I don’t know what it is about Blackpool but I just adore the place. Where some may see poverty, drunkenness and an economy hit hard, like most British seaside towns, resulting in a widespread drug problem, I see sun, sea, sand and a chance for my toddler to have fun.
I have lovely memories of being taken to Blackpool as a child and yes, it may be tacky, but I love the flashing lights of the arcade, the decadence of the old trams, the tradition of the illuminations and the thrill of the Pleasurebeach. There are so many different things to do when you arrive in Blackpool and one day is simply not enough! We recently visited for the day for the first time in nearly a year and we sadly ran out of time. Next time we are definitely going to book into one of the many hotels Blackpool has to offer, and make a weekend of it.
Having a toddler means that the Blackpool I enjoyed in the past may not be so relevant any more. Gone are the days of spending afternoons in the local watering holes drinking cheap lager; spending a few hours in the Pleasurebeach testing out all the thrilling rides and spending hours on end in Primark looking for the perfect outfit and leaving with ten dresses, a full set of jewellery, two pairs of shoes and god knows how many vest tops.
These days you are more likely to find us doing things which are way more fun than wasting money boozing and frittering the cash away on clothes. Here are my top seven things to do in Blackpool with a toddler.
1. Visit Coral Island
There are literally hundreds of arcades down the Golden Mike but Coral Island has always been and remains to this day my favourite. Is it the amazing pirate monorail which floats above the arcade itself? The flashing lights of the best machines in Blackpool? Or maybe it’s the location, right opposite Central Pier and only slightly further down from Blackpool Tower. In any case, Coral Island is not to be missed. We spent ages throwing two pence pieces into the machine, desperately trying to get rid of them so we could move on, but continually winning more; I won a teddy on the Kentucky Derby (my secret talent, built up from many games in Blackpool as a child!) and Dex had a go on the Bob the Builder ride on. Such a magical place!
2. Ride on a tram
My toddler is completely obsessed with trains at the moment and so a trip to Blackpool would not be complete without sitting and watching the trams go by before getting on one! I love the vintage trams the best myself bringing back fond memories of when Rita’s husband was knocked over by one in the late 1980s. (Coronation Street anyone?)
3. Lie on the beach watching the planes fly overhead
As well as being obsessed with trains, Dex also loves aeroplanes and luckily there is a small airport in Blackpool meaning you get to see quite a few jets flying overhead. When the sun is shining there is nothing better than lying back on the sandy beach plane spotting while your toddler asks’ ‘That noise?’
4. Walk down one of the piers
Stepping onto North Pier is like taking a step back in time. It’s certainly a lot less busy than Central Pier and we loved the music piping out of the speakers dotted along the side. (Think sixties classics like Jimmy Ruffin and Buddy Holly) What’s more there’s miniature railway train (I did mention Dex loves the choo choos didn’t I?) which silently glides up and down the pier hooting whenever somebody gets in the way. Walking up and down the pier on a hot sunny day let’s you cool off a little while taking in the sights of the Tower and the Pleasurebeach beyond.
5. Eat ice cream on the promenade
A trip to the seaside is not complete without devouring an ice cream on the promenade. We found a lovely place to sit just outside of Central Pier who had the most deliciously creamy ice cream available in either a tub or in a cone.
6. Ride on a donkey
Donkey rides have been a tradition on Britain’s seasides since 1890 and are still going on Blackpool beach. Available just outside Central Pier on the seafront, the donkey rides cost a few quid but make one small toddler very happy to see a real life donkey and have a little ride.
7. Eat fish and chips in a small cafe
A trip to the seaside is not complete without a visit to one of the local cafes to have fish and chips (or sausage and chips and mine and Dexter’s cases) The chips have to be slathered in salt and vinegar (okay, not so much salt for the toddler) and I always have mine with gravy because I’m a true notherner and Dex has his with ketchup because he’s a toddler. Nom, nom, nom!