Of sharks and Shakespeare

Kids can feed the penguins and sharks at the Sea Life Centre, see Thomas at Drayton Manor or try a delicious day out at Cadbury World. Grown-ups can go bats at The Belfry’s golf and spa, vulture some culture in Shakespeare country, enjoy the myth and magic of Warwick Castle, or tackle the bars and bites of Birmingham.

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Country kids

There’s plenty on site, in the shape of the heated pool, the snooker room, the toys room, the TV room, the outdoor playground and the tennis court. For a change of scenery, though, the West Midlands is choc-full of kiddie fun… especially at Cadbury World, a delicious day out with an educational message.

Start at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, with shark- and penguin-feeding and over 60 displays of freshwater and marine life. For more animal action, it’s on to Twycross Zoo for everything from leopards to lemurs, parrots to prairie dogs and tortoises to tarantulas.

Just 20 minutes away from the house is the Birmingham NEC, which holds events ranging from dancing dogs to cutting-edge gaming to gardening paradise. Check out their website for an array of exciting events throughout the year that will keep you and the family more than entertained.

Kids will go dippy for Drayton Manor, home of Thomas Land, the 4D Cinema, and knee-knocking rides like Pandemonium, Shockwave and G-Force. Slow the pace chasing chicks and hunting eggs at Ash End Farm. Or see steam engines, talking robots, gurgling guts and a chocolate-wrapping machine at Thinktank.

For more memorabilia, try the National Motoring Museum or Coventry Transport Museum. Go bouldering and jamming at Redpoint Climbing Centre. Hit the flicks at Resorts World Cinema. Or play in the sand in landlocked Warwickshire at Heart.

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For the grown-upsFor the grown-upsFor the grown-upsFor the grown-ups

For the grown-ups

With award-winning Ryder-Cup courses, plus bars, restaurants and spa, golf fans will go bats for The Belfry. Or go fishing or cycling at Kingsbury Water Park, riding at Moor Farm Stables or climbing at the Redpoint Centre. Walking? Get your boots on and get out of the back door. The green stuff is all around.

Just down the road sits Shakespeare country. See the Bard’s birthplace in Stratford’s Henley Street, then take in some theatre at the RSC. Stay in Stratford to marvel at the perfectly preserved 16th-century almshouses or the MAD Museum, a phantasmagoria of gizmos, machines and moving models.

For jaw-dropping magic, myth and adventure, drop in on Warwick Castle. Or head a little further south for the honeyed-stone cottages, low bridges and duck ponds of the Cotswolds. Then pop down to Oxford to see the ivy-strewn, honey-hued seats of learning in the city of dreaming spires.

At Compton Verney, see a restored British aristocracy manor house turned into a museum in grounds that contain a medieval ice house. See how people lived at the pinnacle of society at Stoneleigh Abbey. Or head to Jephson Gardens in Leamington for the exotic plants, the pool and river walk.