Must Do’s in Manchester, UK

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Thanks to one of Virgin Atlantic’s latest routes, Bostonians can now hop over the pond to one of the U.K.’s increasingly popular destinations, Manchester! For someone who has been to the U.K. more than most, I was excited to explore a new city – checking out some amazing cafes & restaurants, exploring the bar scene, catching up on the latest street art, and making new friends! I was so fortunate to be traveling with two other influencers: Kira (@kiraamaa) and Marisel (@mariselmsalazar); we all got to pal around and experience the city together, meaning more food to try, different perspectives on art, and someone to cheers with at Bongo’s Bingo!! (I’ll get to that.) Below I’ve listed, what I think, are all the major must-do’s when you’re in the city, with some tips and tricks in there for good measure.

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WHERE TO STAY
We all know having a comfortable place to rest your head at the end of a long day of exploring is crucial. For those seeking a dose of luxury – I recommend staying at The Principal Manchester. High ceilings, big bath tubs, and gorgeous fixtures make this a perfect urban oasis. As an added bonus, they have a beautiful restaurant that is popular amongst Manchester’s most stylish. Be sure to get breakfast included in your rate, as their morning buffet is a tasty and convenient way to start the day.

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WHAT TO DO
Manchester is a city with a lot going on. For any sports fan, grabbing tickets to a Manchester City or Manchester United game is a must. The rivalry in the city is always a fun topic of conversation at the pub, in a taxi, or anywhere really. And, what’s better than a city buzzing from an eventful match?! For a fun night out, I can’t recommend enough going to Bongo’s Bingo. When I first saw this pop up on our itinerary, I was a little skeptical – adult bingo?! But, trust me, this was such a fun experience. Thinking dancing on tables, inappropriate British humor, all the best song’s from the late 90’s and, of course, bingo. I didn’t win anything, but after a few drinks, dancing to B*Witched and making friends with our table mates, it didn’t matter.

WHERE TO EAT
There are so many tasty dining options in Manchester! Breakfast and brunch are taken very seriously in this city, so I suggest investing time in exploring this scene to start your days if your breakfast isn’t included in your accommodations. Some of my top picks include: Evelyn’s Cafe Bar where you should try one of their colorful lattes, Federal Cafe Bar in the Northern Quarter. They also just opened a location in Deansgate! Alberts Schloss for all of the tasty cocktails and big booths for brunch with a big group. They also have amazing flower installations in their front doorway that are perfect for photos.

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For all other meals, it’s really hard to go wrong. Where The Light Gets In is, as expected, a light and airy space with casual, but attentive service. Their dining room only seats 30 people, so a reservation is a must. If steak is more your thing, the Hawksmoor has your name written all over it.  This is a perfect spot for date night, especially if you have plans to head the the theatre after. A tasting menu is always a must-have on any culinary adventure; I recommend giving WOOD a visit. They only take two seatings on weekends for this particular menu, so book in advance if possible as well. and, if you’re like me, sushi is always at the top of my “to taste” list wherever I go. Umezushi does not disappoint. In fact, you may never be able to buy grocery store sushi again after a visit to this quality spot.

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WHAT TO SEE
Only have a short time in the city? Take a tour of Manchester with John Consterdine of Manchester Taxi Tours. He’ll take you to every corner of the city that is worth mentioning in the history books (and maybe even some scandalous history you won’t hear from the more formal sources). John happens to be a riot, as well, and kept the three of us jet lagged gals roaring in the back seat.

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If you’re looking for a good excuse to discover the city by foot, the street art is worth seeking out. In the Northern Quarter, street art can be found below your feet, on electric boxes, phone booths, abandoned buildings, and on store shutters. If you’re down for another tour, you can be guided around the city and see some art that you may not have noticed, or take to the streets yourself for a colorful journey!

Manchester is one of my most pleasant surprises since I started traveling. I didn’t really know what to expect, especially because London gets all the love, but this city was an absolute gem, and I can’t wait to go back!

What to Pack for Royal Wedding Weekend in England

Royal Wedding Weekend Packing List

I am so excited to share that on Thursday, I will be hopping a plane to jolly ol’ England to be in-country for a moment that the U.K. may not have for decades – the royal wedding! My trip won’t be super traditional, as I will be first heading to Manchester (a new route is launching from BOS – MAN on Virgin Atlantic starting May 23rd), then Liverpool, and finally London. So, of course, with only two days to go, I am still trying to solve one of life’s most persistent questions: what do I pack?! I decided to take a play out of Meghan Markle’s book and stick to the classics, meaning clean lines, versatile pieces, and a wardrobe that is ready for anything. Sounds perfect for the U.K. this time of year, no?

Below, I’ve included some of the staples listed above – and some other options at more approachable price points. If I had a royal budget, you better believe I’d be pulling everything from the collage above, but alas, I’m a mere commoner. But, fear not – the alternatives below will have bystanders doing double takes to determine whether your look was a splurge or a steal!

The Right Outerwear
Jackets are probably my most popular item in my closet as well as in my suitcase. You can never have too many! (Unless, of course, you’re over the luggage weight limit…) If you had to go with a few, my recommendations would be a classic blazer that looks good over almost all of your tops, a suede jacket that can transition from day-to-night with ease, and also, not listed above, the oh-so-crucial rain coat. The Veronica Beard blazers (this is the one I have) boast some stretch, which make them perfect for packing and running around town, but a more affordable version can be found here. And while this Silvie Schimmel suede biker jacket will cost you a pretty penny, the Blank NYC version looks nearly identical.

Chic Denim
Denim does not – and should not – be boring. I recently picked up a denim dress that can be dressed up or dressed down with a change of a heel and bag, and couldn’t be more happy with how versatile of a piece it is. Mine is a belted version from J.Crew (found here), and the best part – I can also wear it as a jacket as the weather cools down at night! The fun with denim doesn’t have to stop there – with so many trends exploring ways to dress your denim up, don’t be afraid to experiment with length, color, and patterns. I recently picked up a Stretch Flood Jean (in Fiji Stripe) from Reformation, and you have to peel these things off of me because I wear them so much!

Statement Accessories
Probably one of my favorite ways to spruce up an outfit while traveling is to pack eye-catching footwear. These metallic sneakers from Tod’s (I have them in white) are a perfect way to make any outfit pop. If you’re more of the pump persuasion, try a mule, which is a bit comfier for romping around town. I’m personally obsessed with the ones from y/project above – and they happen to be on sale! In the mood for something a bit more budget friendly? These may do the trick. In that same vein, a statement handbag is a must. The Marni shoulder bag above (and this faux fur version) is giving me all the heart-eye emoji feels, but this, this, and this are super cute too! I’m also a huge fan of a good statement sunny. I just picked these Fendi frames up from Solstice Sunglasses, and I swear I’ve gotten more compliments on those in the last three weeks than all of my other compliments combined. I highly recommend checking out their sale items, they usually have an amazing selection!

Last but not least, Light Layers
U.K. in the Spring is a fickle maiden and it’s always good to be prepared with the appropriate layers. I’ll be packing a not-so-standard floral from rag + bone, some short sleeve sweaters, which are a serious travel game-changer, and handful of camisoles for layering underneath my jacket selection. As always, you can catch me at any given time traveling with a handful of vintage tees, which are a part of my nearly daily uniform. If you don’t feel like digging through racks and racks of tees, Urban Outfitters has a pretty stacked graphic tee section worth checking out.

So, as you can see, this is not your standard tea with the queen packing list, but I’m not really one for floor length florals (unless with sneakers) or flouncy blouses. Besides, who wants to deal with steaming all of their clothes when they get to the hotel anyway? Stay tuned for my travels in England coming up later this week – I can’t wait to share everything with you!!