If you’re in the north west of England and looking for family days out, then these ideas for places to visit in Lancashire could provide plenty of suggestions. From young families to those with teens, there’s sure to be somewhere suitable to enjoy.
History and museums
Lancaster Castle – free to enter, but pay to tour areas of the castle, now still in use as a court. Really interesting, especially getting to stand in the prison wing (it only stopped being a prison in 2011). Pushchairs need to be left outside, not wheelchair friendly due to the age/floor types. There are tour times which are more family friendly for younger children, as they talk about punishments across the centuries.
Lytham Windmill – free to enter, a lovely little windmill with local displays about the lifeboat, life and people of the area, and the windmill.
Madame Tussauds – the northern version of the waxworks museum. Have photos taken with the celebrities where it’s much quieter than the London museum. Lots of the models were lost on N who had no idea who they were, but I loved it remembering all the old tv shows, bands and comedians.
Ripleys Believe it or Not – quirky and weird displays of everything weird and wonderful. Some young children may find bits a bit spooky. Quite small, but includes some interactive puzzle areas too.
Astley Hall, Chorley – stately home with beautiful gardens to walk and explore, play area, and traditional games on the lawn over the summer months.
Hoghton Tower, Preston – a dolls house collection, seasonal events and family activities, beautiful gardens, and interesting history. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Whalley Abbey, Clitheroe – former Cisterian abbey, enjoy exploring the ruins and follow up with something to eat and drink in the cafe.
Salmesbury Hall, Preston – including entrance to the hall, gardens and the Mayflower playground, all for free. There’s a cafe, but no picnics are allowed to keep the entrance free.
Rufford Old Hall, Ormskirk – Tudor building with plenty of woodland and gardens to explore.
Gawthorpe Hall, nr Burnley – an Elizabethan hall with formal gardens, hosting a textiles collection, and various temporary exhibitions. There’s also a sensory garden, and family activities throughout the year.
Blackpool Tower, Tower Ballroom and Winter Gardens – if you’ve got dancers in your family, the Tower Ballroom visit is a must. You can buy a pick and mix of tickets. Check out the tower which includes a 3D film before heading up in the lifts to see the views across the town and coast. There’s also the circus, mini golf and a variety of other options you can buy tickets for.
Pendle Sculpture Trail, Aitken Wood, Barley – find the sculptures around the wood from artists, showing witches, bats and other mysterious depictions.
Blackpool Tram – travel along the coast by tram. During the illuminations they also have vintage trams running all lit up.
Outdoors and wildlife
Sealife Centre, Blackpool – look out for the offers to get a good deal, the usual sea life centre experience.
Blackpool Zoo – over 1500 species to visit, dino safari, playbarn, find your way around with the map or download the app.
Williamson Park mini zoo and butterfly house – if you’re after a brief stop off with young children, this park and mini zoo is lovely. Get up close to the meerkats, visit the beautiful glass house, and enjoy the playgrounds and views over the city. Plenty of space to let children run around, with the Ashton Memorial behind. Outdoor events also held here.
Forest of Bowland – plenty of forest to explore and enjoy walking, cycling or riding.
Bowland Wild Boar Park, Chipping, near Preston – meet the animals, go on farm rides, there’s outdoor and indoor play areas, and seasonal events.
Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary, Whitestake, Preston – 80 birds of prey, watch the daily displays, and get the opportunity to take part.
Stanley Park, Blackpool – large park with plenty of different ornamental gardens and landscape features to visit, as well as sporting facilities to book and play.
Farmer Parrs Animal World, Fleetwood – see the animals, check out the museum and go on tractor rides. Cafe and play areas.
Brockholes Nature Reserve, Salmesbury, nr Preston – with 2 play areas and plenty of walks (many accessible) this former quarry site is a great opportunity to get out on the different trails. There’s also a floating visitor centre with a cafe.
Capybara Experience at Wild Discovery, Ribby Hall, Preston – not just a zoo but the opportunity to experience up close and personal with some of the animals.
Blackpool – Blackpool’s an experience, with several piers, and a sandy beach to enjoy along with the usual seaside town attractions.
Lytham St Annes – relatively quiet beach with a long walk out to sea. A quieter alternative to Blackpool. If you walk a bit further up towards Blackpool, you’ll hit the sand dune backed North Beach, a smaller beach exposed at low tide. There’s also a miniature train, pitch and put, and splash pad.
Blackpool Pleasure beach – theme park which includes the famous The Big One. Buy credits or wristbands. It was sodden when we went, but as well as rides, there’s a train, Nickelodeon Land and entertainment in the queue while you wait for it to open. Book for an ice skating session or to watch a show.
Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool – an indoor water park for the whole family, from the lagoon to water shoots and more adventurous slides. Check opening times as the autumn/winter months it tends to be weekends only. Book in advance.
Blackpool Illuminations – the best way to view the Blackpool illuminations along the prom is walking, but at 6 miles it’s long for children. Instead take the tram, drive, or even watch out for the early cycling option when there’s sometimes a cycle only preview before they formally open. Fun evening out over autumn.
Coral Island – not for everyone, but if you want to experience arcades, a few indoor rides, activities, and a chaotic but fun experience eating out, then Coral Island might be good for your family for an early evening out.
Where to stay
Imperial Hotel – grand old fashioned hotel on the seafront in Blackpool
Hy hotel, Lytham St Annes – apartments hotel opposite a park and just over 5 minutes walk from the beach.
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