With news that Britain is growing increasingly fond of the ‘staycation’ - travellers are more likely than ever before to take a short trip on our shores instead of venturing abroad.
Last year, Birmingham welcomed a record-breaking one million overseas visitors, an increase of over 163,000 visitors on the year before.
Brits are travelling abroad 16% less than they were in 2008, while holidays in England jumped 12%, according to Visit England, the country’s national tourist board.
Short trips are now the fastest growing area of holidays, with 30 million three-day holidays taken in England in 2015, a 17% rise since 2008.
With Birmingham now perfectly placed for a short stay, Park Regis Birmingham - the city's newest four-star hotel - has offered its top eleven alternative things to do in Birmingham to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
1. Birmingham Back to Backs Museum https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birmingham-back-to-backs
Run and funded by the National Trust, the Back to Back Houses give visitors a unique insight into the lives of the ordinary people who made Birmingham the extraordinary city that it is today. A guided tour will take you through the ages, from the 1840s all the way through to the 1970s, and you’ll get to experience where locals lived, worked and washed - there’s even a 1930s themed sweet shop. If the luxury of a warm hotel room with a bathroom doesn’t sound too appealing, you can even book a room there for night.
Cost: Adult tickets cost £7.85 whilst child entry cost £4.55.
You’ll find the Birmingham Back to Backs Museum on 55 Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TE
2. Ikon Gallery
If you’re feeling particularly cultural during your staycation, then head to the Ikon Gallery. Just a stone’s throw from the Park Regis, it opened in 1964 and since then actively encourages public engagement with modern art, and asks its audience to challenge their expectation of contemporary art. The gallery features artists from around the world and its work varies enormously in scale. If that’s not enough, there’s a beautiful cafe below, perfect for quenching your thirst for culture.
Cost: Free entry to all.
The Ikon Gallery is perfectly situated in Brindley Place.
3. Peaky Blinders Walking Tour http://www.peakytours.com/page/Peaky_Blinders/
Experience the sights and sounds of the real Peaky Blinders by enjoying a walking tour of the places they used to roam and cause mayhem. Centred around Digbeth - where the Brummie gangsters used to ply their shadowy trade - the tour will take you on a dark journey of poverty, crime and gangs which still has a resonance in the 21st century. You won’t regret it, just make sure you watch your back.
Cost: A guided tour, meal and a drink, followed by a Q&A session with Prof. Carl Chinn costs £39.95.
The guided tour begins at the Old Crown in Digbeth.
4. Pen Museum http://penmuseum.org.uk/
Fancy a trip down memory lane? This is just the ‘write’ thing for you! The Pen Museum is the only one of its kind in the UK and is home to an amazing collection of 5,000 objects related to the Birmingham pen trade and the history of writing. In just a few hours you can try your handwriting with feather quills, reed and steel pens, use their typewriters and braille equipment, or even - using their own original press - make your own steel calligraphy pen.
Cost: Admission is by suggested donation of £2.
The Pen Museum is open daily from 11am-4pm and 1pm-4pm on Sundays.
Unit 3 of the Italianate Argent Centre, 60 Frederick Street, B1 3HS.
5. Sarehole Mill http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/sarehole
If you’re blessed with wonderful weather, take yourself to one of the city’s water mills. Off the beaten track, a trip to Sarehole Mill will allow you to follow in the footsteps of JRR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. The water mill, vast grounds, and corn factory were said to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Shire. Since being renovated, you’ll now find a museum, a two hundred year old steam engine and a Lord of the Ring’s themed cafe. In fact, there’s so much to see and do there, you’re in danger of ending up ‘Legolas’.
Cost: Adult entry cost £6 and children cost £3
Sarehole Mill is on Cole Bank Rd, Kings Heath, B13 0BD
6. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens http://www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk/
You don’t have to be Alan Titchmarsh to appreciate a bit of greenery. The Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston offers something for everyone. Whether it’s one of the four stunning glasshouses showing tropical rainforests to a subtropical environment, or the fifteen acres of stunning gardens, playgrounds, tearooms or the Japanese gardens you can certainly make a day of it there. And if all that fresh air makes you a bit peckish, visitors are more than welcome to bring a picnic.
Cost: Entry into the Gardens will set you back a mere £7 whilst children cost £4.75.
The Botanical Gardens is on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston.
7. The Glee Club https://www.glee.co.uk/
Now 22 years old, The Glee Club is widely recognised as the best comedy club in the UK. Purposely built to give you the best comedy experience possible, it regularly attracts some of the industry's heavyweights, including Michael Mcintyre, Kevin Bridges, Jack Whitehall and Lee Evans. The Glee is the perfect place to finish off your staycation.
Cost: Prices vary between £5 and £17.50 depending on when you go.
The Glee Club Birmingham is situated in The Arcadian on Hurst Street.
8. Coffin Works http://www.coffinworks.org/
Ever wondered who made the coffins for Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and the Queen Mother? Well isn’t this a nice coincidence. After re-opening in 2014, The Coffin Works - once the workplace of world famous undertakers the Newman Brothers - will take you back in time, when the funeral business meant big money. On your tour of the factory you’ll experience first hand the sights, sounds and smells of factory life and hear stories about its workers, the owners and the trade.
Cost: You’ll have to coff’ up £5 to enter the museum.
Coffin Works is on Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter, B3 1JP.
9. The Electric Cinema https://www.theelectric.co.uk/
The Electric Cinema is the oldest cinema in the UK. As soon as you cross through the dainty threshold you can feel the history. It’s draped with film nostalgia, posters and steeped in world cinema archives. Since opening its doors in 1909, it celebrates both independent and mainstream films. But the fun doesn’t stop here, oh no, once sat down, you can enjoy personal table service of cocktails, canapes snacks and so much more - it’s just like being at home.
Cost: Standard adult tickets are £8.40
The Electric Cinema is on 47 Station St, B5 4DY
10. Birmingham Music Open Bus Tour
Now, if there’s one thing Birmingham certainly isn’t short of, it’s musical talent. From Black Sabbath, UB40, The Streets, Musical Youth to Laura Mvula and Ocean Colour Scene, the Birmingham Music Bus Tour will take you down and through Birmingham’s back alleys, where you’ll explore and learn about the city's vast contribution to the music scene.
Cost: Tickets will set you back just £12.
The Birmingham Music Open Bus Tour starts on Colmore Row.
11. Digbeth Dining Club www.digbethdiningclub.com
If you consider yourself as being pretty trendy, which I’m sure you do, then Digbeth Dining Club will undoubtedly butter your bread. Voted twice as Britain’s favourite street food event, it sits below a railway arch and attracts food enthusiasts week in, week out. It changes its line-up weekly, and showcases the region’s best street food traders. From South African fries, jerk chicken dumplings and Greek souvlaki to Indian fish and chips and Krispy Kreme donut burgers, there really is something for everyone (providing you pack your elastic-waisted trousers). Upon arrival you’ll find all kinds of hipster-filled madness, with pizza ovens built into Mini Coopers, creperie converted campervans, all the way to live street art, a New-Orleans themed bar and retro games consoles.
Cost: Free entry, and dishes will cost you anything from £4-8.
Digbeth Dining Club is at Spotlight Bar on Lower Trinity Street in Digbeth and takes place every Friday from 5.30.
PR by Clive Reeves PR in Birmingham