The Industrial Revolution may have been born in North West England, but if you think you’ll be tromping around the sooty remains of yore, think again. North West England is one of the most vibrant regions in the country, home to one of Europe’s most dynamic and under-the-radar cities. Rich layers of history mingle with modern development to create an adventure in all things urban. Most know Manchester as the hometown of the Smiths; spend some time in its chic shops, excellent museums, innovative technology centers and buzzing music venues, and discover what inspired some of the world’s most cult-worthy tunes. Chester interweaves Victorian architecture with its Roman past—and tosses in a couple top-notch shopping destinations for good measure. Liverpool’s World Museum is so engaging, you may not even realize it’s also educating you in natural history, technology and science. Round it all out with the diversity of its residents—best experienced through honing your ear to the different dialects—and urban North West England begins to look just as good as any island getaway. Palm trees are overrated, anyway, right?