396km (246 miles) NW of London; 142km (88 miles) W of Leeds; 90km (56 miles) N of Liverpool; 82km (51 miles) NW of Manchester

This once-antiquated Midlands resort is struggling to make a comeback by marketing itself to a new generation of vacationers. The result may remind you of Atlantic City or even Las Vegas (with a weird Victorian twist). The city has a winter population of 125,000 that swells to three or four times that in summer.

The country's largest resort makes its living from conferences, tour groups, families, and couples looking for an affordable getaway. Its 11km (7 miles) of beaches, 9.5km (6 miles) of colored lights, and dozens of Disney-like attractions and rides make Blackpool one of the most entertaining (and least apologetic) pieces of razzle-dazzle in England.

Disadvantages include unpredictable weather that brews over the nearby Irish Channel; a sandy, flat-as-a-pancake landscape that's less than inspiring; and a (sometimes undeserved) reputation for dowdiness. But some love the brisk sea air, the architectural remnants of Britain's greatest Imperial Age, the lack of pretentiousness, and the poignant nostalgia that clings to the edges of such places as Coney Island, where people look back fondly on the carefree fun they had in a simpler time.