England is a beautiful country filled with bustling cities, sprawling suburbs and lush rural plains. When looking to vacation in the country there are so many places to pick from it can be overwhelming. Still there are some destinations that do not come up in regular conversation that hold great treasures for visitors that seek them out. Here are two such places that for all of the right reasons are worthy of your consideration for a stay.

Bournemouth, Dorset

Bournemouth

Sand, sea and one of the sunniest spots in England, Bournemouth is home to all things marine, a seven-mile strip of first rate beaches dotted with English beach huts, an old-fashioned pier and plenty of ice-cream stalls. Bournemouth is a coastal resort town that is the largest settlement in Dorset, one of South England’s most beautiful counties. It’s known for having nearly white sand beaches, stunning Victorian architecture and the Bournemouth Pier, an activity centre with sports activities. There is the 2-mile long Bournemouth Gardens offer rock gardens, an aviary and plant species from 3 continents and plenty of family-friendly places to visit, including farms, wildlife centres, aquariums and children’s theme parks. And you can experience the town in a whole new way from a giant helium balloon that offers a panoramic view of the English Channel and the Isle of Wight.

Bournemouth 2

Out on the water, there is a full range of watersports including: swimming, surfing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing and power-boating. And if the weather is too cool, you can enjoy a beautiful day walking along the beach any time during the day or at sunset. You can also experience the Oceanarium, an aquarium featuring a bamboo forest, Oriental otters, rare green sea turtles, colourful clownfish, as well as piranhas, venomous lionfish, and sharks.

For a leisurely way to enjoy the breathtaking coastal views, book a local boat cruise or hire a private charter. Or relax on a steam train as it takes you through the beautiful countryside. There are so many things to see including historic houses and gardens, galleries, castles, nature reserves, museums and theatres.

Also there’s lots of shopping at boutiques, farmers markets and antiques shops. And when evening beckons, enjoy the trendy wine bars and buzzing nightlife in areas such as the Triangle.

Bournemouth is home to many fine small hotels and B&Bs, and the most desirable choice of accommodation are the Dorset cottages that dot the inland and coastline and can accommodate couples to large groups. With so many activities and things to see Bournemouth is the perfect getaway and only two hours from London by car or train.

Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin, is a beautiful town southwest of Birmingham that with its classic architecture and old country charm, takes you back to England’s medieval times. However, for all the medieval beauty of the town, it’s the flowers you may notice first, because they are everywhere. Or perhaps you will be attracted to Shrewsbury’s picturesque cobbled alleys and squares. Whatever the reason, you will surely fall in love with this quaint and idyllic little hamlet.

Shrewsbury offers a good idea of what London might have looked like without the ravages of the Great Fire of 1666. Much of the cobblestone and arcing streets and building architecture from that period and before remains, and at just the right time of day you can almost picture yourself back in that time. The town has more than 650 listed half-timbered Tudor or Jacobean historic buildings, a real castle to explore (Shrewsbury Castle), and it’s almost completely looped by the beautiful river Severn.  So this is definitely the place to bring your camera because there are hundreds of places for once in a lifetime photo opportunities.

But all is not old in Shrewsbury, a vibrant music and arts scene makes this compact town a dynamic weekend destination. With several summer festivals to frequent and the Shrewsbury Winterfest being a definite annual consideration during December it is easy to find activities for you and your family including the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and bike tours around the town.

There are dozens of culinary delights to discover and all types of cuisines from Japanese to Indian to Thai street food and of course the best steak and oxtail pie for miles in any direction. Visit the many inns and bars for a quick pint (try the Salopian Brewery or the Three Fishes for a home brew).

If you plan on staying there are several charming hotels, vacation rentals, and Georgian homes doubling as B&Bs scattered throughout town. Shopping is best along the Wyle Cop, the town’s main road.