The year 2014 marked 50 years since four lads from Liverpool, England, made a splash by crossing the pond and introducing their new style of rock and roll to America. The Beatles' "U.S. Invasion" in 1964 marked a change in music in the U.S. and the rest of the world and it's therefore not surprising that their influence and legacy continues on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Beatles were "born" (literally and figuratively) in the UK, though. So if you're a true fan, that's where you need to go to get your Beatles fix.
If you find yourself in the UK and in England, specifically, here are a handful of Beatles-related sites and tours you won't want to miss.
Liverpool is where it all began for the Beatles; where one fateful meeting between a young John Lennon and a slightly younger Paul McCartney at a church fete eventually led to the formation one of the most beloved musical groups of all time.
There are quite a few Beatles-related things to see and do in Liverpool, but the top one is probably the Beatles Story.
The Beatles Story is a two-part museum experience located at Liverpool's UNESCO-recognized Albert Dock and Pier Head. An audio guide leads you through exhibits that start out describing the rock, blues, and skiffle music that inspired the young Beatles and continues through the bands formation, rise to stardom and eventual breakup. If you're not a Beatles fan, you'll learn a lot here. And if you're already a Beatles know-it-all, you'll still probably learn something.
The Beatles Story is a great museum, but if you want to see some of the real-life locations related to the Fab Four, you'll want to take the Magical Mystery Tour. Offered in conjunction with the famous Cavern Club, the Magical Mystery Tour is a 2-hour tour of Beatles-related Liverpool, conducted in a psychedelic bus.
You'll stop for photos on Penny Lane, drive past the church hall where John and Paul first met, visit the gates to Strawberry Field, and see the neighborhoods and homes where John, Paul, George, and Ringo spent their formative years.
Any Beatles fan worth their salt knows that the Cavern Club was one of the first venues that the Fab Four played regularly in their early years as a group. The original Cavern Club on Mathew Street in Liverpool was sadly torn down in the 1970s to make way for a rail system, but a replacement now sits in nearly the same spot.
The new Cavern Club was built using the same floor plan as the old one, and even features bricks from the original. And it's still a great place to go in Liverpool for some live music.
Want to go behind the scenes and see the homes where some of the Beatles grew up? The homes where George and Ringo grew up are still privately owned and aren't open to the public, but John and Paul's homes are now owned by the National Trust, and to get inside them you just have to book a tour.
The tours of Mendips (251 Menlove Avenue, where John Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi) and 20 Forthlin Road, where Paul McCartney spent his formative years, are both exceptionally well done. The houses are taken care of by a local couple on behalf of the National Trust and they also serve as your tour guides. The houses have been restored to how they would have looked back in the 1950s/60s, and the guides are full of stories about John and Paul growing up.
Liverpool was where the Beatles grew up, but most of the members ended up moving to London early on. The best Beatles tours in London are London Beatles Walks, led by Richard Porter. Porter is the ultimate Beatles fan, and knows all the nooks and crannies in London that are related to the Fab Four. His Magical Mystery Tour is my favorite. On this tour, you'll see the studio where the Beatles recorded Hey Jude, the theater where the term Beatlemania was coined, the building where the band's rooftop session took place, Carnaby Street and more.
The tour ends at Abbey Road Studios and the famous zebra crossing.
Speaking of Abbey Road, even if you don't do a Beatles tour in London, you will want to visit the crossing in front of the recording studio. The Beatles recorded many of their songs at Abbey Road, and the zebra crossing was made famous on the cover of their Abbey Road album.
You can get to Abbey Road by taking the Tube to St. John's Wood station and then walking for about five minutes. You definitely won't be the only one there trying to get a crossing Abbey Road photo, but just be aware that this is a semi-busy road and local traffic doesn't always like to stop at the crossing for camera-toting tourists.
Are you a Beatles fan? Have you done any of the things on this list?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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