I thought I’d put together this little list of some of my favourite things to do in Stockport, one of the 2 nearest large towns to where I currently live (the other is Macclesfield, which I also recommend). Stockport is often overshadowed by the city of Manchester being so close to it, but it actually has some brilliant places to eat and drink as well as some lovely vintage shops worth seeking out. Unfortunately, it also has a fairly run down shopping area, a generic retail park and a brand new chain restaurant/cinema complex, so this can give a negative first impression. I wasn’t taken with it at all when we first visited. It wasn’t until we ventured to one of the food events on that I found all the little hidden gems round the old town and lovely market area and started to see a different side to Stockport.
So here are a few things to do in Stockport that I take friends to when they come for a visit or that I recommend to people who are in the area… Hope it’s of use and if you have any more tips, please leave me a comment at the end.
1. Go vintage shopping and get some bargains
I love vintage clothes and homewares and Stockport does well for vintage offerings. Try these local vintage finds – mostly round the market square:
- The Curiosity Shop – mostly furniture but also some smaller house bits.
- 20th Century Stores – homeware, clothes, jewellery – gorgeous stuff here.
- Vintage Village – it’s a fair held on the second Sunday of every month throughout the year, selling clothes, homewares, trinkets, jewellery, bags, hats, shoes – everything!
- Agapanthus Interiors – homeware and some lovely lighting.
- It’s not in the town centre, but a short taxi ride out will also get you to the treasure trove that is The Vintage Emporium at Pear Mill.
2. Have an art deco afternoon tea and show at the Plaza
Visit Stockport Plaza if you love art deco and scones (who doesn’t?).
It’s a beautiful 1930s art deco theatre that also does a traditional afternoon tea in the café upstairs. The staff all wear traditional white aprons and the furniture is all the Lloyd Loom stuff you’d expect when stepping back in time. It’s £15.50 for the afternoon tea. An excellent idea if your mum is coming to visit and you don’t know what to do with her.
As for the theatre side of things, they do shows, films, murder mystery nights, gigs, panto – all that kind of jazz. The gigs even feature local indie superstars Blossoms sometimes. But the Plaza hasn’t got too carried away with this level of fame… It still has time to wish Gwen a happy 80th birthday (see below).
3. Drink all the craft beer
Considering Stockport town centre isn’t massive, it does alright on the hops front. You can do a nice little bar/pub crawl before or after a meal out. Here are our favourite haunts – all within walking distance of each other (not in heels though because cobbles):
- Bakers Vaults – this is my personal favourite bar and where we always go before The Allotment for a pre-drink. It’s a gorgeous Grade II listed building with equally lovely interiors, including the kind of tiled floor you’d have in your Pinterest board entitled Dream Bathroom. If you’re not after a fancy meal at The Allotment, you can get some really nice food here too, including vegan hotdogs. It’s a Robinsons pub so they have local beer on tap, however Titanic Plum Porter is the one to go for.
- Remedy Bar & Brewhouse – In case you couldn’t tell from the name, Remedy brews its own beer on site. So there are plenty of options on tap. You can see the brewing stuff from where you sit, which is a nice touch. My favourite thing about it is the painting on the wall of a girl riding a horse sideways while nonchalantly holding an owl. She sums up everything I aspire to in life.
- Petersgate Tap – this is a good one to start off the night because it’s on the walk from the train station into the market square. It’s in a former betting shop, but done out nicely inside. It has plenty of craft beer and we always manage to get a seat, even on a Friday night. Writing that has just made me feel so very old.
4. Go on the Robinsons’ Brewery tour
The local brewery, Robinsons’, does a tour and before I explain, I’m going to answer what you’re already wanting to know. Yes, you can sample the beer at the end. Okay, now we’ve got that dealbreaker out of the way…
A standard ticket gets you get 3 tokens (three 1/3 pints) in the bar, or if you’re not drinking then you can have a bottle to take away. A gold ticket gets you another 3 tokens and a gift bag. It takes about an hour.
Regular readers of Pack The Suitcases will know that I’m horsey, so obviously the highlight of this is going to be meeting the brewery’s Shires at the end of the tour. It’s amazing how you can spend all your free time with your own horse but still get overexcited when you see other horses in a non-horsey context – like in the town centre of Stockport. They still deliver the beer locally, too.
5. Indulge in all the street food at Stockport Foodie Friday
On the last Friday of every month, Stockport Market hosts the brilliant Foodie Friday. We’ve been to it loads of times after work and it’s always a good evening. It’s essentially a load of street food stalls outside the market hall and a few cake/beer offerings inside the market itself. There’s live music and all the bars around the market square get involved, with people spilling out onto the streets on a warm night.
It’s mostly about the food stalls and eating far too much. There’s a good range of food options. Some of the best ones are the Thai (Som Tham) and Portuguese (Que Delicia) stalls.
It always has a nice atmosphere, but it can get really busy in good weather so it’s actually better on an overcast day in my view. Luckily, Stockport has more than its fair share of those.
6. Visit the Hat Works – a hat museum (yes, really)
The Hat Works is such a good and rather curious museum. As a lover of fashion and all things vintage, I found it really interesting learning about how hats were produced and Stockport’s hatting history. It’s just a shame I don’t suit hats.
The gift shop is excellent too, selling loads of hat-themed and vintagey bits and bobs. You can do a guided tour for £5 or just wander round yourself. It takes about an hour (depending on how into hats you are). In one room, there’s a big sign saying ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat!’. Possibly the best photo opportunity of all time.
I had a surreal afternoon with two of my friends here a few years back. We’d not seen each other for ages and then went straight in (sober) and spent several hours trying on all sorts of hats in quiet hysterics. It may have been in the interactive area aimed at school trips. But we were the only ones there so it was fine. What a time to be alive.
7. Have a mooch round a market
Stockport Market runs every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It’s all in the main market hall, which is bang in the middle of the market square (unsurprisingly) and you can get food as well as clothing and home stuff.
Recently launched is the dead popular Makers’ Market – it’s on every second Saturday of the month. I’ve not been to it at Stockport yet because it’s only just launched as I’m writing this. But I have been to its other ones in Knutsford, Spinningfields and the Northern Quarter. It’s not unlike the Treacle Market in Macclesfield, too. You can get loads of gorgeous handmade things – jewellery, art, tote bags, plant pots, cute homewares. Oh and plenty of food to eat there or take away – olives, cheeses, all that kind of caper.
8. Get your caffeine and cake fix at The Hatters Coffee Co
The hat theme continues with The Hatters Coffee Co – which has possibly the most beautiful interior of any café I’ve ever been in. It’s in an old bank, which has been completely renovated into a beautiful, light and rustic space. The walls inside are papered with newspaper and everything is ‘upcycled’. Tables are old wooden cable reels. There’s local art up on the walls. Lovely stuff.
Hatters serves the best lemon drizzle cake EVER (which is also vegan). I’m not a coffee drinker but apparently this is where to go if you are one. I can assure you the tea with oat milk is a good’un, though. You can also get some sandwiches and soup, but it’s mainly about the cakes.
If you’re out and about shopping, you should deffo pop in here to recharge instead of one of the generic chains. It’s only a short walk from the main shopping area, and you can take doggies in too (or say hi to other people’s dogs in there if you don’t have one).
9. Experience vegan fine dining at the Allotment Vegan Restaurant
*Update* Hello, since I wrote this blog post, Allotment has moved to Manchester city centre. I still recommend that you go because it’s amazing, but I do need to update this with something actually in Stockport now – so watch this space. As soon as I have time, I’ll replace it.
The Allotment Vegan Restaurant is usually my main reason for getting off the train at Stockport and from what I’ve heard, it’s also bringing in lots of people from far and wide. Me and Chris go for birthdays and special occasions and we’ve persuaded lots of friends to try it too (no complaints so far).
You can get loads of good vegan food in and around Manchester now, especially burgers and other calorific delights. But I’ve never found anywhere even close to the Allotment in terms of quality fine dining. Everything is sustainable, in season and locally sourced. The menu changes regularly but the cheeseboard seems to be a staple so you’ll always get that and OMG, it’s amazing. As is everything I’ve ever shovelled into my mouth there.
You can do 7 courses (£40) or 10 courses (£55), which I think is good value considering you can waste that on mediocre food in plenty of places. They also have a great selection of beers, wines and gins to accompany the delicious plant-based grub.
10. Take your pick from this other stuff…
Here are some other things you can do in Stockport town centre. Some I’ve not done yet or didn’t have photos or enough up-to-date info on to make into bigger features and others are recommendations from friends (who I mostly trust!):
- The air raid shelters – I’ve not been yet but have heard good things about this attraction.
- Plant Shop – for all your cute houseplant needs! It’s a really lovely shop.
- Hillgate Cakery – get some delicious vegan cakes down you here (eat in or take away).
- Lord of the Pies – I’ve not been here for a couple of years but it’s a little local chain. This one is near the Petersgate Tap and does a lovely pie and mash.
- Huffy’s at the 3 Shires – this is great for a quick lunch of decent size, if you know what I mean. Like a jacket potato, salad or butties. It’s cosy and easy to pop into from the shops.
- Staircase House – a townhouse museum in the market. I’ve not been to yet but keep meaning to visit on a rainy day because I love stuff like this – it’s all set up with the rooms as they would have been when people lived there.
- The Arden Arms – I have it on good authority that this is the place for a pub lunch. It’s a Robinsons’ pub so serves the local ale.
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