart from the small rooms and passageways, you’ll also want to take a woodland walk. Stroll along the lake and seek out the rustic Victorian boathouse too.
8. Indulge in chocolate at Cadbury World
Does more need to be said?
Cadbury World is easily accessible, just a short drive from central Birmingham. The famous chocolate brand has opened up their factories for an all-chocolate themed kind of day – from exhibits detailing the origins of the cocoa bean to chocolate crafting workshops. You get to see Cadbury chocolate in all its various packaging throughout the decades, the way it was made and freely sample those on display.
For those with children, this is a great family outing for a day out in the West Midlands. There’s also a playground park if the kids are feeling antsy inside or hyped up on all that sugar.
9. Discover the remains of Wroxeter Roman City
Among the top days out in the West Midlands, an audio tour of Wroxeter Roman City is definitely a must-do. I wasn’t aware that it was the fourth largest town in Roman Britain up until it was abandoned in the 7th century, and even more taken aback when I learnt that it was one of the first archaeological attractions in the UK!
The entire grounds span 78 hectares, including an ever-famous Roman bathhouse.
Of course, the bathhouse is all ruins now, but you can still see the enormous scale and impressive design. There’s also the proudly standing Old Work, the remnants of a basilica. Visit the recreated town house for a glimpse of Roman domestic life or check out the Market Hall. The museum houses more artefacts and offers themed events to complete the picture.
9. Stroll around Birmingham Botanical Gardens
To recharge your zen meter, visit the breathtaking Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
It’s great to take a break from the hustle of city life, especially where fresh air and vivid landscapes run abundant. Anyone with even a passing interest in botany will love the tropical glasshouses but it doesn’t take much to enjoy the manicured gardens and open lake. Embark on the nature trails to get back to nature on a day out in the West Midlands!
There are plenty of seasonal events for families as well, including Halloween Night Time trails with maximum spook factor or their legendary Santa’s Grotto during Christmas. The garden is well cared for throughout the year, so always expect something new.
10. Stokesay Castle: a mini fairytale
Over 700 years later and Stokesay Castle remains a fairytale-like day out in the West Midlands. The uneven lines of brick, timber roofing and treaded staircases are all original, dating back to 1291. It might not be the most lavish manors I’ve ever visited, but the crumbling wall paintings and chipped tiled floor just makes it all the more real.
One sight not to be missed is the solar, where the overmantel shows off stunning fruit, flowers and figure carvings. The best part however, is the gatehouse!.
The 17th-century addition is all framed by wooden and painted a cheery yellow. When you’re done touring the estate, stay for some cake and light bites in the tearoom.
11. Visit the ruins of Hailes Abbey
What was once an elaborate and extensive compound is now the ruins of Hailes Abbey, the exposed corridors and archways bisecting fresh lawns. Any religious historian will put this one their list of things to do in the West Midlands; the ‘Holy Blood of Hailes’ phial was known as a holy relic (although its origins were debunked early on).
Still, the museum is a lesson that spans 300-years of tradition and piety. The imposing Old Testament inspired stone sculpture greets you at the door, followed by more stonework and other site-finds. A small country chapel adjacent to the main building features wall-paintings of hunting scenes, coats of arms and more riveting saintly figures.
Maximise your day out in the West Midlands with an audio tour of Hailes Abbey to really get the most from it.
12. Watch glassmaking at Stourbridge
Stourbridge aesthetics might mislead you into thinking it’s more of a brick-making town, but glassmaking has been its chosen trade from the 1600s onward. Personally, I love how delicate glassworks are – watching the process is one of the most unique things to do in the West Midlands for a day out.
The Red House Cone is where the main action is at; it’s a dated glassmaking kiln that saw consistent production until the 1930s. Now, they host traditional glassblowing demonstrations. For proper exhibitions, visit the Ruskin Glass Center and the Broadfield House Glass Museum.
13. Study history in the Leicestershire countryside
For an efficient day out in the West Midlands, I suggest combining a few sites especially if you have to drive. The Kirby Muxloe and Ashby de la Zouch Castle makes for a great itinerary. Both structures were built for Lord William Hastings who was suddenly executed by Richard III in 1483 – while moated Kirby Muxloe stands as a memorial, Ashby de la Zouch Castle was a more personal project.
It’s truly a fascinating place for a great day out in the West Midlands!
Originally an extension of his existing manor house, the castle was left abandoned halfway after his death. It was actually held by royalist forces during the Civil War, only attracting visitors long after in the 19th century. These two buildings offer great insight into this powerful nobleman.
14. Admire the Wenlock Priory
Leave behind the city for the fringes of Much Wenlock and its beautiful Anglo-Saxon monastery. Yes, I’m recommending more ruins to visit but for good reason!
This staunch façade was first founded in 680; its patroness saint Milburge was the daughter King Merewalh of Mercia who commissioned it. It was later re-founded by the Normans, as seen by the elaborate decorations put up by the Cluniac monks.
I find the Chapter House absolutely stunning – the stone carving and interlocking arches form a gorgeous pattern. In contrast to the stone work, the cloister garden is a bright pop of green. Seek out the octagonal lavabo which monks used to wash their hands; it’s embellished with religious carvings almost as pretty as the trimmed topiary. The medieval floor tiles within the library are another artful feature to look out for.
So beautiful I really feel like it should be an English UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s not. Still, one of the best days out in the West Midlands though.
15. Dream big at the National Space Center
Those in the vicinity of Leicester should take a detour to the National Space Center. You can enjoy six galleries such as the Rocket Tower, iconic for its full-sized model; experience what it’d be like working within a space craft with the Into Space zone.
Other exhibits include Our Solar System, The Universe, Orbiting Earth and Space Oddities – chockfull of space suits and satellites and everything you wanted to know about the galaxy. If you want a super solar day out in the West Midlands – this is the one for you!
The most iconic feature is Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, which offers an incredible space travel experience. There are also frequent family events and space-themed move nights or craft days.
16. Spend the night in Sutton Coldfield
Experience what it’s like living in a plush manor by spending a night in Sutton Coldfield. Once home to wealthy families and landed gentry, the many residences have been remodeled into hotels. In fact, two conservation areas are dedicated to cottages and townhouses from the 17th-century.
I recommend this town for those who want a serene country stay since it is hemmed in by boundless parkland and nature reserves. Nearby New Hall Valley Country Park has all the relaxing space you need, plus a functioning watermill for your viewing pleasure.
17. Get adventurous at Holme Pierrepont Country Park
I haven’t personally visited Holme Pierrepont Country Park but have heard that it’s one of the best family days out in the West Midlands. No wonder too – the range of adventurous activities include white water rafting, wakeboarding, Segway free roaming and awesome high rope courses. There’s even an army-themed assault course for the athletic and competitive.
If you’re into that kind of thing, check out the best adventurous days out in England here.
Children (kids and teens) can pretend they’re on secret missions, experiencing what it’s like to act as a team. The zones are designed for maximum fun so do spare the day for a unique experience!
18. Tour around crafty Wightwick Manor
Wightwick Manor and Gardens is a veritable shrine to the Arts and Crafts movement. One of the properties owned and managed by the National Trust, this Victorian manor house is kept in its original, lovely form. It’s one of England’s many impressive stately homes.
The brightly painted half contrasts with the white and black timber of the second story, a striking vision amid the green estate. Within is a mishmash of artistic influences, from Moris wallpapers to Kempe glass and De Morgan tiles. There’s even a collection of artworks by the likes of Elizabeth Siddal, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Pay attention to every incredible detail!
The grounds are also open for outdoor wanderers. Those who wished for a garden of their own will definitely leave with a deep impression of this estate. I highly recommend this day out in the West Midlands.