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Sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester on the Sefton coast, Southport is a seaside resort with beautiful blue-flag beaches and one of the oldest piers in the UK. With great shopping, markets, theatres and nightlife, it's a lovely spot for a weekend away, especially if you're partial to a bit of golf because Southport is world famous for its golf courses, and plays host regularly to the Open Championship.

You can't talk Southport without mentioning golf. The beautiful game might not be everybody's bag, but there is no denying the importance it has had on the area. The Royal Birkdale Golf Club has hosted golf's Open Championship and other there are several other courses to try your hand at avoiding the bunkers as well.

But if you can't avoid the sand, you may as well head to the beach to soak up some rays and play the penny slot machines or wander along the UK's oldest iron pier, with its grand Pavilion at the far end. Splash World, also on the seafront, is a less-sandy way to enjoy the thrills and spills of a beach holiday.

Moving away from the beach, Southport has some great retail therapy at Central 12, a big retail park five minutes' walk from the city centre, and more along Lord Street and the High Street, with a good range of mainstream stores. But if you fancy something a little more off-beat, Wayfarers Shopping Arcade, a Grade ll listed building, has over 30 independent shops.

For the culture vultures, the £18-million Atkinson arts venue, also a Grade II listed building, has some thought-provoking art galleries and a theatre with an eclectic programme catering to all tastes.

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