Remember days out with kids at the beach? They're back for summer 2021. Which is only the perfect excuse to do one of our favourite things and take a look at a few UK beaches we know and love for days out with kids, starting with some that are easy driving distance from London. See what you think.
A two and a half hour drive from London, West Wittering in West Sussex, is the ideal beach for active days out with kids. Located eight miles south-west of Chichester and with fantastic views of Chichester harbour, the area is great for coastal walks that provide stunning views, excellent for entertaining kids who are bored of sandcastle building. The beach is home to rock pools and these, along with nearby salt marshes, provide kids with ample opportunities to seek out the local wildlife. Tell the kids to keep their eyes on the skies, as the area is known for its fabulous birdlife, with many different species found there, including cormorants, oystercatchers and herons.
Located half way between Margate and Broadstairs, Botany Bay in Kent, is just two hours from London by car, so makes for some of the easiest days out with kids. The beach is home to a stunning stretch of white chalk cliffs and provides a perfect location for kayaking and canoeing. Remember to check the tide timetable as the beach becomes cut off at high tide. The beach also adjoins Joss Bay - a favourite with surfers.
Kids who love natural history will be in their element at the beaches on Mersea Island, Essex, Britain’s earliest inhabited island and a great site for fossil hunting. Shark’s teeth and animal bones from 300,000 years ago have been found at this coastal destination, a two hour drive east of London, so remember to keep your eyes peeled for prehistoric pieces.
Although home to legendary Brighton Beach, East Sussex also offers a variety of other fun-packed beaches, among them Camber Sands. A beautiful five-mile stretch of uninterrupted sand, the beach is located four miles from the town of Rye and around a two hour drive from London. If you want a bit of wildness in your days out with kids, this beach is perfect. Plus, it's right in front of the village of Camber and you can even bring the dog - as long as it's on a lead.
If you’re looking for a traditional seaside town beach, complete with a Victorian pier, then look no further than Hastings, another treasure on the East Sussex coast just a couple of hours' drive from London. Hastings beach has a two level promenade that's great to stroll along for coastal views from varying heights. And, although the shore's mainly pebbles, there are areas of sand at low tide so your days out with kids can still have some sandcastles in the mix - parts of the beach are also accessible with dogs.
On the north Norfolk coast, Cley Beach is around a three hour drive from London. Cley is much quieter than other beaches in the surrounding area, great for a peaceful escape from the city. There are many popular coastal walks to discover on days out with kids, all with spectacular views. And families fond of fishing can enjoy the area’s fantastic sea-fishing facilities. As an added bonus, there are no restrictions in place so the family dog is welcome too. The nearby wetlands provide a haven for birds and other animals including wildfowl, waders and seabirds. You may want to explore the medieval architecture that still stands in the town today, including St Margaret’s Parrish Church and the Cley windmill.
Just an hour and 40 minute drive from London is Sunny Sands/Folkestone Beach, Kent. This is an ideal beach for days out with kids because of its stretches of flat sand with no hidden drops in the sea. Challenge older children to spot mermaids all over the town of Folkestone - they're everywhere. And if you're looking for traditional fish and chips on the seafront, this is the part of the Kent Coast where some of the UK's finest chip shops win all sorts of awards, year after year.
Just over two hours from London, Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex, is another spot for a great days out with kids. As a regular recipient of the Clean Beach Award, you can rely on a safe and hygienic area for your kids to play. Popular family activities include shrimping, swimming and kitesurfing. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is just a beach-walk away and families can explore a range of different habitats including saltmarsh, shingle and woodland and spot wildlife like marsh frogs and brown hares. Winchelsea Beach’s east side has a dog-friendly area.
Although only reachable at low tide by a narrow causeway, Osea Island is a stunning coastal area that's worth a wait. Just an hour and 40 minutes from London, the island contains four and a half miles of its own beaches, where dogs are allowed. And if you want more than just days out with kids here, the island has a number of manor beach cottages available to rent or you could hire a beach hut with impressive panoramic views of the Blackwater estuary.
For a picturesque seaside town, complete with multi-coloured beach huts, visit Southwold in Suffolk, a two and a half hour drive from London. Kids will love trying the watersports, such as jetskiing and windsurfing, while keen anglers can buy a day pass to fish off the pier. All going to plan with the roadmap for lifting lockdown, summer 2021 should see the return of boat trips from Southwold Harbor, well known for a good chance of sighting seals and occasionally even dolphins.
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