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One of the best things about Manchester is its location in the centre of the UK, making it the ideal base for a seemingly unlimited array of day trips. Within a short train journey or car ride, you can be in a different city, surrounded by mountains or breathing in the sea air. Selecting the best day trips to share is quite a daunting task, but we’ve curated a diverse list of the very best places to visit close to Manchester.
Just over an hour’s drive away, you’ll find yourself among mountains and lakes in the middle of one of the country’s best loved National Parks. The Lake District is the perfect day trip from Manchester if you’re seeking fresh air, hiking opportunities, quaint villages or Michelin-star food (L’Enclume), offering all this and more. The perfect trip to the Lakes would involve a wander around one of its picturesque villages (such as Grasmere, where you’ll find the best gingerbread in the UK), a short hike up a tall peak (take on the Old Man on Coniston if you dare) and a ride on a boat on one of its many lakes.
Jump on the train to Leeds and you’ll pass the small yet bustling town of Hebden Bridge, located in the Upper Calder Valley. Beloved by many locals, this is the location of a mass exodus of 30-somethings seeking to escape the city and raise their children surrounded by beautiful countryside and quirky cafés. Many touring bands visit the town’s Trades Club and there’s always a small festival or street market going on, meaning that although you’re in the middle of the countryside, Hebden feels like one of Manchester’s suburbs.
In the words of Manchester legend Ian Brown, ‘Manchester has everything except a beach.’ It’s lucky then that the quaint seaside town of Southport is only a short journey away. The perfect place to head on a sunny day, Southport offers miles of beautiful beaches, stunning Victorian architecture and even a quirky museum (a visit to the British Lawnmower Museum, anyone?). Visitors flock to Southport for the annual flower show, air show and golf tournaments, but it’s a fun day trip at any time of year. Art lovers should aim for Crosby Beach, where Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ exhibition is on permanent display.
If you’d like to visit another city, Manchester is conveniently located within an hour’s train journey of the bustling Yorkshire town of Leeds. Here, you’ll find a thriving arts and music scene with a scattering of eclectic coffee shops, craft beer bars and award-winning restaurants. Arts lovers can enjoy an entire day of browsing contemporary galleries and art spaces, with The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds College of Art Gallery at the top of many visitor’s lists. Don’t miss a visit to the Corn Exchange and the many Victorian shopping arcades located around the centre, housing many independent boutiques, design stores and even a beer market (Tall Boys).
Don’t fancy Leeds? Take a train in the opposite direction and you’ll soon be in Liverpool, famed for being the home of the Beatles. If you’re a fan of the Fab Four, no doubt you’ll enjoy the Magical Mystery Tour and the Beatles Story experience at Albert Docks, but there’s plenty more to the Merseyside city. The city boasts its very own Tate gallery housing a collection of contemporary art, alongside a variety of historical museums. If you’re seeking something a little more alternative, head to the Baltic Triangle to discover an eclectic collection of bars, bakeries and microbreweries. Here you’ll find beloved local venue, Camp and Furnace, a huge space used for events, festivals and exhibitions where you can have a relaxed drink and grab a bite to eat.
Seeking culture but don’t want to be cooped up indoors? Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the perfect place to wander around outdoors whilst admiring an extensive collection of sculptures by renowned local and international artists including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Spent an entire day discovering the permanent and rotating exhibits before retreating to the well-stocked gift shop to purchase a memento of your day.