Blackpool is referred to as " The Vegas of the UK". It might not be a bad comparison, if you're thinking of the scummiest parts of Vegas and then try to make it somewhat family friendly with attractions like fun-fairs and water parks. When we told people that we had been to Blackpool the response was nearly universally a look of pity and disdain.
Blackpool's heyday occurred sometime during the turn of the century. There are many beautiful Victorian buildings that are sandwiched between tacky modern tourist traps. Instead of bringing the area back to it's previous splendor, it seems that the gorgeous buildings are let to fall into disrepair or covered up with modern signage. I've never visited Atlantic City or Coney Island, but I imagine them to be a lot like Blackpool.
We walked from our hotel to a tram station, located next to a minuature golf course.
The tram runs the length of the main street in Blackpool and has sixteen stops! We took it one way, to The Blackpool Tower and walked back, exploring along the way.
The Blackpool Tower is the primary landmark in the city. Inspired by The Eiffel Tower, The Blackpool Tower opened in 1894 and is 158.12 meters tall. The tower has four observation decks, including one with a glass floor, called the "Eye".
The base of the tower is housed in a huge building with multiple attractions, including a very grand historic ballroom. The building also houses a circus, a kids play area and a horror dungeon. The posters didn't entice us to buy the multi-attraction ticket. We paid just under thirteen pounds a ticket for the tower.
Our admission included a 4-D experience made by the same company that did the film for The London Eye. Both "Experiences" had the same footage of the seagull to book end the story. It was awful and completely unnecessary to have as an add on to the attraction.
We were packed in like sardines for the elevator ride to the observation decks, which was mercifully short. If you have any problems with claustrophobia or heights, this would definitely be an attraction to skip. If not, The Blackpool Tower offers some amazing views. Blackpool actually looks nice from a distance, especially the shoreline.
From the observation deck, we could see the band Madness performing as part of a summer concert series.
As with most tourist traps, there are tons of gift shops with Blackpool merchandise.
We walked along the main street, looking at the stores, casinos and people. Blackpool gave me the best people watching of my life. It made me wonder if there is a "People of Blackpool" website, like the Walmart one. If not, there should be! I even saw a baby gambling in a casino.
We ate pure junk food in Blackpool. For dinner, I had fish n' chips and Dan had sausage with his chips at the greasiest fast food place in the UK, Captain's Table. It was located inside of a casino. We sat on plastic chairs and we were serenaded by the jingle of slot machines. Very romantic.
We didn't get enough grease with our deep-fried dinner and ate donuts for dessert.
The wording on this hotel sign cracked me up.
We stopped by the cafe in Sandcastle Waterpark, the largest indoor waterpark in the UK, for a latte. It looked like a great place for kids. Maybe the only genuinely nice place for families in Blackpool? They made a good latte.
My favorite thing about our visit to Blackpool was walking along the path near the ocean.
The coolest thing along the beach was a giant, rotating disco ball. We caught it right at sunset and the reflecting light created a party!
Blackpool is famous for the Illuminations. Lights are strung all along the main street, including giant objects made out of lights. It's Christmas year round in Blackpool.
We had finished sightseeing before it was dark enough for the Illuminations to be turned on, so we waited it out in our hotel and tried to drive down the main street to see the display after dark.
We had completely underestimated the popularity of the Illuminations and how many people would also try to view them by driving. The streets were jammed and traffic officers were trying to get cars to drive one-way. We spent about fifteen minutes in the mess and didn't feel very impressed by anything that we saw, so we headed back to the hotel. The Illuminations would have been nice to see, if it had not been so crowded. If you're planning on trying to view them, I highly recommend walking the street, rather than trying to drive it.
Blackpool is one of those places that you need to visit to believe and then never visit again. It's like Hollywood Blvd. There are so many wonderful and beautiful places to visit in England, that Blackpool doesn't even rate on the must-do list. It's a tourist trap through and through.