35 Family Friendly Things to Do in Morecambe
The seaside town of Morecambe in Lancashire has been entertaining holiday makers on a budget for decades. While Morecambe can offer visitors magnificent views stretching to the Lakeland fells, and its famous son and namesake Eric constantly brings sunshine and a smile, the town has suffered from a lack of investment over the years. And like its cousin Blackpool further along the coast it has been ignored in the gentrification of British seaside resorts. But changes are afoot with proposals to build The Eden Project North on the sea front, and the iconic Midland Hotel is popular after a faithful restoration. Here’s our 35 top tips for things to do on a short family break in Morecambe.
What to do in Morecambe?
Morecambe’s future is as tantalizing as the sun over the Lakeland peaks in the distance. Sometimes it seems the town just needs to reach out and grasp the gold. At other times you wonder if it will ever pick itself up from the years of social deprivation and under-investment. But little by little the scenery is changing and the British press is starting to whisper that Morecambe is on the up. The promise of The Eden Project North is the most exciting thing to have happened here for decades and locals are involved in consultations and plans.
Blobby land is no more and the Polo Tower is gone. The quasar and the superbowl, both past their prime, have been razed to the ground and new attractions are replacing them. There are a handful of quirky and interesting festivals. And unlike south coast resorts like Brighton, it’s still possible to have a fun family day out or an action packed weekend here for hardly any money. Unless you want to splash out on some luxury accommodation? More about that later…
Bring me sunshine – our top 35 things to do in Morecambe, Lancashire
1 Take a selfie with Eric Morecambe
I’ve rarely seen Eric Morecambe without an audience. Everyone stops to have their photo taken with the comedian’s bronze memorial statue. And absolutely everyone smiles as they adorn him with Santa hats, jubilee flags, and flowers. Even celebs seek him out; on Dave Gorman’s comedy tour of the UK I helped guide the comedian and TV presenter from Lancaster to Kendal and his one request was to meet the comic inspiration. You might think Eric has one of the most difficult jobs in the world; with his back to Morecambe Bay he’s battered by the weather yet he never sees the sea, and he’s in a constant round of selfies with strangers. I wonder occasionally as he stands patiently, buffeted by the wind, if he is waiting for Ernie to join him. If you and the family want to join him in a song, the words to Bring Me Sunshine are written below his feet and you can also view the names of the stars that appeared in the shows.
2 Go back in time at The Midland Hotel
The restored 1930’s Midland Hotel combines Art Deco with Victorian history in a unique building that’s a beacon in the night. The interior of this English Lakes hotel is just as impressive. On a quick tour of the building the artworks come thick and fast, many by Stonemason Eric Gill. In fact it’s like a classical art deco treasure hunt with Odysseus being welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa in a 16ft relief at reception, and Neptune on the ceiling of the circular staircase.
You can have fun on the staircase too, descending it like a film star. Guide Brian Jenkins tells me several film stars have held the banister, which dates back to 1933, including Lawrence Olivier and Roger Moore. “They tried not to over-polish it when it was restored,” he says as I run my hand over the speckles.” The hotel changes its appearance depending on the weather. When the sun comes out, the blue and green glass flecks in the rendering turn the upper floor into a glitter ball. In the grey and bracing morning air, our panoramic windows with a sea view pull right back to let the fresh wind into our room. At one point I think a seagull might join us for breakfast.
The restaurant is loveliest in the summer when the sun is setting. You can also watch the sun go down with a cocktail supped beneath the Eric Ravilious mural in the Rotunda bar. This mural appeared in TV Poirot’s Double Sin. This Morecambe hotel is expensive for an area where a coffee can set you back a coin or two; cocktails come with city price tags, and you will feel you are in a strange oasis of posh when you step outside. But go for the sense of going back in time and for the view. It’s priceless.
3 Do a treasure trail
If the artistic treasures in the Midland aren’t enough then I suggest you treat the family to a Treasure Trail. The Morecambe Spy Mission maps are downloadable or come in paper form and offer a couple of hours easy walking. In fact if you have kids on micro-scooters you could probably crack one in an hour. But it is fun to relax and do the two mile walk at leisure, learning about Morecambe in the past, seeing the houses where the fishermen lived and the tourists first stayed, and a little of the street art that ranges from tiled mosaic to painted mural.
4 Fly like a superhero at Jump Rush
Jump Rush offers exactly what it says on the tin; an hour of exercise and adrenaline in a vast room of trampolines. It’s big and bright and very bouncy. You can pay by the session, and socks and a training video are provided (there’s a small extra fee for the socks.) There are multiple obstacles and at certain times of day superheroes might appear. If you want to feed the kids, the canteen style food is cheap, and you can pay extra for a party with a separate eating area. Look out for off-peak deals after school.
5 Bowl into Italy
For some it was a sad day when Morecambe Superbowl was knocked down like nine pins and replaced by Aldi. A trip to glow bowling was a birthday party faithful. But in truth it had stuck around a tad too long. It has now been replaced in the hearts and minds of locals by Soul Bowl and Vista Italian Kitchen. The twin attractions offer a bowling, wine and dine deal if you have a couple of hours to spare. It also does a pretty good breakfast at weekends, we particularly recommend the huge and great value veggie breakfast. Felt a bit too early to bowl though! If you are visiting at Christmas you can enjoy the very popular breakfast with Santa.
6 Go Vintage by the Sea
Vintage by the Sea began in 2013 in collaboration with Wayne Hemingway to celebrate the 80th anniversary of The Midland Hotel’s opening in July 1933. Still going strong, it’s a chance to step back into the 1930’s. with walkabout theatre, a classic car show and classes and crafts. The festival is held the last weekend in August and this year The Midland will host a Gatsby inspired Torch Club Ball. We joined in the fun last summer by rocking up to the garden area on the prom to listen for music under the earth with trumpets and trombones in a bonkers interactive science lab. Many head straight for the Vintage Market in the Promenade venue hall where there’s dancing, drinking and all the colourful costumed characters of a time that only nostalgic events like this can conjure up.
7 Follow the crime writers at Morecambe and Vice
The Morecambe and Vice Crime Writers Festival has the deviously clever hashtag #bringmesomecrime. But the weekend format is entirely without mystery or subterfuge; it simply gathers dozens of the darkest brains in Britain to share inspiration and ideas with the gathered crowd. I loved it. You can pay per session, by the day, or for a pass for the whole weekend. There’s a great festival bookshop too with more murders per inch of script than an ITV serial killer drama. It’s nowhere near as big as Hay or as feted as Harrogate, but it has a relaxed charm about it and packs a lot of unsung northern and female writers for its punch. Catch it at its new Midland Hotel base in the autumn. The next one is planned for 12th and 13th september 2020. The Midland also hosts a number of other decent events including a gin festival.
8 Have a Splendid Day Out at the steampunk festival
A Splendid Day Out was one of the first steampunk festivals and has now been going for seven years. People come from Europe, the USA and Australia, dressing in the weird and whacky costumes of the literary genre. “We had as our main guest and speaker in 2018, K.W Jeter, the American author who termed the phrase Steampunk in the 80’s and it was his writings that the steampunk festivals in the USA used as the basis for the movement,” says organizer Ian Roberts. The most recent festival theme was dinosaurs and post-Apocalypse. Expect imaginative outfits, gadgets, objects, weapons, vehicles and other accessories. Don’t expect to get a bed unless you book it soon; apparently many hotels and campsites are already booked up for the event. The next A Splendid Day Out festival out will be 29th-31st May 2020.
9 Follow the birds
Spend any time on the prom in Morecambe and you’ll notice the birds. Ok, forget what I told you about the suspense writers’ relationship with Morecambe; this is no Hitchcock drama but creative arts. The Tern Project is one of my top Morecambe things to do as it’s so unexpected. Start outside Morecambe indoor market with some bird inspired poetry and jokes and then follow the trail to the pier where you can play little games in the pavement involving a high quota of eggs, follow a hand rail studded with winged hangers-on and admire the stone birds that help make a Morecambe sunset memorable. The trail ends with Eric, who is obviously not a bird but a fair few of them have perched on his head over the years. Don’t bother bringing your trill as this lot are not great eaters.
10 Find a bargain in the bookshop or a vintage curiosity
The Old Pier Bookshop has welcomed generations of book lovers to Morecambe and it’s a quirky shopping experience. Based opposite the sea at the east end of the promenade, it can be cold, it’s a bit of a maze, you can get lost in there for hours amongst the cases and stacks. But in the days of generic book stores this little shop is an Aladdin’s cave for an avid reader or book collector. The owner is characterful and knows his stuff and you won’t find this kind of bookshop in many places in the UK. Long may it prosper.
Meanwhile Morecambe vintage and antique shops are filled with up-cycled furniture, junk, antiques and curious objects from the area’s past. There are a few scattered along the prom and in town including Bayside Emporium whose owner happily sold me a Bansky limited edition print but refused to sell me two huge wooden dolphins that used to adorn the Morecambe funfair as he was keeping them for nostalgic reasons.
11 Taste crafted chocolate in a boutique shop
When Kevin and Sharon Grew were looking for a shop to make and sell their quality Belgian chocolates, they were delighted when they found empty premises next to the Winter Gardens. The Northern Chocolate Co, a boutique style shop, is a treasure trove of beautifully styled chocolates ranging from chilli and lime to champagne flavours. “Morecambe really is on the up,” says Kevin who tells me the Eden Project North was a big influence in their decision. Sharon is a former French chef and chocolatier who trained with Belgian chocolate company Callebaut and imports the chocolate to shape and mould herself each day on the premises. It’s not just chocolate, it’s artistry- pop in and have a look. but get there early in the day if you like cinder toffee.”We can’t make enough of that,” says Kevin.
12 Fly a Kite at Catch the Wind Kite Festival
If the annual Catch the Wind Kite Festival falls on a suitably windy day there’s no stopping the colourful streamers and huge cartoon characters that fill the sky. People come from all over with their vast strings and flying things to be part of this Morecambe tradition. This year people visited The Fishing Hut, a pop up gallery in the form of a fisherman’s boat shed on wheels created by Morecambe Bay artists John Fox and Hannah Fox. The shed came complete with animations, woodcuts, printed images and music soundscapes along with hand-crafted books containing stories of the bay and details gleaned from the memories of local fishing families.
13 Get happy at Happy Mount Park
Happy Mount Park dates back to the 1920’s. It is a compact, flower filled, old fashioned pocket of happiness, as the name suggests. On a summer’s day kids have fun in the splash park, play adventure golf or have pirate in the indoor play zone. On a Sunday afternoon in summer the excellent Morecambe Brass band and other old time bands pitch up for an afternoon concert and people bring chairs. Buy an ice cream from the van and relax in the shade. It’s free to enter and there’s free parking around the rear of the park.
14 Play on Morecambe beach
The sea is one of Morecambe’s best features and Morecambe Bay is glorious. In summer you’ll find families hanging out and paddling and making sandcastles on the beach. You can grab a bucket and go crabbing. We learn how to make a sandcastle properly at the Morecambe Sandcastle Festival. Our instructor from sand sculptors Sand in Your Eye tells us there are two secret ingredients for a good sandcastle. One is love. The other is water. Yup. Really. And maybe it’s true; – her sandcastles are miles better than mine. Our guide demonstrates how she would go about making a castle from scratch, packing a tube with sand and water, pressing it down in layers. Lots of layers and lots of water. Sometimes maybe an inch of the stuff. Way more than I’d have put in.
“You can see I’m jiggling it around so that the sand particles wiggle about and stick together,” she says, pushing her hands into the tube up to her elbow. A few taps and she gives birth to a tall tower. Then with nothing more than a ruler and a trowel, she makes stonework and turrets, making us realise we really need to practice more. Or put in more water and love.
15 Flash back into a music hall era in the Winter Gardens
Entering Morecambe Winter Gardens is like tumbling into a music hall era. The Grade II* listed property on the prom was once known as the Victoria Pavilion and could seat over 2000 people. It is a unique example of Victorian architecture from the tiled floor to the marble steps, imposing doors and ornate auditorium, It is currently being revived by the Friends volunteer group and is often open on Sundays during the summer, when guided tours are given. Ask at the tourist information for details. If you are feeling brave you can book to stay overnight for a paranormal evening. Check the website for dates and bring warm clothes- although these will not help reheat your chilled blood.
16 Catch a commission from More Music
More Music is a local charity that offers classes, courses and performances for locals at its permanent venue in Morecambe’s West End. It is also used as a venue by touring artists and commissions promenade theatrical walkabouts. One Christmas we stumbled across larger than life musical caribou wandering the prom and you can often find the folks from More Music in a parade in the town. They are heavily involved in the annual Morecambe Carnival, which is a friendly community organised festival. If you are a music fan, you’ll also like events venue The Platform; converted from an old station platform. At the time of writing the venue is running week day jive lessons.
17 Eat at one of Morecambe’s quirky cafes
There used to be two established food institutions in Morecambe at either end of the prom; Rita’s, which served food at a lightening rate, and Lubins, where the fifties inspired waitresses were so slow it could take most of an afternoon just to get a scone. Lubins is sadly no more but Rita’s is still alive and well, selling cheap and cheerful food at even more cheap and cheerful prices. You can sit outside in summer and enjoy a fry up or an ice cream from the kiosk but do listen out for your number; it’s a bit of a game of bingo – they may shout your number when your food is ready. And you might have to fight a local for a table at lunchtime in the winter; the really determined hold out for one of the booths with prime view of football and celebrity memorabilia.
At the east end of the prom near the book shop you’ll find The View Cafe and Vintage Music shop. Check out the 50’s and 60’s memorabilia on the walls or browse vinyl to your heart’s content with a tea and a scone.
18 Walk to Heysham
If you fancy a good walk then start at the VVV gym at the edge of the town and continue along the prom to Heysham. It’s a pretty walk along the bay and if you have kids with you they can pet ponies, play on the playgrounds, water features and climbing walls and enjoy drinks at a little terrace café on the cliff side. Heysham has everything from an escape room to a power station. The historic churchyard at St Peter’s Church is worth a visit.
19 Go kitesurfing
Morecambe Bay Kitesurfing club meets monthly at The Battery in Morecambe and can advise on how to go kitesurfing or windsuring. Check out their site for more details.
20 Learn to sail
You can learn to sail in Morecambe Bay and take crew and skipper qualifications. Contact Bay Sea School for details on their courses and equipment. Morecambe Sailing Club also offers lots of advice, group support and sailing sessions. Members encourage beginners to get out sailing with Have a Go sailing taster days. All equipment is provided and you get the opportunity to crew and to “steer” a dinghy and a ride in a power boat. Take a look at their website for details of the next session.
21 Go fishing for your supper
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground you could always go angling. Angler David Rushworth says he’s fished all over, but Morecambe is his favourite place for the sport.
“Fishing has actually declined venue-wise with the advent of the rock armour, but the stone jetty is a reliable spot to wet a line. It’s where I cut my angling teeth as a youngster. It is a case of getting out there with a rod, though Gerry’s shop is great for advice and info!” Check out his video made with angler Phill Williams about local plaice fishing.
22 Micro Scooter along the prom
If you have kids with micro scooters Morecambe is a perfect day out. You can go for miles, weaving in and out of the summer crowds. We did a Red Nose day five sport challenge with our scooters, tackling the prom as the sun went down.
23 Defy gravity at Salt Ayre
If you have a car, one of the things to do near Morecambe is fly. Gravity at Salt Ayre near Lancaster is a multi-level tower with six possible descent options including zip line and free fall. ‘The Drop’ is apparently, a bit of a mess with your stomach. Children from 7 years can have a go on this outdoor attraction and no prior climbing experience is needed.
24 Support Morecambe FC
A great way of absorbing the weekend vibe of Morecambe is going to a local football match. Morecambe FC plays at The Globe Arena, a stadium seating just over 6000 people. Don’t eat before you go; apparently a top favourite snack of fans is the MFC pie.
25 Bike the Bay Cycle Way
Fancy a cycle challenge? One of the best things to do near Morecambe that will show you a bit of the area is taking the Bay Cycle Way cycle route stretching 81 miles around the coast from Barrow through Morecambe and Lancaster into Glasson Dock. There are just ten hills and the route includes a chance to eat sticky toffee pudding. That’s all you need to know.
26 Follow the Way of the Roses
If you have more time go for the Way of the Roses coast to coast route from Morecambe to Bridlington. It’s 171 miles and passes through the historic cities of York and Lancaster. On the way you’ll take in spectacular scenery including the Lune Valley, the Forest of Bowland AONB, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB, the Vale of York and the Yorkshire Wolds. Sustrans has some key facts on this page. Travelling West to East can give you the better tailwind but you’ll face a climb between Settle and Brimham Rocks, especially climbing out of Settle. Maybe fuel up on an extra scone before you leave.
27 Support a community project
Lots of community projects in Morecambe would be grateful for a donation of your time or money, but one simple way to contribute is by paying a visit to the Lighthouse Cafe. Half a dozen volunteers work in the cafe and profits are ploughed back into Morecambe projects; at the moment they are supporting a breakfast club for kids in a Morecambe primary school. Dave, one of the volunteers who greets me, says they aim to create a spirit of generosity and hopefully customers notice how the atmosphere is different from other cafes. “We like to think we are very welcoming and friendly. The most important thing for us is you make yourself comfortable and actually enjoy the experience. We try to treat people in the way we would like to be treated ourselves.” The cafe is a fun place to eat too, with diner style booths, neon signs and great murals by a local artist.
28 Paint yourself a pot
Want a souvenir? you can take the family to paint your own. PottyRoo’s Ceramics & Crafts on Marine Road Central is an art studio with lots of options for getting messy and having fun with brushes.
29 Eat the best ice cream
If you have children it’s imperative you head to Brucciani’s, a traditional ice cream parlor that opened in 1939. If the tiny tables and old fashioned vibe lead you to believe it’s all about the past you’d be wrong, The ice cream is multi award winning and you can have low calorie or diabetic versions. Further down the prom you can also pick up an ice cream by the Wallings ice cream company; saving you queuing at heir busy little place in Cockerham.
30 Join the carnival crowd
Morecambe Carnival is not Rio. It doesn’t take very long to pass by but it’s exuberant and more than a little quirky. There are lots of festival style attractions and it lasts for a whole weekend; in 2019 it’s on 10th and 11th August. It also raises money for local charities.
31 Enjoy new landscape sculptures
There’s some interesting sculpture commissioned for the area. Landscape artist Chris Drury has created a dry stone building with a camera obscura enabling you to see the horizon on the walls of the inside. ‘Horizon Line Chamber will be around for decades if not centuries near Sambo’s Grave at Sunderland Point. You can also visit Anna Gillespie’s bronze and steel Ship, at Half Moon Bay. The artwork is part of the Headlands To Headspace art and cultural events, organised by the Morecambe Bay Partnership.
32 Get arty over a Scotch egg at Beach Bird Cafe
The Beach Bird is run by two local artists Andy Winters and Jane Wignall who have stocked the gift shop with art and curios created by other local artists. You can have a browse, and then enjoy coffee, and cake, and more curiously, scotch eggs sourced from a Lancaster farm shop.
“We are aiming to encourage local artists to display their stuff,” says Andy. The cafe is proving more popular than expected in its formative weeks and they have been known to run out of cakes, but the good news is they have some “nice home made soups” lined up for winter. “We’ve had a brilliant summer and sold lots of local art. We now sell clothing, jewellery and soaps.”
33 Get your kit on for a Park Run
The Park Run has come to Morecambe adn is going great guns. You can take part on Saturdays at 9am. But here’s the thing- it’s not in a park, and you don’t have to run! You can jog or walk the flat, 5k promenade route, along with a fair few others. And you’ll also sprint past most of the attractions listed above so you can decide which cafe or attraction to spend the afternoon in. Jog along now…
34 Follow the foodie trail
The Morecambe Beer, Wine & Food Trail Food and Drink trail is an initiative by Morecambe’s Business Improvement District initiative aimed at getting people out and about in the town and sampling the good food and real ales on tap. The guide also features the car parking facilities, electric vehicle charging, and taxi services, although if you are having a few you may prefer to go by foot. Download the map here and follow it now.
35 Find a playground and let the kids run around
There are lots of playgrounds in Morecambe, especially on the prom. These include mini climbing walls and fountains to cool down in. Find one, let the kids run around, and plan your day. Keep an eye on this post for regular updates about what’s on in Morecambe.
If you have any suggestions for activities or attractions in Morecambe drop us a line in the comments and we’ll try to include them at a later date.
If you plan to get out and about while in the area how about a visit to Cumbria’s Kirkby Lonsdale? Here’s my 20 tips for a trip here.