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25+ Top Things to do in Blackpool

Located on the northwest coast of England, overlooking the Irish Sea, Blackpool in Lancashire is one of the UK’s best beach resorts and a popular destination for seaside holidays. It’s a particularly great destination for family holidays in the UK, with plenty of things to do in Blackpool for all ages.

Blackpool Tower

I first visited Blackpool as a teenager. I remember standing on the top viewing platform of Blackpool Tower trying to look cool in my mohair jumper while the wind blew a hoolie and played havoc with my big hair. Then there was the carriage ride along the seafront with my Nan doing her Queen Mother wave at passers by. I was 15 and mortified. 

I didn’t think I’d be heading back – it’s a six-hour drive from home at best. Fate told me otherwise. My daughter moved from Brighton to Blackpool in 2022 so I’ve visited quite a few times since to spend time with her and her family.

It’s been great to visit the town again with the benefit of local knowledge and insights. This post pulls together all the best things to do in Blackpool and its attractions that you might want to include in a visit to the town.

But first, a bit of history…

Blackpool’s History

Blackpool’s rich history as a seaside holiday destination started in the mid-1800s when a railway line to the seaside town was constructed. Over the next half-century, three piers, theatres, the tramway and the iconic Blackpool tower were added to the town, and Victorian holidaymakers flocked there to enjoy the seaside attractions.

Over the years, more and more attractions have been added and today, Blackpool is a vibrant city, full of fun things to do. The options stretch from a peaceful walk along the golden sandy beaches to thrilling roller coasters and everything in between. It’s ideal for a day trip, but there’s enough here to keep you occupied for a week or more.

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The Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower blue plaque

Whether you’re planning your first visit to Blackpool or your 100th, you can’t visit Blackpool without checking out the iconic Blackpool Tower. This Grade One Listed Building is not just one of Blackpool’s best-known attractions, it’s one of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom!

Blackpool Tower stands proudly on the Promenade in the heart of Blackpool, and when it opened in 1894, it was Britain’s tallest manmade structure. At 158 metres tall (that’s 518 feet in old money), its Eiffel Tower-inspired design can be seen from miles around, even without the 25,000 LED lights that illuminate the tower at night. As well as offering fantastic views of the Fylde coast and Irish Sea, the Blackpool Tower is also home to several popular attractions, a restaurant and a mini-golf course.

When the tower first opened, entry cost sixpence, and visitors had to pay another sixpence to take the lift to the top. Nowadays, you can visit the base of the Blackpool Tower for free, but you’ll have to pay a bit more than sixpence to get into the attractions.

Various combinations of tickets are available, depending on which experiences you want to visit, and these can be great value. Do check the Blackpool Tower opening times before you visit, as some attractions close in the winter months which we discovered during our visit in December.

** Blackpool tower and its attractions open again on Friday 29th March 2024 **

Blackpool Tower Ballroom 

It’s no surprise that BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing heads to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom every autumn to film one of their shows. This famous ballroom dancing venue is dripping with elegance, atmosphere and history, from the stunning architecture and dazzling crystal chandeliers to the sprung wooden dance floor.

Slip on your dancing shoes and take part in a ballroom dancing lesson on the famous Blackpool Tower dance floor or just sit back and enjoy the sound of the Wurlitzer Organ as you tuck into afternoon tea.

The Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer Experience offers a fantastic opportunity to go behind the scenes, ride up from the pit on the Wurlitzer Organ and even play the instrument yourself. Altogether, the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is a magical experience not to be missed.

Blackpool Tower Dungeon 

For a more thrilling Blackpool experience, the Blackpool Tower Dungeon is a chance to learn about the gruesome side of English history over the last thousand years.

Live actors, staged scenes and special effects offer an educational and slightly scary (but funny) experience that’s perfect for adults and families with teenagers. But bear in mind that if you’re travelling with younger children, some parts of this experience might be a little too scary for them.

You can expect to spend around 60-90 minutes at the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, so it’s perfect for filling an odd hour in your Blackpool itinerary.

Blackpool Beach

Blackpool Tower Circus 

If you’re looking for a fun Blackpool experience for the whole family, the Blackpool Tower Circus fits the bill perfectly. This attraction has been running since 1894, making it Blackpool’s longest-running show and the oldest permanent circus arena in the world. It even kept running throughout both World Wars!

Blackpool Tower Circus features acts from all around the world, including hilarious third-generation clowns Mooky and Mr Boo, incredible acrobats, trapeze artists and a breathtaking water show finale. By the way, the Blackpool Tower Circus hasn’t featured animal acts since 1990.

The Blackpool Tower Circus is housed in the base of the Blackpool Tower, so while you’re enjoying the show, you’ll also get a front-row view of this amazing structure.

Blackpool Tower Eye 

The Blackpool Tower Eye is the perfect place to test your head for heights! Your visit starts at the 4D cinema where you’ll discover the Tower’s history, then you’ll ride the tower’s lift up 380 feet to the top of the Tower. 

From here, you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across the northwest of England as far as the Lake District and out over the Irish Sea. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Isle of Man.

Visitors with a strong stomach can step onto the 5cm thick glass SkyWalk viewing platform and look down on the people walking on the promenade below. Or, if you’re feeling less brave, you can sip a relaxing drink in Bar 380, the tower’s sky-high cocktail bar.

Entry to the Blackpool Tower Eye is included in the ticket prices for all Blackpool Tower attractions.

Stanley Park

Bridge over the lake at Stanley Park, Blackpool
The lake at Stanley Park, Blackpool

When you’re ready to take a break from the bright lights of Blackpool, you’ll find a restful oasis in Stanley Park, which was recently voted the UK’s best park twice in three years. Blackpool’s hidden gem is Grade II listed and features on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

This 390-acre park, which first welcomed visitors in 1926, has many ornamental gardens to relax in, winding woodland paths to meander along and a large lake which is home to ducks and swans. You can enjoy a tasty bite at the Art Deco Cafe, with its spectacular views and eye-catching architecture, or marvel at the marble fountain in the Italian Garden.

We’ve taken many a walk there and it’s one of my favourite places in Blackpool.

Stanley Park, Blackpool in Spring

If you’re feeling sporty or need to let young kids burn off some energy, there are tennis courts, golf courses, skate park and children’s play areas. There’s a large boating lake which is also home to many ducks and swans. Or you can just kick back and relax with some open-air music at the Stanley Park bandstand.

Stanley Park is one of the best places in Blackpool for relaxation and with so much on offer, it’s easy to see why the park attracts more than 2 million visitors every year! 

Blackpool Model Village and Gardens

Blackpool model village

Blackpool model village sits on the edge of Stanley Park on East Park Drive and is one of the more unusual things to do in Blackpool. The model village is over 50 years old and set in 2.5 acres of beautifully tended gardens. 

There’s a cafe on the site and toilets. Admission is £10.45 for adults and £7.50 for chlldren aged 3-15 years. 

Grand Theatre Blackpool

Grand Theatre Blackpool has a fine reputation for live comedy and entertainment, and Grand Theatre plays a major role in keeping this reputation alive. It’s been the premier live entertainment venue in Blackpool since 1894 and luckily avoided demolition in 1973.

The Grand Theatre’s imposing green dome is unmistakable, and the auditorium’s clever cantilever design gives every seat a great view of the stage, Baroque ceiling and gilded plasterwork.

Whether you’re looking for an uplifting musical, a classic drama or a traditional Christmas pantomime, you’re sure to find it at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre. Check the Blackpool Grand Theatre website to see what’s on during your visit.

Blackpool Illuminations

If you’re lucky enough to visit Blackpool between late August and early January, you can experience the world’s greatest free light show – the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations. The first Illuminations in 1879 featured just eight carbon arc lamps, but now over one million bulbs give the Blackpool seafront a fabulous glow-up.

The Blackpool Illuminations stretch for 10 km along the Promenade, so the easiest way to see them is on board one of the special trams, which run on a loop from the Pleasure Beach up to Bispham and back again. These trams must be pre-booked and sell out quickly, so book up early.

You could also drive the route by car or pick up a box of fish and chips and wander along the Promenade to view the display on foot. Whichever option you choose (we did both) this magical sight is definitely one of the top things to do in Blackpool in Autumn!

We were in Blackpool for one night en-route to the Scottish Highlands in September 2022. We took a walk along the seafront to see the lights but they didn’t come on at all. Then it dawned on us why. It was the day the Queen died and the town stayed in darkness as a mark of respect. We saw them a week later on our return journey.

Blackpool’s Piers

The North Pier, Blackpool
Blackpool’s North Pier

Blackpool’s three Victorian piers are the perfect place to enjoy all the fun of a traditional seaside holiday, and each has its own individual vibe.

Blackpool North Pier is quieter and more traditional, with its Victorian architecture holding Grade II Listed Building status. It’s the oldest and the longest of the three piers. If you’re there in winter you might lucky enough to catch a murmuration.

Central Pier is the largest and busiest of the three piers, with arcade games, fairground rides including the Blackpool Big Wheel and traditional seaside favourites like candy floss. Head here to find a traditional Helter Skelter and Carousel.

And the South Pier is smaller than the other two but the ideal venue for a family day out with roller coasters and rides that are sure to please the thrill-seekers in your group.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Blackpool? Check rates and availability

Blackpool Zoo 

Lying around two miles out from the city centre, close to Stanley Park, Blackpool Zoo is definitely one of the best things to do in Blackpool for families. It regularly wins awards, and you’ll soon see why!

You can see over 1300 animals at Blackpool Zoo, including elephants, giraffes and big cats, as well as smaller animals, reptiles and birds. We love the otters. It’s also the only zoo in northwest England that has a gorilla house.

The zoo is set in 37 acres of parklands and is almost entirely flat with excellent wheelchair access. The animal enclosures have clear signposts and information boards, and Blackpool Zoo also offers educational talks, feeding sessions and face-to-face encounters with some of the residents.

You can take your own picnic to enjoy in the zoo’s grounds or visit the zoo’s cafe and coffee shop.

The Big Cat enclosure was closed while we were there for refurbishment and the new Big Cat Habitat has now opened. Read the zoo’s Conservation Statement.

Sandcastle Waterpark

If the British weather lets you down and a dip in the Irish Sea doesn’t appeal, you can still enjoy a swim at Sandcastle Waterpark. The UK’s largest indoor waterpark is heated to a glorious 29°C (84°F), bringing a touch of tropical sunshine to the Fylde coast.

The Sandcastle has water attractions for all ages, from mini chutes to adrenaline-pumping river rapids and water slides. Thrill seekers will love the Master Blaster, the world’s longest indoor roller-coaster water slide, and the Sidewinder, which was the first ever vertical indoor drop slide.

There are plenty of family-friendly facilities at the Sandcastle Waterpark, including baby changing rooms, bottle warming facilities and a pram store. And when you need a rest from swimming, you can choose from a variety of snacks and hot meals in the cafe, relax in the wave pool or take a break in the Sea Breeze Spa.

Located on South Beach, the Sandcastle Waterpark is open throughout the summer and on selected dates through the winter months.

Sea Life Blackpool 

Sealife Centre, Blackpool
Sealife Centre, Blackpool

If you’re fascinated by underwater life, the SEA LIFE Blackpool aquarium is the best way to spend an hour or two in Blackpool. The aquarium’s four zones are home to over 2500 aquatic creatures, including sharks, turtles and rays, in fabulous displays like the leafy Rainforest Adventure and the unforgettable underwater Ocean Tunnel.

SEA LIFE Blackpool also provides daily educational talks with the centre’s staff, while there’s plenty to keep younger visitors entertained, including interactive displays and a LEGO section.

On the first Sunday of the month, the last hour of the day is dedicated to a special Quiet at the Aquarium session. This offers a quieter, more relaxed experience for visitors with autism and other sensory differences.

SEA LIFE Blackpool is open all year round, and money-saving multi-attraction tickets are available with other venues like the Tower Ballroom and Madame Tussauds. Remember to check the opening hours of your second Blackpool attraction if you’re visiting in winter.

Next door to SEA Life is the Gruffalo and Friends Clubhouse which is another good option for kids on a rainy day in Blackpool. Our 6-year old loved it.

Grundy Art Gallery

Modern art might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Blackpool, but the Grundy Art Gallery is the perfect way for art lovers to pass a couple of hours.

Grundy Art Gallery is the northwest’s leading art venue, housing an eclectic collection of contemporary art in an elegant early-1900s setting. The gallery has previously hosted shows by artists including Roy Lichtenstein and Grayson Perry, and the Grundy Art Collection ranges from Victorian oil paintings to modern prints and video.

Admission is free, making Grundy Art Gallery one of the best things to do in Blackpool for free. However, donations are always welcome and help support the gallery’s upkeep. This is one I plan to check out on my next visit.

Coral Island 

Coral Island, Blackpool
Coral Island, Blackpool

Coral Island is Blackpool’s largest indoor family-friendly attraction and a great place to head when the rain inevitably puts a stop to outdoor fun.

This fantastic pirate-themed amusement arcade has plenty of fun things to do, from nostalgic favourites like 2p pushers to the latest arcade games. As well as games for younger visitors, there’s also a Pirate Quest ghost train and Pirate Flyer monorail for thrill-seekers, and slot machines, casino games and prize bingo for adults only.

Coral Island also has a great choice of places to eat, like ribs and burgers at Captain Jack’s and traditional seaside Fish and Chips. The biggest draw? Kids eat free!

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Blackpool? Check rates and availability

Blackpool Tramway

A ride on the Blackpool Tramway is the ideal way to see the Golden Mile in comfort. It’s one of the oldest electric tramways in the world, dating back to 1885, and the recent £100 million update made it thoroughly modern while still retaining its unique character.

Blackpool Tramway runs regular tram schedules along 11 miles of the Blackpool seafront up as far as Fleetwood. At just £3.20 per journey, however far you go, it’s a great value way to explore Blackpool. We took the tram a couple of times during our stay but also enjoyed the walk along the seafront.

Heritage Tram Tours run throughout the summer, giving you the chance to feel the sea breeze in your hair from the top deck of an open-top heritage tram. You can also book a trip on one of the special illuminated trams that run on the Blackpool Tramway during the Blackpool Illuminations.

Blackpool Beach

Blackpool Beach and Central Pier.

Blackpool is one of the best beach resorts in the UK for a traditional day at the seaside. There’s so much to do on the famous Golden Mile. You can enjoy a stroll on the promenade, explore the arcades and games on Blackpool’s three piers, build a sandcastle or take a dip in the sea.

The seven miles of sandy beach are home to nostalgic seaside favourites like donkey rides and seaside food stalls. Or you can just relax in the sun on the sands – there’s plenty of space, even at high tide. Blackpool Beach has Blue Flag status so you can trust that the sea is fit for swimming and paddling.  

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park

You can’t go to the seaside without experiencing an old-school seaside funfair, and Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park is one of the best seaside amusement parks in the UK. This South Promenade attraction has been entertaining visitors since 1896, and there’s something to suit everyone here.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park has more roller coasters than any UK theme park, including the UK’s tallest roller coaster, The Big One.

You’ll also find the UK’s second oldest roller coaster, the wooden Big Dipper which was built in 1923. It still operates today. I rode this one during my first visit back in the day which is probably the reason you won’t ever get me on a roller coaster again!

There are nine other adrenaline-boosting coasters to choose from, including Europe’s oldest ride, Sir Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machine, which has been thrilling visitors since 1904.

Nickelodeon Land gives little kids a chance to meet characters from their favourite TV shows, including PAW Patrol and SpongeBob, and there are plenty of fun fair classics like dodgem cars and river rapids.

Pre-booking an eTicket lets you skip the queue at the ticket office and get straight to the fun. It also works out to be better value than buying your ticket on the day. Like many Blackpool attractions, Blackpool Pleasure Beach Amusement Park takes a winter break, so check the opening times before you travel.

Notarianni Ice Cream

Notarianni Ice cream, Blackpool
Notarianni Ice cream, Blackpool – vanilla flavour!

Did you know you can enjoy traditional Italian ice cream in Blackpool from a business that’s nearly 100 years old? Notarianni Ice Cream is one of Blackpool’s hidden gems and they’ve been cooling down holiday makers to Blackpool since 1928. 

The ice cream is fresly made each day from a secret recipe passed down through family. 

The Notarianni family arrived in the town from southern Italy and today, third and fourth generations run the business at Waterloo Road. Choose any flavour you like, as long as it’s vanilla! It’s the only flavour Notarianni’s make and I can confirm it’s first class. If it ain’t broke…

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Blackpool? Check rates and availability

Marton Mere Local Nature Reserve 

Compared to the buzzy Blackpool Promenade, Marton Mere Local Nature Reserve feels like it’s a different world. The best part is, it’s only a 20-minute drive away.

This tranquil nature reserve features grasslands, reed beds and open water. It’s home to a large bird population, which has made Marton Mere a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As well as the wide range of bird species, you might also spot dragonflies, bats, butterflies and even otters.

The terrain at Marton Mere is fairly flat, but it’s worth wearing walking shoes or boots as the footpaths can get muddy. Remember to take snacks and drinks with you, as there’s no cafe onsite.

Marton Mere Local Nature Reserve is open all year round, and it’s one of the best free things to do in Blackpool.

Spitfire Visitor Centre 

Air enthusiasts are sure to enjoy a trip to the Spitfire Visitor Centre at Blackpool Airport, which is run by the Lytham St Annes Spitfire Ground Display Team.

The Hangar 42 collection contains five glorious Spitfire replicas, a Hawker Hurricane Mk1 and wartime RAF Airfield equipment and vehicles. The team are in the process of restoring the aircraft with original WWII parts, helping to bring these historic planes back to life.

Visitors can sit in the Spitfires for cockpit photographs or book an hour in the Spitfire Flight Simulator. The Spitfire Visitor Centre also hosts regular Saturday Open Days, where you can learn more about Lancashire’s wartime history and explore the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team’s fascinating World War 2 aircraft collection.

Madame Tussauds Blackpool 

You’re sure to feel starstruck when you visit Madame Tussauds Blackpool. It’s an opportunity to take a selfie with singers like Ed Sheeran and Britney Spears, Marvel Superheroes like Iron Man and Spiderman, or even Queen Elizabeth II.

The Strictly Experience gives you a peek backstage at the show, with waxwork models of ‘evil’ judge Craig Revel Horwood and glam presenters Tess and Claudia. You can pose for photos on the Strictly steps and with the famous glitterball trophy.

The crowds at Madame Tussauds Blackpool are smaller than at the London venue, and it’s a little cheaper, especially if you take advantage of the multi-attraction tickets.

This Blackpool attraction is open all year round, but opening hours are limited in the winter months, so do check before you travel. Currently, in March 2024 it’s open at weekends only but will open daily from 01 April. Check rates and availability.

Winter Gardens 

The Winter Gardens, Blackpool
The Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Blackpool’s Winter Gardens opened in 1878, and this Grade II Listed Building still retains its Victorian grandeur, with impressive curved ceilings, intricate carvings and dramatic chandeliers. It hosts various events, competitions and exhibitions and is the perfect venue to catch a musical or show. In fact, the Winter Gardens Opera House is one of the UK’s biggest theatres.

You can also enjoy lunch in the Empress Coffee Bar & Bistro, take afternoon tea in the Mazzei Cafe or sip cocktails in the Floral Lounge. And don’t miss the bronze statue of Morecambe and Wise inside the entrance to the Winter Gardens! 

Check the Winter Gardens website to see what’s on during your visit to Blackpool. Discounted Blackpool Transport Tickets that cover return travel to and from the venue are also available when you book your Winter Gardens tickets.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Blackpool? Check rates and availability

If you like a seaside getaway check out my guides to visiting Eastbourne, the Isle of Wight and Ilfracombe in North Devon.

Showtown Blackpool

Showtown is a new attraction which opens in Blackpool this week (Friday 15th March 2024) just off the prom near Blackpool Tower.

This fun museum showcases popular British entertainment through the years from comedians, singers and dancers to puppets, acrobats and magicians.

Rare and precious exhibits are on show in six feature galleries which tell of Blackpool’s entertainment history going back over 100 years. From circus, magic and shows to dance, seaside and the illuminations.

Check out exhibits from Eric Morecambe’s glasses, Stan Laurel’s hat and Tommy Cooper’s fez to Strictly costumes, Northern Soul memorabilia and circus paraphernalia. Comedians like Peter Kaye, Cannon and Ball and Morecambe and Wise are featured with animated stories from the beach, behind the scenes at a magic show and a whole section on the Blackpool illuminations.

Showtown, Bank Hey Street, Blackpool FY1 4TQ

Where to eat in Blackpool

Of course there are dozens of traditional fish and chips shops along the seafront but although Blackpool does great fish and chips you won’t want them every night. If you’re looking for something a little different I can recommend the following two spots which I’ve personally experienced and am happy to recommend.

Beach House Bistro and Bar

This contemporary bistro and bar sits right on the beachfront between Central and South piers and serves excellent international cuisine. The stylish Beach House, redesigned by local firm Joseph Boniface Architects, is a great place for a drink and a bite. 

Visit for lunch or stop by for cocktails and stay for dinner. Either way the decor is gorgeous, the vibe is relaxed and there’s often live entertainment – acoustic guitar and singer last time I was there. It’s a fabulous summer spot for watching stunning sunsets dip below the Irish Sea. Check out the starling artwork while you’re there and the outdoor terrace in summer. 

Address: Festival House, Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 1AP

Contact: [email protected] 01253 749899

The Wok Inn

Colourful and quirky with an excellent variety of different Asian cuisines, From small plates, ramen and Donburi to snacks, bao burgers and sides. Food is authentic, tasty and served Asian style; straight from the kitchen when it’s ready.

The Wok Inn: 118 Promenade, Blackpool FY1 1RA

Where to stay in Blackpool

When we haven’t stayed with my daughter we’ve booked the following hotels and are happy to recommend. We’ll stay in either again but prefer…

Hampton by Hilton

Hampton by Hilton is fairly new hotel is in South Shore, a 10-minute walk from Pleasure Beach and Sandcastle Waterpark. Blackpool Tower and the main seafront attractions are within two miles. The tram station is across the road so it’s easy to get to the town centre. We took a leisurely stroll and did it in about half an hour including photo stops.

The hotel is modern and stylish. Bedrooms are a decent size with cool, calm decor. Breakfast was very good with full English and continetal buffet. The bar staff were great and served us a late-night snack on arrival. The car park’s not huge but we found a space and there’s on street parking nearby. We’ve stayed twice and would be happy to return.

Sorry, no photos. not sure why I didn’t take any!

Address: 595-601 New S Promenade, Blackpool FY4 1NG

Hampton by Hilton: Check rates and availability

Village Hotel Blackpool

Village Hotel Blackpool is located between Blackpool Zoo and Stanley Park and is a ten-minute drive from the Pleasure Beach. 

Rooms are modern with ensuite showers. The Health and Wellness Club has a gym, heated indoor swimming pool with whirlpool, steam room and sauna. For golfers there’s an 18-hole golf course.

Pool at Village Hotel Blackpool

The Pub and Grill serves up lunch and dinner with huge screens showing the top sporting events. Breakfast was decent with continental cold offerings and a cooked breakfast. 

If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly stay sign up for their free membership for great deals and offers with B&B from £59.

Address: E Park Dr, Blackpool FY3 8LL

Village Hotel Blackpool: Check rates and availability

So, that’s my take on the best things to do in Blackpool. For now. As you can see there’s a wide range of activities but I’ll be visiting regularly so I’ll update this post with more things to do, places to eat and attractions as I find them. 

Have you been to Blackpool. Any recommendations for my next visit?

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