If you're a vintage addict the Northern Quarter is where to head for your daily dose. Always the creative heart of the city, the number of vintage shops has blossomed in recent years catering for all tastes. For girly, try Retro Rehab, bargain basement- Ryan Vintage, altruistic- Oxfam Originals or full on, whacked out craziness- American Graffiti. Not to mention many more hidden backstreet gems. Failing that head straight to Afflecks Palace possibly the world's only punk/goth/vintage/alternative department store.
Retro Rehab: Oldham St 0161 839 2050
Ryan Vintage: 46 Oldham street, M4 1LE,
0161 228 1495 Google map: bit.ly/9QThm8
Oxfam Originals: 51 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR
0161 839 3160 Google map: bit.ly/cZ2NBy
American Graffiti: 10-14 Hilton St, M11JF
0161 228 3677 Google map: bit.ly/bFLjIj
Afflecks Palace: Northern Quarter
52 Church Street, M4 1PW www.afflecks.com
0161 839 0718 Google map: bit.ly/9TmKTn
The Trafford Centre is probably the best shopping centre I have visited. There are so many shops to choose from - and there is a shop for everyone!
From clothes, accessories, sportswear, gaming, homeware, beauty and more - you are certain to come home with a car full of shopping bags.
There are also lots of great restaurants, bars and cafes to suit everyone's tastebuds after you've worked up an appetite from all that shopping - from Indian and Spanish cuisine restaurants to cosy coffee bars - you're bound to fine somewhere to satifsy the whole family.
As well as shops, bars and restaurants, the Trafford Centre is also the venue of many events such as fashion shows, dances and other competitions- it's also appeared on Channel 4's '10 Years Younger'.
So if you're looking for somewhere to shop, shop, shop - and then relax, the Trafford Centre could be right up your street!
Check out the Trafford Centre website for more information
The 'Hidden Urban Project' is a new addition to the alternative shopping market. Usually housed inside bars, the project provides a relaxed atmosphere that shoppers can enjoy. A pint whilst you shop? I'm recommending it because this should be the future of shopping.
28-30, Oldham Street , Manchester,M1 1JN
I found a lovely little clothing and body care shop that sells only fair trade and organic products for all the family. I fell in love with it as I have never been in a shop selling only ethical goods. I didn't even realise at first which really added to the appeal. The staff were really helpful and informative and there wasn't a sign of any unattractive hippy clothing. And apparently they have a fan club that some of their customers have set up on facebook.
They have two shops, in Chorlton, Manchester (15 min bus ride from city centre) and Headingley, Leeds.
These are some nice districts to explore. Not far from the city centre, the high streets of the following areas are nice to walk about with good shops, bars and restaurants. Chorlton, Fallowfield, West Didsbury, Didsbury.
All within 3 or 4 miles of the centre. Chorlton high street spreads out from the junction of Wilbraham Road and Manchester Road. Fallowfield from Junction of Wilbraham Road and Wlmslow Road. West Didsbury highstreet is on Burton road, from junction with Lapwing lane southwards and also along Lapwing lane. Didsbury from junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow road.
Pad is a home, gift and card shop full of unusual products. The guys who own/run it are really friendly and are ready to help.
The shop has loads of space and so there is no problem taking the pram/baby carrier, or even your shopping from Unicorn, into the shop and leaving them while you look around. The local artwork is amazing and always changing.
105 Manchester Road
0161 881 0088
Take number 86 from city centre and get off at Chorlton Leisure Centre/Unicorn.
I recommend the work of artist Liam Spencer. He is a local artist whose work showing impressionist views of modern Manchester has been exhibited in the Lowry and Manchester Art Gallery. While you would need to check local listings for his exhibitions - there have been Spencer shows once or twice a year in the last few years - there are a few places you can find his work - not all of them totally obvious.
Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street has a couple of his panoramic paintings in its permanent collection, and the Lowry in Salford also has some of his work. Spencer's work has been reproduced in some limited print formats and is available from Wendy Levy Contemporary Art in Didsbury. While there, it would be worth a meal at the The Lime Tree restaurant in nearby West Didsbury, which also has a panorama painting of Salford Quays but the most unlikely place you would see a Spencer work is the reception to the Accident and Emergency section of North Manchester General Hospital in Crumpsall, which has a huge panorama of the hospital itself, at a worryingly low height given the agitated states I've seen some of the clientele in. Let's hope your visit to Didsbury's bars and restaurants doesn't cause you to visit the final stop on my Liam Spencer tour!
www.liamspencer-art.co.uk Also: The Lime Tree Restaurant - 8 Lapwing Lane
Didsbury; Tel:0161 445 1217. Wendy Levy Fine Art - 17 Warburton Street, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6WA; Telephone: 0161 446 4880; www.wendyjlevy-art.com/; North Manchester General Hospital: Delaunays Road, Manchester, M8 5RB; 0161 795 4567.
If you want to find out what's going on in 'alternative' Manchester - go to the Basement. A space for people to meet, eat and take action on a range of social causes. There's also a shop stocking a range of ethical and vegetarian wares.
24 Lever Street, Manchester
Once you have explored the varied architecture, trendy shopping and vibrant cafe culture of the city centre and want a more laid back, yet very chic urban experience, take the number 111 or 46 bus from the city centre and get off by the Metropolitan pub on Lapwing Lane or Burton road (about 3.5 miles south of the city centre). This is the heart of West Didbsury. It is full of chic little boutiques, retaurants, bars, curious little shops, art shops, furniture shops, a couple of small supermarkets and so on. Everything you need concentrated into a small area, full of really nice people.
The age range here is much lower than the national average, having said that there are plenty of more "mature" people coming here for the excellent restaurants.
Best place to start is with a laid back coffee or glass of wine (perhaps light lunch) at the Assembly. Sit outside on the veranda if you can. It's great for people watching. If you are there in the evening, perhaps try the Lime Tree next door(also has a veranda) which is one of the most sought after restaurants in the city and then I recommed trying the One Lounge bar on the corner of Lapwing lane and Burton road or M20 cocktail bar not far from there down Burton Road. Also the magnificent Metropolitan Pub/Restaurant (opposite). It's one of the most famous pubs in Manchester.
From West Didsbury you can either walk or drive about a mile to Didsbury village. Or take the 23 bus. Didsbury main high street which is also known as Didsbury village (though villagey it is not!) is the more traditional but still very fashionable part of the area. It's much larger than West Didsbury with even more restaurants and shops than West Didsbury, but perhaps more of a traditional family environment with slightly older crowds than West Didsbury. There is still a younger crowd in the evenings and weekends, especially on sunny days, with pretty much all the bars and restaurants having outside seating. I would recommend eating at Felicini Italian restaurant. It's one of the best known in the city. You probably need to book ahead though (as you do for the Lime Tree in West Didsbury).
look up post code M20 2WS on multimap.
Fantastic deli full of wonderful treats to tempt you. Buy bread in Harvey Nicks or Selfridges in Manchester and you can be sure it came from here: but not at quite the same price! The staff are friendly and the shop is bursting at the seams with gorgous nosh.
Take the 86 bus from town and get off by Unicorn food co-op in Chorlton next stop after the baths.
The best independent record shop in Manchester specialising in world music, country, folk, jazz etc. Nick and Simon are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and happy to order if it's not in the shop. Stop being lazy and ordering on the net and come here instead!
61 Thomas Street
0161 833 0003
An independant Arndale centre where the conventions of society are subverted and allowed to be sampled in any other form you may require. A number of retro clothes shops mean that a healthy boho atmosphere is achieved and perpetually reinvented by each year of subsequent students looking to find their own identity, although usually only achieved when working within strictly defined parameters. Find so much here, it is worth a full day out in itself.
Reach Piccadilly from Arndale and turn left.
It's an easygoing exploration of the architectural sights of Manchester city centre. Will also take you past some very nice bars, restaurants and shops.
Be spontaneous if you can and pick a sunny day, start at about 11am. Manchester doesn't get much more rain than most of the Southern English cities (and certainly less than Wales, Scotland and South West England) so there should be plenty of opportunities!
Start at Sackville Street and explore that area first. There are some magnificent buildings and if you are new to the city you will find yourself confused - it often reminds me of continental European cities (particularly northern Europe) with its mix of rich Victorian and gothic styles. Walk through Canal Street (Gay Village) as well, not far from Sackville Street and make your way towards Oxford Road.
Take a look at the magnificent Palace Hotel and have a drink at the Cornerhouse bar (on the first floor) which also gives a good view of the surrounding hustle and bustle. Then head towards the Central Library (the round pantheon-like building next to the Town Hall) and have a good look at the surroundings. You will be stunned by the variety of styles and ages of the architecture. Explore the various side streets around there and the Town Hall.
Then head to Cross Street and walk down towards Victoria Station from the top of Cross Street (where it crosses Princess Street/John Dalton Street). You will go past the various shops and bars. But when you first get to Cross Street, have a coffee at Caffe Nero near the start: to me it feels like Milan in Manchester!
Once you get to the end of Cross Street you are at the heart of the city centre main shops: Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, all that is in that area. Have a look at Urbis and Victoria Station, which you can spot from the area behind Selfridges (it has a big screen across a shopping centre called the Triangle). If you are hungry by then, try a late lunch at Wagamama (outside the Printworks, across the road from Urbis). From there walk past Harvey Nichols which is by the Manchester Cathedral and head towards St Anne's Square to take in the continuing varied architecture. You have a medieval looking church (St Anne's I think) in the middle of a Victorian architecture shopping centre.
Just before the church is the Royal Exchange Theatre in the middle of the square to the left. Go in and have a look. When you are inside the main building and look up at the very tall ceiling, you will be stunned! I won't spoil the surprise though. Anyway, go up to King Street past the Church, explore the boutiques and then take a right and head to Deansgate (a few yards’ walk) and then turn left and head towards the new Beetham Tower skyscraper.
Once you get there, there is a nice restaurant called Dimitri's that does Spanish and Greek Food. If it's summer sit outside at the back. It's lovely. And then finally finish your architectural walking tour by transporting yourself thousands of years back to Roman times at the Roman ruins and remains of the old wall just off Liverpool Road (which is where the Museum of Science and Industry is). From Deansgate, if you are tired of walking, you can get the number 2 free bus that takes you back to just outside the Cornerhouse - not far from where you started at 11 am!
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