Travel: Blackpool’s hard to beat for British seaside fun

The Blackpool Tower Circus
The Blackpool Tower Circus
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When I mentioned that we were off to Blackpool with the grandchildren, I didn’t get the same positive reaction as with some of the more exotic trips that I’m lucky enough to make when I wear my travel writer’s hat.

Yet with exchange rates and economic uncertainty making overseas holidays more expensive, it’s a fact that more and more people are exploring domestic locations. So to find out what a British seaside holiday has to offer, I decided to check out Blackpool and was really impressed by what I saw.

Blackpool's popular Madame Tussauds

Blackpool's popular Madame Tussauds

I took my five young grandchildren and they loved it. They loved the miles of spacious sandy beaches, where we played football and flew our kite. They rode their scooters ‘Formula 1’ style along the safe and flat promenade and they positively beamed with pleasure as they rode donkeys on the beach. Actually, this was traditional British seaside fun at its best and ‘no’ it didn’t really matter what the weather was like, because there is plenty to do.

As a family resort Blackpool has everything. Yes, I know, the cynics will groan at its cliched and at times justifiable image of being brash, but there is much more to Blackpool than its ‘kiss me quick hats’, sticks of rock and amusement arcades.

Here are just few of the places to visit and things to do in Blackpool:

Blackpool Tower:

Blackpool's magnificent tower is famous the world over

Blackpool's magnificent tower is famous the world over

What many people don’t know is that this 380 foot iconic structure is not just an ‘up the tower ... look at the view’ attraction. The Blackpool Tower complex is a very varied entertainment centre, with several options for you including:

The Tower Ballroom – you may have seen it on Strictly Come Dancing – but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer old world elegance and atmosphere of listening to the mighty Wurlitzer organ, watching dancers glide around the floor, surrounded by an audience of people taking afternoon tea.

The Tower Circus – this was a delight and the kids loved it. Dating back to 1894, this is the oldest purpose built permanent circus arena in the world. Its current hosts, Mooky and Mr Boo are part of the famous Endresz family, from seven generations of Circus performers. This is high quality breathtaking circus entertainment at its best. It is worth a visit to Blackpool for this alone… and there is a surprise at the end of the show, that I have not seen anywhere else! This is a not be missed atmospheric place to visit.

Jungle Jim’s – This is a huge indoor area for your kids to jump, bounce, slide, tunnel and generally have fun. For younger children there is also a special soft play area.

Blackpool's Pleasure Beach

Blackpool's Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Tower Dungeon – next to the Blackpool Tower is the Dungeon. This is a one hour immersive and interactive tour... not for those of a nervous disposition, like me! Nevertheless, I plucked up courage to experience the torture and general comedy horror. Not surprisingly our very young grandchildren didn’t do this one. It is dark, but thoroughly entertaining given the humorous way it is presented by actors.

Sea Life Centre

Showcasing over 1,000 spectacular aquatic creatures across 50 displays, SEA LIFE Blackpool is packed with fascinating creatures. You can visit the huge ocean tank, where a maze of tunnels allow you a unique view of underwater life, including tropical sharks. Our grandchildren particularly enjoyed quite literally finding the ‘real’ Nemo and Dory of Disney fame.

Blackpool Zoo

Situated in 32 acres of sprawling parkland, just a couple of miles outside the town centre, this is one of the nicest Zoos I have been to and it is definitely worth a visit.

If you have the time, of course Blackpool has many, many other attractions, including the famous illuminations; the Pleasure Beach; three piers; Madame Tussauds and a wide range of evening and theatrical entertainment.

Travel Facts – the best way to experience the attractions:

So what does it all cost? Well the best way to experience Blackpool attractions is to buy the Blackpool Resort Pass Plus:

Blackpool Resort Pass Plus includes entry to NINE attractions: Blackpool Pleasure Beach (including rides); Nickelodeon Land; The Blackpool Tower Eye & 4D Experience; Madame Tussauds; Blackpool SEA LIFE Centre; The Blackpool Tower Dungeon; Sandcastle Waterpark; Blackpool Zoo; and the Blackpool Model Village & Gardens

Blackpool Resort Pass Plus costs £80 per person, saving over £55, and admits entry to each attraction once across seven days.

Additional attractions can be bolted on to the pass for an extra cost.

For more information visit www.visitblackpool.com

Where to Stay: Of course there are many good hotels and guest houses for all budgets in Blackpool, but my recommendation is to consider staying in nearby St Annes on Sea. It is just a few minutes ride away and is also lovely place for a traditional ‘bucket and spade’ seaside holiday with the kids, with all the active attractions of Blackpool on the doorstep.

If you have children or grandchildren, the hotel to stay in is the St Ives Hotel, right on the seafront. The customer service is very friendly and responsive and with early meal times on offer; daily children’s activities and entertainment; a playroom; a supervised arts and crafts room and a lovely indoor swimming pool it is difficult to beat.

For more information visit www.thestiveshotel.co.uk