Visiting Manchester – Food, Fun and Things To Do
We find ourselves visiting Manchester quite often as it’s our closest big city. We go there for the museums, the big touring theatre shows and the shopping.
If you’re not lucky enough to live close enough to visit regularly it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. If you want to visit Manchester and live like a local you should look into serviced apartments Manchester where you get the amenities of a hotel with the comfort of home. I went to Manchester to find the most popular spots and hidden gems to visit.
The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.
Located on First Street and close to Deansgate train station and tram stops, Junkyard golf is a ‘junk filled weird wonderland’ with three mini golf courses, music and drinks. There are age restrictions so make sure you bring your ID (under 18s are welcome at certain times on some days so check their website before booking). There’s bars throughout the course where you can buy anything from a soft drink, beer and wine to special slushy cocktails and snacks. They do take walk ins on a first come first served basis but we booked online as they seem to sell out fast. It’s £9.50 per person on Friday and Saturday and £8 for the rest of the week.
We decided to do the ‘Gary’ course and on the first hole we were greeted with a slide. I haven’t been on a slide for years and it was so much fun! The neon paint and flashing lights made it really atmospheric and all of the holes were different and interesting. I especially liked the loop the loop tyre on one of them. If you’re going there for atmosphere I’d recommend going later in the day when there’s more people there but being the first people in was ideal for me as I don’t like crowds.
HOME is a large arts centre that opened in 2015 and is just around the corner from Junkyard Golf. There are two theatres, a bookshop, cinema, cafe and event spaces. When we got there we took a look around the Manchester open exhibition 2020 which showed artwork from Greater Manchester residents. Anyone could enter their artwork and the displayed pieces were chosen by a panel of art experts and community representatives.
While you’re at HOME you can also watch an independent or foreign language film (they sometimes have q&a’s and discussions too). Or perhaps you’d rather see a live theatre performance. The restaurant came up when I was searching online for vegan food recommendations so I knew I had to check it out! It seemed quite busy when we sat down in the restaurant but definitely got quieter by the time we left as there was a performance in the theatre starting just as we were leaving. I would recommend booking a table just incase. There were plenty of vegan and vegetarian options and even some gluten free (including a gluten free and vegan main, it’s not very often you get that!) I had a vegan pulled jackfruit sandwich on focaccia bread with vegan cheese and chips and my husband, who is not a vegan, tried the vegan southern fried chicken made with seitan. Both were very tasty and it’s great that they cater for different diets (and that the vegan food is appealing to non vegans too!) The staff were really friendly and helpful and it was great to see the restaurant thriving. They also have a bar downstairs and another by the cinema if you want to grab a drink before a film or performance plus they are aiming to be single use plastic free!
If you like the sound of HOME you might also like the Everyman cinema and the two biggest theatres in Manchester, the Palace and the Opera House where you can see large touring shows.
After leaving HOME, we went to see what the museums had in store for us while visiting Manchester. There’s plenty of museums in Manchester, many of which are free. My favourite museum to go to when visiting Manchester is the science and industry museum. I absolutely love the air and space hall however I went there a couple of weeks ago so I thought I’d try to find something new.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan you will want to stop off here. John Rylands library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband in 1900. It is one of the best examples of neo-gothic architecture in Europe, it’s free to enter and the public are able to look around, research the collection and study in the building. It was also one of the first buildings in Manchester to be lit by electricity. On top of all of that it really does look like Hogwarts! If you want to get some magical photos for your Instagram this is the place for you.
This museum looks at the past, present and future of Democracy in Britain. It is also free to enter with a suggested donation of £5. The first main gallery takes you up until 1945 and the end of World War Two so you learn about the Peterloo Massacre, the rise of trade unions, the formation of the Manchester suffrage movement etc. To find out about post war Britain, go to main gallery 2 and find out about the Co-op which originated in Manchester and see how they preserve the banners in their collection. This museum is a must for anyone interested in politics, democracy and the lives of people throughout history.
We actually found this large collection of independent businesses accidentally! From clothes and accessories to artwork, barbers and piercings, it’s the kind of place you can get a bit of everything. I didn’t go in looking for anything specific but I’ve been wanting a new hair scrunchy to add to my collection and when I saw the selection at Rowfers I just had to get one! I’ve also got my eye on a pinafore from Thunder Egg so it’s great that you can shop online too!
After we’d browsed the three floors of independent shops we went to Gingers Comfort Emporium on the first floor. This ice cream bar has a selection of mouth watering flavours and a menu of milkshakes, hot drinks and treats to pair your ice cream with. Unfortunately they were all out of vegan cookies for ice cream sandwiches but they did have plenty of vegan and dairy free ice cream flavours alongside their regular dairy ice cream. I had a double scoop of vegan salted caramel and peanut butter and vegan malted coconut milk while my husband had the regular malted milk ice cream with a brownie. The scoops are very generous and I was so full after my two scoops! I’d 100% recommend the salted caramel and peanut butter. It’s possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
I had so much fun visiting Manchester, getting to explore places I’d heard of but not been to before and stumbling on some new favourites. The city is very walkable but if you want to save your legs there’s various train stations and lots of tram and bus stops. I can’t wait to go back and see a show, visit a new museum and eat more great food!