There’s so much more to this city than music and ale. Take a walk with us in, up and around these seven hills’ hidden wonders…
Alfred Denny Museum of Zoology
What: Even some lifelong locals haven’t heard of the Alfred Denny Museum. Re-opened in 2012, this zoological marvel was renovated to hold large glass cabinets full of specimens gained from over 100 years of collecting. There’s even evidence of now-extinct animals. To properly epitomise the museum’s pedigree, it holds two letters written by Charles Darwin.
Why: Each free tour is run by a friendly student guide with an intimate knowledge of the museum. It’s an incredible step backwards in time, back when the best way to understand how the natural world worked was to take it apart and squeeze it into a jar with some alcohol. There’s an awful lot that visitors of all ages stand to learn and even be inspired by in just a single tour.
Where: The museum can be found in the Alfred Denny Building at the heart of the university campus, and the other side of the underpass from the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union. Tours start at 10am, 11am and 12pm on the first Saturday of each month, so get your place booked at sheffield.ac.uk/alfred-denny-museum.
South Street Kitchen
What: Situated in Park Hill flats just above the train station, this independent coffee space with a focus on community and Middle Eastern food is the very definition of a hidden gem.
Why: Sheffield is spoilt for choice when it comes to great coffee shops, but this recently opened venue is well worth a trip out of the city centre. A softly lit interior that mixes chic design with bare concrete lends itself nicely to mulling ideas over or setting the world to rights. Knock back a Dark Woods coffee, craft beer or a wine, and for food sample the falafel and flatbreads.
Where: A short walk up behind the train station towards the Park Hill building takes you straight to the cafe. Open from Monday to Saturday, normal closing time is 5pm, but Fridays are later at 10pm.
What: A recent study of tree rings found that the timber-framed Bishop’s House was likely built in 1554. This hides a bigger revelation: that despite the name suggests, it was built too late for bishops to ever have lived there. This well-preserved example offers a public museum for a slice of what life might have been like.
Why: The house is a time capsule once surrounded by fields, still standing in the middle of a vibrant city. It opens out onto the stunning views of Meersbrook Park, so it’s the perfect opportunity to indulge in some early Sheffield history, have a nice stroll, and get some superb panoramics for your Insta.
Where: This one’s a bit further out of town, but easily reachable by bus. The number 20 from the Moor bus stop will take you straight there in about 30 minutes. The house is open weekends from 10am till 4pm, so bring a picnic and set up shop for the afternoon in the park.
What: An independent record label and recording studio, this former wig shop functions as a venue for low-key gigs and clubnights, usually run by the Clam themselves. Artists from far and wide come to the city to play gigs here, with a specific emphasis on promoting innovative DIY music.
Why: With proceeds from events often going to charity, a stripped-back BYOB vibe and a strict ‘don’t be a dick’ rule, you’ll find it hard to not have a good time here. There’s a cool little scene bubbling up in the Casltegate area, you could worse than nipping down for a gig with a few tinnies.
Where: With the likes of Bal Fashions and Plot 22 on the same stretch of road, Delicious Clam sits in the heart of the creative hub of Exchange Street. It’s just a short walk from the train station so if you’re knocking about town without a plan, it’s never more than a brisk 10-minute walk away.
Bear Tree Records
What: One of Sheffield’s favourite record stores, Bear Tree recently moved away from its home in Orchard Square to a much larger unit in the Forum on Devonshire Street. Owner Joe Blanchard has worked in record shops for over a decade, with stints at Selectadisc in Nottingham, Jacks Records (formerly Division St) and Record Collector in Broomhill. Safe to say, he knows his stuff.
Why: The more spacious surroundings of the Forum have allowed Bear Tree to stock even more rare records. Browse your way through their carefully selected range of popular and underground artists, covering everything from indie to punk, psych, rock, techno, soul, folk, experimental, jazz, metal and even the odd soundtrack.
Where: Tucked away at the back of a Devonshire Street boozer, you’ll find the Forum Shops and Boutiques – a hub of independent businesses. As well as Bear Tree Records, you’ll find the likes of Follow Your Dreams Tattoo, Honky Tonk’s Barber Shop, Owl and The Pussycat Piercing, Phone-Geeks, The Savage Sister, Slugger Skate Store and Vulgar Vintage.