Blackpool remains a shorthand for traditional British seaside fun, but if you haven’t visited before - or for a while - you may be pleasantly surprised at how modern the resort’s attractions are now. Alongside traditional seaside amusements and a vast promenade packed with stalls, shops and sundry diversions, there are big-ticket thrills in the shape of the Pleasure Beach, Winter Gardens and Blackpool’s very own answer to the Eiffel Tower.
The emphasis at this north-western resort is very much on fun - no wonder it’s still the biggest tourist draw in the UK. So, while the Pleasure Beach caters for adrenalin junkies and coaster connoisseurs alike, Blackpool Tower has plenty of amusements. Alongside its stunning views across the bay, there’s also a circus, dungeon, bar and stunning Victorian ballroom - where comedian Peter Kay performed his break-through shows. You can step out onto the Walk of Faith too - a transparent floor situated 500 feet over the promenade.
Ah, the promenade. With its gypsy carriages, trams and Comedy Carpet - a huge paved area featuring quotes and jokes from Britain’s best-known comedians - it’s a very English summer activity. Head to the northern end for a real slice of historic Blackpool with original Victorian attractions including fortune tellers and donkey rides.
Punctuating this seaside stroll are three piers - all offering fairground rides, live entertainment, stalls and food outlets. You can expect big-name comedy and music events at the North Pier, while Central and South piers cater more for thrill-seekers. The northern pier’s Victorian tea rooms offer a taste of traditional Blackpool too, when you develop a thirst.
If the weather doesn’t hold there are plenty of options, including the vast Sealife Centre, with more than 50 displays of over 2,000 aquatic creatures from around the world - including Europe’s largest collection of sharks to rays, giant crabs and octopi. There are regular feeding times, interactive rockpools and swimming experiences, plus underwater tunnels let you walk through the huge tanks. Back on dry land Blackpool has a huge zoo with reptiles, bugs and lots of big cats, including new-born lion cub Khari.
As the day wears on, Blackpool really comes to life, with a diverse range of shows at the Winter Gardens including theatre, musicals, gigs, dancing and even sports. August alone boasts craft fairs, Northern Soul all-dayers and the musical Cats starring Jane McDonald. In case none of them appeal, there’s also Funny Girls - the city’s famous drag acts putting on a show every night of the week.
This town still packs all the fun of a traditional seaside holiday - plus lots more. Blackpool is back.
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You can tell a lot about a town by where it’s main railway station is placed - and Cleethorpes station is bang on the seafront. The beach and traditional seaside fun are not just part of the fabric of this pretty destination, but absolutely central to life here.
The town was built up as a tourist attraction in the Victorian era and has strong ties with the romance of railway travel. One of the most famous sights is Ross Castle, a mock ruin constructed by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company in 1863 as a draw for visitors. And a small gauge railway line has been pootling visitors along the coastline since 1948.
The long, beautiful sands of Cleethorpes are the town’s main attraction. They stretch for miles and have been popular with holidaymakers for centuries. Traditional entertainment, such as donkey rides still take place here in high season. And there are plenty more modern attractions to keep you amused - even when the sun decides to put on his hat and raincoat.
The Central Promenade in Cleethorpes snakes along the curve of the seafront and is speckled with cafés and shops. Here you’ll pick up all the tools you need to build an impressive sandcastle as well as seaside treats such as sticks of rock and ice creams - plus plenty of opportunities to lose a handful of tuppences at the arcades.
The pier and Pavillion provide a focal point for fun in the town. The showbar plays host to many acts, ranging from typical seaside resort fare to more contemporary entertainers. And after a multi-million pound refurbishment, the pier is this month set to reopen with a Victorian tea room, period bar and fine dining restaurant.
Set back from the beach is Seaview Street, full of seaside shops selling gifts, jewellery and antiques. Elsewhere, the town has plenty to keep you smiling such as Pleasure Island - a family theme park with some rides for the grown ups. The Jungle Zoo is a small sanctuary and home to more exotic creatures than you might spot on the prom.
And after all the fun and frolics by the sea, what better way to wrap up the day than with some traditional fish and chips? Famous, historic chippie Steels Cornerhouse Restaurant is the plaice to be for that.
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For all the appeal of exotic international travel, people keep coming back to stunning Scarborough. The town is an enduring and beautiful seaside resort with four fabulous beaches, two of them easily accessible to visitors who have just stepped off the train.
South Bay beach is the main stretch and is closest to the amenities of the town centre. Donkey rides are on offer, as you’d expect from any seaside resort worth its salt-and-vinegar-soaked fish and chips.
North Bay beach has not long been given a facelift and boasts takeaway or eat-in options for those seeking top-class ice cream creations, snacks or posh nosh. Head here if you’ve brought your trunks as this is a Blue Flag beach - meaning the waters are super clean, as are the sands. If you do rock up in your Speedos and the weather lets you down, you can always use the indoor pool.
So what makes a classic British seaside adventure, other than cracking beaches? It’s about entertainment of course - here in spades thanks to venues such as Scarborough’s vast open air theatre and plenty of watersports and other attractions.
The jewel in the crown for Scarborough is Peasholm Park, home to plenty of good, clean fun and quirky invented traditions such as the famous scale-model sea battles which take place on the lake every Monday, Thursday and Saturday throughout August. The park itself - voted the sixth best in the UK on Tripadvisor - was opened in 1912 and is designed with Oriental features such as pagodas throughout. There are brass bands every Sunday and a boating lake perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon.
One other thing you certainly won’t get by the pool at Caesar’s Palace or on the doorstep of your Dubai hotel room is a real sense of history. Scarborough’s castle, harbour and old town of quaint little shops are steeped in the stuff and provide plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, offering a pleasant contrast to life on the beach.
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