Recently I spent the weekend exploring Manchester whilst my husband was at the UK Drum Show there. Manchester is such a rabbit warren of a city, with surprises around every corner you can wander for hours and not get bored. At a quick glance you could be fooled into thinking Manchester is a city that has had its day but if you scratch beneath the surface and look a little closer you will find so many little gems of independent shops, cafes and bars amidst the crumbling brickwork.
My top tip for city visitors would be to look up! For one the architecture is amazing, it’s a jumble of beautiful old crumbling buildings, street art that in parts reminded me of San Francisco and a vast array of architectural styles ranging from Neo-Classical to Art Deco. This city guide will focus mainly on the northern quarter as that was where I was able to explore most, but trust me – there is plenty to explore throughout the rest of the city too.
The Northern Quarter houses so many fantastic vintage shops particularly along Oldham street, I highly recommend exploring there.
Form Lifestore Housed in an ex-industrial style building converted to perfection, I could have bought almost everything in this little shop. Plants, handmade organic skincare and beautiful homeware. All arranged so beautifully you totally think it’s going to be out of your price range but it’s not!
Fred Aldous This is probably the most amazing art and craft shop I have ever had the pleasure to explore. Its unassuming facade almost led me to miss this little gem altogether but I caught a glimpse of some retro cameras in the window which lured me in. Floor one is full of gifts, stationary and cards, floor 2 is huge and has aisle after aisle of supplies for every type of craft you can imagine and then floor three has more stock along with rental work spaces, light rooms for photography and more! It is a good job this shop is so far away otherwise I would need a second mortgage!
Okla This little treasure was full of fun and quirky gifts for all age ranges, I particularly loved all the fun retro style homeware and certainly got some inspiration to add to my wishlist plus some adorable Sass and Belle gifts for a first birthday coming up!
Evelyns Cafe Bar This gorgeous cafe had the interior of my dreams, plants galore, kokedama hanging from the exposed brickwork, and a menu to die for. We came here for breakfast on the last day and whilst the avocado toast had a little too much coriander for my liking (but was still delicious!) the matcha latte was the best I have ever had.
TeaCup Kitchen A lovely assistant at Okla recommended this pitt-stop to me. TeaCup offers a wide range of food catering for dairy and gluten free but what I would highly recommend is stopping in for a huge slice of cake to enjoy whilst sipping on one of their speciality teas.
Cat Cafe Book ahead to avoid disappointment – there were people queuing out the door when I arrived! Paying for entry to a cafe may be off-putting at first glance but you get unlimited drinks for the duration of your stay and free kitty cuddles, who could complain about that?! PS don’t worry – there are stick rules in place to ensure the cats best interests are protected and they are really well looked after!
Reds True BBQ A strange choice for a non-meat-eater I hear you think! But this place was great for three reasons – that dingy decor lit with neon signs called out to my inner old man, the craft beer on tap was delicious and the starters we had were phenomenal (Halloumi chips and a lightly fried take on cauliflower cheese)! The mains I think were great too but by that point both myself and my man had over indulged on beer and starters! If you happen to be there I highly recommend trying Legitimate Businesses craft beers and I implore you to try the donut burger which looked phenomenal!
I hope you enjoyed my brief city guide to Manchester. I would have loved a bit longer to explore the city more and highly recommend a trip there if you get the chance! We have really been enjoying our weekend Wanders lately, what are your favourite places in the UK for some exploring?!