Dubbed the capital of the North, there’s a rich array of things to do in Manchester, even when travelling with hard-to-please teens. From world-class galleries and museums to trendy cafes and independent shops, this upbeat northern outpost can more than hold its own. To get you off on the right track, we’ve picked out ten of the best family-friendly things to do in Manchester.
Indulge your inner film buff
The Cornerhouse has become the creative hub of Manchester’s burgeoning independent film and art scene. Located in the heart of the city’s cultural corridor, along Oxford Street, this is the place to catch the latest foreign films before a bite to eat at the first floor restaurant.
Learn about the nation’s favourite sport
Avid football fans will love the National Football Museum‘s extensive collection of memorabilia. Put your own skills to the test at one of seven different interactive exhibits and displays, including the Shot Stopper and Match of The Day commentary challenges.
Shop “˜til you drop in the Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter is the place to go for Manchester’s best independent retailers and designers. Ditch the high street in favour of vintage store Retro Rehab or search for something special at Affleck’s, the eclectic indoor market.
Visit the Craft and Design Centre
Located a stone’s throw from Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the Craft and Design Centre is a shopping emporium filled with beautiful handmade items that range from delicate jewellery to contemporary furniture. Housed in what used to be a Victorian fish market, the centre also offers a great bar/café for post-shopping pick-me-ups.
Enjoy some cutting edge culture
Blending art and architecture, The Lowry is both gallery and landmark building. Standing along Salford’s riverside in Greater Manchester, it houses a range of exhibitions from fine art and photography to live performance and installations.
If you plan on visiting Manchester in the New Year, head for Whitworth Gallery, which is currently undergoing an enormous £15 million expansion that will double its display space. The grand reopening will feature an exciting exhibition by English sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker.
Eat your way around town
Manchester’s eclectic mix of casual cafes and refined fine dining restaurants offers an abundance of choice for foodies. Home Sweet Home and This Is Gorilla (also great for gigs) are good options at any time of day, or for a classic roast try Beef and Pudding, a cosy gastropub not far from Manchester’s Arndale Shopping Centre. Pick up your morning coffee at North Tea Power, one of the best java spots in the city.
Discover the sweet sounds of the city
Music, of all genres, is the lifeblood that runs through Manchester’s social scene. The Bridgewater Hall is one of the city’s premier concert halls, seating up to 2,400 people and home to the Manchester Camerata, the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic orchestras. If you prefer heavy guitars and a big baseline stop by the Deaf Institute. Alongside some of the city’s larger music venues, like the Manchester Academy and The Ritz, this is one of the best places to see live music in Manchester.
Get on your bike
Manchester National Cycling Centre is home to Britain’s first indoor Olympic track and a great day out for keen cyclists. Visitors can rent a bike and ride the Velodrome like a top athlete or take a taster course (available for all ages) where expert instructors will help you perfect your technique.
A trip to Airkix will see you lift both feet firmly off the ground as you try your hand at some indoor skydiving. With a wind tunnel that allows you to float up to 39ft at up to 180 mph, this is a seriously surreal experience, perfect for demanding teens.
Virgin Atlantic Little Red operates daily direct flights to Manchester from London Heathrow. Book your flight today.
What are your favourite things to do in Manchester with teenagers? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Chantelle Symester