When someone says they're going to Manchester, you can be sure it isn't for the warm weather, or for the sightseeing, or for the beaches. They're going for one reason: The Manchester United Football Club. If you're not a Man Utd fan, there really aren't many other reasons to be visiting this quiet little city. So if you are in fact going to Manchester, and it isn't to visit Chetham Library (which you totally should while you're there), or to see the BBC headquarters, here are the must-do things, all football and Manchester United related, for while you're here.
Located central to downtown Manchester, this 6 floor museum is a must-see for any football fanatic. They've got everything from trophies, kits, and equipment, to the first laws of Association Football, to a soccer ball made of condoms - yes, I said CONDOMS, an entire floor of interactive football games, the history of football and the First World War... you name it, they've got it. You can spend hours here, is great for kids and adults alike, and it's a bonus that it's FREE!
Similar to the National Football Museum, the Manchester United Museum has everything you need to know - but about the Manchester United Football Club. If you think you know everything there is to know about this team, think again. This museum teaches you about the tragedies and successes the team has endured, the different uniforms and kits they wore throughout history, how they came to start charging their fans to watch games, statistics and details about every player, both past and present, the tournaments they played in - needless to say, there is more information and learning here than you will be able to handle.
As a Manchester United fan, you can't go to Manchester and not take a stadium tour. If you follow this team as much as my husband does, you'll need to carry around a towel to wipe away all your drool after all the places you'll go, the things you'll see and the places you'll sit, on a tour of the Theatre of Dreams. Sitting on the very benches in the change room that players like Memphis and Rooney will be is drool-worthy all on its own, but that's not all you'll see on a tour of Old Trafford. You'll have a chance to sit in the best seats in the house (which is located just below the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand), sit in the very seats that belong to past and present managers of the team, get real close to the pitch, visit the press room, learn about where those dedicated fans who have requested for their ashes to be spread in Old Trafford rest, and (I know it's super cliché to say this, but-) much, much more.
At Old Trafford, there's a HUGE Manchester United store, which I guess is why they call it the MEGAstore. They've got all the jerseys you can want, all the kits you're looking for, sweatpants, rain gear, new soccer balls, heritage soccer balls, key chains, water bottles, backpacks, hats, even gummy candies shaped like players. Even if you're not planning on buying anything, it's worth it just to visit the store and see how far they've gone to merchandise the brand.
The Red Cafe is located inside Old Trafford, and for all the Manchester United Football Club fans out there, it's very Man United-y here. The restaurant's decor consists of the colours red and white (obviously), photos, signed jerseys, posters, and these adorable wooden chairs that are painted like the backs of jerseys and decked out in players' names and numbers. Whether you're stopping by for a quick snack, a drink, or a full on meal, come visit THE Manchester United restaurant/cafe.
If you're a Manchester United fan and you're visiting Manchester, it's a no brainer to experience a match day. Although you may have to jump through hoops to actually get your hands on some tickets (click here to find out how), it's totally worth it. You're seated in a stadium with 75,000 other fans, cheering on your team, having a couple o' beers (but not in sight of the pitch, of course, because that will get you fined and put in Man U jail), chanting along with all the crazies at the Stretford End and screaming at the top of your lungs and hugging strangers when we've scored a goal.
Hotel Football is situated right across the street from the Old Trafford Stadium so it's perfect if you're visiting Manchester for a game. Especially if you've had one too many beers, stumbling back to your room will be no problem! Another thing football fans will LOVE about this hotel is their dedication to the football theme all throughout the hotel. The detail is second to none with the numbers on the room doors, the artwork, the wallpaper, to the bathroom toiletries shaped like football kits. Not to mention, they've got a soccer field on top of the hotel roof available for rent!
It is only a short 10 minute walk to the stadium from the Holiday Inn Express MediacityUK, so still a very convenient place to stay if you're visiting for a match. It's located in this cute little area called MediaCity (what a shocker), filled with little pubs, breakfast cafes, and shops, but its main attractions are the BBC Headquarters and Coronation Street set. The area is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Old Trafford area and gives you a more laid-back kind of experience.