Peel yourself off the sofa, stretch your legs and start the new year by visiting somewhere different with our ultimate guide to day trips near Manchester.
1. Formby Beach
A beautiful National Trust area near to Southport, Formby Beach is both a nature reserve and a highly presentable beach with sand dunes and high sandy hills to explore. Perfect for dog walking or a family day out, the beach spans 13.2km, great for a coastal walk while you take in the salty sea air. Not only can you experience the sand in your toes while you eagerly anticipate your next holiday, but the area also has a Red Squirrel reserve featuring breathtaking views of the Irish Sea, a great opportunity to stretch your legs, even on the coldest of days.
Just outside of Huddersfield and only 30 minutes by train from Manchester Piccadilly, Marsden is a great stop for aspiring or fully-fledged walkers looking for day trips out. The small, old-fashioned village has a handful of pubs and, of course, a chippy, where you can grab a swift pint and fill your tummy with tasty traditional fish and chips. There’s a number of walks you can take up, too, with three reservoirs to uncover and the Marsden Moor circular walk, where can see Pule Hill, the Easter Gate return, Standedge and more.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Blackpool, the North West‘s most iconic beach town. Featuring the famous Pleasure Beach, the pier and the iconic Blackpool Tower, there’s plenty to explore – and all the better if you’re new up North. To the locals, it might be ‘just Blackpool’, but to the rest of us, it’s the perfect nostalgic day out at the seaside, with plenty to do, a whole lot of rides and a ton of fish and chip shops to try out while you’re there.
4. Chester Zoo
One of the best day trips near Manchester for animal lovers, whether you’re a child or an adult, Chester Zoo is home to approximately 35,000 animals, from birds and big cats to reptiles and amphibians. Just a one hour drive from Manchester, see giraffes, tigers and so much more across 128 acres of zoological gardens, or check out the beautiful botanical gardens for a bit of peace and quiet away from the wildlife. Guests can learn a ton about the animals that live on-site, as well as learn about the zoo’s very own conservation charity.
A short drive away from town, Saddleworth offers beautiful views of the Pennine Hills, with a number of villages and walks to explore. It’s a fairly big place, with Dovestone Reservoir, the moors, Standedge Tunnels, Chew Valley and so much more nearby to visit. Take part in a four-mile walk that showcases points of interests such as Diggle, Brownhill Countryside Centre and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, or take in the spectacular Pennine countryside with a six-mile walk that stops by Standedge Tunnel. It’s the perfect destination for people who love to get a bit of exercise, as well as discover hidden gems in the country.
6. Ness Botanic Gardens
Situated on the Wirral, Ness Botanic Gardens is just over an hour’s drive from Manchester, providing incredible scenes of beautiful plants and flowers. The gardens were created by a man passionate about plants, with a desire to share his love with others. Guests can explore the stunning gardens and views of North Wales, with a whole lot of land to uncover. Surround yourself with vibrant flowers, learn about the history of the gardens and grab something to eat at the Botanic Kitchen, with outdoor seating for those that want to take in the nature that surrounds.
7. Tatton Park
A historical estate with 50 acres of landscaped gardens and 1000 acres of deer park, Tatton Park has plenty to see and do. Situated in the Cheshire town of Knutsford, it’s not too far from Manchester, just a 40-minute drive away. The never-ending land is home to an 18th-century mansion, as well as a working farm with lambs and other animals, a deer park and a playground. Guests can explore the mansion and the grounds, as well as meet cows, pigs and lambs in the on-site farm or take a stroll around the traditional Japanese Gardens and deer park.
8. Bridgewater Canal, Worsley
Although originating in town, the Bridgewater Canal flows all the way out to Runcorn at one end, and Leigh at the other. Anywhere along this scenic reminder of the industrial revolution would be a great place to stroll and sit, all at your own pace, but it is particularly picturesque once you hit the village of Worsley. Known for the historical mining area of Worsley Delph, and its mock Tudor houses, Worsley is also home to RHS Bridgewater, perfect for a peaceful day meandering through the stuff of horticultural dreams. There’s truly so much to see in such a small village, and with it being just five miles from Manchester, it’s worth the visit.
9. Hebden Bridge
Midway between Manchester and Leeds, Hebden Bridge is the perfect solace for those looking for day trips out with easily accessible quaintness. The Leeds train travelling from Wigan hits local stops on the way, so if you’re anywhere between you can easily get to Hebden Bridge, otherwise getting there from Manchester is simple, and of course you can get there by car. With quaint shops and cafes lining the canal, over which stands the cobbled Hebden Bridge, the town is packed with character, setting the scene for TV programmes such as Happy Valley. The town is also just a stone’s throw away from the Brontës’ childhood home, which is said to have inspired elements of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights house.
10. Haigh Hall & Woodland Park
Hidden away in Aspull, Wigan, just a 45 minute drive from Manchester, Haigh Hall is a 19th Century stately home surrounded by lush woodland, packed full of activities. Although a stroll around the grounds is activity enough, the surroundings are graced with cafes, a golf course, a miniature railway, and an animal park to keep everyone entertained. The woodland area is home to high and low rope adventures, and the expansive estate houses a huge playground, as well as a summer fair complete with bouncy castle slides and a carousel between spring and late summer. As well as being great for day trips out of Manchester, Haigh Woodland Park also hosts parkrun every Saturday at 9am, so if the day out is a success you’re welcome back for more every weekend.