25 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. We live a short drive from the town and have spent many happy hours at its attractions and festivals. Here’s our top 25 suggestions of 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 fading tourism, increasing social deprivation and chronic under-investment. But little by little the scenery is changing and the British press is starting to whisper that Morecambe is on the up. Blobby land is no more and the Polo Tower is gone. The quasar and 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 25 things to do in Morecambe
1 Take a selfie with Eric Morecambe
In almost twenty years of visiting 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. I have seen him adorned with Santa hats, jubilee flags, and flowers and he greets it all with the same welcome and humour. 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, even at night when he’s all lit up. 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 where if you look closely you will find 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. I’m told several film stars have held the banister, which dates back to 1933, including Lawrence Olivier and Roger Moore. 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; even a cup of tea will cost you the best part of a fiver and the 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 (see later) 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 seeing 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 superheros 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 and we attended many ourselves. 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’ve a couple of hours to spare.
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 next festival will be held the last weekend in August when 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 sit on the sofa in the Winter Gardens and 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. The dark and chilly venue and dim lighting adds to atmosphere, especially when serial killers are being dissected. The French café on site offers cheap coffee and cake to festival goers or you can sneak out (but look out for being followed) to Costa, or the bright Lighthouse Café further down the prom to thaw your frozen heart.
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 six 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 organiser Ian Roberts who says this year the theme will be 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.
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 bookstores 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 a shop that sold me a Bansky limited edition print but refused to sell me two huge wooden dolphins that used to adorn the Morecambe funfair as the owner was keeping them for nostalgic reasons. Seek the bargains out at your leisure.
11 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 you can visit 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 will have 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.
12 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.
13 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 learnt how to make a sandcastle properly at the Morecambe Sandcastle Festival. The bay is great for fishing to; Morecambe seaside is famous for its potted shrimps and you can’t leave without trying some.
14 Take a sneak peak in the Winter Gardens
You have to be eagle eyed to grab the chance of seeing the Victorian Winter Gardens. They aren’t open to the public on a year round basis but if there’s an event on, it’s worth paying the entrance fee to see inside this elegant building. We saw an amazing multi media production called Sea Breeze here by touring company Imitating the Dog.
15 Do a Morecambe Ghost Hunt
Abandoned properties in Morecambe, England, are the setting for regular ghost hunts. One of the spookiest is apparently the Winter Gardens. No surprise there really!
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. At 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 the events venue The Platform; converted from an old station platform.
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 will 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.
If you have children it’s imperative you head to Brucciani’s, a traditional ice cream parlour 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.
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 & 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 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? Take the Bay Cycle Way cycle route stretching 81 miles around the coast or if you have more time go for the Way of the Roses coast to coast route from Morecambe to Bridlington. It’s 170 miles and passes through the historic cities of York and Lancaster.