Blackpool is a classically English seaside destination. With its bright illuminations, vibrant nightlife, charming attractions and sense of fun, it's easy to see why the city has become such a favorite with tourists.
Blackpool offers a feast of entertainment, from the exhilarating rides of the Pleasure Beach to the comedy and music shows at the Winter Gardens.
Blackpool is famous for its immense beach, which stretches for miles when the tide is out. Enjoy quintessentially English coastal activities like donkey rides or just stretch out and relax.
Throughout the summer, Blackpool becomes a spectacular light show, with millions of bulbs illuminating the seafront. It's a magical sight.
Another thing that Blackpool is famous for its nightlife. Clubs like Flamingo and Revolution attract top DJs from around the world, and they are always packed, even in the off season.
When you stay in Blackpool, you can use it as a base to visit nearby attractions like the Beatles Experience, Tate Liverpool, the Lake District or central Manchester.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been entertaining families since 1896, and it constantly seems to be reinventing itself. Regularly ranked among Europe's best amusement parks, it attracts well over five million visitors a year, and almost everyone who visits Blackpool pays a visit. There are 10 rollercoasters on site, including the Big One, one of the largest in the world. But there are more sedate attractions too including a Nickelodeon Land for kids as well as dodgems and carousels, crazy golf and even a branch of Ripley's Believe it or Not.
When you step of the train to Blackpool, you won't be able to miss Blackpool Tower. Probably the resort's most recognizable building, the tower was built in 1894 as a response to Paris' Eiffel Tower -- and it is just as elegant and impressive. It has seen some action over the years, having been used as a wartime radar station, having huge King Kong statues attached to its side and serving as an unorthodox wedding venue. But for tourists, the main appeal is the fantastic views from the Tower Eye along with entertainment events in the Tower Ballroom.
A great complement to the Pleasure Beach, Sandcastle Waterpark is around 200 meters to the northwest and offers a completely different set of attractions. Here, families can enter a climate-controlled tropical funland and descend its 18 chutes (including the epic Master Blaster, the longest indoor slide in the whole world). If thrills and spills aren't your thing, Sandcastle offers a spa facility, and there are adventure playgrounds for smaller kids to enjoy as well. Basically, it's a family attraction that can be enjoyed whatever the weather.
Stretching out a massive 340 meters into the Irish Sea, Blackpool's Central Pier was intended to provide Victorian vacationers with a chance to get away from their work and the city and feel far away from the land. Since 1868, it has provided a place to escape, offering a huge array of games, entertainment venues and rides. These days, you can ride the Ferris Wheel, check out the fairground and enjoy a show at the Family Bar. And, if all of that isn't enough, SEA LIFE Blackpool is just across the road -- one of the UK's best aquariums.
Back on dry land, Stanley Park is Blackpool's premier green space, but it's more than just a boring old park. Stretching across 260 acres, it offers a superb boating lake, a pitch and putt course and plenty of places to relax. But the main attraction is the Italian Garden. Featuring lion sculptures, Florentine fountains and probably the most beautiful café you will ever visit, the park's Italian Garden is a testimony to the Victorians' belief in healthy bodies and healthy minds.
If you want to enjoy the beach at its best, head to Blackpool between June and early September. However, you can have plenty of fun in spring and fall as well, with events like May's Blackpool Dance Festival filling the calendar.
Flights from North America land at Manchester International. From there, trains to Blackpool North run every 30 minutes and cost as little as £6.
Trains run into Blackpool North from Liverpool, Manchester and London. Direct trains from London Euston take just under three hours and start at £35.
From London, take the M40 to Birmingham, then the M6 and finally the M55 at Preston. The M61 runs from Manchester.
National Express run daily bus services from London, which take a little over seven hours and can be as cheap as £10.
High-quality luxury hotels within sight of the Blackpool Tower include Number One South Beach, the Imperial Hotel and the Ashley Victoria Hotel, which is right next to the beach.
South Shore - The southern half of Blackpool features the fantastic Pleasure Beach, one of Europe's largest amusement parks.
North Shore - Home to the famous Blackpool Tower, the main pier and family attractions like Madame Tussaud's and Sea Life Blackpool, the North Shore is full of entertainment options.
Newton - Just east of the city center, Newton is another major tourist destination thanks to Blackpool Zoo and the quirky delights of the Blackpool Model Village.
The tramway is a great way to get up and down the promenade and there are buses to other local destinations. Bus fares start at £1.20, while tram tickets start at £1.60.
Taxi rates vary, but expect to pay £4 for the first mile, followed by around £6 for every subsequent mile.
Car rental companies in the Blackpool area include Europcar and Enterprise, and rates can be as low as £15 per day.
The biggest shopping mall in town is probably Houndshill, home to plenty of major clothing chains. Head to the Regent if you are after craft gifts (and have a cup of tea in the Victorian Tearoom while you are there).
Local supermarkets include Asda and Morrisons. As an indicator, prices should be around £1.70 for 12 eggs.
If you want perfectly cooked fish and chips, don't miss Yorkshire Fisheries or Taylors. For gourmet Italian, try La Fontana, while the Beach House offers fine dining in a lovely seafront setting. Expect to pay around £6 for fish and chips or £15-20 for sit-down meals.