Things to do in Manchester

Say Manchester and the first thought is often Man United, the world-class soccer team. So let’s start our visit to this wonderful northern city with a visit to their stadium, Old Trafford. There’s a terrific visitor center with a museum that tells the story of this great team, including the horrific Munich air disaster, but the highlight for most fans will be the guided tour of the ground. This takes you through the stands, then in to the players dressing rooms to learn about their pre-game rituals before concluding with a photo-op down on the hallowed turf itself.

Next, how about going down into a sewer? This not-to-be-missed treat is a feature of the Museum of Science and Industry, which also features an eclectic mix of trains and Machester history. Then it’s across the road to the Air and Space Museum where they have a fascinating collection of aircraft, both civil and military.

Older kids will also appreciate the Imperial War Museum out to the west in Salford. While not strictly in Manchester, it’s a short ride on the Met, Manchester’s clean and efficient light rail system. In fact, for kids who never get to ride a train, the Met can be a destination of itself. They’ll be fascinated to see how a train transforms itself into a tram to share the crowded street with both pedestrians and cars.

If the weather’s dry, (and Manchester is nowhere near as wet as people will have you believe,) take a walk in Heaton Park. This huge recreational area to the north of the city center features ponds, wide-open spaces, intriguing stone structures, and even a small petting zoo. Take a soccer ball and imitate your favorite players, or for the less energetic, take some bread to feed the ducks.

Manchester is also known for it’s vibrant city center and great shopping. Now while not every kid enjoys department stores the Arndale Center has enough going on inside to keep both adults and little ones entertained while a light shower passes over.

Speaking of the weather, let’s not overlook the fact the winter in Manchester can be a little dreary. It doesn’t get particularly cold and is often pleasant outside at any time of the year, though you will need a jacket, but the northern latitude does mean it will be dark by 4 pm in December and January. So plan lots of indoor entertainment and your kids will never be bored.