THINK Blackpool and you will probably conjure up images of more than just sea, sandcastles and seagulls.

Once the go-to holiday destination for Brits until the advent of cheap package holidays to Europe, its popularity has seen something of a resurgence in recent times, with the weak pound meaning many families are now choosing a 'staycay' rather than holidaying abroad.

And with hen and stag parties also continuing to flock to the seaside resort weekends in August can be particularly busy.

Usually an illuminations day trip up the M6 for my family-of-four, we ventured out for a summer holiday weekend break to see if Blackpool really does - as its tourism campaign claims - have it all.

We made use of the Blackpool Resort Pass plus which gives you access to multiple destinations, including the Merlin Entertainments attractions, at a cost of £80 per person (the standard pass gives you access to six attractions for £55).

Strong winds upon our arrival meant visitors were unable to take a trip to the top of the iconic 518ft Blackpool Tower, so armed with our wristbands we headed out to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, my two sons eager to try out the main children's area - Nickelodeon Land.

There is plenty to do within the park and although some of the rides are in need of an update my nine and seven-year-olds were happy to spend several hours there and enjoyed meeting some of their favourite characters.

Unfortunately there wasn't an effective queuing system in place when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles put in an appearance, consequently some rather unnecessary queue jumping upset families who had been patiently waiting in line.

Fortunately it was time to make a swift exit and head back along the shore where a visit to the Tower Circus was next on the itinerary.

Mooky the clown and Mr Boo have perfected their routine over more than 25 years but all the circus acts remain as entertaining and jaw-dropping as always, making it a great value show for all the family whatever the weather.

Circus over, we checked into our hotel for the evening, the Ibis Styles on Talbot Square.

Somewhat basic in its amenities and decor but bright and clean, its central location along the promenade and only minutes from the shops and main attractions is its main selling point.

There's nothing quite like the sea air to work up an appetite and dinner was just a quick stroll away at piri piri chicken favourite Nandos. Despite the two-floor restaurant being full staff there were friendly and accommodating.

An early start the next morning meant we were at the Sandcastle water park in time for its 9am opening.

It's easy to get around via the tram system, which is remarkably efficient and well worth the fare. A three-day saver pass is £11.50 for adults and £6.50 for children.

It also pays to arrive at the Sandcastle early in the day before it gets too busy, as this is a popular Sunday destination for day-trippers and there were long queues as we left.

We spent a fun few hours here first thing and despite disappointment at my seven-year-old not quite being tall enough to go on the bigger slides, both boys were mostly content with the wave pool and the far from lazy river.

We were particularly impressed by lunch at the newly-refurbished Waterfalls Cafe where you can enjoy a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, jacket potatoes and omelettes cooked fresh to order.

Still needing a sweet treat we made a pit-stop at Notarianni's. A hidden gem, it is famous for its delicious homemade Italian vanilla ice-cream which has been made daily on the premises since 1937.

Then it was time to plunge into the deep to meet 2,000 marine creatures at Sea Life. As well as getting up close and personal with starfish, you can take a walk through the underwater tunnel where sharks and rays glide above you.

With only a few hours left of our sunny Sunday afternoon we headed slightly out of the town centre to Blackpool Zoo.

Arriving shortly before 3pm meant many of the animals were being fed and we were able to see giraffes, tigers, lions and gorillas up close.

It's a lovely zoo and while it has more of an intimate feel than Chester it is an enjoyable day out in its own right.

Blackpool may not yet have completely shaken off its troubled past but there is certainly plenty to shout about.

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