There’s nothing quite like a family trip to the beach. Here’s my top picks of the best beaches within a two hour drive of Manchester. Pack your bucket and spade and don’t forget the suncream. Click the red links for more info.
A family favourite of ours! This stretch of the Lancashire coast is perfect for families of all ages. With flat sand, and an extensive tide (make sure you check tide times) this beach is surrounded by lots of other traditional seaside attractions too, including a miniature railway and splash park within walking distance to the beach.
If you’re looking for plenty of action at a traditional seaside resort, then Blackpool is for you! The town boasts three piers and is famous for its “Golden Mile”. Packed with amusement arcades, fish and chips shops, plenty of ice-cream vendors and endless entertainment for all the family, it’s a brilliant family day out.
Fleetwood used to be a fishing port but now it’s just a seaside town. The beach here is named Marine Beach. It’s well known for it’s sand dunes and is a very clean, safe beach suitable for younger families. It’s also perfect if you would prefer a quieter beach from its neighbours of Blackpool and St. Annes.
Half Moon Bay is a sandy beach with grass covered dunes and low cliffs. At low tide you have a great expanse of flat sand. This beach is also sometimes known as Heysham Sands. It has good parking, a beach café and lots of other facilities are in walking distance including the town centre of Heysham.
This seaside town has so much to offer with a promenade which overlooks five miles of stunning coastline. There’s also Happy Mount Park on the promenade, offering indoor and outdoor play areas, gardens and a habitat trail.
New Brighton Beach, in the north-east corner of the Wirral peninsular offers an attractive 4 mile stretch of golden sand. In the summer months it’s popular with day trippers so make sure you get there early. From the beach you can see the Liverpool skyline and it’s a good place to watch ships sailing out from the mouth of the Mersey estuary into the Irish Sea.
Crosby beach is a lovely sandy beach and visitors can walk along Crosby beach coastal path and take in views of the sea, the Wirral and North Wales. Visitors should be aware that this beach does have dangerous quick sands in parts and the tide can come in very quickly so please check tide times.
Not far from the town centre sits Southport beach, with long sandy beaches and a coastline that stretches 22 miles across Sefton. The panoramic views are incredible and there’s plenty of food and entertainment within walking distance. It’s also worth a walk along Southport Pier which has all your traditional slot machines.
Ainsdale beach is recognised as one of the best beaches in the UK for extreme kite activities, with zones set aside for kite buggy and kitesurfing taking place. It has been awarded a Blue Flag on several occasions. Next to the beach also sits Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Local Nature Reserve which offers cycle hire and is well worth a visit.
Formby Beach, Wirral, Merseyside
This National Trust property is well known for its rolling sand dunes and natural beauty. Check out our full review here
This little beach is only 300 meters long, but it lies between a kilometre of sand dunes and a further 2 kilometres of flat sand and low waters. Access to the beach is flat too and the beach is surrounded by local cafes, bars and shops. Lifeguards are active at this beach, making it safe for families with younger children. Hilbre Island Local Nature Reserve is located a kilometre offshore and is accessible on foot at low tide. Please check tide times for crossing routes. There is free parking along the nearby promenade and plenty of pay and display car parks are available.
Red Rocks lies on the edge of the extensive Dee Estuary, looking out towards Hilbre Island, and just a short walk from Hoylake or West Kirby. It’s well known for bird watching due to its sandy marshland areas. There are several well sign posted walking trails and dogs must be kept on a lead.
Located in the northwest of the Wirral Peninisula, the seaside town of Hoylake is a lovely place to spend a few hours, a day or even a couple of nights. Situated between the towns of Meols and West Kirby, its coastal location is perfect for walking, cycling or just playing in the sand. Whatever time of year you visit the town has lots to offer from tea rooms to pub grub to ice cream there’s plenty of places to eat and explore.
Leasowe beach is a wide sandy beach in the heart of the North Wirral Coastal Park with a promenade and small sand dunes. This beach is also very dog friendly and when visiting it’s worth a visit to the Leasowe Lighthouse – the oldest brick-built lighthouse in the country. Tours are available on the first Sunday of every month.
Gaddings Dam in Todmorden is the highest beach in the UK! At 355 meters above sea level, the picturesque hilltop spot is the highest beach in the UK and is run by a team of local volunteers who rescued the dam from closure in 2001. It’s considered a safe area to swim and there are no tides but please beware there are no lifeguards and there’s lots of rocks towards the edges. Walking boots are also a must as on wet days it can very muddy and slippy on the footpath down.
Llandudno is Wales’s largest resort and has two beaches – North Shore beach and West Shore beach. The North shore is the main beach and has a wide promenade and lots of family entertainment – usually a Punch and Judy show too! The beach is rocky in parts with some good sandy sections, its also popular for windsurfing and sailing.