The best way to experience Blackpool is to walk the 'Golden Mile' starting at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and ending up at Blackpool Tower. It's actually more like 2 miles but is a lovely walk featuring tat, pubs, fish and chips, cheeky bastard seagulls, sand and about 100 hotels.
Starting opposite the South Pier you can’t fail to notice the huge rollercoasters and the slightly smaller Wetherspoons.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Probably the greatest theme park in the world, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been entertaining thrill seekers for about 100 years and many of the rides from this time are still knocking about and rattling away day-by-day. The sheer fear of bouncing around on the Grand National, getting a hernia and nearly falling off is what it’s all about really but there’s also some nice shiny new rides as well. There’s the Pepsi Max of course, Infusion and their brand-new one – ICON which they’ve spent a shit load of money on and opens this week.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 525 Ocean Blvd, Blackpool FY4 1EZ
Pasaje del Terror
Not something for you if you get scared easily, Passaje del Terror is a ‘ride’ thing that is scary enough to make Freddie Kruger shit his pants, featuring live actors dressed up in some proper scary outfits and jumping out at you at the most inappropriate moments. There was an Exorcist girl at one point, and I’m not sure she’s still there because I’ve not been for years, but she was the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes. Lying on the bed you’ve got to walk past her to get through the door on the other side of the room – it’s horrible. Luckily though when you go through the last door there’s a bar and you can get yourself a nice strong drink to calm your nerves.
Pasaje del Terror, 525 Ocean Blvd, Blackpool FY4 1EZ
The Velvet Coaster
Okay so I know this is a Wetherspoons and Finest isn’t exactly known for bigging up these massive conglomerates, but if you fancy a drink down this end of the mile, the Velvet Coaster is a cracking place to head to. It’s named after a ride at the Pleasure Beach which opened around 1900 and then became what was known when I was a kid as ‘Roller Coaster’. They couldn’t even be bothered thinking of a name for it. The pub is basically the Walmart of Wetherspoons, with 3 massive floors and even a rooftop terrace for when it’s sunny outside. There is the usual selection of beers and drinks as well as the standard ‘Spoons food menu featuring food from every corner of the universe at low, low prices.
The Velvet Coaster, 501-507 Promenade, Blackpool FY4 1BA
Some would say that Notarianni serve up the best ice cream in the country. I would probably say that too – mostly because it’s amazing and partly because I’ve not really eaten much ice cream anywhere else. This place has been here for ages and ages and they’re still banging out Sundaes and Shakes with their legendary vanilla ice cream at the centre. Keeping it simple with a recipe that has been passed through the hands of the Notarianni family for around a million years, it will be the best vanilla ice cream you’ve ever tasted – I promise.
Notarianni Ice Cream, 9 Waterloo Rd, Blackpool FY4 1AF
There’s loads more stuff around here including the South Pier, the Sand Castle Water Park and loads of tat shops.
Once you’re finished with the South end, it’s time to make your way up to the centre of Blackpool. Sure, you can take a tram, but the walk is much better and there’s stuff to do on the way.
The Golden Mile
Walking from the Pleasure Beach to the Tower and you’ll be exposed to endless sea on one side and endless hotels on the other side. The Golden Mile is famed for its past – where Victorian idiots with long swimsuits would come and stay to take advantage of the health benefits of the sea air. Nowadays the hotels are mostly filled with pensioners complaining about young people today and the price of Freddos. There’s some decent places you can pop in for a drink though, with The Dutton Arms providing a good pint, The Sun Inn offering the proper boozer experience as well as the option to pop into the many, many hotel bars along the way. I’ve been in The Lyndene and it was actually really nice, with cheap Gin and Tonics and great sea views.
With all the plastic knocking about in the world’s oceans, I give it about 20 years and all that will be left will be places like this – big massive tanks in Northern cities housing a vast array of sharks, fish, eels and manky starfish. Although this isn’t the biggest SeaLife centre you can find they still manage to cram a shit load of marine creatures into a small space – much like the all the octopus-type creatures they have that always try and escape by squeezing through tiny holes. Where they’ll go in Blackpool once they do escape is beyond me. Maybe they could read this and end up at Pulci Pizza?
SeaLife Centre, Promenade, Blackpool FY1 5AA
Fish & Chips
Nothing beats eating some fish and chips on the promenade with a tin of Tizer, a pickled egg and a seagull trying to mug you off. As you’d expect, there’s loads of chippies dotted all over Blackpool and to be fair you can’t really go wrong with most of them. If they look busy, don’t sell donner kebabs and have freshly buttered bread available then you’re onto a winner. Senior’s is a top spot but it’s a bit far out so I’d probably recommend the Yorkshire Fisheries Chippy down on Topping Street in the town centre. It’s been around for ages and they know exactly what they’re doing. The fish is so fresh it could probably still be classified as alive by a qualified medical man and their mushy peas are amazing.
Yorkshire Fisheries, Topping St, Blackpool FY1 3AQ
The jewel in the city’s crown, Blackpool Tower is a massive rip-off of the Eiffel Tower but who cares – it looks brilliant. Apparently, Hitler was a massive fan and wanted to land on Blackpool Beach after the successful invasion of Britain, the footage echoing his entrance into Paris with the tower in the background. Luckily for all of us that didn’t happen, but if it did I’m sure he would have thoroughly enjoyed himself in the stunning Ballroom and by going all the way up to the top and getting a view of loads of sand, water and terraced houses. The Tower also houses a Dungeon now, as well as other attractions for kids and tourists. My suggestion would be to head on up to the top and stand on the glass floor bit – it’s proper scary up there.
Blackpool Tower, Promenade, Blackpool FY1 4BJ
Once you’re in the town centre there is a distinct shift towards the more commercial end of the spectrum when it comes to eating and drinking. You’ll find all the big companies selling the usual stuff that you’d get elsewhere but there are a few gems hidden amongst the rest.
A bit of a revelation when it turned up on the shores of the North end of the prom, the Beach House wouldn’t look out of place in Ibiza with a massive terrace, loads of cocktails and some pretty decent dishes knocking about. It looks like Buck Rogers could live here with a minimalist exterior and loads of neon inside. Its terrace is an absolute treasure, with views of the Tower, the Pier, the sea and everything in between. Apparently, they’ve got a new chef here too and the food has taken a big step up but I’ve yet to head down and give it a go. It was pretty decent before so it must be excellent now. I’ll let you know once I’ve been.
Beach House Bistro & Bar, Festival House, The Promenade, Blackpool FY1 1AP
There was a time that I refused to believe that Scrooges even existed, even though I’d been in it loads of times and had some top nights in there. I just could never remember it – mostly because I was way too drunk to notice what was going on. Then came a time when I went in relatively sober and agreed with everyone that it does indeed actually exist and it is indeed brilliant. It’s a sort of fusion of an old man’s pub, an indie club and someone’s house, with loads of little rooms crammed full of people enjoying the tunes and the fizzy lagers. It’s a great place to end the night away from the likes of Walkabout and Yates.
Scrooges, 4 Milbourne St, Blackpool FY1 3ER
Pulci Pizza (Poulton-le-Fylde)
Slightly out of Blackpool town centre in Poulton, Pulci Pizza is probably the best restaurant in the area – even giving the likes of Rudy’s and PLY a run for their money. The pizzas are sublime, with the freshest ingredients and a base which manages to defy physics by being both softer than a cloud but also crispy enough to hold onto the many toppings you’re likely to want on it. I’ve also been informed that the Calamari here is amazing. Steven in the office admits that it’s the best calamari he’s ever had in his life. Big claim that – you’ll have to see for yourself.
Pulci Pizza, 22B Breck Rd, Poulton-le-Fylde FY6 7AA