Blackpool for families: 10 tantalizing trips
Blackpool: to some a beloved seaside resort on the Flyde Coast; to others a slightly rundown and overpriced amusement arcade in the North West. Yet Blackpool remains a destination with tourism at its heart that millions still visit.
As a child I visited every year with my parents. Now I’ve been back with the kids and it remains a delight. Here, my top 10 highlights. Some you may have heard of, and a few may be a surprise.
1. Amusement Arcades
Amusement arcades are everywhere and no trip to Blackpool would be complete without a trip. We stick to the 2p machines with our little ones and they love that they can play them for hours without us losing too much money. Blackpool is all about the arcades so set a budget and accept that you’ll at least need to wander through to take in the scene. You’ll struggle to visit without at least one trip!
2. Strictly Come Dancing Ballroom
Technically this is just the ballroom in Blackpool Tower, which has been there since 1894. However for my kids it is the Strictly Ballroom and they will sit there happily for an hour or so, debating which dresses they prefer and deciding which dancers should get a 10 from Len! Perfect wet weather activity and really pretty cheap!
The Big Dipper, The Big One, The Grand National – these rides at this theme park are all legends in their own right. The pleasure beach now the option of an entry fee or a wristband payment method (unlimited rides – get ready to scream). A day out here can lean toward the expensive but it is jolly good fun. For the younger ones, Nickelodeon Land is usually quieter and has some great rides for the under 8s. My girls love Blackpool Pleasure Beach as much as I did when I was little.
Technically, this is a free activity as you simply drive or walk down the front after dark and look at all the illuminations. However I challenge you to go to Blackpool and not eat fish and chips or spend a penny or two on the pier.
5. Blackpool Piers – North, South or Central
The three piers have been providing entertainment to families for generations. The South and Central piers were host to open-air dancing and amusements, the North featured orchestra concerts and comedians. These days, you can find adrenaline rides, a big wheel, family parties, occasional free children’s entertainment much more. Whilst there are activities that cost money, as a family we just enjoy wandering up and down them watching the world go by!
6. Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower includes the Strictly Come Dancing Ballroom referred to above but so much more too. A trip up to the top can be hard to achieve if you go on a busy day - the queue can be long so ask before you splash out on a ticket. The view from the top is pretty spectacular on a clear day, and if you are brave enough you can walk across the glass floor to marvel at the promenade 380 feet below.
7. Eat Fish and Chips on the beach!
There are fish and chip shops on every corner but for us no visit to Blackpool is complete without a visit to Bispham Kitchens for a piping hot meal. There’s a takeaway and a dine-in café with the best cream cakes in town, if you still have room.
To the southeast of Blackpool Town Centre is Stanley Park. If you’re in Blackpool for a few days, you’ll find the park a welcome retreat from the craziness of Blackpool front. There is a farm-themed play area aimed at 2-8 year olds containing modern versions of playground classics such as rocking horses, see-saws, slides, climbing frames, swings and roundabouts. In addition there is also an interactive surfboard, rota web (that’s a round rope climbing frame), play vehicles and a 3D spring ride-on!
Depending on what ticket you buy for Blackpool Tower, the tower circus may be included in the ticket price. It’s a hot sticky affair inside but very very good fun. The circus acts are exceptional; no animals here, but some of the highest calibre acrobats, accompanied by a mixed-age chorus which included some gorgeous little dancers. If you visit at Christmas they do a Circus Panto I highly recommended.
The beach itself holds many delights for children of all ages; donkeys, sandcastle building, swimming in the sea (if the tide isn’t too far out), running races or seasonal activities. The beach can be as free or as expensive as you make it.