Liverpool, in the county of Merseyside, England is well known for being the birthplace of the iconic band The Beatles and the Liverpool FC soccer team. Although these internationally recognized symbols may draw the immediate eye, the underbrush of history and architecture awaits those who take the time to discover it. An array of bright lights, monumental-sized buildings, and some sneaky artwork lie in wait for the would-be traveler, making Liverpool a location of particular interest to those looking to find a new favorite place to visit.
11. Formby Point
Picturesque sandy beaches wait at Formby Point, with activities only limited by the imagination. Sea grass-covered sand dunes sit just feet from the shore; these ever-changing dunes are just one of many natural features. Behind the magnificent view lie pine woodlands, home to the protected and rarely seen red squirrels. Occasionally, a herd of sheep my greet visitors as well. Prehistoric footprints have also been discovered under the sand, which can be discovered by a guided walk with an archaeologist. Other activities include geocaching, bird spotting and cycling tours.
10. Walker Art Gallery
Behind its high pillars and sparkling water fountain lies a museum with a classic layout and design fit for a movie. The Walker Art Gallery is home to renaissance masterpieces and one of the best collections of Victorian art in the country. Some of the most important works have been on display for nearly 200 years, and are more recognizable by sight as opposed to by name. Fashion, paintings, sculptures and video art are just some of the collections worth seeing. As with most museums, children’s programs are available, as are guided tours which are highly recommended for information on pieces that date back as far as the 13th century.
9. Knowsley Safari Park
Knowsley Safari Park showcases a wide range of wildlife, some that may not be expected at a typical zoo. Along with big cats, birds and elephants are the skin crawling Giant African Millipedes, Poison Dart Frogs, and the Capybara (the world’s largest rodent weighing over 90 pounds). The unique draw is that the visitor drives through the grounds in their own vehicle as animals roam about, just as any other safari, except this one is very close to the city and major highways. The park also features a walk-around area to get really up-close and personal. With fair grounds, and sea-lion shows among the many events at the venue, there’s always something interesting going on here.
8. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Another sensational building in the city, the hall is built on the same site of its predecessor which was destroyed by fire in 1933. With about 250 events per year (70 or so by the orchestra) the venue sells over 250, 000 tickets annually. Frequented by superb acts (The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Buddy Holly being historical favorites), the hall is considered a premium venue. Whether for a concert or movie premier, a ticket to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic makes for a glamorous evening. Music workshops are also frequently available for all ages.
7. Antony Gormley’s Another Place at Crosby Beach
The rare visit that needs to be timed out, Antony Gormley’s Another Place is a piece of artwork unlike anything anyone has seen. 100 cast iron “bodyforms” are placed along the coast over a stretch of 1.75 square kilometers. Time of day, position of the tide, and weather conditions all play a part in how much of the work is visible at a given time. The unpredictability of the art is what makes it memorable, but also what makes it a new experience every time. A truly inspiring piece of art, Antony Gormley’s Another Place offers insight, enlightenment (and of course a fantastic photo opportunity) as the structures change and grow old with time.
6. Albert Dock
The famous Albert Dock is home to renowned coffee shops, retail, art galleries and museums. Mainstays such as the Beatles Museum, International Slavery Museum, and the Merseyside Maritime Museum are great ways to explore Liverpool history. Travel in a “Magical Mystery Tour” bus to learn all there is about The Beatles, or a simpler guided walking tour to get an in-depth perspective on this iconic destination. The dock is over 170 years old, and holds the largest group of Grade 1-listed buildings (structures of historical or architectural interest) in the country making sure to find its way into more than a few Instagram pages.
5. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
It took a staggering 74 years to build what is now the largest historic cathedral in the United Kingdom and 5th largest in the world. A simplistic layout, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral has vast open space which only accentuates the architectural features. The low-cost tour (approximately $8) comes highly recommended due to the stunning history of the structure, having survived both World Wars and all the events that come with a three-quarter century building project. Wine tastings and fashion shows are reoccurring events but a trip up the tower is the biggest draw. Standing 500’ high above the river, the Vestey Tower is a perfect way to soak in the Liverpool skyline as it lights up at night.
Anfield is home to Liverpool FC and is one of the most historic football/soccer venues in the country. Built and opened in 1884, it was housed by the Everton Football Club for 8 years until Liverpool began playing there in 1892. This club has some of the most loyal and dedicated fans in the sport, with team songs that are more inspiring and heartfelt than most. Anfield is the 7th largest soccer stadium in England, and with a capacity over 45, 000 (said to be increasing to 58, 000) the stadium can get very loud. A historic site for any sports fan, it is recommended to go to a Liverpool FC game to understand the true meaning of being a sports fan.
3. Museum of Liverpool
Opened in July, 2011 the Museum of Liverpool is a modern building said to reflect the city’s global significance through unique geography, history and culture. This spot is sure to be a favorite visit during a walk along the waterfront with exhibits appealing to all tastes including galleries about the city’s military and infrastructural history, as well as an area dedicated to Liverpool’s most wonderful creative and sports personalities in the “Wondrous Place”. The kids are sure to enjoy the movies, karaoke and bright-light exhibits the Museum of Liverpool has to offer; and with free admission, so will the adults.
2. Pier Head
Located at the majestic Liverpool Waterfront, the Pier Head brings together the “Three Graces”; The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building, and Port of Liverpool building. The pier offers the famous Mersey Ferries, and is steps away from the Museum of Liverpool. Luxury galleries, bars and restaurants can be found on Mann Island, the recently upgraded space that has enhanced the famous area. The aforementioned Port of Liverpool Building (designed to fit the Chicago skyline) is a nearby massive building not open to the public, however it is to be marveled at as one of the long-standing structures that watches over the city. Stay at one of the many extravagant hotels and enjoy all the waterfront has to offer just steps away.
1. St. George’s Hall
A self-proclaimed “Breathtaking Venue”, St. George’s Hall is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular neo-classical buildings in the world. Over 200 years old, the enormous pillars on the front steps make way for an interior that leaves no question as to why the space is so popular. The building is fit for royalty and hosts plenty of up-scale weddings and corporate events. However there are often free and paid shows in The Concert Room that Charles Dickens described as the “most perfect room in the world”. In the Heritage Center, tours and talks are available as well as exhibitions in the newly opened Basement Galleries. An awe-inspiring building, St. George’s Hall is a must see.