Old Trafford

Ages 8 & up
Manchester, England

For football (soccer to U.S. residents) fans anywhere, an essential part of a trip to Manchester has to be visiting Old Trafford, the hulking redbrick home of Manchester United and one of England's most venerable football stadiums.

Man U's legendary captain Sir Bobby Charlton nicknamed this stadium the Theatre of Dreams, and its lore runs deep indeed. Opened in 1910, Old Trafford was the first English stadium to surround its pitch completely with a ring of stands and seating; it originally held a whopping 80,000 spectators, making it the second-largest arena in the country after Wembley Stadium.

Heavily bombed in World War II, Old Trafford was stoutly rebuilt in the same shape after the war; the one feature that survived the bombing was the old players' tunnel leading from the dressing rooms to the pitch, which you can still walk through on a guided tour of the stadium.

Standing on the famous pitch, you can gaze up at the red seats of the West Stand, aka the Stretford End, where the most hard-core Man U fans congregate. That's not where you'll want to sit during the game, not with kids. On the tour, you'll also visit the players' cushy changing rooms and the dugout, and see a vintage clock stopped at the exact time when seven Manchester United players died in a tragic 1958 plane crash in Munich.

The Manchester United Museum fills in the history of the club from its founding in 1878 to the present day; the Hall of Fame honors many of the players who've helped Manchester United dominate the English football league over the years, and the Trophy Room displays enough brass and silver to compete with the Crown Jewels.

Information: Sir Matt Busby Way, Trafford (tel. 44/161/868-8000; www.manutd.com).

Nearest Airport: Manchester International.

Accommodations: Jurys Inn, 56 Great Bridgewater St. (tel. 44/161/953-8888; www.manchesterhotels.jurysinn.com). Premier Lodge Old Trafford, Waters Reach, Trafford Park (tel. 44/870/423- 6450; www.premierlodge.com).