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Southampton


Southampton

When it comes to location, there can be few cities better sited than Southampton.

Close to some wonderful beaches along the south coast; a short drive away from the untouched natural glories of the New Forest; a simple train journey from London; and in a part of the country with perhaps the best climate in Britain.

And Southampton certainly makes the most of its location – and if you’re looking for a ‘good day out’ in an exciting city, it’s a really excellent choice.

The location of the city on the mouth of the Solent has naturally played a large part in Southampton’s maritime past – and present, because it is still a thriving port - and a visit to the dockside areas to see some of the impressive new cruise ships that regularly start their voyages from Southampton is always rewarding.

From April until September every year Southampton is ‘Sea City’, celebrating its heritage.

The climax of the planned events comes in September with the world famous Southampton Boat Show, held at Mayflower Park on the waterfront and the place to go to see the cutting edge of contemporary yacht design and the latest maritime innovations.

But Southampton is also home to the second longest existing medieval walls in England and, in Bargate, one of the finest medieval town gates.

This is truly a city that combines its historical heritage, such as the wide variety of architectural styles in places such as Bugle Street, with a vibrant present.

If it’s retail therapy you’re looking for, then Southampton is now one of the UK’s top ten rated cities for shoppers. The impressive West Quay Shopping Centre is one of the largest in the country, with all the stores you would expect to find, but there’s also the Marlands Mall and the Bargate Centre as well.

For something a little more unusual and individual, a trip around the East Street area, with a host of smaller, independent retailers, should prove interesting.

If you’re hoping to see some of the best Art Galleries or Museums outside London, then again Southampton offers you plenty of choice. The elegant art deco City Art Gallery is at the heart of the cultural quarter and the nearby Millais Gallery features the work of less well-known up and coming artists.

Of the many museums, four are particularly worth a family visit. Firstly, the Maritime Museum, located in the former Wool House near the waterfront, features many fascinating displays, including one showing details of the Titanic’s fateful journey.

Secondly, there is the Solent Sky exhibition near the Ocean Village which is an aviator’s paradise – including a Spitfire, Britain’s most famous fighter plane.
The Medieval Merchant’s House is a mid 14th century glimpse into Southampton’s past and the Museum of Archaeology takes its visitors even further back to trace the city from its origins.

Southampton is also the home of The Mayflower, southern England’s largest theatre, which offers a wide variety of top productions; the Nuffield Theatre, on the University campus; the Turner Sims Concert Hall, which features many international classical and jazz performers; and the Guildhall, which hosts many of the top rock bands and comedians on their nationwide tours.

It’s rather a cliché to claim that a city has ‘something for everyone’ but Southampton really does fit into that category.

Indeed, it even has its own geothermal power station which provides hot water for the city centre heating scheme, making Southampton one of England’s greenest cities as well!

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