On our way to our holiday in Scotland we stayed overnight at Blackpool to break the journey up. I've been to Blackpool many times both as a child and as an adult. This is however the first time I've gone as a father and it has changed my perception of the place somewhat.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast at the north end of the main promenade, just past the Hilton Hotel. The Bed and Breakfast, was called the Sandalwood Hotel. It was pleasant and the owners very friendly. The reason that we chose it was because they were able to supply a cot and high chair, and the entire hotel is no smoking. The room was a bit on the small side, but there was still enough room for the cot and for the cost of the room it was very reasonable. It struck me as quite a good place to choose a Bed and Breakfast. I have stayed nearer to the centre of the promenade before, but then you have problems with parking. This time we found a parking space practically across the road from the B&B and it was only a short tram ride to the attractions, and just about within walking distance. It will be harder to park in peak season, but when we stayed (a Friday night just before the schools broke up), it wasn't a problem.
We took the tram from just around the corner of the B&B all the way to the pleasure beach. We then walked all the way back up to the B&B stopping off at various places on the way.
We didn't spend very long in the pleasure beach. There were few rides there suitable for young children and those that were there are expensive. The one ride that I was about to go on was £5, and I decided it was probably money better spent elsewhere. This was a new ride that was being built a few years ago. I've been on the Big One before and that is a really good ride, but I wasn't really that bothered on this day.
We instead took our daughter on the rides on the piers. She particularly enjoyed the car rides. This is the first time she'd gone on a ride on her own and she really enjoyed it. Thankfully she didn't try and stand up or get out early which we were a little apprehensive about. For the rest of the day we spent time on the piers, in a few arcades and generally enjoying the seaside atmosphere.
We did look at going into the tower (we have visited before), but as we didn't think our daughter would sit through the circus show it was a lot of money just to go up the tower. Something that will wait until she is older.
One thing that struck me about many of the shops was how there were rock, children's seaside toys and sex toys all within easy reach of each other. It wasn't something that really bothered me, but it kind of sums up the different visitors to Blackpool.
As it became late afternoon we started to see the occasional girl heading towards work at the many strip clubs in Blackpool. Not really something you'd want in a family resort, but again this didn't really bother me either.
The thing that I believe really conflicts with the family seaside resort is the drunken stag and hen parties. It is not pleasant to be walking along in early afternoon and to then have to negotiate your way past a group of drunken men (or indeed drunken women) that are struggling to stand-up but are staggering in the opposite direction. This is quite a frightening thing both as a parent wanting to protect my child, but also for the child seeing these people coming towards them. It is in this that I see the real conflict between the two different groups of visitors to Blackpool.
I have nothing against people having stag or hen parties, or even just heavy drinking, after all I've had my own stag party, but I don't think that a family seaside resort is the place for this to be. It is the large amount of drunken behaviour that just spoils Blackpool as a family resort.
The other thing about Blackpool, which has thankfully now changed, is that smoking was heavy in many of the indoor places. We spent quite some time trying to find a family friendly restaurant where we didn't have to sit in a room full of smoke, and most of the arcades also allowed smoking, although due to the size of these it was normally possible to find somewhere else to stand away from them. This however was just 2 nights before the UK Law changed banning smoking in public places, so thankfully there will be a greater choice of places to eat next time we visit. It's just a case of negotiating the way around the beer induced vomit on the way to the restaurant.