By the Irish sea lies the coastal city of Southport which makes for a brilliant day trip from Manchester. One of its most famous attractions is the beach promenade with the accompanying Southport Pier and Pleasureland. I knew nothing about the city and randomly decided on a Saturday morning that I wanted to visit. I’m so glad I did! This is a beautiful place and I can warmly recommend it. Below you will find ideas to plan your own day trip to Southport.
Getting to Southport from Manchester By Train
Getting to Southport by train from Manchester is really easy and straightforward. You can go from any of the three main stations; Oxford Road, Piccadilly or Victoria. Northern Railway operate direct lines from Piccadilly and Oxford Road. Alternatively, you can travel from Victoria and change at Salford Crescent. The journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes with slight variations depending on your departure station. I went from Oxford Road and paid £12.90 for a Saturday off-peak day return, which makes this a pretty affordable day trip.
If you have never experienced a Northern Railway train, you’re in for a treat. The majority of the trains are from the 80’s and lack air conditioning. They are also LOUD, especially when they accelerate. That said, I quite enjoy how they always seem to travel the scenic route and stop at every tiny station.
Southport pier and Silcocks Funland
Make that famous pier your first stop of the day. With a very retro look, this pier offers plenty in the form of entertainment including a hall of mirrors, arcade games and an old-fashioned carousel. On my visit the crowd was a mix of families, retirees and a motorcycle club enjoying fish and chips in the sun. I suggest that you either join the bikers for fish and chips or visit one of the many ice cream stands on your way to the pier. I tried a place called Rossi’s that I’d read was good online and always hunting for new flavours, I went with Irn Bru. For those that don’t know, Irn Bru is a Scottish soda brand which tastes better as a soda than an ice cream…
Next to the pier you have a small lakeside pub, where a man was singing the classic ‘Living Next Door To Alice’. The whole area has a bustling atmosphere and I suggest you sit down with that ice cream and people watch. Just watch out for the seagulls (anyone else terrified of birds?!).
The layout of the whole place confused me at first, as there is a lake before you get to the sea. There are boats you can rent for a trip around the lake if you so fancy and the options include massive pink flamingos. Not sure why you wouldn’t want to ride in a pink flamingo. Below the pier you will find a skate park, where young lads practise tricks on their skateboards and scooters. Stop for a while to watch them, as some of these guys are insanely skilled with their scooters (think back flips with twists).
Once you’ve explored the lake area you’ll want to head towards the beach promenade to have a look at the Irish Sea. On the way you’ll find an amusement park and a go kart track. I didn’t try these on my visit but if you have more time, then give it a go. If you’re still hungry after your ice cream, the Ocean Plaza Shopping Mall located next to the beach promenade has different food options.
the sea (or lack of)
See that gorgeous image at the top? That’s the bottom of the sea! Personally, I was on a mission to see the sea and armed with Google Maps made my way across grassy hills behind the Ocean Plaza shopping mall. When I spotted the beach promenade I climbed the last tiny incline, reached the top and finally saw…….sand? No sea? You sea dogs out there will know that this is called the tide and apparently Southport beach is very shallow. However, the lack of sea gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the sea floor which is a great activity if you’ve got kids with you.
As a matter of fact, this was my favourite experience in Southport! The floor is covered in salt and I suggest you spend some time looking at the pretty sea shells. There were a few people collecting sea shells etc, but overall the place felt eerily empty. You can see for miles and also walk way past the pier when the tide is out. It’s a rather surreal feeling to walk for 40 minutes towards Ireland on the bottom of the sea. For a great budget alternative to lunch, I saw quite a few families that enjoyed their picnics whilst sat on the sea floor.
Southport City Centre
Whilst I spent most of the day at the pier, I had a quick look in the city centre too. Southport is really, really pretty with plenty of historical buildings. Lord Street was built in the early 19th century and I really enjoyed walking past all the picturesque architecture. The Atkinson museum is another landmark but I got there too late to go inside. I’ve also read about a lawnmower museum, which intrigues me. One for next time! For more ideas of things to do during a day trip to Southport, check out the local tourist information site.
I really enjoyed my day in Southport, please let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been!
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