Manchester may be best-known for its legendary music scene, lively nightlife and bustling shopping destinations, but the city centre isn’t the only place worth checking out.
Delving into the weird and wonderful things the area has to offer, Luke Wilson discovers some essential destinations for avid sightseers and action enthusiasts.
Aerial Extreme/Go Ape
For those seeking a white knuckle adventure, the Aerial Extreme high ropes course at the Trafford Centre features 38 obstacles and two zip wires to get hearts racing. If you’re willing to spend a bit more and travel further away from the city, Go Ape in Rivington offers a more scenic venture and includes a zip wire across the nearby reservoir.
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre
Equally suitable for adrenaline junkies is Salford’s brilliantly equipped watersports centre. Wakeboarding, open water swimming, powerboating and windsurfing are just a few of the the great aqua-based activities on offer.
The Bridgewater Canal
Also passing through Salford is the Bridgewater Canal, which stretches 65km across the north-west. Take your pick from fishing, boat hires, cycling and walking to make the most of the sunshine that remains.
The East Lancs Railway
The famous Railway hosts plenty of events to cater for all ages across its calendar. The regular Rail Ale Trail tours give adults a reason to travel to areas such as Bury, Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom, while Thomas the Tank Engine, a Halloween ghost train and a visit from Santa at Christmas will keep the kids entertained.
The more active adventurers will love Madrenaline’s centre near Macclesfield, home to a number of unique outdoor activities. Encase yourself in a sphere and roll at 30mph down a hill, take control of a segway, or shoot clay pigeons. Madrenaline’s corporate event list stretches this activity list even further to archery, digger driving and laser tag.
The Peak District
Easily accessible from Manchester is the stunning Peak District. Reaching south towards Derbyshire, the UK’s first national park offers far too many outdoor opportunities to mention within one paragraph, but includes everything from watersports and airsports to a variety of walking and cycling trails.
An essential activity for groups and families, Delta Force is your go-to site for outdoor paintballing in the north-west. The arena caters for stag parties, hen parties and corporate events, featuring several themed zones that include an apocalyptic London and a 100ft Berlin Wall.
The home of the huge RHS Flower Show also offers several fantastic gardens of its own, along with a thousand acre deer park and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. It also hosts seasonal events across the year, making it worth a visit even outside the summer months.
Manchester’s Green Corridor
Ramblers can easily find their way to Manchester’s greenest areas by following the Green Corridor, which allows walkers to choose from fourteen routes of four miles each that extend from the city centre out to areas such as Didsbury, Prestwich and Withington.
Now that you’ve seen all the city sights, it’s time to hear them. Hear Manchester provides visitors with a number of audio programmes to accompany a walk along the Rochdale Canal in the Petersfield area of Manchester, with more than thirty guests covering a range of topics regarding the history and culture of the area.
If the indoor environment of the Chill Factore doesn’t quite recreate the experience of plummeting from the peak of a mountain, then the outdoor dry slope at Ski Rossendale in Rawtenstall is your next best option. Monthly and annual passes are available, as well as lessons, parties and race leagues for the more serious skier.
Haigh Country Park
Another great park to visit with the family, Haigh Country Park has 250 acres of parkland and 27 holes of golf for the adults, while kids will love playing crazy golf and riding the miniature railway.
The north-west may be short on theme parks, but Gullivers World in Warrington has everything you will need to keep the kids entertained for the day. On top of the main area the park comprises a water park, nerf zone, recording studio and hotel.
Route 66 Drive-In Cinema
It’s not the most physically demanding of Manchester’s outdoor offerings, but the drive-in cinema in Trafford Park is the best on offer in the UK. The latest releases are always on show and you can have your food delivered to your car during the film.
Manchester’s most famous park has been home to some of the city’s most memorable gigs of all time, and continues to host some of the worlds biggest acts – especially during its massive Parklife festival. On quieter days, the animal centre, tram museum and boating lake are well worth a visit too.