The fanciful Royal Pavilion at Brighton is the one thing I remember from viewing the film of The Who's Quadrophenia back in 1979 -- and it remains on my list of sites I'd most like to see.
But our most recent visit allowed us to take a side trip to Blackpool, which has lent itself as a colorful setting in such productions as Bhaji on the Beach, Funny Bones and most memorably, the BBC series Blackpool (which was renamed during its BBC America airing as Viva Blackpool and was the inspiration for a failed CBS series you might remember, called Viva Laughlin).
Blackpool makes Laughlin look like Beverly Hills.
To be fair, the city seemed perfectly lovely when we got off the motorway and navigated west through streets of nicely kept, middle class homes, to the beachfront.
I was excited to see the landmark 1894 Blackpool Tower and the all Victorian era arcade attractions surrounding it. Then we parked the car and walked toward the beach and Central Pier.
Our visit occurred during a heat wave, and the beach was packed - just as it would be home in Santa Monica. But that's where the similarity ended. I joked that sunny, warm weather is so rare in the UK, that Brits don't seem to know what to do with it. Few people were wearing what I would consider beach attire; instead of bathing suits, I saw a lot of people in rolled-up jeans and t-shirts - even leather jackets.
More shocking was how intoxicated everyone seemed to be. Blackpool is a prime destination for stag nights and hen parties, and it seemed as if gangs of the former were stalking the latter. And vice versa.
It was a little like being in the middle of a British remake of "The Hangover." In broad, bright daylight.
"I think these people started drinking a little too early," I remarked.
"Just today - or in life?" my daughter asked. She was still reeling at the sight of some very young kids who were smoking cigarettes in the street. She thought they looked about 10 years old; I think they may have been as old as 12. At any rate, it's very young -- and I'm very happy that my little Californian found it shocking.
We made our way to the Pier and got a snack of ice cream and chips, steering clear of all the carnys who were trying to lure us over to play their games.
And then, we headed back to the car to conclude our road trip north to the calm beauty of the Lake District.
A glance at the Visit Blackpool website indicates that our brief visit to the city's beachfront does not tell the whole story of the resort, and that ours might not be the fairest first impression. Perhaps it warrants another visit.
But for right now, I think not.