The school holidays are approaching and like many, my bank account is already shying away from the prospect of trying to entertain two teenagers for six weeks. Luckily for me, I live in Manchester which means I have a whole city to explore that is full of free or cheap activities that my teenagers actually enjoy. With the cost of fuel creeping up, travelling has never been more expensive so when I was invited to take part in the Stagecoach Bus Trip Challenge to take my girls out for the day on a £40 budget I accepted.
Travelling by bus
Using the Stagecoach Journey Planner I was able to look at some of the routes available to us. We settled on going into Manchester city centre, one of my girls’ favourite places to visit. The best value when using the bus to travel is to look at a day rider ticket which allows unlimited travel for the day. Depending on how many of you are travelling there could be group deals which can save you even more money. Our bus driver was very helpful and suggested a plus one day rider and a child bus rider for the best value. There are actually lots of different bus routes that can take us from near our house to the city centre. We travelled there on the 202 and back on the 203. The cost of our bus travel was a lot cheaper than parking in the city centre and it meant that I wasn’t constantly watching the time and worrying about the parking running out.
Where to eat
There are so many places to eat in the city centre and if we were really trying to keep our budget low we might opt for Greggs but both of my girls love their food and the market in Piccadilly Gardens is a great spot as we can each choose something different if we want and the costs are around £5 for a nice sized lunch. There is an amazing selection of food to choose from including burgers, Caribbean and baked goods. Bearded Feeder is my current favourite where a burger costs around £5 and all of the items are named after Star Wars characters or animals.
Cool places to hang out
Th Animaid Cafe in Afflecks palace serves boba tea, shaved ice, milkshakes, mochi, cloud floss and more. Each item on the menu is named after a character from various animations including Pokemon and Five Nights at Freddie’s. This is one place where teenagers love to hang out and with prices starting at £3.50 it is a budget-friendly option that they will think is really cool.
While visiting the animaid cafe it is definitely worth spending an hour or so exploring the amazing stalls inside Afflecks. This fantastic building is home to so many stalls of various kinds. My girls really enjoy going to the pride store as well as looking through the second-hand stores. With three floors to explore there is something for everyone and you will find clothes, toys, beauty and so much more.
Allowing my teens to lead the way we soon found ourselves at Oxfam. They love rifling through the clothes and finding inspiration for new outfits and the city centre charity shops are usually full of real gems. For just £6 we managed to pick up a fantastic bomber jacket that my eldest absolutely loved. It is so hard to find clothes that appeal to their tastes in normal fashion outlets. Charity shops offer an alternative at a budget-friendly price that also appeals to the environmental awareness that our teenagers have now.
Manchester city centre and in particular the northern quarter is full of some absolutely stunning street art. If your teenagers are into Instagram or taking outfit photos then take a walk around the Northern Quarter and really enjoy the sites. There are some amazing art installations to see; some change frequently, which means you can always see something new. There is a fantastic Street Art self-guided map on Where Goes Rose. Most of the artwork has changed but the locations are still used as a canvas by the local artists.
In Manchester, there are so many excellent museums and art galleries that are all free to explore but there are some less obvious activities which your teenagers will love. Black Dog Ballroom is a pool hall underneath Afflecks palace that offers free pool (with the purchase of a drink) on a Wednesday. This is one activity that we really enjoy doing together.
Other budget-friendly choices
Although we opted for shopping, street art and sustenance there are so many great options of things to do in Manchester City Centre on a budget. We could have used my meerkat movies code to visit the cinema in the Printworks, played mini-golf at Treetop Adventure golf or played some games at the Immersive Gamebox.
£40 isn’t a lot when it comes to taking two teenagers out for the day, but with a whole host of activities on our doorstep and great transportation links, it is easy to stick to a budget and have a great day out in Manchester.
This post is a collaboration with Stagecoach, but all thoughts and experiences are my own.