The new Bullring is a huge downtown shopping center, mostly under glass, but also with reintroduced traditional streets, full of shops, boutiques and restaurants, and connected to the refurbished Moor Street Station. A stunning mix of contemporary architecture and historic buildings, it has completely changed the face of central Birmingham. The "Bull Ring" site has a long history; established in 1154 when Peter de Bermingham obtained a Charter of Marketing Rights from King Henry II. Originally the The 'ring' was a hoop of iron in Corn Cheaping where bulls were tied for baiting before being slaughtered. It continued to be the main retail market area for Birmingham as the town grew into a modern industrial city.
Take the train to Bournville to see the huge chocolate factory of the world-famous company, south of city center. Tours includes history of chocolate and the Cadbury company, a brief look at the factory floor, free chocolate samples, plus discounted mistakes sold in the shop. Combined train and entry tickets are available.
Birmingham has a large canal network. Built to facilitate commerce, it's said the city once had more miles of waterways than Venice; 114 miles still exist of the original 18th Century 174 miles. In downtown areas extensive redevelopment has enhanced the environment and increased the number of amenities. It's a good place for a stroll, particularly the peaceful car-free canal zone between Brindleyplace, the National Sea Life Centre, and Sherborne Wharf -- coming out by the shops and restaurants of the Mailbox. Birmingham Tours has guided walking tours. Second City Boats offers leisure and educational canal cruises; and Away2Dine operates a canal-cruising restaurant modelled on the dinner boats of Paris.