WITH top-notch restaurants, incredible sights and shopping for days, it’s brill up north, says Deputy Editor Ellie O’Mahoney.
Head down to Manchester for an affordable getaway.
PLAY TIME: Dubbed “the ultimate indoor Lego playground,” Legoland Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre is a kids’ paradise.
Ours loved watching the Ninjago mini movie in the 4D cinema, the moving climbing wall and, of course, posing with life-sized Lego figures.
Tickets cost £17.50 for adults and £13.50 for over-threes (Legolanddiscoverycentre.com/manchester).
The Science and Industry museum tells the story of 250 years of world-changing innovations that started life in Manchester.
Its interactive Experiment gallery is fascinating – find out if you’re strong enough to lift a Mini Cooper and watch your skeleton (yes, it’s really you!) ride a bicycle.
Best of all, entry is free (Scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk).
GET FEASTING: Spot the organ in the converted church that’s now home to Argentinian restaurant Gaucho.
The divine rump steak, £23.50, went perfectly with a glass of malbec, £8.50 – and I had to stop myself from scoffing the kids’ mini mac and cheese, £8.
Prepare to do spoon battle over the hot chocolate brownie with white chocolate ice cream, £9 (Gauchorestaurants.com).
Celebrating? The Refuge at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel is a stunning 1800s redbrick, complete with a wonderfully ornate ceiling.
We feasted on lamb shawarma with serrano pepper, £9.50, then shared a whole roasted sea bass with garlic and almond crumble, £29.
Our kids were mad about the crispy chicken wings and triple-cooked chips, while waffles and ice cream – two plates for £6.95 – put smiles on everyone’s faces (Refugemcr.co.uk).
GO WILD: The Royal Horticultural Society’s first new garden in 17 years opened earlier this year in the historic grounds of Salford’s Worsley New Hall.
At 154 acres, RHS Garden Bridgewater is a whopper, and includes one of the UK’s largest walled gardens, community allotments, a fantastic woodland play area for kids and, naturally, a buzzing cafe.
An express bus service from the city centre will get you there in just 25 minutes, but pre-booking is essential – entry costs £11 for adults and £5.50 for over-fives (Rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater).
A 35-minute drive out of the city, you’ll find Northern Roots, the UK’s largest urban farm and eco park.
With views of Saddleworth Moors and the foothills of the Peak District, it’s a tranquil haven for birds, wildlife and humans alike. Entry is free (Northern-roots.uk).
SHOP TILL YOU FLOP: Housed in the grand, grade II-listed Corn Exchange, Roomzzz Aparthotel is the perfect base for exploring the city, located walking distance from Victoria and Piccadilly train stations.
You’ll have 13 amazing bars and restaurants for neighbours – don’t worry, you can’t hear a peep from your room – including breakfast spot, The Cosy Club.
Our pick is the full English, £9.25 (Cosyclub.co.uk). You’re also dangerously close to Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and the Arndale Centre, meaning you can shop till you drop on repeat.
Rooms sleeping two people cost from £99 per night (Roomzzz.com/aparthotels/manchester-corn-exchange).
Reckon you could be crowned Queen of the Jungle?
Take on the tricky trials, including zip-wiring, of the I’m A Celebrity… Jungle Challenge at MediaCityUK, 14 minutes from the city centre by tram.
Tickets from £20 (Imacelebrityjunglechallenge.co.uk).
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