Lancashire has been one of Britain’s favourite holiday destinations for generations. The great seaside resorts of Morecambe, Southport and Blackpool have been welcoming tourists since the industry’s earliest days and providing no end of fresh air and fun.

Our wonderful and exciting cities bring people from across the globe to see their world-famous sites, leading museums and galleries, and to soak up their unique atmospheres.

And throughout the county visitors enjoy spectacular scenery, incredible award-winning restaurants, pubs, spas, and a traditional warm Lancastrian welcome.

But in spite of all that, much of the county remains largely undiscovered by outsiders. Possibly the best example is the vast unspoiled wilderness of the Forest of Bowland, an area the size of New York city which is dotted with picture perfect villages and great places to eat and drink.

This is a county of great size and contrast – it’s bounded in the south by the river Mersey and stretches north to meet the Lake District – and tourists seeking solitude and natural beauty could also head for the Pennine hills, or the fells of southern Lakeland.

But those wanting a different kind of break are well catered for as well. Lancashire’s outstanding coast is home to a colony of red squirrels, vast golden beaches and some iconic attractions including Blackpool Tower. And the Eden Project North will be another huge attraction for tourists when it opens in 2026.

The Red Rose county’s biggest cities – Liverpool and Manchester – each have a fascinating history and their musical heritage is well-known across the globe. They are also packed with great shops, theatres and many award-winning restaurants.

But they are just two of Lancashire’s five cities. Salford stands just across the Ship Canal from Manchester and has seen a major transformation in recent years, with TV studios and The Lowry arts centre adding to its appeal. Lancaster is a compact and historic city – don't miss the stunning Ashton Memorial, or the looming castle - and Preston, in the heart of the county, has quality shops, bars and restaurants and is just minutes away from glorious countryside.

Wherever you are in Lancashire, going hungry is not an option. Aside from the traditional hot pot, pie and peas or fish and chips (first served together in Oldham), there's a wealth of top class producers, growers and brewers whose great ingredients are given the best possible treatment by super chefs at award-winning restaurants the length and breadth of the county. You’ll find everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to top quality inns producing wonderful Lancashire dishes.

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There are 700 listed buildings around the town, including the impressive Town Hall and the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery. The Octagon Theatre is a great venue with a good restaurant – just one of the many places to eat and drink around the town. Bolton is overlooked by Rivington Pike, a hill with some lovely walking routes to explore and which offers some of the finest views across Lancashire.

This is a stylish town which is home to scores of sports stars. But despite the classy shops, the wide open beach and dunes are the main attraction for most visitors. There’s also an enclave of endangered red squirrels at the National Trust reserve near Freshfield.

The town bills itself as a festival venue and has – among many others – annual festivals of music, art, dance, fashion and walking. Ulverston was the birthplace of Stan Laurel who is remembered with a statue outside the town’s theatre, and in the Laurel and Hardy Museum. You’ll also find an impressive range of pubs, restaurants and some particularly fine cafes and delicatessens.

Overlooked by a tiny 12th century castle, Clitheroe is a small town with a lot going on. The town centre is home to some lovely independent shops and galleries, including the Platform Gallery. Clitheroe is at the heart of the Ribble Valley Food Trail and each summer the town hosts a food festival. The Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail is on the outskirts of the town with a network of paths and artworks.

Once thought of as a sleepy resort, the town today is packed with interesting shops and a wealth of fabulous cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. It is also forging a reputation for its events, the centrepiece of which is the annual Lytham Festival which attracts big name music acts each summer.

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This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine.

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