England's coasts are dotted with many charming and historic seaside towns, but Blackpool is perhaps the country's most famous seaside resort town. Located on the Lancashire coast, Blackpool has been a popular destination for over a century, with many of its attractions dating back to the 19th century. It's known for its amusement park Blackpool Pleasure Beach and its iconic tower, and the town thrives on summer and fall visitors who flock to its long beach and lively piers.
Blackpool is an easy journey from Liverpool and Manchester, making it an ideal inclusion on an itinerary of northwest England, but it's also easily accessible from London or Edinburgh. It's best visited during the warmer parts of the year, although expect crowds in the summer and during the May and August bank holiday weekends. Whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend on the beach or an exciting itinerary of activities, Blackpool has something for everyone, especially families. Here are 10 of the best things to do in Blackpool.
Visit Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool's famed amusement park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, is located on the city's South Shore and has been around since 1896. The expansive park includes Nickelodeon Land and tons of rides, games, and attractions for visitors of all ages. It's a great spot for kids and families, and guests are encouraged to book tickets in advance online. The park is seasonal, so be sure to check the opening dates before your trip.
Ascend Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower, which first opened in 1894, was once the tallest human-made structure in Britain. It doesn't quite hold that status these days, but it's still fun to head up to the Blackpool Tower Eye, which has amazing views of the whole North West (and includes a cocktail bar). Blackpool Tower is also home to the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Dino Mini Golf, and a circus, so there's plenty to do for an entire day. There's an elevator up to the top, too, so don't worry about having to climb dozens of stairs.
Tour Blackpool Zoo
Blackpool Zoo is home to more than 1,350 animals, making it a great day out in Blackpool for families. It's a vast zoo, with lots of different areas to explore, including Gorilla Mountain and the Penguin Pool. Visitors can bring their own picnics along, so consider packing lunch before your visit. The zoo also features several play areas, a mini train, and a gift shop, just in case you want to take a furry friend home.
Attend a Blackpool F.C. Football Match
Enjoy a football (a.k.a. soccer) match while in Blackpool. The city's team, Blackpool F.C., plays in Bloomfield Road, a stadium that can be found not too far from the sea. Tickets can be purchased online, although it's best to buy them as far in advance as possible. If you can't get into an actual game, head to the Washington or Raikes Hall to watch the match in a pub with a crowd of locals.
See a Show at the Grand Theatre
Experience a play or concert at the impressive Grand Theatre, a historic Grade II listed building in Blackpool. The theater features a rotating calendar of events, from live music to musicals and plays to variety shows to comedy. There are also family-friendly events regularly on offer. Book tickets in advance if possible, although some shows will have availability on the day. There's no official dress code, but the theater asks guests to make a bit of an effort, so be sure to pack something nice for your evening out.
Stroll Around Stanley Park
Blackpool's Stanley Park is a great place for a walk or a picnic during nicer weather, and the public park also its own boating lake. Located adjacent to the zoo, Stanley Park is a peaceful respite in the city, with lush Italian gardens and a bandstand for outdoor music. Look for the Art Deco Café, which has both indoor and outdoor dining options and several playgrounds for kids of all ages. The park is a good addition to any Blackpool itinerary, even in cooler weather. There's a reason it's been voted England's best park several times.
Swim at Blackpool Beach
You can't visit one of England's seaside towns without going to the beach. Blackpool features 7 miles of sand, giving visitors lots of options for some waterside fun. Blackpool Beach includes three piers and a promenade, and areas to lay in the sun and go swimming. The beach is open year-round, although it's most exciting to visit during the warmer months, and it's free to visit. Look for the ice cream shops along the piers, and the Sandcastle Waterpark is a nearby favorite for families. There are lifeguards on patrol during specific hours, but visitors should still use caution when venturing into the water.
Attend Blackpool Illuminations
The annual Blackpool Illuminations festival takes place each fall and is a must-do for visitors. The festival has been in place since 1879 and acts as the official switch-on for the yearly lights, which are made up of over one million bulbs. There's usually a celebrity on hand to help with the initial illumination. Visitors can explore the town at night to check out all the different light installations, including Blackpool Tower. The town's heritage trams are also covered in bright, colorful lights, which parade along the city's promenade. The famed lights stay on for 66 days each year.
Take a Heritage Tram Tour
The historic Blackpool tramway is a great way to see the seaside resort town, offering three different area tours. Opt for the Promenade Tour or the Coastal Tour for the best views of the sea and Victorian buildings, and there's even a Ghost Tram Tour for those who want to learn more about the city's spooky history. Visitors can take their tour in one of the open-air boat trams (pick this option, if it's available), and the hour-long tours are extremely reasonably priced. Tickets can be booked online in advance, which is recommended if you're traveling during the summer or on a holiday weekend.
Visit Blackpool Model Village
Experience life in miniature at Blackpool Model Village, a quirky attraction that features hundreds of tiny village scenes and models. The sights include a mini Cornish fishing village, a small Scottish castle, and a little Tudor village, so you can travel the U.K. without leaving Blackpool. The Model Village is open throughout the year, although it's best enjoyed on a dry day. Guests can't book tickets in advance, so just show up and explore. Be sure to stop by Anita's Ice Cream Parlour before you leave and consider purchasing your own models at the gift shop before leaving. The village has parking and allows dogs, so it's an easy excursion for groups and families.