Last weekend we did our first road trip of the year and drove down to Bath. About 2.5-3 hours away, the drive was long enough that we felt like it was a true getaway, close enough that we could do it in a three day weekend. I’ve been wanting to see Bath since I started reading the book series “Secret History of the Pink Carnation” in which many of the heroins pop over to Bath in the summer. With spring beginning and warmer weather starting to make its presence known, I thought it was a perfect time to take this much anticipated trip. I fell in love with the quaint city and wanted to share five fun things you should do if you head there.
Visit the Roman Baths.
Note: Especially during spring, it’s best to book a slot in advance so you’re not disappointed by long lines and over crowding. Or, visit early in the morning or after 5 pm.
Whether you have a background in Roman history (like me) or just love seeing remains of things from cultures and centuries past, the Roman Baths are an essential stop in Bath. The natural hot spring was an area for religious rituals long before the Romans arrived in Britannia, but they took the springs to another level. Cementing in the land around the natural spring, lining other pools in lead to keep the water from dissipating and installing lockes and drains, the Romans took the area from a natural spring surrounded by marsh land to a true spa. After the departure of the Romans, the area started to fall into disrepair. Reliving some glory days in the late 17th century as a healing spa, eventually, it was completely built over. It wasn’t until residents’ basements started flooding that they found the great pool. Over time, they have continued to find more of the original Roman baths, but even today, some of it remains hidden under protected Georgian architecture, never to be uncovered.
See how the city of Bath influenced Jane Austen during her time there in the Jane Austen Center.
Note: English Heritage members get a 50% off discount on admission.
Since I first read Pride and Prejudice in high school, I have been enamored by Jane Austen’s love stories. Her works were fictional tales pulled directly from her real-life experiences and they are a great way to peek into the 17th century. Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years during her 20s and though it’s often said this was a time of little prominent writing, the Jane Austen Center proves otherwise. The center does a great job teaching visitors about the author’s life, focusing mainly on the years spent in Bath and the influence the city had on her writings. It’s a small center and we went though fairly quickly, but we did spend another lovely hour having tea in the tea room on the top floor. The tea was delicious and the chocolate cake was to die for.
Even if you’re not a huge Jane Austen fan, or haven’t read any of her works, it’s an interesting way to pass a few hours and learn about one of the most famous female authors.
Walk through the historic Bath Abbey.
The Bath Abbey, still a functioning church with an active parish, sits kitty corner to the Roman Baths and is located right above some of the remains of the original Roman Bath footprint.
The fan vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows are really something to behold and are very reminiscent of the King’s College chapel in Cambridge. It’s free to take a stroll through the abbey, but be kind and donate a few pounds to support the parish and all the work they are doing to maintain and restore the old church.
While you’re there, make sure you read about the very interesting history of the church and it’s location. For example, the very first king of all of England, King Edgar was crowned on the site in 973 ad.
Watch some great street performers.
As you wander through the squares and streets near the center of Bath, you’ll probably notice a plethora of street performers, some with a ton of talent. Tim and I stopped to watch one guy play a fiddle while he walked on a tightrope! He even had a sign advertising his Facebook page! I think this is a great way for them to get their name out there! With the advent of social media, buskers can actually become known worldwide if enough people post them on their snapchat or instagram! Plus, if you really like them, you can follow their story after you leave your vacation!
Grab a pint and a pie in the amazing Raven pub
When you’re all done walking and shopping and marveling at the history of Bath, head up to The Raven pub, just a few minutes walk up the road from the center of town. Here you can get some great local ales and absolutely amazing fresh pies. They have an ever changing menu of pies, ales, and ciders so head there often to try all the new things!