No matter what you look for in a day out, the North West of England is a great place to visit. Rich in tradition and history, the area has some great museums that document its industrial and social heritage, while on the other hand the North-West boasts some of the UK's most modern city centres in Manchester and Liverpool - both great for shopping!
If you're after a fun day out in the North-West it just has to be Blackpool. As well as the famous Pleasure Beach, home of the Pepsi Max Big One and other exhilarating rides, you can visit the Sandcastle Blackpool for some aquatic antics. A wave machine and the world's longest indoor water slide, Masterblaster, make this much more than your average swimming pool.
For the over-18s there are some fantastic nights out to be had around the North-West. Manchester's Printworks complex and Northern Quarter are two diverse areas but both offer the same quality evening out. Liverpool also has a great nightlife and Cheshire offers some hidden gems in terms of nights out in the smaller towns around the county.
Liverpool is one of the North's premier city breaks, crammed with a superb choice of galleries, museums, boat trips on the Mersey, historic churches and architecture and a host of special events and exhibitions running through 2008 - Liverpool European City of Culture year. The history of Liverpool is a fascinating journey, containing numerous stories of immigration and emigration, shipping heritage, slavery and in the 20th century struggle and protest. The city's history is given due attention in museums such as the Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum on Albert Dock and in the hotly awaited new Liverpool Museum due to open on the waterfront in 2010 (replacing the hugely popular Museum of Liverpool Life).
Merseyside is served by its own international and growing airport situated just 7 miles outside Liverpool city centre. Public transport within the area is superb including a comprehensive bus service with numerous daily open top bus tours on offer. Ferries push daily across the Mersey to Birkenhead's ferry port Woodside and further north Seacombe Ferry port which is also home to popular family attraction Spaceport. Merseyside's network rail service is likewise superb, enabling quick and easy daytrips to numerous attractions around Liverpool including one of the UK's best safari parks at Knowsley and the popular World of Glass family attraction at St Helens.
Southport, a mere 18 miles north of Liverpool, shines as one of the North West's most attractive classic seaside resorts. Boosted by the splendour of its preserved Victorian architecture, particularly along Southport's most famous shopping mecca Lord Street, Southport sits on the Sefton Coast, renowned for its spectacular beaches. The town boasts a superb mix of seaside holiday attractions including a historic Victorian Pier, a choice of waterparks and amusement parks, theatres, galleries and arts centres.
In Merseyside you'll find two of England's Golf Coast Royals - Birkdale near Southport which hosts the Open in 2008 and Royal Liverpool on the Wirral Coast. The Royals are boosted by a huge choice of golf clubs across Merseyside. One of the region's unique features is the Wirral Peninsula which boasts a diverse range of attractions including acclaimed museums and art galleries alongside some of the best of the North West's golf courses and a stunning coastline stretching from New Brighton to West Kirby and the Hilbre Islands on the Dee Estuary.
The Lancashire coast is home to a selection of the UK's top historic seaside resorts. Blackpool still pulls in the holiday crowds with its stunning promenade dotted today with modern eyecatching sculptures and three piers crammed with rides, bars and shows. Other Blackpool legendary attractions include the spectacular Winter Gardens & Opera House, the Grand Theatre, Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park and of course the obligatory trip for the best views up Blackpool Tower. Blackpool has been the North's premier seaside resort for many years, always changing with the times. Death defying rides on 'Pleasure Beach', a vibrant gay scene in the North Shore area, stag and hen mecca, family holiday of choice and a vibrant arts and shows scene which pulls on its cabaret and music hall heritage. Morecambe's seaside resort history is as rich as Blackpool, and the town is currently seeing some exciting changes including the opening of newly revamped seafront Art Deco marvel - the Midland Hotel. Morecambe offers a superb choice of shows, music festivals, cafes, restaurants and pubs, boosted by the fantastic statue of Eric Morecambe and other striking sculptures along Morecambe's glorious promenade with views across to the Lake District mountains. Morcambe is famous for its sublime sunsets!
The Lancashire coast is on every bird watchers' list - Morecambe is famous for bird watching, with the sand flats and salt marshes providing a feeding ground for wading birds and wildfowl. Lytham St Annes has its own RSPB Discovery Centre on the edge of stunning Fairhaven Saltwater Lake. Situated just south of Blackpool, Lytham and Lytham St Annes boast one of England's golf coast Royals and three other world class golf courses. Elegant and tranquil St Annes, with classic Victorian Pier and a host of chic independent shops, particularly unique boutiques, has a distinct luxury edge.
Cheshire is a diverse county, marked by its canal networks and its industrial history - notably silk in Macclesfield and of course the salt in Northwich. Perhaps the jewel in Cheshire's crown, however, is the city of Chester. Nicknamed 'Capital of Style'. Originally settled by the Romans in the First century AD and surrounded by Roman Walls (all walkable) and a great big Roman Amphitheatre slap bang in the middle, Chester's history is long and rich. The fact that the River Dee runs through Chester give it extra character. Many festivals are held in Chester throughout the year along the lines of folk & fringe, literature and of course racing at the ancient Chester Races. Chester is a good place to start if you're exploring the county, and there's a guided bus tour of the city which makes the perfect introduction to get your bearings.
The Shropshire Union Canal runs through the heart of Cheshire - weaving its way up from Birmingham up through Nantwich, across through Chester and up to Ellesmere Port. At Ellesmere Port you'll find the fascinating Boat Museum and complex with various exhibitions on canal boat history with particular emphasis on canal people, women, men and children all worked the cut. Don't miss the intriguing Anderton Boat Life near Northwich. Contemporary Cheshire has much to offer the visitor, with designer shopping outlets at Cheshire Oaks, to Chester Zoo, to the surreal Jodrell Bank 76m Lovell radio telescope and Science Centre to the awe inspiring Blue Planet Aquarium. Oh, and for the ultimate surreal experience check out Hack Green Nuclear Bunker - now retired! and a museum.
Manchester, alongside Liverpool, is one of the North's most popular city breaks. The city boasts a huge mix of museums on science, industry, social history and transport, many of which are now FREE to enter. Independent and mainstream cinema is alive in Manchester - for an unparalleled programme of 'hidden cinema' check out Cornerhouse on Manchester's university hub street Oxford Road. Manchester, like many of the Northwest's large cities and towns, is a football mecca, home to two world class football teams. The Manchester United Experience at Old Trafford is one of the city's most popular attractions.
Marvel at the architectural splendour of the metallic monolith that is the Imperial War Museum North, set on what was old Manchester dockland. The equally awe inspiring Lowry, home to one of the best collections of L.S. Lowry paintings sits across the water from the Imperial War Museum on Salford Quays. Manchester is served by its own international airport, the largest and main airport in the North of England.
Around Manchester discover a host of historic attractions, art galleries and museums. Oldham boasts the superb Gallery Oldham. Branch out to Saddleworth and villages like Delph and Diggle in the Lancashire Pennines crammed with real ale pubs in a rugged and stunningly beautiful country setting. Just outside Bolton you'll find Turton Tower, an old Elizabethan country house or come further North to Ramsbottom, a village packed with speciality shopping, real ale pubs and of course the East Lancs Steam Railway. Take the short walk up to Peel Tower for spectacular views across the Rossendale Valley. Whatever you fancy - Stockport hats, canal networks, Wigan Pier, stunning walks and a dynamic mix of cultures all make the Greater Manchester area a fascinating and diverse part of the country.
Rochdale's roots run deep - birthplace no less to the Co-operative Movement and Gracie Fields. Rochdale's Touchstones Museum digs deep into the town's co-operative history as well as the history of immigration into the area.
Lancashire is one of the UK's most fascinating regions for industrial and social history. The county was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and many of the region's former mammoth mills, now museums, explore this industrial and social history. Burnley's Weavers' Triangle area alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Britain's longest canal, is home to a particularly impressive collection of industrial heritage buildings. One of the triggers of the Industrial Revolution was developed by Preston born Richard Arkwright. His spinning frame led to the building of the first water-powered cotton mill. The game of football evolved and has firm roots in Lancashire. Find out more at the definitive National Football Museum in Preston and take ground tours of some of the country's oldest football teams - Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End and Burnley FC.
A recent entry onto the city stage, Preston was awarded city status in 2002 and is fast developing into an outstanding UK city break. The city has all the ingredients - a superb choice of acclaimed museums including one of the North West's most popular attractions The National Football Museum sited adjacent to the Deepdale Stadium, home to historic England football team Preston North End.
Rural havens abound including the most well known Forest of Bowland (AONB) which includes a large chunk of the Ribble Valley. More stunning rural hotspots are to be found in the Rossendale Valley, Wycoller Country Park near Colne (which has links with the Brontes), Pendle and the iconic Pendle Hill and the gentle rolling hills of West Craven bordering the Yorkshire Dales. Historic Lancaster boasts maritime, industrial, Roman and medieval history. The famous Pendle witches were tried and hanged here in Lancaster's castle and move to Lancaster's acclaimed maritime museum to discover links with the slave trade.
The Isle of Man is renowned for its independence, both literally with its own independent government and with its distinct Manx character. The island even had its own language at one time. The Island is a mix of ancient heritage including its Celtic and Viking legacy, stunning bird sanctuaries, beautiful coastal castles, central mountains, Victorian facade promenades and a grid of old tram and train links.
Not to mention a stunning choice of Glens (17 in all) dotted about the island. Migratory birds including Manx shearwaters and the red-legged chough are regular visitors to the island and a project is currently underway to monitor these visitors. The Isle of Man then is a must for bird watchers! The island, nicknamed 'The Road Racing Capital of the World', is particularly famous for its annual TT motor cycle race.