North West England staycation guide: essential sights in Lancashire, Liverpool and Manchester

Formby beach on a windswept December day (Photo: Shutterstock)Formby beach on a windswept December day (Photo: Shutterstock)
Formby beach on a windswept December day (Photo: Shutterstock)

There is really no need to be making plans for foreign shores with so much to do in the North West.

For those more used to taking their annual holiday overseas it would be easy to overlook the wide variety of options on our own doorstep.

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From New Brighton to Southport in Merseyside, and right up the coast to Lancastrian resorts of St Annes and Morecambe, the region has beaches to rival anywhere in the world.


Everyone loves a trip to Blackpool but what of less well known coastal attractions like the golden sands of Formby, where dramatic sweep of dunes affords views from Cumbria down to North Wales?

Instead of a promenade, there are lush pinewood pathways to explore, while keeping an eye out for red squirrels, the village home to one of the country’s largest colonies.

Among just one of the region’s gems, it is little wonder The Queen reputedly said she would be happy to retire to the North West.

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Ribble Valley

Her majesty may have had her eyes on the Ribble Valley, which may not share the Lake District’s international reputation, but remains great news for those who enjoy country pubs, stunning scenery and bracing walks in the countryside.

The famous Ribblehead Viaduct (Photo: Shutterstock)The famous Ribblehead Viaduct (Photo: Shutterstock)
The famous Ribblehead Viaduct (Photo: Shutterstock)

The wide open spaces could have invented social distancing with opportunities to head out in your hiking boots to only see sheep all day.

The Inn at Whitewell, in Clitheroe, comes highly recommended when open by people in the know while, for real foodies over the county border in Cumbria, there await seven Michelin star restaurants including two star L’Enclume in Cartmel.


For those who prefer a city break to rural retreat, big cities are ready to lure people back with all kinds of creative ways to adapt to social distancing.

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Take Liverpool’s buzzing Bold Street, where city leaders have closed the road to traffic to help independent eateries create outside “parklets” to welcome back punters once safe.

A bronze statue of the four Beatles stands on Liverpool Waterfront (Photo: Shutterstock)A bronze statue of the four Beatles stands on Liverpool Waterfront (Photo: Shutterstock)
A bronze statue of the four Beatles stands on Liverpool Waterfront (Photo: Shutterstock)

With its pretty green spaces, rich musical heritage and intriguing maritime past, the city has something for every taste. Add in world heritage waterfront, bold architecture and a vast collection of waiting museums, coupled with an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants, and you’ll soon discover why a city break to Liverpool is an attractive proposition.


It’s a similar scene over in Manchester with restaurants eager to again open their doors with hip places like the Hatch on Oxford Road hoping to extend a warm welcome to dozens of independent retailers and street food kitchens on stand-by.

If outdoor eating is your thing, Knowsley Safari Park has created drive-in picnic bays for future visitors after cruising through a wonderful collection of animals from lions to rhinos, wildebeest tom famous baboons.