I’ll be honest – I’ve never really thought there’s much to do in Birmingham.
Yes, it’s got one of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, the Bullring, but other than that, there’s not much there right?
A few weeks ago I spent the day in Birmingham with one of my uni friends and our original plan was to go to Cadbury World in Bourneville – just 12 minutes on the train from Birmingham New Street.
But devastatingly, it was sold out on the day we wanted to go and we were faced with the daunting prospect of planning a day in actual Birmingham itself.
I’ll be honest, I did think we’d have to spend the day wandering around the Bullring.
But thanks a combination of frantic Googling, Foursquare and following our noses to see where a certain path led, we managed to have a surprisingly great day out.
In fact, I’ll certainly never say there’s nothing to do there ever again. Here are just a few unexpectedly cool things to do Birmingham you probably don’t even know about!
Go backstage at the BBC
Have a go at presenting the weather in front of a real green screen with a real auto-cue? Errrrr, yes please.
BBC Birmingham is just around the corner from New Street Station in a leisure complex called The Mailbox. It has attractions that the public can access for free, including the green screen, as well as a paid tour around the studios.
We were lucky enough to have the green screen to ourselves so we spent ages having a go presenting the weather, Newsround and even a nature programme.
Following an auto-cue is surprisingly difficult but it’s hard to resist taking a few pics of yourself ‘on the telly’. Trust me, this is too much fun to miss out on.
Explore the swanky canal network
Head down to the canals behind The Mailbox and you’ll be pretty surprised how nice it is down there.
It all looks like it’s been done up and it’s a great place to go for a walk and then a drink at one of the pubs afterwards.
If you like it that much you could even move into one of the stylish young professional-style apartment blocks along the canal!
Eat home-made cake at an independent cafe
Since most of my previous trips to Birmingham have been spent at the Bullring, I’ve always had the impression that most of the cafes and restaurants there were part of chains.
But I much prefer eating or drinking at places that are unique to the city you’re visiting – after all, you could be anywhere in the UK at a Nandos or a Starbucks. There’s nothing individual about them.
I recently joined Foursquare and I’ve found it to be a pretty good way to find places you’d only find otherwise by word of mouth.
Both of us had a bit of a craving for coffee and cake so we looked up nearby coffee shops and found Yorks Bakery Café. It had good reviews and was only 0.9km away from where we were.
It turned out to be in a fairly quiet area but it was fairly busy, which is always a good sign if people will make a special effort to go there.
All the cakes were home-made and delicious and the assortment of sofas, arm chairs and tables gave the café a very laidback feel. So laidback that we stayed there for two cups of tea and extra cake.
So there you have it – just a few of the unexpectedly good things to do on a day trip in Birmingham. But it’s such a big city, I bet there’s more – if you’ve got any recommendations, let me know!