18 best things to do in Stroud

SoGlos handpicks 18 of the best things to do in Stroud – from discovering foodie gems and picking up unique crafts to enjoying the glorious Cotswold countryside.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Try artisan street food at Five Valleys; enjoy a pint at Stroud Brewery; make a splash at the lido; or cheer on Forest Green Rovers  there are loads of fun things to do in Stroud.
Try artisan street food at Five Valleys or cheer on Forest Green Rovers – there are loads of fun things to do in Stroud.

With its independent shops, popular farmer’s market, eco-friendly outlook and plenty of Cotswold countryside right on the doorstep, it’s no surprise that Stroud has been named as one of the best places to live in the UK.

Whether you’re a local looking to explore more or a tourist visiting the town for the first time, SoGlos has selected 18 things to do in Stroud – from tasting the organic local beer to cheering on the world’s greenest football club…

Enjoy artisan street food at Five Valleys Night Market

With a vibrant night market every Friday at Five Valleys, Stroud’s foodies are utterly spoiled for choice with a whopping 21 different eateries to choose from.

From authentic sushi from Kyuri; freshly-made Italian street food from Non Solo Pasta; indulgent brownies from Hetty’s Brownie Bar; juicy burgers, slow-cooked pulled pork, Gloucester Old Spot hot dogs and loaded fries from locals’ favourite The BBQ Society; and so much more, there’s plenty to get your teeth into – with live music from local artists creating a buzzing atmosphere too.

Take in spectacular views from Selsley Common

The stretch of the Cotswold Way over Selsley Common gives walkers spectacular views over the River Severn, the Malvern Hills and even into Wales on clear days – with a waymarked five-mile Cotswold Way circular walking route that takes in the common, the picturesque Stroudwater canal and Penn Wood.

On top of those glorious views, Selsley Common is also a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, with an array of wildflowers and local wildlife; and for history buffs, there’s a Bronze Age burial mound called ‘the Toots’ to hunt for, too.

Have a pint at Stroud Brewery

With founder Greg Pilley on a mission to create delicious organic beer that doesn’t damage the environment, Stroud Brewery and its vibrant taproom has become a local landmark for Stroud residents – and a must-visit for beer fans from all over the country. Even River Cottage’s Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall is a fan!

As well as serving up exceptional organic beer and a food menu that includes brunch, small plates and sourdough pizza, the Stroud Brewery’s taproom plays host to local musicians, Pilates classes, board game nights, comedy club nights and markets.

Browse for produce at Stroud Farmers’ Market

Taking over the town centre every Saturday, Stroud is well-known for its fantastic farmers’ market, which is one of the busiest and most popular in the UK. Gloucestershire’s finest growers, farmers, bakers, artisans and crafters descend on the town, offering everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to foraged mushrooms, microgreens and herbs; locally reared meat and eggs, via handcrafted sourdough bread; not forgetting cheese; small-batch gin and beer; luxury cakes, chocolate and fudge. Stroud Farmers’ Market also has an impressive selection of street food to dig into as you browse, with dishes like Thai chicken in batter, freshly-fried falafel, gooey tartiflette and vegan bao buns to try.

Five Valleys also boasts a fantastic Borough Market-inspired indoor market selling everything from fresh seafood to high quality meat all week long. Pick up delicious cheese and charcuterie from Armadeli; handmade organic sourdough from The Artisan Baker; and perfectly matched wine from The Vine Shop – perfect for a picnic before heading out to explore the Cotswold countryside.

Make a splash at Stratford Park Lido

Open during the summer months, usually from May to September each year, Stroud’s lido is a glorious place for a dip, with the outdoor spring-fed pool nestled in the heart of Stratford Park.

The pool offers lane swimming sessions for keen swimmers, as well as family-friendly public swim sessions – and has a Grade II-listed parabolic diving board, too. Surrounded by gorgeous parkland, it’s one of the loveliest places to spend a summer’s day.

Spot the cows on Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons

As well as offering lovely walks with even lovelier views, Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons are great places to admire the herds of local cattle that graze there, with Herefords, Longhorns and Belgian Blues to spot. The cows help to preserve the rich limestone grasslands, which are home to rare flowers and wildlife, including pasqueflowers; Adonis Blue butterflies; glow worms; and greater and lesser horseshoe bats.

A visit to Winstones for a proper Cotswold ice cream is a must, too, with its ice cream parlour on the edge of Rodborough Common serving up scoops in flavours including blackberries and cream; bourbon vanilla; rum and raisin; butterscotch and raspberry ripple.

Go on a date night at Five Valleys

With a design reminiscent of a retro American bowling alley, pool tables for hire and arcade machines to battle it out on, Stroud Bowl at Five Valleys is a great place for a classic date night. See if you can strike it lucky on the lanes, or hit the high score in the arcade, before enjoying food and cocktails at Bar 300.

Or cuddle up in the front row with popcorn to share at Vue cinema, showing all the latest blockbuster movies on six screens – and for a pre- or post-movie treat, there’s 10 per cent off hot food at Five Valleys Market when you show your cinema tickets.

Get your culture fix at Museum in the Park

With 4,000 artefacts on display, from dinosaur bones and Roman antiquities to Prinknash pottery, landscape paintings and patent drawings of the world’s first lawnmower, Museum in the Park showcases the Stroud district’s fascinating history.

The museum also hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, with its latest exhibition ‘A Thread of Light’ celebrating the International Year of Glass with unique artworks from three generations of glass artists.

Try authentic Venezuelan food at Galgos Latino

Galgos Latino has a vibrant menu that promises to take diners on ‘a culinary journey through Latin America’, with familiar dishes like tacos and nachos, alongside more traditional dishes like Venezuelan-style roasted beef, empanaditas and fried plantain tostones.

There’s plenty for vegetarians and vegans to choose from – and Galgos Latino shakes up colourful cocktails, too. If that wasn’t enough, there are enticing deals like Taco Tuesday, where diners can get three tacos and a beer for £12; and happy hour, where cocktails are two for one every weekday from 5pm to 7pm.

Have a go at standup paddleboarding on the Stroudwater canal

Take to the water on one of Stroud’s canals and have a go at standup paddleboarding. Glide down the waterways and drink in the idyllic views, or have a go at something more adventurous – like standup paddleboard yoga!

If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the canal towpaths offer a variety of walking routes with plenty of lovely heritage boats, working locks and historic mills to see, not to mention lots of local wildlife like woodpeckers, kingfishers, weasels and even otters.

Hunt for ghosts at Woodchester Mansion

Famed for being one of the most haunted places in Gloucestershire, the spectacular Woodchester Mansion in Nympsfield is an unfinished gothic mansion with a fascinating backstory. Legend has it that one day back in the 1800s, the builders constructing the mansion downed tools and fled, leaving all their belongings behind, never to return – and it remains unfinished to this day.

Staff and visitors have reported hearing strange noises and disembodied voices, with the mansion having been featured on Most Haunted – but even if you’re not the ghost-hunting type, the eerily beautiful building is well worth a visit, with eagle-eyed visitors sure to spot some of the filming locations used in the BBC’s Northern Lights and Netflix’s The Crown.

Go to a gig at the Sub Rooms

With a diverse programme of live music, comedy, dance, spoken word and cinema, as well as taking part in events like Stroud Festival of Food and Drink, The Sub Rooms brings big names and local talent to the community.

The accessible venue also boasts a bar and café that hosts late-night pop-ups, open mic events and cocktail evenings, too – so there’s always something going on!

Grab a slice of Fat Toni’s famous pizza

Fat Toni’s has a bit of a cult following in Gloucestershire, with its hand-stretched sourdough pizza being hailed as some of the best in the county. With a varied menu from the super spicy Dante’s Inferno to classic pepperoni, quattro formaggi and Margherita, it caters to gluten-free and vegan diners, too.

Its pizzeria at Five Valleys is set for a massive expansion to transform the takeaway into a 108-seater Italian restaurant, too, so Stroud’s pizza fans will soon be able to enjoy a slice in style.

Buy something from a local artisan at Made in Stroud

The SGGLA Independent Shop of the Year 2021, Made in Stroud is a treasure trove of artisanal products, all crafted by makers from in and around Stroud. Originally started by Jasper Conran and Isabella Blow, the store stocks an eclectic range including books, cards, handmade soaps and candles, jewellery, fashion, ceramics and more – so visitors can pick up unique items they won’t find anywhere else.

There’s also Victoria R at Five Valleys offering handmade lampshades, candles and homewares to choose from; as well as handmade jewellery and homeware from Craftology – with both offering regular craft workshops on how to make your own handmade items, too.

Visit the pub that inspired Cider with Rosie

The Cotswold village of Slad, on the outskirts of Stroud, is the setting for Laurie Lee’s bucolic novel Cider with Rosie – and The Woolpack, nestled into the hillside, was his local pub.

Visitors can follow the Laurie Lee trail, waymarked by poems and quotes, before resting their weary legs at The Woolpack, accompanied by a pint of cider, a hearty meal and stunning views across the Slad Valley.

Tuck into fish and chips from Britain’s Top Takeaway

Simpsons Fish and Chips hooked first ‘plaice’ in BBC Two’s Britain’s Top Takeaways after battering competition from chippies all over the UK – and visitors to Stroud can get a taste of its award-winning fish suppers from Tuesday to Saturday each week.

As well as dishing up deliciously fresh and sustainably sourced fish, Simpsons is famed for its light and crispy gluten-free batter and offers plenty of delicious veggie options, too – including battered halloumi, jackfruit burgers, frickles and vegan favourite, tofish. Delish!

Cheer on the world’s greenest football club

Just a short drive from Stroud, Nailsworth is home to the world’s greenest football club. As well as its sustainable stadium, Forest Green Rovers has an organic pitch that’s irrigated by rainwater and maintained by a solar-powered ‘mow-bot’ and serves up a menu of impressive vegan food for players, staff and fans.

It’s not just its green credentials that are impressive either – FGR was crowned league two champion in May 2022, securing a promotion to league one for the 2022/23 season and the club’s first English Football League title.

Browse for unique brands at Stroud’s independent department store

Sandersons boutique department store at Five Valleys offers a completely unique selection of premium fashion, beauty and homeware brands, including Gloucestershire’s own Holland Cooper; Barbour; Jacob Cohen; and Guess; as well as exclusive-to-Sandersons brands Grace & Mila, FRNCH and Part Two.

It also offers the most exclusive perfume range outside of London, so fragrance fans can pick up signature scents from big brands like Pengaligon’s and L’Occitane, alongside exclusive fragrances from the likes of House of Oud, Initio and Parfumes de Marly.

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