I know, I know. Most of Salford Quays nowadays didn't even exist around 20 years ago, and the place is a jungle of glass, concrete and shiny metal - but there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had.
The quays may lack the character of many of Salford and Manchester’s other areas, but get yourself up on a Saturday, jump on a tram and be prepared for a varied day of activities, shows, booze and food.
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre
At no point have I ever thought to discover ‘water sports’. Both types. But I was pleasantly surprised when I tried my hand at a bit of wakeboarding the other day – it was very enjoyable indeed and to be fair – I want to go back. The Watersports Centre here offers a long list of activities to try including windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and even raftbuilding – should you wind up on a deserted island like that poor sod Tom Hanks in Castaway. I must also mention that the water here is proper clean, almost up to Evian-grade clean – so don’t be worrying about that.
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Watersport Centre, 15 The Quays, Salford M50 3SQ
0161 877 7252
If you’ve never heard or been to Ziferblat then there’s a little bit of information you should know before you go. Basically instead of getting your wallet out every time you want to buy a coffee or a cake or a sarnie you just pay for the amount of time you spend in there. They charge 8p per minute per person and everything is free – you can help yourself to whatever you like while pissing around with Illustrator on your MacBook pro. It’s a top place to do a bit of graft, but seeing as this is a ‘Day Out’ – just go and gorge yourself on some goodies.
Ziferblat MediaCityUK, Salford M50 2AB
0161 806 0714
This monolith of stainless steel and glass is slap bang in the middle of the Quays and heralded the start of the areas re-generation when it was opened by Queen Lizzy all the way back in 2000. There’s loads going on inside with a jam-packed calendar of shows, theatre, exhibitions and everything else in-between. They usually have a regularly changing bit of art upstairs (alongside some L.S. Lowry paintings) and there’s a very impressive bar/restaurant in the shape of Pier Eight.
The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
0843 208 6000
Nestled nicely in the entrance/foyer of The Lowry, one would think of Pier Eight as an afterthought – something they’ve just plonked there to take advantage of a captive market of thirsty and hungry theatre goers. Well you’d think wrong, Pier Eight has some fantastic dishes available, alongside a new Bar Snacks menu and an impressive range of classic cocktails. They’ve got a garden on the roof of The Lowry full of fresh herbs to add to the dishes and I should probably mention their brilliant Bottomless Prosecco offer that they have on after 8pm Thursday to Saturday. Get 3 courses off their A La Carte menu and they’ll provide you with unlimited free prosecco throughout – yes please!
Pier Eight, Inside The Lowry, Salford M50 3AZ
0161 876 2121
If there’s one thing that The Alchemist does well it’s cocktails. There’s no denying that their huge list of boozy concoctions is impressive, as they manage to combine a whole host of flavours and colours and combine it with a bit of theatre and a shit load of dry ice. Their offerings change quite regularly so it might be a bit silly for me to start throwing around recommendations but if you get the chance to visit soon you’ve got to try their ‘Butter Beer’ – a mix of Sailor Jerry’s, Licor 43, salted caramel and a bit of beer soda. This place gets packed at the weekends though so you might be best to book a table before you get there.
The Alchemist, The Bund, The Quays, Media City, Salford M50 3AB
0161 872 7396
Imperial War Museum North
A fantastic addition to the area and somewhere you could easily spend a few hours, the Imperial War Museum provides a window into the whole history (and potential future) of warfare – mainly focusing on the horrible 20th Century and it’s two World Wars. They have a wealth of artefacts, stories, trinkets and hardware on show here including a full Harrier jump jet which hangs in the main exhibition space. As you’d expect, they also typically have a special exhibition running alongside the main programme which at the moment is a huge wave of poppies up the wall outside.
Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Wharf Rd, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ
It’s been ages since I ate at The Botanist but if they still do their Salt & Pepper Onion Petals – buy them and eat them right now. You won’t regret it. It’s also a well-known fact that The Botanist has a brilliant selection of booze to tuck into with a cocktail list longer than Mr. Tickle’s arm and an always impressive selection of bottled beers from around the world. They even have that Grapefruit beer Schofferhofer which is one of the best drinks in the world when you pair it with a shot of tequila. The balcony here is also really nice for sitting and watching the world go by.
The Botanist, Orange Building MediaCityUK, Salford M50 2HE
0161 359 6763
There was once a Lime bar just off Albert Square in the city centre and it was a great place to get sloshed on a Saturday night. They used to have a bit downstairs in the basement that would bang out some proper 80’s tunes – and there was always a top crowd in there willing to dance along with you. The Lime in Salford Quays is a little less rowdy but it’s a great place for a few drinks and some surprisingly decent food. I recently went in and tried their new Sushi menu and I was very impressed – not only was it fresh and flavoursome – there was also loads of it! Their cocktails are excellent too.
Lime, The Lowry Outlet Mall, Salford Quays, Salford M50 3AG
0161 869 0440