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With a history of Roman settlement, civil war, coal, textiles, industrial decline and Northern Soul, Wigan is certainly eclectic. It’s home to 216 listed buildings, and the Museum of Wigan Life, which provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the past. But, as well as embracing its heritage, Wigan is also looking to the future with the regenerated Wigan Pier Quarter and the impressive Grand Arcade Shopping Centre. On top of that, it’s just half an hour from Manchester Piccadilly and 35 minutes from Liverpool.
Buy a PlusBus ticket for all day travel around Wigan for £3.90 (£2.60 with a Railcard). There is also a taxi rank directly outside the station, making onward travel from Wigan is pretty straightforward.
Many travellers come to Wigan to visit Haydock Racecourse, which is just a 20-minute taxi ride away. Recently refurbished, the brilliant Museum of Wigan Life takes you from the Romans right up to present day and it’s free entry and open every day bar Wednesday and Sunday. The Trencherfield Mill Engine is the steam engine that powered all of the equipment in this cotton spinning mill. It’s been fully restored and gives you a glimpse at the power of the machines of the Industrial Revolution.
At The Coven, everything is vegan, with the majority of dishes being gluten-free as well – all locally sourced, it really is a top-notch eatery. At Fat Olive, you can enjoy an international theme with a traditional Lancashire twist. They also do a Little Olives menu serving wholesome food for children. Another popular haunt is India Lounge, where you can get spicy or mild dishes both to eat in and takeaway.
In the middle of town, you’ll find the Mercure Wigan Oak Hotel. Its superb location means it’s an easy walk to everywhere in the centre. Set in its own exquisite landscaped grounds, the beautifully detailed Ashfield House Hotel is just 15 minutes in a cab, so it’s no wonder that in 2017 it was nominated Best Wedding Venue (Town or City). The Premier Inn Wigan Town Centre Hotel is handily central and close to restaurants and nightlife.
The Wigan Little Theatre is a gem of a place that opened its doors back in 1943 and is entirely staffed by volunteers. With impressive grounds and woodlands Haigh Country Park is a great day out for all the family. If theatre and parkland don’t appeal, why not scream around a racetrack in a go-kart or even a supercar at Three Sisters Race Circuit?
There are more than 40 top high-street stores like Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and Waterstones at the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre, providing everything you need to get your regular high-street retail fix. If you want to max out a bit though, head to the Robin Retail Park on the outskirts of the town and 5 minutes from the station in a cab. Here you’ll find large-scale Boots, JD Sports, Argos and Matalan, as well as plenty of eateries. The cinema is next door too so you can make a day of it.
For more ideas on what to do in Wigan, see Visit Manchester.