We had the hardest job coming up with ten things to do in Gloucester not because there isn’t anything to do but because there are so many things to do, places to see, people to meet as they say. We decided to sit down with a cup of tea and discuss the places we have enjoyed the most. This is not to say that other attractions are not worthwhile – they are! It is just that Gloucester has a wealth of wonderful things to indulge in making choices very hard.
1. The Jet Age Museum
The museum is a work in progress and is perfect for any aviation enthusiasts and ideal for family visits as children will love being able to sit in the aircraft and learn about the history of some famous aeroplanes. The museum consists of some original aircraft and some replicas. We liked the layout and the natural lighting coming from the glass front that overlooks the Staverton air field. You can see helicopters and other aircraft going about their business on the airfield which adds to the excitement. The volunteer staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and there is a cafe serving delicious cake!
2. Gloucester Quays
If you enjoyed television’s “The Onedin Line” you will love this location which was used for much of the filming of the series. Visit on the right day and you may see a tall ship in port and there in a festival held annually for these wonderful ships. These days pleasure boats are the norm and the lively area has many outdoor events for all the family from theatre to food markets. There are also many designer outlet shops for bargain hunters and it is a day well spent browsing for bargains and absorbing history.
Always a port, significant growth occurred after the completion of the canal to Sharpness which saw increased trade. Cargo of timber and wheat dominated although citrus fruits and wine were also imported. There is a group of Victorian warehouses that were used to store grain.
With plenty of places to eat and museums too it is a great place to visit.
3. Gloucester Cathedral
The Cathedral has to be one of England’s finest medieval buildings. It is the burial place of royalty including Edward II of England. There is an amazing vaulted medieval cloister where Harry Potter fans will recognise the backdrop as part of Hogwarts. The stained glass windows are a marvel of design from different eras with the Lady Chapel boasting probably the finest Arts & Crafts glass in the country. The cathedral and precinct are prime examples of stunning architecture and building skill. The whole area is charming and peaceful and there is a restaurant serving light lunches. The admission is free but visitors may make a donation if they wish.
4. Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum
At this charming museum, visitors can learn how soldiers and their families experienced life throughout the last three hundred years. The Gloucestershire Regiment (The Glosters) have been at many turning points in British Military History including the American Revolutionary War, Napoleon’s defeat, Dunkirk’s defence, the Korean War and most recently Afghanistan. The new Modern Army Display gives a taste of what it is like to serve in Afghanistan. The latest military equipment is on display and visitors have the chance to lift the body armour worn on operations in extreme temperatures. This is a great day out for history and military buffs who want to know more about this famous regiment.
5. The Barn Owl Centre
This is a fantastic experience for anyone who enjoys seeing creatures in a natural way. Each experience is carefully tailored for visitors and includes guidance from very knowledgeable staff who explain about the husbandry of the birds and their behaviour before demonstrating flights of birds of prey. The highlight of the trip is having a bird of prey landing on your arm. It is an amazing feeling and the staff are there every moment of the visit. What is obvious is the welfare of the birds comes first and you feel like a special guest.
6. Gloucester Folk Museum
Gloucester Folk Museum is dedicated to social history. The 500 year old Tudor building plays host to a marvellous display of small wooden items, historical costumes, dairy, pin factory and Victorian classroom tableaux bringing the social history of Gloucester to life. There is plenty to do with many hands on exhibits, children’s activities, demonstrations and events. The Folk Tea Rooms offer wholesome meals and snacks and a wealth of home baked goods to enjoy along with speciality tea and coffee.
Finish your visit by browsing the Folk Boutique where an eclectic mix of goods, souvenirs and mementoes are on sale so you can remember your visit. Delicious food, shopping and education – it does not come much better than this!
7. The Guildhall
Gloucester’s Guildhall was opened in 1892 and has become a distinctive venue for the arts in recent times having formerly been the home of the town council, until 1985, it has since been turned into a premier entertainment venue. Gloucester Guildhall is a bustling centre offering live music and shows, concerts, film, exhibitions, theatre and conferences. Even comedy nights and club nights are frequent spectaculars at the building.
Live bands that have performed at the Guildhall include Radiohead, Muse and Primal Scream to name a few. The Speakers nights are popular with guests including Germaine Greer, Tony Benn MP and Sir David Frost.
The broad spectrum of entertainment on offer makes a visit a must as there is sure to be something of interest.
8. Gloucester Leisure Cruise
If messing about in boats is your thing, why not take a trip aboard the Queen Boadicea pleasure boat for a 45 minute cruise exploring the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. The cruises run three times every day and are great for learning about the history of Gloucester’s waterways while enjoying a different view of things from the water.
9. Gloucester Ghost Walks
Especially spooky if you are visiting around Halloween, the Gloucester Ghost Walks are a popular attraction and as can be imagined with so much history – there have to be ghosts!
From the tourist information centre on Wednesday and Thursday evenings a walking tour of Gloucester’s haunted sites along with the stories makes a fun activity. The areas covered are Southgate Street and the Café Rene that has many unexplained happenings and also has a 600 year old Roman well inside. Addison’s Folly, The Old Bell, Crosskeys Inn, Meeks Shoe Shop and many other locations give up their spooky secrets on this tour.
10. The Warehouse Climbing Centre
For active sorts, this old Victorian warehouse is well worth a visit as it has been transformed into an indoor climbing place that is very impressive. There really is something for everyone here young to old, novices to experts.
There are many types of climbing walls of varying heights going up to 11 metres. There is a dedicated kid’s zone, a Bouldering Floor, Meeting Rooms, Party Rooms and a Shop with a Café. The friendly staff ensures full supervision is available at all times and also provide expert tuition. Non climbers can relax in the café bar and watch the action.
Want to know more about Gloucester? Read a brief history of Gloucester here.