Blackpool has grown to be much more family focused in recent years, where as say 10+ years ago, families with children wouldn’t be allowed in any but a select couple of pubs away from the front, (….and to be fair, even if families were allowed in, you’d probably think twice whether to go in anyway), there are now a number of pubs which are not only child friendly, but are actively geared towards accommodating families and children’s needs.
Its quite a turn around from the Blackpool of old – we once had a walk down the prom as a family mid afternoon in the height of season (something we do quite a bit) where there was a young lad touting for customers for a pub down a side street (which will remain nameless!) he said ‘come in ‘nameless’ bar, 2 free shots with your first drink’, ‘Nah, thanks, but we have our kids with us’ we said, to which he replied, straight as anything ‘thats not a problem, they just need to be out by 11’. Luckily, whilst there are still some places like that, they’re few and far between now (though the one Im referring to is still open incidentally!) and whilst theres still more non-family pubs in Blackpool, the number is growing and I expect will continue to.
In this Blog, I want to run through a few pubs we have frequented in the past and present with our kids and try to give you an indication of how they fair in general terms of:
- Ideal age range catered for
- Children’s entertainment
- Variety of food / drinks available
- Cost (food and drinks)
- General ‘vibe’
We’ll try to keep our views as objective as possible except for ‘general vibe’ which will just be ‘how comfortable did we feel walking in and sitting down for a drink’….and as they’re not open currently, we’ll take a stab from memory regarding price if we can’t check online.
So…. In no particular order…………
– The Brew Room
Family owned and run real ale pub near the winter gardens. Hosts an on site brewery (Try the Wonky Donkey IPA!!) This pub is based in the centre of the town, it’s owned by a local family who also own other eating and drinking establishments in the town. For us visiting as a family, the big sales point has to be the amazing milkshakes and hot dogs the have available. The milkshakes are the type you’d get from a dedicated milkshake bar with a range of sweet treats you can include and our kids always love going especially for that!
This isn’t really a venue for younger kids, the pub is more a pub that allows children rather than families with younger children being the target customer base. There’s very little by way of entertainment tailored for children there is a table football and some board games but that’s about it. We’d suggest with younger kids either a shorter stay for food or ensure you’re able to keep them entertained with a comic or electronic device.
For food, the choice is small in terms of variety available on site, basic pub fayre, the menu is pretty much limited to hot dogs, pizzas and loaded nachos. The quality is very good though on the up side and they will allow you to order food from their other venue (West Coast Rock Café) to be delivered to the pub (west coast rock is fab by the way and not far away!)
A massively important one for the mum of our family is clenliness, we’ve walked out of places before because toilets aren’t clean enough or theres still plates and glasses left on tables. Brew room is top notch on the cleanliness side, tables and glasses always cleared away quickly and toilets are looked after and checked during the day.
Cost wise…. Hmm…. Hard one to judge this as they do their own beers and don’t serve the likes of Carling, Fosters etc but for real ale this is a destination pub and prices are reasonable.
In terms of general vibe (or ambience if you want to be posh) this is a very welcoming pub, you don’t feel on edge, uncomfortable or like you shouldn’t be there as a family. There’s always a few people in but it doesn’t have that ‘clique’ vibe going on where you feel like you’re walking into someone’s house.
Overall….. an excellent pub for a family who maybe want a base in the town whilst the family is split doing activities (the pubs only a short walk form the seafront / tower) or if the family just want to grab a drink and something simple to eat before a show for example. Not the best for younger kid that are easily bored.
– The New Philly
Just a hop back from the promenade, ‘The New Philly’ is a recent addition to the Fylde coast’s family pub offering and is still a bit of a rough diamond but has potential to be truly, a jewel in Blackpool’s crown. The pub is large and offers plenty of seating and is setup to cater for families in a safe environment, up until 11:00 at night (though there is a small adults only area). Theres plenty of seating so we’ve never had a problem ‘setting up camp’.
In terms of ages catered for……quite a tough one actually….. pretty varied and it probably depends on how outgoing your kids are. The pub has kids entertainers on which are pretty good, our 8 year old is always eager to get involved with the games …even if over the course of a season, she’s done them a couple of times, but our eldest tends to get out some electronic device to keep her entertained rather than getting up on stage. I’d say you could have kids from 4 up to 13 happy in this venue. The do have some arcade games etc too from memory (will check this after lockdown). The kids entertainment is top notch and what the pub is selling itself on to stand out from the crowd (loads of pubs in the immediate area but mainly catering for stag dos, hen dos or parties without kids).
For food and drink…… the menu is pretty basic, they’ve started doing food but it’s limited in the main to things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets and the like but end of the day, this place is in a tourist hotspot so there are load of chippys and cafes around to cater for families, so food probably isn’t a priority. That said, the prices charged are very reasonable we think. Drinks wise, just your normal branded items (carling, strongbow etc) and prices are good for the area.
Cleanliness is probably an area that could use some TLC, tables seem to be cleared fairly quickly but a few times we’ve been in and the toilets are blocked / having problems. So first time in, always make sure kids are accompanied to the toilets to check them out (we could have just been unluckily previously of course and to give the staff and management their credit, when raised any issue, it is looked into immediately).
General vibe of the place can be inconsistent, which I’m putting down to it being new and finding itself. We’ve been in the middle of the day when there’s no entertainment on and the place is deserted, then you feel like a little uncomfortable as the kids bar is massive and adults bar (which is more populated during the day) can seem loud in comparison, but then we’ve been on a evening when the place has been full and everyone’s having a great time and you feel comfortable letting the kids run round to their hearts content.
Good pub providing excellent entertainment for the kids, good prices and is a safe environment even late. The pub has been done up during lockdown, lets hope they’ve sorted out any toilet issues. We’re not put off going and think it will only improve going forward.
– Family pub at the Manchester
Located on the south promenade, about a mile south of the tower, the Family Bar at the Manchester offers good view of the beach and sea with a ‘chainy’ pub feel. It’s a pretty standard family pub to be honest (don’t confuse it with ‘The Manchester’ pub ‘below…. which is a totally different experience!!). It has games and a soft play area, ball pool (though I can’t see that opening for a while) and a mini arcade. It serves pretty standard pub drinks and a basic pub menu which covers all the classics and is reasonably priced (We were in once when someone was complaining about portion size, we’ve eaten in here though and never found much of a problem, pay for what you get and all that). Theres no specific live children’s entertainment on, they have built facilities to do away with the need for entertainers. The soft play area is free and probably caters best for 3 – 7 years old, any older and you’ll need to rely on video games and machines to entertain….for mums and dads… there are TVs with sports on.
Cleanliness in this pub is pretty inconsistent, often we’ve been in and theres only one person working the bar who is also tasked with cleaning and glass collecting / taking out food…… you don’t need much of a rush on for the cleaning to fall behind, I think they can call for help from the pub below but that too often gets very busy as a destination stag and hen pub.
General vibe wise….. this one is quite easy to pin down, it feels like going into a wacky warehouse type place and is geared mainly for the tourist trade. Overall, it’s an alright pub and one you could spend an hour or 2 in quite easily but does feel quite sterile….. which lets face it, is what a lot of people want.
If you’ve got kids and ever been to one of the chains which caters for kids, you be able to picture exactly what this is like. Its easy to miss and you may feel a bit wary going in the place as you have to go up stairs to get to it (we prefer where you can see in a pub what its like before venturing in) but we now find that’s a plus side, it tends to have plenty of seats available as it’s often missed or people are put off. Prices average, we’ve stopped by for a pit stop but not much more than that.
– Pirates Bay
Pirates Bay is a family bar located on the Central Pier. As the Pier itself is targeted for families, as you’d expect, the bar is also geared up to create a family friendly environment. The décor of the bar is fab, as the name suggests, all pirate based and it helps capture the kids imagination as they stare at the various pirates and nautical themed displays on the ceiling. The venue is a good size and provides a lot of space for the kids to run around and burn off some energy.
Generally, through the day entertainment is provided with the kids getting involved in various games and circus trick etc, they have a decent variety of acts on catering for a wide range of ages (Toddlers through to teenagers). Being on the pier, it also means if you have older kids who want to explore, they can go off on the pier itself without worry of them going astray. Central pier has lots of games and rides so older kids with a few quid, can quite happily entertain themselves, whilst the younger children can take part in the competitions and game in the bar itself.
Cleanliness wise, I’d say fair, the toilets are dated and at times, the tables could be cleared quicker, I don’t think it’s helped by the fact they have a few toy machines and food served comes from a kiosk rather than coming plated up from a kitchen – just creates a fair bit of litter to keep on top of as the day goes on.
Price wise…. a little bit above average from memory (we’ll update this as soon as we get to go in and take note) but that can be expected, they do have a number of acts on all day.
Lastly….. general vibe….. accepting and accommodating of all, lots of noise when entertainers are on, kids screaming etc…. but if the kids are yours and they’re having fun, mission accomplished 🙂
For entertainment, whatever the age, Pirates Bay (with the additional lure of all the pier has to offer in close proximity) nails it. Food wise, if you want a snack, you can get some quick easy standard stuff to fill bellies, drink wise, all pretty standard stuff you’d expect form a seasonal bar, catering for the masses. Best thing we can say about the place is, we’ve been before with a 6 year old and we struggled to tear her away she was having such a good time.
– Fifth Floor
And last but by no means least, the newest jewel in the Blackpool family, the “Fifth Floor’ family bar based in the iconic Blackpool tower. This bar is around a year and a half old now at a guess, and took the site of where ‘jungle jims’ was in the tower (if you remember that – kids play area, was around for donkeys years). The bar is new and still certainly has a ‘new’ feel about it, and offers excellent entertainment (a lot of the people on stage we recognise from them working at other family bars previously). The place is pretty big with a lot of tables and chairs but sometimes, it does get very busy, we’ve never struggled to get a seat though (tip…. Sit further back if your kids are more introvert to avoid getting asked up on stage!). Lots of kids competitions and prizes, we’d put it up there as probably the best for kids entertainment in the evening.
Ages catered for….. probably 3 through to 14. Our 11 year old will no longer take part in the games etc but our youngest is always first with her hand up! There are other attractions across the fifth floor (arcades and an 8K virtual reality rollercoaster) which add variety or an outlet for kids that don’t want to get involved on stage.
Cleanliness and service are both pretty good, even at the busiest times you get served fairly quickly and tables are tended to regaulrlay. Toilets appear to be checked often through the day, only down side is they are fairly small so you may struggle when the bar is busy!
Price wise, Floor 5 is more expensive than most places but you’re paying for the location, bang in the centre of town with access to all the beter restaurants and hotels tends to drive up prices.
General vibe wise…….. its very new so from last year when we went, it appeared to be more locals using it than tourist (the kids on stage tend to get asked where they’re from) but I expect that will change this year (depending how the season pans out). This is a bar aimed purely at families so feels very comfortable to walk in, its rare you’ll see anyone without kids in the bar unlike the other bars listed on this blog which can contain a mix.
New feel but obviously has had money chucked at it. Entertainment for the kids is very good, they have attracted some of the more renowed kids entertainers from across the town to work here. Prices are a little steep and choice of drinks limited but if you have kids between 2 and 14, they’ll love it, even if they’re like our eldest and just watch or head off round the arcade.
Its very difficult to pick a clear ‘best’ of any of the family pubs listed, they all cater for something different which different people will like, my wife and I probably prefer the Brew Room to any, but the main draw for that is we can use it as a base whilst the other nips into town doing some shopping or something, they also have a good range of real ales on whereas others are more geared to catering for the masses…… but it’s not all about our view so I thought I’d ask the kids which they’d prefer if all restrictions were lifted ……….
‘Of those I’d prefer to go to Central Pier, Emma gets all ages of kids up and involved and does quizzes we can do as a family at the table’8 year old girl.
‘ I’d prefer to go to either Brew Room or the Family pub at the Manchester. Brew Room has brill milkshakes but the Manchester has TV’s so I cant decide’.11 Year old girl.
Thanks for reading, hope this blog is useful to some of you as we leave lockdown and things start getting back to ‘normal’. Please let us know and like share to your hearts content, all very much appreciated growing our audience and follower base.
Which pubs have you been to in Blackpool with the kids? Which ones would you avoid?