Bolton was a mill town from the 14th century, through the Industrial Revolution and up to the 1980s, and although the textile industry has all but vanished today, the town remains proud of its heritage. Many local landmarks date back to this period, but Bolton also attracts visitors for shopping and nightlife - on top of that is has a popular young university, and offers a good base from which to explore the West Pennine Moors.
To get a flavour of Bolton's industrial history, follow the local tourism office's walking trail, which can be found on their website or picked up at the Tourist Information Centre on Le Mans Crescent. It includes architectural and other landmarks such as Bolton Town Hall, the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Park, Samuel Crompton's tomb and the Corliss Engine at Bolton Steam Museum, all of which are within the town centre.
The town centre is to the north of the railway station, and highlights include the Albert Halls entertainment venue, the award-winning Bolton Market, and the main shopping area around Victoria Square, including the Crompton Place Shopping Centre. Other attractions worth checking out include the exhibitions at the Bolton Steam Museum, the impressive productions of the Octagon Theatre, and the grounds and gardens of Smithills Hall, one of Bolton's original homes.
Bolton is also well-placed for those looking to venture out into the spectacular West Pennine Moors, an area of low hills and gritstone crags separated from the main Pennine range by the River Irwell. Rivington Pike is an especially popular destination with walkers. Local bus services to Horwich will take you to a good starting point for hikes.