This post has been highly requested! If you know me and my blog you’ll know we absolutely love city trips. We’ve been on quite a few in the last couple of years with Eric as a family of 3. New places, rediscoveries and the good old favourites.
Here’s a roundup in no particular order of my top 5 cities we have been to so far. I couldn’t possibly put every city we have been in one blog post, it would be too long, but I do recommend this post if you want to read more: 29 top favourite days out from 2018!
Liverpool was a brand new discovery for us last year and we loved it. Quick trains at decent prices which take about 2 hours from Sheffield. I was impressed how quick and affordable it is to get to Liverpool and how much there is to do there (not to mention a really unique atmosphere).
Liverpool feels modern yet still historic in it’s own right. There’s lots to do very close to each other and you can explore on foot easily. We loved Liverpool Docks, shopping, museums and attractions. Plus there’s river cruises/boats and plenty to do for families nearby.
What surprised me about Liverpool is how small the city centre is; you can get everywhere on foot. There’s an outdoor shopping centre “Liverpool One” in the city centre, I’ve never seen something like that before and feels quite European.
Liverpool has a nice atmosphere… it’s not busy busy but certainly has a buzz. I could imagine Liverpool making a nice romantic weekend away with a bit of a difference and good weekend getaway for Hen/Stag parties. It has a young city vibe with a good drinking scene but there’s still plenty of things to do for families.
We were only there for 48 hours, filled the entire time and didn’t feel stressed at all. People are friendly and it’s easy to find shops, somewhere to eat, etc.,
Liverpool Docks is the main attraction and a really nice, clean space with the big city museums you’d typically see in places like London. Best of all most of the museums in Liverpool are free. There’s Tate, Museum of Liverpool, International Slavery Museum, National Maritime Museum down at the docks. World Museum (free) and Beatles Story further in the city. Mattel Play! is on the docks, too, and fantastic for children.
We didn’t make it to any of the fantastic looking parks and have on our to-visit list Sefton Park, Calderstones Park and Acorn Farm. I’d also like to do a river boat across the Mersey and visit Chester nearby.
For accommodation I recommend YHA. Where possibly we always stay in a YHA as it’s on budget, we are YHA members so save 10%, and it’s *usually* the cheapest option. Liverpool YHA is right next to the docks; great location and all the usual good facilities. Although there’s lots of other options for all budgets.
I feel like we’re always in Manchester! Probably an over statement but we do go regularly. The trains from sheffield are cheap enough and very regular, although the airport train is always so busy – my only problem as it makes quite a stressful journey.
But once there even though Manchester itself is not my favourite place in the world, there is a lot to do there. I love Manchester for free museums, mostly.
Take your pick from People’s History Museum, Manchester Museum, Football Museum or MSI Museum (Museum of Science & Industry). I’ve been to all, love all except football (just not a fan of football). We have yet to visit the transport museum which isn’t free but looks great.
If you can go term time then Lego Land and Sea Life do adult and toddler tickets for only £8. Or you can get combo tickets for both attractions.
Intu Trafford Centre has a pretty impressive food court and plenty of family friendly options. Christmas is a whole other situation when it comes to Manchester. We went to the Manchester markets last year and Christmas at Trafford City was nice with a Peter Rabbit grotto.
Manchester has many attractions, too. Home to Trafford City there is so much to do there… Sea life centre and Lego Land Discovery Centre, Chill Factore, Play Factore, iFly, Aerial Extreme and more.
We haven’t explored much outdoors in Manchester and that’s on my list for this year. I like the look of Heaton Park, East Lancashire Railway and Tatton Park.
Manchester is good as a base, too. Very close to the Peak District and the likes of Blackpool, Chester and The Pennines.
New to our discoveries just this year; we went to Newcastle for 3 days last month (February 2018) and loved it. Couldn’t believe we hadn’t been before… it’s not even that far from Sheffield; we got there 2 hours on the train.
It’s very convenient to get around Newcastle either on foot (city centre isn’t massive) or handy Metro. Newcastle has the best of both worlds; museums and all the good city stuff like sightseeing, landmarks, architecture, history, castle, good places to eat, etc., but it’s also right by the coast with the option of going to the beach in about 15 minutes! Amazing!
Tynemouth is on my list for next time. I liked the beach at South Shields though, it was small but just really nice.
There’s lots of parks dotted around Newcastle which look great, as well as Beamish, Angel of the North, Newcastle Castle and very good dining out/drinking atmosphere, too.
We liked Seven Stories and Ouseborn Farm, Discovery Museum, didn’t have time for Hancock museum but definitely want to go back, The Word and Gateshead area with all 7 bridges! People of Newcastle are very friendly and there’s loads of places to stay.
I didn’t realise how much there is to do from Newcastle, you really could just keep going and build that itinerary for any length of stay… the North East has a lot to offer. I recommend North East Family Fun blog.
Well I’m sure you’ve heard of London and if you haven’t been yet then you need to! Only 2 hours from Sheffield and whilst train fares might look expensive, there are ways around it (book very far in advance, split journey, search for 2 singles not return, be flexible on times where possible, railcard). Also keep in mind that National Rail offer a ton of 2for1 vouchers if you travel by train to London so you’ll save money that way.
I love London and have a very big soft spot for it. It’s incredibly nostalgic to me and has everything I love (apart from the countryside, which is why I’m always happy to come back to Sheffield!). I fell in love with London the first time I ever went when I was 16 and then vowed to move there… which I then did for university at 18. After living, working and studying there for 4 years I left but miss it lots and we try to go back every year.
I’ve never been to anywhere like London (except maybe Berlin). I could talk about how good it is for hours but reasons why you should go is that there’s just so much to do I can’t recommend enough of things to do for all ages, really. It’s a multi cultural big capital city with fantastic attractions, rich history, cultural heritage like no other, fantastic green spaces and parks, world class museums, good transport and iconic sightseeing points of interest. It’s a very family friendly city and you can go for 2 days or 2 weeks. I’ve previously lived there and still haven’t done everything I want to do.
Even Eric – my 3 year old toddler – loves London and he’s hard to please!
Recommendations for things to see/do in London have to be: Piccadilly Circus and Soho, St James Park, Hyde Park and Princess Diana’s playground, Sky Garden, London Zoo & Camden, Battersea Park & Children’s Zoo, Buckingham Palace, Kew Gardens, Covent Garden, British Library, Chelsea Psyhic Gardens, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, V&A (main and children’s museum, too), East London & Bricklane markets specifically, Leyton’s House and Kyoto Gardens in Chelsea, London South Bank, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, River Boat services on the thames, Hamleys… I’ll stop there!
I don’t find London to be incredibly stressful even though it’s a very busy capital city. Not sure if that’s because I know it well but there’s so much to do indoors and outdoors, it makes an easy family trip in a way.
I do recommend trying out the buses and don’t just stick to the tube as you miss a lot when you’re underground, and for most of the very Central parts of Central London you can explore on foot (you’ll be surprised how many people use push chairs in London so don’t worry about that). I wrote this blog with lots of other london trip tips.
London is a very big place and we have made the mistake before of staying out in the suburbs on a trip to save money and traveled in but doing that every day, usually when your kids routine matches that of rush hour, it’s incredibly difficult and so I do recommend staying close to Central London to get the best experience.
York is rich in history and not short of things to do. This is another city we visit often – usually every few months. Trains are regular, cheap and quick from Sheffield so it makes a very easy day out or affordable city trip.
National Railway Museum is free and an absolute must visit for all ages, but especially popular with families. I recommend the land train from there to York Minster then walking through the windy cobble stoned streets.
There is a lot to do in York. Museums, attractions such as Jorvik and York Chocolate Story, river boats, York walls walk, good family days out like Web Adventure Park Creepy Crawlies and Piglets Adventure Farm, rich history and good shopping. Do visit York Castle Gardens which is free and a really lovely place all year round.
I recommend Little Vikings website / blog for things to do in York with kids.
A few months ago, I invested in a York Museums Trust card which I recommend if you’re wanting to visit some of the attractions. York museums card gets you 12 months unlimited entry to York Art Gallery, York Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum and York St Mary’s. All are within walking distance. Going to two of those just once pays off the card so if you’re going back it’s worth getting the card.
I’d love to visit Rowntree park, Breezy Knees Gardens and Yorkshire Lavender.
We usually stay at YHA York and find it very good value for money. York is good base to North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Pickering.
So there we have it; 5 fantastic cities I recommend for a city trip and all not too far away from Sheffield. More places I recommend for overnight stays, holidays or day trips are: Blackpool, Leeds, Harrogate, Wakefield and the Peak District. I hope you enjoyed reading and found this useful 🙂