You have probably heard of the Northern seaside town of Blackpool for one of two reasons: the Blackpool tower; home to the famous ballroom that hosts events such as Strictly Come Dancing, or the Blackpool “lights”; the vegas-style illuminations which light up the Blackpool coast every winter. Okay, lets be honest, there might be a third reason. You might of heard of it as being a cheap-as-chips holiday destination full of hen and stag parties. I had heard of all three, and so was rather intrigued and a dash apprehensive to spend a weekend in Blackpool to see what it really is all about.
We were invited to explore all the sights Blackpool has to offer by small B&B The Melville Hotel. Attracted by the short distance it takes to get there from Cheshire up the M6, along with the vast amount of things to do in one small town (you need to think about these things when you’re 8 months pregnant!), we happily accepted. Getting there was easy, as was finding the hotel right in the centre of town, next to a new and shiny shopping centre, under the shadow of the impressively tall Blackpool Tower.
Unfortunately for us, on the same day we had planned to arrive in Blackpool so had the troublesome storm Ophelia. We checked in, popped for a quick bite to eat, and decided on the best plan of action for the rest of our day with Ophelia now to navigate around. The high winds meant that sadly the Blackpool Tower was closed for the entire time we were there, and so we were unable to visit the top. The guys at the Tower told us that last time there had been high winds they had people trapped up at the top for 19 hours. They didn’t want to risk it and at 8 months pregnant neither did I!
We were however pleasantly surprised with the sheer amount of things to do indoors (that didn’t involve alcohol!) despite the storm. Families with young kids take note: this could be the perfect weekend away for you!
The Best Things To Do In Blackpool
I was impressed with the amount of activities to do in Blackpool, and having lived in London the prices were also really impressive! For small budgets it is a perfect destination, with all attractions being purse-friendly and within a very short walking distance from one another. The Melville Hotel offered the perfect location for a base, and we were able to pop back to the hotel whenever we needed to easily throughout our day. This would be incredible for families with young kids, as you could do a whole host of fun things but never be further than a five minute walk back to the hotel for nap time, snack time or nappy changes!
Blackpool Tower Eye
The Merlin-owned Blackpool Tower offers several separate attractions, making it perfect for spending a few hours. The Tower Eye, which was closed due to storm when we visited, is the attraction at the very top offering views of the coast and a 4D cinema experience.
The Blackpool Tower Ballroom
At just over £3 to visit the Ballroom when you buy your ticket there, it is a real must. The ballroom itself dates back to 1894 and is exquisite. They do offer a full afternoon tea for £50 for two people, but if you are on a budget I recommend just buying a cup of tea and a piece of cake at their cafe for significantly less money but for a similar experience.
The Blackpool Dungeon
I am a big fan of the Merlin Dungeons attractions, and love the London Dungeon. I would definitely recommend the Blackpool Dungeon as a fun attraction for most ages, and it’s location right at the bottom of the tower makes it really accessible.
The most popular thing to do, and a must see, is the illuminations. Instead of driving down the Golden Mile to see all the lights I recommend taking one of the illuminated trams which is a low cost, easy option. To use the trams, you can purchase either a single ticket which will allow you to travel all the way along the Golden Mile and then back, or a day ticket which allows you to jump on and off throughout the day. This option is a good one if you want to visit the pleasure beach as well.
Another Merlin attraction for all ages, the Blackpool Madame Tussauds is full of popular Television personalities and celebs and is perfect for a rainy afternoon activity. As with all Merlin attractions (aside from the ballroom which isn’t expensive anyway) always buy your tickets online for a considerable reduction and less queue time.
This venue hosts some impressive shows. Book your tickets at the Visitor Centre rather than the box office for a cheaper deal.
Coral Island Arcade
It wouldn’t be a trip to Blackpool without a go on the slot machines! To be honest, the Coral Island arcade was really fun and lively, and we spent about thirty minutes playing a few fun games. This one is in walking distance of everything, and just across the road from the tower.
Viva Vegas Blackpool
This show venue Viva Vegas is a great spot for catching live entertainment, magic shows, and comedy evenings. The tickets are pretty cheap, and they have a show and dine ticket option.
An indoor light show which is inside the Winter Gardens, this attraction is perfect for families with kids and rainy days. It is on for most of the rest of October and some of November, so be sure to check before you go. We paid just £5 entry, and it was fun for a quick stroll around.
RNLI centre & shop
Right on the sea front opposite the tower is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution base and shop. If you don’t know much about what they do, it is definitely worth ten minutes of your time to pop in and take a look. They have a great shop too and offer some lovely merchandise.
The Pleasure Beach
I have been to the amusement park years ago, and it wasn’t on our list of things to do this time. If you like rides and amusements, it is a cheap thing to do. They have an impressive roller coaster which gives great views of the coast (if roller coasters are your thing!).
Where To Eat
If you love junk food and American style diners, then you will be pretty happy with the choices in Blackpool. Again for small budgets it ticks all the boxes, with quick and easy bites being readily available.
Burgers and Shakes
For a quick burger or shake, we loved Pastels. I can imagine this place getting pretty full once the pubs close. They have a huge selection of shakes, including alcoholic ones, and make yummy burgers and hotdogs which you order at the counter. Vegetarians: they also offer a vegetarian burger which sounds delicious.
Fish & Chips
Being in a traditional British seaside town, you have to have fish and chips on the seafront! The best is Yorkshire Fisheries on Topping Street.
Beach Side Bistro is a lovely beachy cafe style restaurant that feels more Ibiza than Blackpool. With pizzas, sushi, and delicious cocktails, it is a great place for either date night or the family.
All American Diner
We were really impressed with the fun American-style Viva Vegas Diner. It is the perfect place to take kids, with their retro car booths, and they have some delicious things on the menu. Try the mac & cheese and the BBQ ribs!
Where We Stayed
Our trip to Blackpool was kindly sponsored by The Melville Hotel on Adelaide Street. As I mentioned, the hotel was really in the best location for a weekend of activities. There is a large car park just up the street which offers 48 hours secure parking for £15. The hotel itself is dated, but very clean and with comfortable beds and really friendly, helpful staff. The best thing about the hotel was the amazing full English breakfast served in the pleasant dining room each morning. We were fuelled up for the day, and the American loved his experience of a traditional full English.
If you are looking for a budget getaway in Northern England with lots to do in a small area, I really recommend a weekend in Blackpool. Book your stay at the Melville hotel for a convenient and comfortable stay, and enjoy an easy, accessible, and low-budget weekend without the stress of an airport!