Visit Manchester – ever considered Manchester for a family city break? You should.
At the weekend my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Manchester for an overnight stay and two fun-packed days of museum visits, eating at great restaurants and shopping! I hadn’t been to Manchester for about 17 years so it was wonderful to go back and explore the city!
Manchester has grown and improved so much from what I can remember of it back when I was 18. Everywhere seemed to be clean and well looked after and there was a wonderful summer buzz in the air, every green space was filled with couples relaxing, families picnicking and kids playing in water fountains! It was busy but it never seemed too busy, we happily made our way round with a pushchair.
The transport system is also brilliant; we got on to trams and buses with our pushchair with ease. Both buses and trams were regular and on time wherever we went! I have a bit of a public transport phobia myself but everything seemed so relaxed and stress free!
Living in Nottingham I never even thought of going to Manchester for a weekend, I imagined the train journey would be long and tiresome! This was not so at all! We just had one change and the whole journey took under two hours!
From Nottingham to Sheffield we travelled first class on East Midlands Trains, this took around 50 minutes, there were plenty of seats, tea and coffee, free wifi and friendly staff!
From Sheffield to Manchester we travelled by standard class on First TransPennine Express, this part of the journey was much busier and we struggled to get a seat on both our outward and return journey! First TransPennine Express operates intercity rail services across the north of England and into Scotland. Fares for any journey across the country are available at www.tpexpress.co.uk and can be purchased with no booking fee.
Where to stay:
We spent the night at staycity these are serviced apartments within a ten minute walk to the city centre. Our apartment was on the 6th floor and had a wonderful view over the city! It was a lot bigger than I imagined it to be, very clean, light and airy! We had a two bedroom apartment which had a double room with ensuite, a twin room, family bathroom and then a large L shaped room with kitchen, dining area and living space. We would most definitely use these apartments again if we were to go visit Manchester again.
What is there to do?
We had a brief visit to the Imperial War Museum North, the exhibition brought both myself and my partner to tears, the kids were so impressed with the tank, other war time vehicles and bombs on display! The museum also had numerous activities and crafts on for children while we were there and we could have stayed a lot longer than we did! Also not to be missed is the Horrible Histories Rotten Rationing Big Picture Show, In the show you meet Rattus Rattus as he takes you on a journey back to the woeful Second World War, where you can discover foul food, dig for victory, and make do and mend. The show runs Daily from 18 May at 11am with extra showings at 2pm during weekends and school holidays. Running time is 7 minutes.
There is SO much to see at Manchester Museum, if you are visiting Manchester it really should not be missed! Manchester museum has 4 floors of displays and galleries! We did not have enough time to explore the entire museum but we will most definitely go back again! The kids especially loved Stan the T-Rex!
The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is brilliant! The kids didn’t want to leave. The highlights for us were the 4D cinema and the kingdom quest ride, my 2 yr old loved using the laser gun to rescue the princess! We all did though to be totally honest – so much so we went back on it 4 times!
Right next door to Legoland Discovery centre is Manchester’s Sea Life Centre which has only been open since early June this year! My little boy goes on a mission to find Nemo in every single tank in a sea life centre and he obviously wasn’t disappointed ;) You can also find more than 5,000 other sea creatures along the way! One thing I would be very interested in going back and doing is Europe’s First Sea Bed Walk, at £60 this isn’t exactly cheap but it would be a wonderful experience to walk amongst the sharks, rays, giant turtle and all the other sea creatures!
Where to eat:
Papa G’s Grill & Bar is in the city’s Printworks entertainment complex, Papa G’s have embraced the old traditional Greek and Mediterranean cooking taught over generations. The food we were served was good wholesome food and plenty of it too! The kids have a fantastic menu to choose from, it’s not every day you come across a menu serving Calamari for kids! Both of mine opted for the chicken, salad and chunky chips. The chicken was skewered and gorgeous, the chunky chips divine! Maisie did eat 3 calamari rings from our sharing starter and she loved it… I haven’t told her what it was yet as she is very funny with food and I’m sure she’s never touch it again if she knew!
The restaurant is very relaxed and is very tastefully decorated! The kids really enjoyed the children’s library which is situated under the stairs! This has a fantastic selection of books and the kids loved sitting in there with the colour changing lights! Such a brilliant addition to a restaurant! Every eatery should have one!
Hard Rock Café like Papa G’s is at the Printworks entertainment complex! We had two very tired kids when we arrived here on Saturday evening but they were kept thoroughly entertained by everything that was going on around them! There is such a buzz in Hard Rock Café, so much to see, people singing Happy Birthday and generally just lots of friendliness! Even two very tired kids loved it, they didn’t really eat a great deal, I don’t think that was anything to do with the food but they devoured their thick milkshakes which you really must have if you ever go to a Hard Rock Café, they are divine! Our food was spot on, the cocktails gorgeous and the service was amazing! We even got to take our cocktail glasses home as souvenirs!
Giraffe is situated at the Intu Trafford centre. I think from the whole weekend we enjoyed eating here the most! It was cool, relaxed and friendly! The kids were given crayons and lovely activity sheets that they really enjoyed and they also got little plastic giraffe’s in their drinks which kept them amused for quite some time! The food was absolutely gorgeous; the kids ate everything on their plate… which is very unusual! We can highly recommend the burgers and the rocky road sundae is to die for ;)
Where to shop:
The Intu Trafford centre is a 25-30 minutes bus ride from the centre of Manchester, it is totally worth the trip! The décor is incredible if not a little extravagant! The Trafford Centre has 230 stored for you to browse around and The Orient food hall hosts 36 restaurants and fast food eateries. It is also home to the Odeon 20 screen cinema.
The Arndale Centre is right in the centre of the city, it is the UK’s largest city-centre shopping centre and with over 240 retailers and there isn’t a high street name that you won’t find there! So convenient if you are staying in the City centre!
HINT: If you are booking a trip to Manchester I would recommend staying for more than one night like we did, there is an enormous amount of things to see and do and we came back a little sad that we didn’t get to explore it as much as we would have liked!
Reviewed for us by Sonia from This Mummy Loves – aided and abetted by her homegrown Review Team :)