With more than 770 listed buildings, this is a city rich in history dating back to Roman times. And with green open spaces and parks a short drive from several areas of outstanding natural beauty, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities and bustling Preston tourist attractions to explore.
Dating back to the mid-19th century, the Harris Museum and Art Gallery is an imposing building in the centre of Preston. Opened in 1893, it was designed by local architect James Hibbert and has a strong Neoclassical look, at odds with the Gothic design craze at the time.
Taking its design cues from the British Museum in London and the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the interior is dominated by a central hall that opens onto each of the four storeys.
Entry to the museum and gallery is free.
Built at the same time as the Harris Museum, St. Walburge’s Church is a Roman Catholic church in the north-west of the city, near the University of Central Lancashire, which takes a Gothic approach to its architecture. Thanks to its 94-metre spire, it can be seen from around the city and beyond. The third tallest spire in the UK, it was built using reclaimed sleepers from the Preston and Longridge Railway – but don’t expect the 1.5-tonne bell to sound anytime soon. Due to protected birds nesting in the belfry, it can only be rung when they’ve flown the nest.
Video guide to Preston attractions
Park life in Preston is alive and very much kicking throughout the seasons, with half a dozen top-notch parks all in close proximity to our Preston hotels. Start your outdoor adventures at Avenham and Miller Parks; neighbouring parks, just a short walk from the city centre. Set on the banks of the River Ribble and dating back to the 1860s, the sights include a Japanese garden, several impressive water features and plenty of exotic plants. The park is a 10-minute walk from our Preston Central hotel, with 40 on-site parking spaces.
Slightly further out of town along Tom Benson Way is Haslam Park. Another Victorian-era park, it can get busy during the summer but there’s plenty of space to wander, including a large kids’ play area, several bowling greens, tennis and basketball courts – and for Nintendo fans out there – a Pokemon Go Gym. There are also plenty of benches and picnic areas, as well as an ice cream and drinks stand.
A few miles to the south of Preston is Cuerden Valley Park, a lovely place to enjoy the fresh Lancashire air. Surprisingly peaceful considering it’s near three major roads, some of the valley sides are on the steep side but the gently sloping walk along the River Lostock is perfect for pushchairs and wheelchairs. A café and visitor centre are due to open at the end of spring, while they hold a popular farmers market on the last Sunday of every month from 10am to 2pm.
If you’re a bird watcher or part-time twitcher, head to Brockholes, an area of wetlands along the River Ribble which describes itself as an ‘unreserved nature reserve’. Located in an old quarry, the woods and lakes are home to an impressive array of wildlife, including ospreys, pallid harriers, bitterns and kingfishers. Children will love the extensive adventure playground, while the café offers great views over the lake and is a wonderful spot to have lunch or a quick coffee. The Welcome Centre is packed full of useful information, while the gift shop and art gallery are the perfect places to pick up a souvenir or support some of the enterprising local artists.
Finally, make sure to head to Beacon Fell Country Park, within the Forest of Bowland, less than 20 minutes’ drive from our Preston North hotel. The largest park of the lot at 271 acres, it includes the 266-metre-high Beacon Fell summit, offering impressive views over the coastline and back inland. Wildlife, including rabbits and – if you’re lucky – deer roam free, and you may even spot some adventurous stoats at the picnic site. Bring some change for the pay and display car park, and expect the main walking route to take around two hours.
Home to Preston North End since 1875, Deepdale Stadium is reputedly the oldest ‘continuously used’ football stadium on earth – which is why we’ve dedicated a full page to it.
There's a great choice of hotels in Preston which make an ideal base for exploring the city's renovated docks and marina or indulging in some retail therapy at its impressive shopping centres and markets.
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