Forget what you think you know about Birmingham - pick up a hire car and explore all that this most cultural of cities has to offer.
"We've got internationally renowned museums, ballet and music destinations, the world's most famous chocolate factory and a colossal shopping centre. England's second city? Second to who, exactly?"
So it doesn't have the scale or diversity of London, but Birmingham is bustling and busy without feeling overcrowded, offering the best bits of a major European city without breaking the bank.
By day it's a Mecca for shopaholics. By night, it's a muso heaven. There are a couple of hours in the evening when everything goes quiet. Get some down time.
The friendliest folk you'd ever want to meet. Brummies will bend over backwards to help you, especially if you look a bit lost on your way to the Bullring.
It's slap bang in the middle of England so the chances are you'll see some rain. Then again you might see some sun. Snow? Why not?
Think you've eaten balti before? Think again. A balti's only a balti if you've bought it in Birmingham, and scalded your wrist on the dish in initiation.
Chocolate guru and local boy George Cadbury brought the world Dairy Milk and built a village for his workers.
There are 30 other Birminghams around the world plus one crater on the moon of the same name.
"I'm here in this immense industrial city where they make excellent knives, scissors, springs, files and goodness knows what else, and, besides these, music too. And how well!" - Czech composer Antonin Dvorak
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The Brummie accent might not inspire thoughts of high culture but the city's leading theatre has played host to internationally acclaimed actors, directors and productions since 1913.
There is parking either next to The REP, or in the multi-storey on Brindley Drive, off Cambridge Street around the back of The REP. The multi-storey is the best place to park in the evening as it costs £.
Around 40 million customers a year come to flash their cash at what has become the largest retail destination in the West Midlands. Treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy.
There are three car parks in the Ring: the Bullring Centre and Moor Street p&d, which open until 11.30pm, or alternatively the Edgbaston Street car park, which is a 24-hour parking facility.
Is it art? Do you like it? Whatever your feelings about multimedia installations, if it's cool, it's in the Ikon. Plus the gallery's cafe is a highly regarded Spanish Restaurant where they do excellent tapas.
There are many side streets off Fazeley Street where parking is free. However, look out for the double yellow lines. Alternatively, there is a pay and display car park on Heath Mill Lane near to Ikon Eastside.
If big fish float your boat you'll fill your boots with the one million-litre ocean tunnel. New for Easter 2009 is the science defying Sensorama 4-D Cinema.
The nearest parking is available at Brindleyplace Car Park (pay and display).
What with over 200 hands-on displays on science and technology including a state-of- the art Planetarium and IMAX Cinema, you'll have to fight the kids for a go. But they're small and easily frightened so get stuck in.
There is on-site parking with the entrance situated just off Jennens Road.
Want to check out some hot thespian action at the home of Shakespeare? That is the question.
Head out on the M6 to join first the M42 then the M40 towards London until junction 15, when you'll see the signs for Stratford.
Who needs the Alps when there's the chance to get piste in the Midlands? Ski, snowboard and even toboggan on real snow.
It's only 15 mins from junction 10 on the M42 or M6 tollroad - the Snow Dome is signposted all the way from there.
There's been a castle here since the Normans played conquers in 1071 but Dudley only really got interesting when the lions arrived.
You can get there in less than half an hour by coming off the M5 at exit 2 towards Dudley on the A4123.
They've made an effort at education with an ancient Aztec jungle and a bit of local history but everyone knows this place is really about filling your face with free chocolate.
It's easy to get there from the M5 (brown signposts from Junctions 2 & 4) and M42 (due north from Junction 2) by following the brown signs and heading straight ahead for six miles to Bournville. The ultimate chocolate fix is only 15 minutes away!
" I can't deny it - the M6 must be one of the busiest roads in the world! But don't worry, for just £3.50 you can use the M6 Toll motorway instead, meaning you can avoid the congested M6 Junction and have 27 miles of uncongested roads at your disposal. That means it's easy to get out of town and explore the surrounding area. "