Best Things To Do In Southend-on-Sea
If you’re planning a trip to Southend-on-Sea, you’re in for a treat! This charming seaside town in Essex, England, has a lot to offer. From thrilling amusement park rides to peaceful nature walks, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, we’ve compiled a list of 20 things to do that will make your stay in Southend-on-Sea unforgettable. Get ready to explore the longest pleasure pier in the world, indulge in delicious seafood, soak up some sun on the beach, and so much more! So, grab your sunscreen, put on your walking shoes, and let’s dive into the top 20 things to do in Southend-on-Sea.
Walk the Southend Pier
The Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world, stretching 1.34 miles into the Thames Estuary. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy the sea breeze and soak up the stunning views. You can also catch the train that runs along the length of the pier to the Royal Pavilion at the end, where you’ll find a café, gift shop, and an exhibition about the history of the pier.
The pier is also a popular spot for fishing, with plenty of anglers casting their lines into the water. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat trip from the pier and explore the estuary.
Visit Adventure Island
If you’re looking for some fun and excitement, head to Adventure Island. This amusement park has over 40 rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and a Ferris wheel. There are also plenty of games and stalls where you can win prizes.
For younger children, there’s a dedicated area called Adventure Inside, with soft play, rides, and attractions suitable for kids under 1.2 metres tall. And if you visit during the summer months, you can enjoy the park’s late-night opening hours, with rides and attractions open until 9 pm.
Explore Southend Sea Life Centre
The Southend Sea Life Centre is home to over 1,000 marine creatures, including sharks, rays, turtles, and penguins. You can get up close and personal with these amazing creatures by walking through the underwater tunnel, where you’ll be surrounded by fish swimming above and beside you.
The Sea Life Centre also runs regular talks and feeding sessions, where you can learn more about the animals and their habitats. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even book a snorkelling experience and swim with the sharks!
Relax on Southend Beach
One of the main draws of Southend-on-Sea is its beautiful beach. With seven miles of golden sand, there’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy. Take a dip in the sea, build sandcastles, or simply relax and soak up the sun.
There are also plenty of beachfront restaurants and cafes, where you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy the sea views. And if you’re feeling energetic, you can hire a bike or a paddleboard and explore the coastline from a different perspective.
Discover Southend Cliff Gardens
Southend Cliff Gardens is a beautiful park located on the cliff tops overlooking the sea. The gardens are home to a wide variety of plants and trees, including exotic species like palms and succulents.
Take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy the stunning sea views. There are also plenty of benches and picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a snack or a drink. And if you visit in the summer, keep an eye out for the free open-air concerts and events that take place in the gardens.
Visit the Southend Pier Museum
If you’re interested in the history of Southend Pier, make sure to visit the Southend Pier Museum. The museum is located in the old station building at the pier head and tells the story of the pier through interactive exhibits and displays.
Learn about the pier’s construction, the people who worked on it, and the events that have taken place there over the years. You can also see artefacts and memorabilia from the pier’s history, including old photographs and postcards.
Take a Boat Trip
If you want to explore the Thames Estuary, why not take a boat trip? There are plenty of companies offering boat tours from Southend Pier, ranging from short trips to nearby landmarks to longer excursions out into the estuary.
You’ll have the chance to see a wide variety of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and birds of prey. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a passing cruise ship or container vessel.
Enjoy The Old Town
Southend’s Old Town is a charming area of the town that’s full of character and history. The narrow streets are lined with independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, giving the area a unique and vibrant feel.
Take a stroll through the Old Town and admire the beautiful architecture, including the medieval church of St. Mary’s. There are also plenty of pubs and bars where you can enjoy a drink or a meal, and if you visit on a weekend, you can browse the market stalls and pick up some local crafts and produce.
Visit Prittlewell Priory
Prittlewell Priory is a beautiful medieval building located in the heart of Southend-on-Sea. The priory was founded in the 12th century by monks who came from Canterbury, and it was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Ethelbert.
Take a tour of the priory and learn about its history and architecture. You can also see some of the artefacts and treasures that have been discovered on the site, including a Roman mosaic and a collection of medieval tiles.
Explore Two Tree Island
Two Tree Island is a nature reserve located on the estuary just off the coast of Southend-on-Sea. The island is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, seals, and butterflies.
Take a walk around the island and enjoy the stunning views of the estuary. There are also plenty of picnic areas and benches where you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at windsurfing or kayaking.
If you’re looking for some indoor fun, head to the Hollywood Bowl in Southend. This popular bowling alley has 26 lanes, as well as an arcade, pool tables, and a bar.
Challenge your friends and family to a game of bowling or try your luck at the arcade games. And if you visit on a Friday or Saturday night, you can enjoy the Glow Bowl experience, with UV lighting and music to create a party atmosphere.
Visit The Beecroft Art Gallery
The Beecroft Art Gallery is a beautiful building located in the heart of Southend-on-Sea. The gallery is home to a wide variety of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics.
Take a stroll through the galleries and admire the works of local and international artists. There are also regular exhibitions and events, as well as a café where you can grab a coffee or a snack.
Southend-on-Sea has several golf courses, including the popular Thorpe Hall Golf Club. This 18-hole course is located on the outskirts of the town and offers stunning views of the estuary.
Challenge yourself to a round of golf and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. And if you’re new to the game, you can book lessons with a professional instructor and improve your skills.
Visit The Southend Railway Museum
The Southend Railway Museum is located in the old ticket office at Southend Victoria railway station. The museum tells the story of the railways in Southend, from their early beginnings to the present day.
Explore the exhibits and learn about the history of the railways, including the construction of the lines and the types of trains that have run on them. You can also see old railway artefacts, including tickets, signs, and uniforms.
Try Water Sports
Southend-on-Sea is a great place to try your hand at water sports. Whether you want to go windsurfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, there are plenty of companies offering lessons and equipment hire.
Head to Marine Parade and look for the water sports centre, where you can book your session and get kitted out with all the gear you need. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even try your hand at kite surfing or wakeboarding.
Visit The Essex Fire Museum
The Essex Fire Museum is located in the old fire station in Southend-on-Sea. The museum tells the story of the fire service in Essex, from its early days to the present day.
Explore the exhibits and learn about the history of the fire service, including the equipment and techniques used to fight fires. You can also see old fire engines, uniforms, and badges.
Southend-on-Sea has plenty of shopping opportunities, from high street brands to independent boutiques. The Victoria Shopping Centre is a popular destination, with over 45 shops and restaurants.
Take a stroll around the shops and pick up some souvenirs or treats for yourself. And if you’re looking for something unique, head to the arcades on the seafront, where you can find a wide range of independent shops and stalls.
Visit The Southend Planetarium
The Southend Planetarium is located in Priory Park and offers a fascinating insight into the universe. The planetarium has a state-of-the-art digital projector that shows a range of astronomical images and videos.
Take a seat in the planetarium and enjoy the immersive experience. You can learn about the planets, stars, and galaxies, and even see a simulated rocket launch.
Enjoy The Nightlife
Southend-on-Sea has a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars, clubs, and pubs to choose from. Head to the seafront and enjoy a drink at one of the beachfront bars or go to the high street and dance the night away at one of the clubs.
And if you’re looking for live music, there are plenty of venues that host regular gigs and events, including the Cliffs Pavilion and Chinnerys.
Southend-on-Sea is famous for its seafood, with plenty of restaurants and cafes serving up delicious dishes made from locally caught fish and shellfish. Head to the Old Town and try some traditional fish and chips or go to one of the beachfront restaurants and indulge in a seafood feast.
And if you’re looking for something a little more unusual, try the cockles and whelks that are sold from stalls along the seafront. These local delicacies are a must-try for seafood lovers.
In conclusion, Southend-on-Sea has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for thrills and excitement or peace and relaxation, you’ll find it here. So, pack your bags, book your accommodation, and get ready for an unforgettable trip to this charming seaside town.