Brighton is such a lovely seaside town, you’d hardly realise it’s just a stone’s throw from London. And despite its rather small size, there are such a huge number of things to do, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
A great place to start your visit is the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. This is such a great little spot, with an entrance located within the city’s famous Royal Pavilion. With one of the best collections you’ll find in the UK outside of London, this museum features sections devoted to fashion and style, 20th century design, and fine art, often hosting the same shows as the likes of London and New York (Brighton sees it later, but with fewer pushy crowds!) The museum is also family-friendly, with interactive exhibitions to keep the little ‘uns entertained too.
The Royal Pavilion itself is also a site to see. We’ve always thought it looks like the place where the King of the Oompa Loompas might live, but in reality, the pavilion was built in 1787 as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales. The complex was used as a royal residence until 1811, when it was occupied by Prince Regent. Often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion, the structure is built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century (say that loudly on the grounds and impress all those around you). The extravagant style certainly stands out in the UK.
If you’re in the mood for a bit of industrial history, the Brighton Fishing Museum can’t be beat. Covering everything you need to know about the fishing industry and beach leisure trade of Brighton, this seafront spot is just next door to arches under which present-day fisherman carry out their work, really bringing the experience (and smell!) to life. Watch old films of Brighton, listen to a few sea shanties, or try your hand at tying some fisherman’s knots – ahoy!
For more of the outdoors and lots of fun for the kids, Brighton Pier is where it’s at. Loaded with old-time seaside entertainments, the pier is full of candyfloss, photo booths, arcade games, amusement park rides and more. Ticky-tacky for sure, but come on, that’s why it’s so fun.
If the weather suits, why not jump off the pier and onto Brighton’s famous pebble beaches? Swimming and general mucking around is encouraged by all, though we found that building sandcastles was a bit challenging…
If you’ve worked up a thirst on the beach, you won’t have to go far for a drink. Fortune of War is a great little pub that all but sits on the pebble beach itself. Open since 1882, the spot claims to be Brighton’s oldest seafront pub. The awesomeness continues as you realise this pub is shaped like an upside down boat (though if weather permits, only a fool wouldn’t sit on the outdoor deck overlooking the beach (and mama didn’t raise no fool)). If you do venture indoors though, you’ll be entertained by a variety of DJ nights throughout the week. Always, always remember though: no matter how good an idea it seems, swimming after a night of boozing is, at best, ill advised.
Another great stop the kids will enjoy is the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Situated under Brighton station, this fun spot houses over 10,000 exhibitions of toys from the last 100 years. With model trains as far as the eye can see, creepy puppets, a vast quantity of teddy bears and period toys that will get parents and grandparents reminiscing, this museum is definitely worth a stop.
If you’re after a spot of shopping, the South Lanes offer a wonderful variety of independent shops selling everything from vintage clothing and jewellery to used books and antique postcards. Have fun getting lost among the pedestrianised twists and turns and see what treasures await you.
A great place to eat in this area is Food for Friends, a restaurant that embodies much of what people love about Brighton: it’s bright, friendly and vegetarian, which somehow gels very well with the city’s more bohemian side. Student café this is not, however, as it has solid, high-standard cuisine on offer (much more substantial than the courgette toasties of your standard veggie café). The seasonal menu is eclectic, inspired by Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean cuisines.
Carnivorous visitors need not fear, however, as the American barbecue joint BBQ Shack located within the World’s End pub in Brighton. Make sure to roll up your sleeves, as the speciality here is meaty, slow-smoked ribs slathered in barbecue sauce. Delish!
As you can see, there’s much more to Brighton than sea and sun. What are your favourite things to do in this city? Let us know on our forum.