If there's not enough in the city and around the coast to keep you amused, then there's also magnificent and dramatic countryside to discover on your doorstep.
The Lune Valley marks a stretch of the River Lune and borders the Forest of Bowland and Yorkshire Dales and is ideal terrain for outdoor types with excellent walks, cycle rides, fishing, bird watching and horse riding. The Crook o' Lune near Halton is a famous viewpoint where the river creates the shape of a shepherd's crook with a great picnic site and the locally renowned 'Woodies Snack Bar.'
Countryside attractions to the north of the district merge nature, food, traditional villages and historic buildings. Greenland's Farm Village with its open farm, café, garden centre, pottery and wine shop symbolises the result of one farmer's 20 year vision. Leighton Hall the historic home of the world-renowned Gillow furniture- making family provides a fascinating insight into the past, though every room is still used regularly by the family and visitors are even encouraged to take a place around the 18th century dining table! Leighton Moss Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve provides a sanctuary for bird lovers everywhere and boasts the largest reed bed in North West England with some really special birds. Lune Valley villages host traditional pubs with traditional ale and fine food. Hornby is overlooked by its imposing castle which is now a private residence opening to the public once a year and Wray is the scarecrow capital of Lancashire, hosting a quirky annual scarecrow festival around the village culminating in a village fair on May Day Bank Holiday.
Lancaster and its locality can also be viewed from the canal via the daily waterbus service or one of the canal cruises including special themed ones where you can indulge in Lancashire Hot Pot or Fish and Chips as you survey the scenery!
Rural arts are rife in Lancashire too with small exhibitions and galleries set against the backdrop of the countryside. Wolf House Gallery in Silverdale has an exhibition space, resident artist and coffee shop housed in the former dairy whilst Maiden Bridge Arts Centre near Tatham regularly hosts major exhibitions of works by local and national artists. Annual arts events include the Lunesdale Studio Trail where a selection of artists living near to the River Lune open their studio doors in May/June and display their work and the Bowland Arts Festival which blends exhibitions, music, performance with creative workshops, talks and walks all based in the wild landscape of the Forest of Bowland.
The wealth of cafes and restaurants located in the countryside ensures there's something for all tastes whether your preference is fine dining or homemade comfort food. The Canalside Craft Centre in Galgate, next to the University, boasts about its roast dinners and cakes, whilst The Bay Horse at Forton appears in many leading restaurant and pub guides commending its use of locally sourced produce.
Bridge House Farm Tea Rooms in Wray offers freshly prepared food all year round including mouth-watering homemade tray bakes and biscuits and The Highwayman at Burrow, owned by leading chef, Nigel Howarth, is reputed as a real pub with real food and real beer!
The ice cream parlour at Wallings Farm has a huge range of exciting flavours of dairy ice cream made on site or for a simple cake and coffee, The Pear Tree Tea Rooms at the Ashton Garden Centre may fit the bill.
For other delicious options visit the tourism website.
Countryside retailing features specific themed products including rural arts and crafts and fresh food. Visitors to Glasson Dock near Lancaster tend to head for the celebrated Port of Lancaster Smokehouse which was established 30 years ago. The company has maintained the traditional methods of preparing and curing fish and meats which are sold through their small shop near the quayside. Wallings Farm near Lancaster, is a unique mix of café/coffee shop, ice cream parlour, butchers shop, farm shop, hand crafted chocolate counter and plant centre. All ingredients are sourced from local or regional suppliers to offer a real taste of Lancashire. The Barn in the village of Scorton, south of Lancaster brings together plants, gifts, coffee shop and an orchard garden as a small tourist attraction complete with a char grill evening dining area.
The market town of Garstang, also south of Lancaster, holds a weekly street market and mixes small speciality shops with supermarkets. Further on, towards Preston, Barton Grange blends its key theme of plants and garden sundries with clothing, gifts, cooking items, a farm shop and cafes.
To the north of Lancaster, Carnforth is a gem for book and film devotees. The railway station was celebrated in the film 'Brief Encounter' where you can enjoy a rendezvous in the buffet or browse in the cavernous second hand bookshop on the main street, reputed to be one of the largest in the UK.
If your friends or family want a rural escape, there's a great choice of places to stay ranging from Number 43, the boutique hotel in Arnside awarded the Best Bed & Breakfast in England 2011 by Visit England to the Featherdown Farm 'glamping' experience in Dolphinholme. The Priory at Scorton, in the heart of the village, offers clean and crisp cosy rooms or relax and unwind at the Longlands Hotel, a country pub with rooms at Tewitfield near Carnforth. If you want a self-catering alternative, Wolf House Cottages in Silverdale are located amongst charming scenery in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or you could lodge in a luxury converted barn owned by the winner of 'One Man and His Dog' - complete with resident sheepdog - at Shepherd's Barn in Quernmore
For further ideas visit the tourism site.
If you manage to exhaust the rural options in the immediate vicinity, why not venture a bit further to see other delights of the North?
Travel through the original hunting ground of the Trough of Bowland and you will find yourself in a relatively untouched district known as the Ribble Valley. Stop to quench your thirst at the Inn at Whitewell or grab a coffee at Bashall Barn or maybe afternoon tea at the Gibbon Bridge Hotel. The towns of Longridge and Clitheroe are brimming with individual shops full of tasty produce, gifts and stylish clothing.
The market town of Kirkby Lonsdale is well worth discovering and offers a quality selection of eateries and quirky shops ripe for browsing and sits on the edge of the outdoor enthusiast's paradise - the Lake District. In addition to the splendid views and magnificent scenery, sample attractions including Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin, The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness or The Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockholes.
www.visitlancashire.com - this is the official tourism website for the district. If you prefer a more personal touch, contact the Visitor Information Centre in Lancaster Tel. +44 (0)1524 582394 where the staff will take delight in putting a personal itinerary together for you to explore this stunning part of the UK
www.virtual-lancaster.net - this is a local guide to the area with local news, events information and regular activities for those living in the area
The local press websites are useful for up to date information on local issues and what's on this week:
Lancaster University is not responsible for the content of external websites.
Organisations are featured on this page purely in an editorial capacity - this page does not constitute a definitive guide and the organisations are not endorsed by the University in any way.