July 12th, 2012 | Tags: hidden Birmingham, Birmingham visit,

Discover the hidden treasures of Birmingham

If you’ve already done the tours of Birmingham’s museums, art galleries and historic buildings, you've certainly seen some of the fine buildings of a great English city. Maybe you've also been around the shops in the Bullring, the markets, bars and nightclubs. Now it's time to explore some of the hidden treasures off the beaten path.

Here are some of the more unusual things to do in Birmingham.

Cadbury World

If you are a chocolate lover, Cadbury World is chocolate heaven! You get to go on a fascinating tour of the factory, getting to see everything from the design stages to the production of all that lovely, mouth-watering chocolate. There is also a museum documenting the history of chocolate in the New World and in Europe. But it’s the ever-present smell of chocolate that you can’t escape and ultimately compels you to make a beeline for the shop full of chocolate. It’s like being in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the day.

The Tolkein trail

J.R.R. Tolkein grew up in Birmingham - he was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Having grown up in Birmingham, the city had a huge influence on him and his works, the buildings and landscape feeding into the places and locations in his books, from Mordor to Middle Earth itself. This walking tour shows you the sights and places that influenced Tolkien.

Shakespeare Express

The Shakespeare Express is a fabulous journey on a 1950s steam train that heads through the outskirts of Birmingham and Midlands countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon, where you can immerse yourself in everything to do with the great English bard, William Shakespeare. There you can do anything from taking in the beautiful town to seeing a play at the RSC. The train journey is a recreation of the holiday train journeys experienced in the 1950s. It is a popular attraction, especially with families, so it’s advisable to book in advance.

Motor Racing Live

Have you ever wanted to try stockcar racing or being a stunt driver? If so this is the place for you! At Motor Racing Live you can take part in your own stockcar championship; you can spend the day being trained to be a stunt driver; you can take part in a Top Gear-style star in a reasonably priced car competition; you can also take part in extreme dodgems; and also in Wakey Races, which involves being raced around the track on an 87mph sofa (we kid you not!). This is the ultimate day out for anyone who loves cars and a bit of adrenaline.

The Custard Factory

The Custard Factory is an arts and media centre a few minutes walk away from the Bullring, the city centre shopping mall. It is a collection of factories that were built 100 years ago by the inventor of custard, Sir Alfred Bird. During the 1980s the appeal of the custard industry waned from its heyday at the height of the British Empire and the factories fell into a derelict state. Then in the 1990s the factories were restored and turned into arts and media complex, full of antique shops, cafés, art galleries, bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to end your day!

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