When tourists from across the globe travel to England, it’s fair to say that many will visit iconic locations such as London, Manchester, York and Liverpool. But we always encourage people to get outside of these mainstream destinations and experience some of the lesser known gems. The Fylde Coast located in North-West England, approximately 40 miles from Manchester, is one of these spots that is frequented by British tourists but rarely experienced by those from other parts of the world. From Fleetwood to Cleveleys and Blackpool to Lytham, this coastline is one of Britain’s coastal gems for a myriad of reasons.
Epitomized by local towns offering unique attractions, the Fylde Coast is roughly a 13 mile peninsula in Lancashire that is a popular holiday destination during the summer months and also later in the year during the Blackpool illuminations show.
Frequently renowned as the home of UK’s version of Strictly Come Dancing, Blackpool is the focal point of the Fylde Coast but just as we do with our recommendations on the best places to visit in the UK, we want to encourage you to head away from here and experience some of the smaller towns along this coastline.
Let’s take a look at how we recommend you spend a day enjoying the very best of Blackpool, St. Annes and Lytham.
Blackpool to Lytham
We want to focus on the area between Blackpool and Lytham (commonly known as Lytham St. Annes, although they are technically two separate towns which we will find out more later on this post). It may only be 6 miles in distance but don’t let that fool you, as there are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied for a full day (or more).
The three main towns along this short stretch of the Fylde peninsula are as follows:
- St. Annes
Three distinctive towns but each within a short drive of each other and definitely worth exploring on the same trip to the Fylde Coast. Avid golfers will be familiar with this part of the UK as Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Course is frequently used as the venue for the Open Championship.
Rugged terrain along this coastline is perfect for links golf but it also creates a unique experience for visitors that want to explore the sand dunes, gorgeous beaches and coastal walks.
Enjoy a Morning in Blackpool
What better place to start your adventure along the Fylde Coast than by the home of ballroom dancing itself – Blackpool. Depending on the time of year that you visit will likely determine exactly what you can experience. If you are fortunate to visit during Strictly Come Dancing season, you may be able to grab tickets to Blackpool Tower’s ballroom theater to watch one of Britain’s infamous TV shows.
However, let’s get away from the glitz and glamor of Blackpool’s TV scene and focus on this coastal town that has plenty to keep you occupied. If you are visiting during the summer months, you can head over to Blackpool Pleasure Beach to enjoy a collection of thrilling rollercoaster rides before visiting the Top of the Tower and experiencing epic panoramic views across the Fylde Coast and beyond. On a clear day, you will enjoy spectacular scenes across the bay with the Lake District in the distance and the Irish Sea.
Blackpool Tower is perhaps the most iconic attraction in the town. Dating back well over 100 years to its initial opening in 1894, this was actually the tallest man made structure in the British Empire when it first opened. Standing at 519 feet in height, the original hydraulic lifts were changed in the mid 1950s and today, the relaxing journey to the top results in this spectacular views referenced above.
Spend some time taking a stroll along the Blackpool promenade to not only enjoy the fresh coastal air but also admire the collection of amusement arcades, fish and chip shops, restaurants, souvenir shops and more, including the iconic Strictly Come Dancing ball. If there was ever a town that epitomized British seaside destinations, Blackpool is definitely at the very top of the list!
A visit to Blackpool in the heart of the summer may not be everyone’s cup of tea (pardon the typical British reference there!) but it certainly is an experience everyone should enjoy at least once. It’s a bit like Las Vegas in the US…it’s not for everyone but you may fall in love with it. If you don’t visit, you will never know.
The Comedy Carpet along the Blackpool promenade is another experience you won’t want to miss. Comparable to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Blackpool’s version epitomizes everything there is to love about British humor and comedy catchphrases.
850 writers and comedians are represented along one of Britain’s largest public art displays and with Blackpool Tower as the backdrop to this unique collection, it’s certainly a part of the town where you will find plenty of locals and visitors congregating to enjoy this display.
Blackpool is perhaps the retail hub of the Fylde Coast with plenty of local discount stores along with designer brands to be found here. Whether you head inland away from the seafront to experience a little retail therapy is personal preference but you can be sure there is something for everyone in this popular tourist town.
St. Annes – A Family Friendly Seaside Town
If the hustle and bustle of Blackpool’s tourist scene was a little too much for you, the quieter town of St. Annes will likely be much more appealing. As you take the short drive along the coast to reach St. Annes, you will likely notice a change in architecture as a plethora of Victorian style houses and buildings can be found along this stretch of the Fylde Coast.
Our first stop in St. Annes that is worth visiting is Ashton Gardens, an attractive yet relatively small park in the heart of the town. Just a short walk from both the main street and seafront, this park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a little relaxation and solitude as you stroll through the scenic park, admiring the various monuments and the War Memorial which is undoubtedly the focal point of the park.
Wander over to the corner of the park away from the War Memorial to enjoy a scene that may remind you of Home Alone’s Gapstow Bridge in Central Park, New York City. Dating back to 1916 when Ashton Gardens first opened the gates to the public, this has been a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy lunch or grab a bite to eat at the Pavilion Tea Rooms.
For the architecture aficionados out there, St. Annes is home to several gorgeous, historic churches.
The infamous Fairhaven United Reformed Church, also known as the White Church, is perhaps the one experience you won’t want to miss but there are several others that perhaps you will want to visit, including the St. Annes United Reformed Church next to Ashton Gardens.
Spend some time experiencing the local boutique stores along the main street in St. Annes before visiting one of the local restaurants or heading to Fairhaven Lake for a stroll along the front and enjoy the scenic beauty in this part of the Fylde Coast.
Lytham’s Iconic Attractions
By the time you have explored the best of Blackpool and St. Annes, you may well be ready for a bite to eat. There is no better place along the Fylde Coast to enjoy local, homemade cuisine than at Lowther Gardens.
The Lowther Pavilion Cafe offers a wide variety of menu options, ranging from freshly prepared steak or mince and onion pie, chips and peas, or perhaps you want to enjoy a lighter option with a selection of sandwiches or jacket potatoes.
Regardless of your tastebuds, you can be sure there will be something that you will want to experience. Be prepared to save some of your appetite for one of the fresh, homemade cakes, ranging from decadent caramel slices to Victoria sponge cake. The difficult choice will certainly be which cake to pick because every one looks delicious.
Get ready to burn a few of those calories after a late lunch by walking around Lowther Gardens and then venturing across the road to the coastal path where you can enjoy more breathtaking views across the bay.
Lytham’s pièce de résistance is Lytham Windmill which dates back almost 200 years to 1805 when it first opened. It is a stereotypical example of a “tower mill” which was designed to grind wheat and oats to form flour or bran. Today, it is a converted museum that focuses not only on the local, historical milling industry but also the Great Lifeboat Disaster as a tribute to the RNLI tragedy that occurred in the late 19th-century.
The Lytham Cenotaph in the heart of the town center is a fitting tribute as it commemorates the locals that fought in the two World Wars. Located inside the Lytham Memorial Garden, this monument is a poignant remembrance of those soldiers that lost their lives during the First and Second World War.
With a plethora of shops, restaurants and coffee shops, Lytham’s town center offers plenty of retail therapy and dining experiences.
The Fylde Coast may not be the first part of the UK you think about visiting but hopefully after reading this post you will be inspired to explore this region. We are convinced that there will be something along this breathtaking stretch of coastline that will intrigue you, regardless of your interests. There really is something for everyone here, ranging from history to delicious cuisine and much more.
Blackpool may be the focal tourist destination in North-West England (along with Manchester) but we would argue taking a day trip to the Fylde Coast to experience the inherent beauty of both St. Annes and Lytham will make this the perfect way to enjoy the area.