Manchester with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

by Andy Hayes, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 21st 2010 02:00 PM

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Manchester with Kids: A Family Vacation

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Manchester with kids can be the best family vacation. While the city offers you all the amenities you'd expect with a large population – award-winning restaurants, boutique shopping and a bustling events calendar – the truth is that it's still small enough for family travel, even for a large one to navigate easily. Downtown Manchester is experiencing a high level of gentrification, making a stay here even easier, as you can walk to/from many attractions if you don't want to drive. Here are some tips for enjoying the perfect day in Manchester with kids.


Morning


After a hearty English breakfast at your hotel or accommodation, work off that energy by starting out at the Museum of Science and Industry. It's a unique building – one of the world's oldest surviving passenger railway stations. Inside are hundreds of interactive exhibits to keep the whole family occupied. Some of the themes include science and technology, industry and innovation (very key to Manchester's history), the energy industry, the transportation industry and communications – but only the fun stuff.

Museum of Science and Industry
Liverpool Road, Castlefield
Manchester, M3 4FP UK
+44 0161 832 2244
http://www.mosi.org.uk/
Daily 10AM-5PM
Free


Afternoon


The perfect place for lunch is some art-inspired cuisine at The Whitworth Art Gallery. They're known for simple, locally sourced dishes, and even the fussiest of children will find something tasty. For me, it's the homemade cakes and Fair Trade coffee – a treat either before or after you start your trip around the Gallery, which has some great pieces of modern art, sculpture and even a strange roundup of wallpapers/wallcoverings. It's very interesting and another great stop with plenty of things to do in Manchester for kids.

Whitworth Art Gallery
The University of Manchester
Oxford Rd
Manchester M15 6ER UK
+44 (161) 275 7450
http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk
Mon-Sat 10AM-5PM, Sun 12PM-4PM
Free

After some lunch and art, how about a bit of shopping? A nice place to spend your time in Manchester with kids is at the Trafford Centre. The building is gorgeous and though it's slightly out of town, tired parents will appreciate the opportunity to sit down, pick up an ice cream or snacks or just finish up your souvenir shopping in one stop. If you're not driving, catch either Stagecoach bus X50 or First Bus 100, which run the 30-minute route regularly.

Trafford Centre
Manchester M17 8AA UK
0161 749 1717
http://www.traffordcentre.co.uk/
Mon-Fri 10AM-10PM, Sat 10AM-8PM, Sun 12PM-6PM

If shopping isn't your thing, or if you've had enough of museums and being indoors, how about a stroll outside? Part of Manchester's history is how all of those industrial goods that were produced were shipped, and canals were built for that purpose. Today, the canals are for recreation, and you can customize your own family adventure around these hidden waterways. Waterscape has maps and suggestions for the most scenic portions, and if you get tired, you can always catch a taxi back to the hotel.

Another nice thing is to just walk along some of the bridges around the downtown area, such as Trinity Bridge in Chapel Wharf, or the Hulme and Merchant Bridges in Castlefield.


Evening


Evenings in Manchester with kids gets a little tricky. This city's vibrant nightlife means things get hopping pretty quickly. One great option, though, where you get fresh food and a good experience is Dough Pizza Kitchen. There's a kids menu, coloring books and you can order a completely customize your pizza – perfect for avoiding tantrums and upset youngsters. And the most important thing is that the pizza is fantastic. Who doesn't like a great pizza? Reservations recommended.

Dough Pizza Kitchen
75 - 77 High St
Northern Quarter
Manchester M4 1FS UK
0161 834 9411
http://www.doughpizzakitchen.co.uk/
Daily 12PM-11PM

If pizza isn't your thing, how about curry? Manchester is so well known for its Indian cuisine and even has an Indian district called Curry Mile. Personally, it is a must-see on every visit, if not for the strip of glowing neon, then for the tasty dishes. The restaurants here seem to change hands often, but because of the fierce competition, you'll only get the best of the best. Be sure to ask for it mild if you aren't into spice, because they make the dishes hot on Curry Mile.
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