Travel

5 of the best staycations near Manchester

With so many great things to do at any time of year, Manchester has a lot going for it. But even though you’ll never be bored in Manchester, that doesn’t mean you won’t want to venture out of the city occasionally, particularly now that staycations are possible again. Luckily, one of Manchester’s many excellent qualities is its proximity to all kinds of amazing places. Here are five top staycation spots, whether you want to stick within a short drive of the city or venture that little bit further out.

1. Get back to nature At RHS Garden Bridgewater

This newly launched horticultural marvel opened its gates on May 18, making it feel fresh as a daisy – or a dwarf pomegranate, considering the variety you’ll find around the 154 acres. As one of the largest European horticultural projects in recent years, there’s plenty on offer, including a Chinese ‘streamside garden’, a paradise garden blending Mediterranean and Asiatic flora, a kitchen garden referencing local history, and the orchard gardens, which boost biodiversity and restore endangered plant species. With so much to see, it’s perfect for an extended day trip or even a weekend break.

Why we love it

Being located in Salford means Bridgewater is only a 9-mile drive from central Manchester, but still feels a whole world away thanks to the incredible sights on display and the peaceful atmosphere. Perfect for getting away from it all without a mega-journey.

2. Hit the beach in Liverpool

An easily accessible beach break from landlocked Manchester may sound like a tall order, but just an hour away by car is Formby Beach in Liverpool, a bit of a hidden gem in terms of UK beaches. Framed by dramatic sand dunes, this gorgeous, golden-sanded stretch is full of wildlife (including natterjack toads and sand lizards), walks and… asparagus. Yes, asparagus – Formby produces an excellent variety of this vitamin-rich vegetable.

Why we love it

Formby proves that you don’t need to leave the UK to find top-notch beaches. But why stop at just one? Drive a few miles south and you’ll find the smaller but equally enticing Crosby Beach, featuring Antony Gormley’s famous ‘Another Place’ art installation. Make the most of the setting by staying at the blissfully tranquil Formby Point Caravan Park, set half a mile back from the beach in a pine forest. There’s even a red squirrel nature reserve nearby.

3. Roam around a national park in the Peak District

As a particularly great slice of the great outdoors, the Peak District is a delight to explore. At 555 square miles it offers a variety of activities, from hiking to rock climbing to cycling to fell running to kayaking to caving. Complete the outdoorsy vibe at one of the many campsites around the region. If you want to add a dash of luxury, Scaldersitch Farm is a boutique campsite housing tipis and yurts with hot tubs, heating and fluffy robes.  

Why we love it

Even if you’re not looking to get active on your staycation, the Peak District still has tons to offer. Visit atmospheric villages such as Bakewell (home of the Bakewell pudding – not to be confused with Bakewell tart) and the picture-perfect Castleton, get historical at Chatsworth House or Bolsover Castle, or sip your way through a tour at Thornbridge Brewery.

4. Indulge yourself in Harrogate

If you’re loving indoor restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes once again and want to sample new ground, try Harrogate, a pretty Victorian spa town 90 minutes away from Manchester by car. A few must-visits include Major Tom’s Social for stonebaked pizza and craft beer, LMDC Espresso Bar for specialty coffee, Domo for Japanese cuisine and The Old Bell for a welcoming pub. Once you’re done eating and drinking, there’s culture and history, too, at Mercer Art Gallery and the Royal Pump Room Museum.

Why we love it

It’s big enough to boast a brilliant selection of dining and drinking venues (plus ample shopping opportunities), but small enough to feel like you know the place. Being relatively compact also means your accommodation will be within easy reach of the highlights, which is definitely the case with Baytree House, a cosy, family-run B&B in a quiet, leafy street near the town centre.

5. Soak up alfresco art at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Wind your way around 100 sculptures and installations across a 500-acre site, featuring work from headline names like Ai Weiwei, Barbara Hepworth, Eduardo Paolozzi and Elisabeth Frink. But the joy of YSP is simply strolling and happening upon another eye-catching sculpture, regardless of who created it. Make a real holiday of it at nearby Bagden Hall Hotel, a surprisingly affordable Victorian country house with jaw-dropping views of the Yorkshire Dales.

Why we love it

The sheer variety of art coupled with the marvellous grounds mean that it’s a fantastic visit for everyone, even if sculpture isn’t your thing. Honestly! And as the main part of YSP is outdoors, it’s perfect if you’re not quite ready to do indoor art yet. If you are, there’s also the Underground Gallery to peruse.

Pick your ride

The easiest way to visit and explore all these spots is by car, and a super-simple way of renting the best vehicle for your trip is with Karshare. You’ll be able to hire a nearby car from within your community, making the process quick and hassle-free, allowing you to maximise your staycation time.