Being from the East Coast of England we have a number of seaside towns right on our doorstep. Therefore, we have never really considered visiting the towns dotted along the west coast to get our seaside fix. However, as we love to travel, especially throughout England, when we were invited to spend a couple of days in Southport, a seaside town in Merseyside, we couldn’t say no. So, we packed our bags, threw them in the boot of the car, hit the M62 and crossed the country to see what Southport has to offer and enjoy a great late summer staycation.
Bank Holidays in England are synonymous with downpours, often torrential ones. Luckily for us, even though the black clouds threatened us overhead, it stayed dry for our whole trip and the sun did, in fact, make rare appearances. Meaning we could wander and explore the lovely seaside town of Southport to our heart’s content.
The Vincent Hotel
We checked in to The Vincent Hotel, a beautiful 4-star boutique hotel located right in the heart of Southport, on Lord Street, the main street that runs through the town. Now, we don’t know about you but when we think of seaside accommodation we simply think of B&Bs and caravan parks? Southport does of course obviously have those; however, we never thought we would find somewhere that wouldn’t look or feel out of place in a cosmopolitan city, like The Vincent. Our room was great and right up our alley. We overlooked the Lord Street Bandstand and were treated to an afternoon show of live music below.
With a big comfortable bed, we even treated ourselves to a quick power nap before, showering and changing and heading to the hotel’s bar. Dark yet sophisticated, it reminded us of cosy, yet cosmopolitan bars we love to visit in New York. A couple of cocktails later and we were ready to head out for dinner, even though there is an award-winning onsite restaurant, we had reservations elsewhere and thought we should probably leave the hotel at some point. We cannot fault our stay at The Vincent, it was a great place to stay during our trip, the room, the service, the location, the extensive breakfast choice and the fact they offer a car parking service for £20 per night made it perfect.
Pre-dinner drink at Peaky Blinders
As we were a little early for our reservation we popped into the Peaky Blinders bar, on the corner of Lord Street and Seabank Road, for a glass (or three) of wine. We attempted the TV show a few years ago but couldn’t get into it (maybe we should try again?), however, it is evident from the bar’s décor and the barmen’s attire that it was very much in keeping with show’s theme. Considering it was a Monday when we visited, it was quite busy, proving what a popular place it is, plus they were playing 90s indie music which always gets a big thumbs up from us. There is also accommodation on site which from the photographs on their website looks lovely and very inviting.
So after a couple of cocktails and glasses of wine each, we were ready for dinner. Now, I know it’s a tradition to have fish and chips on a bench when visiting the seaside but we found Southport has so many restaurants, both chain and independents, to choose from, we opted for a sit-down meal instead, at Auberge Brasserie. The restaurant has a nice French Brasserie feel to it and is obviously a very popular restaurant in the town as it was quite busy, which created a lovely atmosphere. We opted for the table d’hôte menu and chose 3 courses for a set price of £20, which considering the size and quality of the dishes, we thought was superb value for money. Accompanied by a lovely bottle of wine, we had a great meal and wouldn’t hesitate in returning. Here’s what we had:
Starter – King prawns, queen scallops & bacon, mixed pepper salad, pesto dressing
Main – Confit pork belly, dauphinoise potatoes, port sauce
Dessert – Strawberry cheesecake, summer berry coulis, pistachio dust
Starter – Smoked haddock fishcakes, tartar sauce, pickled cucumber, shallot & caper dressing
Main – Chicken breast, butter fondant potato, creamy beef jus
Dessert – Chocolate tart, salted caramel ice cream, chocolate paint
Southport Pier is the oldest iron pier in the country, it was built in 1860 and the is the second longest, standing at 1,000 meters long. Nothing says seaside destination more than a pier and the Grade II listed Southport Pier is magnificent. After a fantastic night’s sleep and yummy breakfast, the pier was the first place we headed.
Boy, did the fresh morning air wake us up as we walked briskly to the end of it. Even though it was an overcast day, the views were clear along the 22 miles of coastline and Mr ESLT even spotted and pointed out Blackpool Tower in the neighbouring town of Blackpool in the distance.
With the lovely Pier Pavilion located at the end of the pier which houses a cafe, slot machines, some displays on local wildlife and history and sells great little souvenirs, Southport Pier really does have to be at the top of your ‘must visit’ list when in the town.
There are a few things that all seaside towns need to really get the thumbs us from us and Southport has them all – amusement arcades, ice cream, rock, hot sugary donuts and of course fish and chips. The sounds and smells coming from the shops brought back so many wonderful memories of spending weekends at my nana and grandad’s caravan at the seaside and whiling away hours slowly and meticulously slotting my 2ps into the machines in the amusement arcades.
It, of course, brought a smile to my face reminiscing about happy times when I was little but it also made me think about all the kids who visit Southport with their parents and grandparents who will in the future look back fondly on their memories too. Even though Southport has wonderful (and modern) shops, bars and restaurants, for me it is the traditional seaside touches that really make it special. Although it took every last ounce of willpower not to stock up on lots of seaside goodies to take home with us.
The Atkinson is Southport’s main entertainment venue and is home to music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history events and exhibitions. It is located on Lord Street, opposite the main shopping area and 2 minutes from The Vincent, where we were staying. It is evident that a lot of investment has been made to the stunning 19th-century buildings that now make up The Atkinson and also that it is a popular place to visit in the town. Although we didn’t have a lot of time to spend at The Atkinson, the time we did have there was fantastic and in reality, we could have spent a lot longer wandering around.
The Atkinson’s current exhibitions are The Art of Noise and Southport: Double Take (Old Southport Through a Modern Lens) and are of course free to visit. However, the featured exhibits do change, therefore it’s advisable to check out The Atkinson’s website before visiting. For us, the Egyptology Gallery was our favourite exhibit.
The Atkinson is totally family friendly with loads on hands-on and interactive activities for kids and big kids alike together with free walking tours, which are a great way of finding more out about the exhibits. It is also home to a gift shop and cafe where we grabbed a quick cuppa before our journey home.
Southport has so many different shopping areas, all of which are very unique in their own way and therefore appeal to different people. Our first stop was Wesley Street. This is definitely the cutest street in Southport and one of the cutest streets we have ever seen. With flowers, bunting and brightly coloured buildings, it’s a lovely street to have a wander down. Affectionately known as the “A Village in the Town” it has some lovely independent shops including a traditional sweet shop, butchers, antique jewellers together with cafes, amongst others. The street often hosts events and festivals which we imagine are just wonderful to be a part of.
Next up was the outdoor market, located on Chapel Street which is open Monday to Saturday during the summer months. With over 30 stalls to wander around selling everything imaginable from fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh bread, cheeses, deli items, gifts, garden and homeware, sweets and street food. It is a great place to pick up locally produced products whilst putting money into the local economy through local traders at the same time.
And last but certainly not least we visited the shops of Lord Street. Here we found a beautiful Victorian canopied boulevard with loads of high street shops together with speciality shops and designer boutiques. Lord Street is also home to a couple of wonderful arcades. The first being Wayfarers Shopping Arcade which has been open for over 100 years. The Grade II listed building has a stunning glass-domed roof and over 30 shops together with cafe and restaurant. The other is the Royal Arcade which is brimming with antiques and unique collectables. It really is a bargain hunters delight.
Even though we spent most of our time in Southport town centre, there are a number of charming areas surrounding it. If we’d had more time we would have loved to have explored further. I guess it’s a good reason to return. First up we would hire bikes from the Southport Eco Centre and ride along the promenade to the nearby village of Churchtown. Secondly, we would spend a day at nearby Formby beach, which is also a National Trust site and is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches on the west coast. We did have a little drive through the town, but it was a little too chilly for a visit to the beach that day
- Thank you to Visit Southport for inviting us to check out this wonderful town – we had a fantastic time. As always opinions are our own.