Blackpool

Blackpool Tower

You can’t help but see Blackpool’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, wherever you are within a stone’s throw of the city. But while Paris has the views, the North West’s fun capital boasts a huge array of entertainments. The Blackpool Tower has a circus, a dungeon and a stunning Victorian ballroom - where comedian Peter Kay performed his breakthrough shows. If you’re going to the top, you can grab a day-and-night ticket - great for getting a spectacular view of the famous Illuminations. 

The Blackpool Tower’s attractions include the terrifying SkyWalk - a stroll on to a transparent floor situated 500 feet over the promenade. Make sure you catch the 4D cinema telling the story of the tower beforehand too.  

You can relax with a show at the beautiful ballrooms and circus, or further scare yourself with the dungeon’s gallows humour - imagine a live action Horrible Histories with actors and state-of-the-art special effects.  

You may need a drink or bite to eat to steady your nerves after that - luckily there are burger kitchens, bars and tearooms on hand too.

Blackpool Promenade

One big walkway, three piers packed with attractions and entertainment, bookended by the famous Tower and equally well-known Pleasure beach: Blackpool Promenade connects everything that Blackpool is known for - like writing through a stick of rock.

Simply stroll down this six-mile stretch and you can take in gypsy carriages or walk the Comedy Carpet - a huge paved area featuring quotes and jokes from Britain’s best-known comedians. And if that sounds like too much hard work, you could always take the famous Blackpool tram.

The northern part of the Promenade is a real slice of historic Blackpool, with original Victorian attractions including fortune-tellers, trams and donkey rides, while further south has been regenerated to offer numerous bars, shops and cafés. Big-name comedy and music events can be found at the North Pier, while Central and South Piers cater for thrill-seekers. The North Pier’s Victorian Tea Rooms offer a taste of traditional Blackpool.

Blackpool’s Illuminations - perhaps the town’s biggest draw of all - will light up the night sky until Sunday 8 November. It’s the biggest free light show in the world and it’s on your doorstep.

Toast Bar and Grill

This contemporary café bar serves food day and night and is set back from the promenade, close to the Blackpool Winter Gardens and the Grand Theatre - perfect for some pre-show dining or a break from the shops. 

Sourcing all its delicious ingredients from Lancashire and surrounding areas, the brand new restaurant is stylish without being sterile. No surprise then that Toast has received a Highest Quality Assured Award from Taste Lancashire.

There are extensive Mediterranean-themed breakfast and brunch menus featuring pizzas, sandwiches and salads plus some locally themed pub-grub staples. Think pies, sausages and fish and chips - at very inexpensive prices. At night there’s a more sophisticated menu - alongside pizza, pastas and Mexican fare, there’s Bowland lamb, seafood from the North West coast and a range of tasty specials.

Booking at weekends is advised and it’s worth checking the website for deals. Open all day, it’s a reliable hang-out for your start to the day, coffee-and-cake or an evening meal just yards away from Blackpool’s best attractions.

Image copyright @ Tim Gartside

Edinburgh

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Enjoy the spirit of Scotland at one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions. For a bit of fun, hop aboard a gentle barrel ride and enjoy a swirl through the story of whisky from start to delicious finish. At the end you’ll get a wee dram to sample and the tasting glass for keeps, so you can forever savour your malts in fine style. 

The Whisky Experience is home to the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky - 330 varieties - and has probably the best-stocked bar on the planet for lovers of this intoxicating spirit. If you want to broaden your whisky horizons, why not sign up for one of the tasting sessions or even concoct your own blend under expert guidance? 

The attraction is home to Amber Restaurant, which serves good local food and offers a culinary taste of Scotland. Like whisky, Scotland’s food has strong regional flavours and characteristics.

Edinburgh Castle

Destiny calls ... Edinburgh Castle looms above the city with an irresistible presence that is half-menacing, half-reassuring. Any visit to the capital almost always ends at this imposing fortress, home to the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

In fact, there’s history around every corner at the castle, which is home to a number of military museums commemorating Scotland’s fine tradition of producing great warriors. There are also beautiful halls and atmospheric nooks and crannies to explore. Heritage bleeds from the walls. This is where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to King James VI, - King James I of England, the first of the Stuart monarchs south of the border.

The castle is also famous for the One O’clock gun, which has been fired every day except Sundays since 1861, originally as an aid to ships setting their timepieces.

Most people, though, come to the castle, which is a bit of an uphill walk, simply for spectacular views of the city. And there are few more inspiring views in the world.

Top tip: book tickets to beat the queues - this is one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions.

Kalpna

Trust us - you are going to need a friendly word of advice when it comes to eating in Edinburgh. The standard of food is generally outstanding but there is so much choice you could easily end up wasting precious eating, drinking and merriment time to indecision.

Kalpna is one of our favourite culinary destinations in the Scottish capital. Serving up outstanding vegetarian food, this award-winning Indian restaurant is 15 minutes’ walk through the old town from the station. It’s right next to the city’s theatres, the university and handy for Arthur’s Seat too.

The food offers an authentic taste of traditional Indian cuisine. Try a thaali, which is a set meal for one, serving up starters, mains, sides and a dessert in taster size portions that add up to a filling meal. It’s a great way to explore the most interesting corners of the menu under the guidance of Kalpna’s super-friendly staff.

Hull

Streetlife Museum of Transport

Situated at the heart of Hull’s Museums Quarter - all cobblestone streets, Neoclassical architecture and more galleries and museums than you can shake a stick at - is the Streetlife Museum of Transport. Needless to say, there are so many vehicles of all kinds, stretching back over 200 years, to see and experience here.  

Take a trip back in time down a cobbled street including a cycle shop, a Yorkshire chemist shop and a Hull Co-operative shop from the 1930s; board a tram, experience the simulators or simply take in some of the many antique cars from the 1900 Motor Show. There’s also plenty to see from the world of rail, including a signal box, reconstructed brick by brick on the site. 

There are several more museums around the old town area including the Maritime Museum and Hull and East Riding Museum. And make sure you visit the guided tour of the Arctic Corsair - a veteran of the region’s rich fishing heritage - at the rear of the Streetlife Museum. You could spend the weekend here and not do it all - there’s even a life-size woolly mammoth... 

Humber Bridge

One of the country’s most arresting sights, this awe-inspiring icon of engineering brilliance is synonymous with Hull. The Humber Bridge is free to walk between 10am and 3pm during winter - and has plenty of information boards for pedestrians - but is best seen from the top of a double-decker bus.

You can take the 350 bus from Hull station every half hour for a mini-tour of central Hull and then over the bridge to the pretty market town of Barton-Upon-Humber. Alternatively, there are a number of buses that cross the bridge from nearby Hessle - look for the railway station that will take you to within walking distance of the suspension bridge. 

There’s also a visitor centre on the bank of the Humber while the Humber Bridge Country Park, known locally as Little Switzerland due to the steep cliffs that surround it, is a beautiful open space with walks and wildlife.  

Once a month, the Farmer’s Market descends on the bridge at the viewing area in Hessle - it’s Sunday 1 November this time around and not to be missed. The largest of its kind in the region, it houses more than 100 stalls selling amazing seasonal and regional produce, plus arts and crafts. Perfect for Christmas stocking fillers, and some tasty belly-fillers. 

East Park Chippy

You can’t visit Hull without treating yourself to some fish and chips. As you’d expect of its maritime heritage, Hull has plenty of excellent chippies serving fresh haddock, skate, plaice and cod straight from the sea - not to mention the city’s very own speciality, the pattie.  

This pride of East Yorkshire consists of mashed potato and sage covered in batter and deep fried. Should you, by any chance, be worried that’s not enough carbs, then you can enjoy it wrapped in a bun too - or plump for a fish or meat pattie. Many of Hull’s chippies claim to have their own secret patty recipes, with Bob Carver’s and the East Park Chippy being two of the more famous names. 

Expect all the usual accompaniments to your fish too - pickled eggs, gherkins and chip spice, a seasoned salt with a number of secret ingredients. Needless to say you’ll want to give the mushy peas a chance with your meal - when in Rome, and all that.

 

 

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