Their are a range of visitor attractions on offer at New Lanark. At their core is the main Visitor Centre which links through to the New Millennium Experience and the cotton spinning and other displays housed in Mill 3, plus a cafeteria and shops. A separate page covers other attractions in the village.
Having parked your car in the car park above the valley and enjoyed the views of the village from the path down the hillside, the best place to start your tour of New Lanark is in the main Visitor Centre, housed in Robert Owen's "Institute for the Formation of Character". Here you find a scale model of the valley, background information about New Lanark and Robert Owen, and the ticket desk. For prices, opening hours and contact information, see the Visitor Information page.
From the Visitor Centre you proceed through a display celebrating the power of the River Clyde to the Engine House, built in 1881 to provide additional steam power for the mills. The original engine was scrapped in 1955 but the beautifully restored example on view today was rescued from a textile mill in Selkirk.
From the Engine House a perspex-walled bridge takes you over the mill lade and road to Mill 3. This mimics the shape of the rope drive system by which power would have been transferred from the steam engine to the mills. In Mill 3 you find the New Millennium Experience.
This is an audio-visual extravaganza experienced from a ride resembling a ski-lift. Impossible to describe in terms that do it justice, it's enough to say that it is highly enjoyable, nicely paced, and just about the right length: even for those with a cynical outlook and a very limited attention span.
From the New Millennium Experience a series of ramps take you to a lower floor containing the main display area in Mill 3. At its heart is a fully functional cotton spinning machine, running along the length of one side of the floor of the mill. Even if you only vaguely understand what the machine is doing, the way it does it is mesmeric, and the scale of the operation is remarkable.
To appreciate just how remarkable, you need to remember that this process was introduced here some 220 years ago, and that until then what is happening on each of the many spindles on the machine would have been done manually by a hand-spinner working in a cottage. The rest of the space is given over to a range of displays about the origins and processing of cotton, and about the lives of the people who lived and worked in New Lanark.
Down another level in Mill 3 and you come to New Lanark's cafeteria. Here you find a welcome selection of food and drink, all at prices reasonable enough to be pleasantly surprising given visitors have few convenient alternatives in the village. The cafeteria is directly accessible without going through the exhibits first, so is available to all visitors to the village, whether taking the tour of the displays and attractions or not.
On the Ground floor of Mill 3 is an excellent gift shop offering a wide range of memorabilia, books, etc. Further shopping opportunities are available if you move from the cafeteria through to Owen's Warehouse in Mill 2, one of Edinburgh Woollen Mill's largest shops in Scotland. Like the cafeteria, the shops are accessible to all visitors to the village.