If you’re looking for a quirky seaside town that’s easy to reach from London, then Brighton, east Sussex is a good choice. It’s only around an hour away from London, so a Brighton city break’s easy to combine with a visit to the UK capital. London to Brighton trains run out of Victoria and London Bridge rail stations frequently at peak times. And there are bags of fun things to do in Brighton with kids – enough to keep you occupied for several days. Here are just a few.
Wander round the Lanes
An atmospheric set of narrow, twisting alleys, Brighton’s Lanes are a good place for a wander. While you might want to leave the kids at home for a trawl through the historic shopping centre’s many bijou galleries stuffed with antiques and curios, the Lanes is one of those fun places for kids that always has something interesting to spot – like the flagship Choccywoccydoodah store, stuffed with enough sweet treats to make any youngster happy.
Eat fish and chips on Brighton Palace Pier
A pier has been a feature of Brighton life since 1823. The original Brighton Pier has gone through several incarnations over the years, after being hit by storms and then rebuilt. Today’s pier dates back to 1899 and is, according to chef extraordinaire Heston Blumenthal, the ‘spiritual home of fish and chips’. As well as sampling the seaside staple under the watchful gaze of circling gulls, visitors to the the 1,722 foot-long pier can ride on fairground attractions like teacups and a mini roller coaster. And then there are all the old-school slot machines to stake your pennies on, if you’re feeling lucky……
Learn about LGBT history
Brighton’s Pride is the largest Pride celebration of LGBT life in the UK, and the town is acknowledged as the unofficial ‘gay capital’ of Britain. The 2001 census revealed that Brighton and Hove had the highest proportion of same-sex households in the UK. As you wander round the town with your youngsters, the many rainbow flags you see jutting out from pubs and cafes could be a good starting point for a chat about different sorts of families, and how we should value these differences.
Play on Brighton Beach
Brighton seafront is a pebble beach, but don’t let that make you think there’s no beach lounging to be had. The old British tradition of deckchair sunbathing is in full force in Brighton, and you can hire one of the candy-stripe coloured wooden chairs for a small fee. Get in early, though, as they’re popular. For the more active families, there’s an array of watersports, including kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, as well as land-based fun like volleyball – and skimming stones into the waves, of course.
Pet starfish and anemones at Brighton SEA LIFE Centre
Brighton’s is the world’s oldest aquarium. As well as watching captivating creatures like seahorses and jellyfish, kids’ activities include petting anemones in rock pools. Brighton aquarium has a strong emphasis on conservation, with almost all of the animals in its Big Fish zone coming as rescue creatures from homes that could no longer look after their pets. It also coordinates a shark breeding programme.
Check out the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in Brighton Royal Pavilion
Brighton Royal Pavilion, an ornate pleasure palace built for King George VI, wouldn’t look out of place in India or China. The John Nash building houses opulent furniture dating from the Regency period, and children can explore the place through family audio tours, or guided tours for smaller children. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is set in the Royal Pavilion’s renovated stable block, and has a tantalising collection of 20th-century art and design, including a crimson Salvador Dalí sofa modelled on Mae West’s lips.
Ride on Volk’s Electric Railway
Volk’s Electric Railway, built in 1883 by the inventor Magnus Volk, is Britain’s oldest electric railway. Between Easter and the end of October, you’ll find the small passenger train chugging up and down the seafront, taking people between the aquarium and Brighton Marina. It’s a fun way to see the sights without putting too much strain on little legs.
Head up British Airways i360
A new addition to Brighton’s skyline, British Airways i360 is the world’s tallest moving observation tower. Since 2016 the glass pod, designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, has been gliding up and down the 162m tower, giving visitors unparalleled views of Bright, Hove, the South Downs and the Sussex coastline. Flights run every half hour and take twenty minutes, with drinks and light refreshments served on board. It’s worth checking the i360 website for special ‘kids go free’ offers, which sometimes run during school holidays.
Ramble in Stanmer Park
On the outskirts of the town, Brighton’s large Stanmer Park is a good place for a family picnic, or a nature walk. Wild orchids and cowslips grow in the park, and the keen-eyed might even spot badgers or deer. In amongst the acres of woodland and open parkland, Proud Country House serves elegant lunches and afternoon tea in its 18th century setting.
Swim in Saltdean Lido
The refurbished 1930s Saltdean Lido is a modernist open-air pool that opened to the public in summer 2017. The historic building was named by English Heritage as ‘one of the Seven Wonders of The English Seaside’.
More things to do in Brighton UK
This was a brief guide to Brighton for kids, but it’s not exhaustive, by any means. There are many more things to see in Brighton, like Queens Park, the Brighton Toy and Model Museum, Booth Museum of Natural History. You can catch a family show at the Theatre Royal, the Brighton Centre or the Dome. And if you’re staying in the area, there are plenty of places to go for days out near Brighton, like Devil’s Dyke, a legendary beauty spot formed of a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way. The list goes on, so please let me know about your best things to do in Brighton itself, or the Brighton area, in the comments below.
For cosy cottages on the town’s outskirts, to seafront apartments and self-catering townhouses, Brighton has plenty of places for families to stay. A decent website like Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings would be a good place to start the search. You can find out more on the Visit Brighton website.
If you’re planning to travel to Brighton during the winter months, don’t forget to check out our post on how to survive a winter trip to the British seaside.
This is a collaborative post. All images are from Pixabay.
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