5 Things to do in Swindon
Swindon isn't exactly renowned for being a popular tourist destination. The likelihood is that if you're visiting Swindon, you're here because it's in a great location to access places like Avebury, Stonehenge and other pretty places in the not too distant outskirts of the town. However, even though there is a certain stigma attached to the town, people are surprised with the amount it has to offer. I'm going to run through a few things that you can do in Swindon should you have some free time to spare:
Swindon has some great shopping parks, probably the best and most well known being the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet village, where you can pick up last quarter / last year's designer fashion clothes at very cheap prices. This place is always a hit with the style conscious; I have picked up some decent designer jeans there for around £20 in the past. Parking at the McArthur Glen is free if you spend over a certain amount, too.
You can also grab some decent deals in the town centre and the shopping centres that lurk within. Of course the town centre is packed with some decent shops and if you look around you can pick up some nice stuff. There is parking at all entrances to town, although you should expect to pay a couple of quid for it - pay and display style.
Of course there are other shopping centres. For sports and IT stuff, the Greenbridge retail park is pretty useful - you get to avoid the hustle and bustle of the town centre and parking is painless and best of all, free.
2. Steam Railway Museum
If you're going to visit Swindon, it'd be criminal not to learn about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the history that Swindon has with the railway network. Let's not forget that in its hay day, Swindon was primarily a little railway town and evidence of this can still be seen today with rows upon rows of terraced housing previously inhabited by workers on one side of the railway line near to the station.
Perfectly located next to the Designer outlet village, dad can have a wonder around the museum whilst the shopaholics spend his hard earned money. Although, really, the museum is worth a visit from all the family both educationally and because of the wow factor with old steam locomotives on display.
3. Sports and Leisure Facilities
I can't list all the sporting activities in Swindon, because with over 200,000 people living in the town, you're pretty much guaranteed to be able to find somewhere to play the sport you're passionate about. Most notably, though, is the Oasis Leisure centre with it's swimming pool and famous tube slides that can be seen from outside the building. There are three to choose from, if you're feeling daring you can go for the black which is the fastest of the three flumes, but be warned, it gets a bit scary going down that one! The huge swimming pool also has a wave machine which adds to the children's entertainment, although can be annoying for length swimmers! I actually learnt to canoe there when I was younger, so I can vouch for the enjoyment that can be had in the swimming pool!
Another leisure centre worth noting is the Link Centre, mainly because it has a large ice hockey rink (home to the Swindon ice hockey team) - it's great fun skating around the rink during casual sessions - check with the leisure centre for casual skate times before you leave as sometimes the rink is closed for lessons and training.
4. Arts and Theatre
The Wyvern theatre shows a wide variety of films as well as the normal dramatic productions. It is also host to many one night stands as it is a well known venue for performers to include in their tours. Easily accessible from town, the Wyvern always has a number of plays on, and at Christmas time, the famous pantomimes make their way to Sunny Swindon to perform at the Wyvern.
For those who prefer a more intimate atmosphere, check out the Arts centre, which features folk music, smaller production companies and other events, such as the Swindon Music Festival.
5. Professional Sport
Home to the Swindon Robins Speedway team, you could take in an evening watching this exciting sport at the Abbey Stadium. There are three league football teams locally, including the Football League One Swindon Town F.C. If you like watching ice hockey, then make sure your visit coincides with a home game for the Wildcats or the Panthers. The faster motocross circuit is located at Foxhill, just outside the town.
That's just a few of the things you can do during your stay in Swindon - there are many more. I'll keep posting articles about them in the near future!