Things to do in Brighton and West Sussex

The places that you spent the summer holidays of your childhood, tend to hold a particular fondness. Brighton and West Sussex hold great memories for me.  Brighton is 45 minutes on the train from South London. Every summer, we’d have various day trips to the seaside. The beach towels would be pulled from the back of the airing cupboard and sandwiches squashed into Tupperware containers.  We’d take the train towards the sea.  Leaving early full of excitement and returning late, tired and happy.

This Easter, I took my own small family back went back to my childhood haunts. One the pleasures of parenthood is reliving your own childhood through sharing. I’d thought I’d share some of my favourites from the week, places we loved and places on our wish-list for the next visit (the visit with less rain).

We stayed on the West Sussex coast visiting various places within West Sussex. We also had a day in Brighton.  Brighton and Hove have city status, which separates them from the adjoining counties (for postcodes etc Brighton and Hove fall under under East Sussex).  I’ve never met anyone that didn’t like Brighton, it has great charm and was my favourite destination of the week.

Brighton

Brighton makes me smile, I love the place and used to visit a lot. The layout of the town is imprinted on my psyche and I was surprised how familiar it is, even after an absence of many years. Brighton has the perfect English pier, candy floss stalls,  slot machines and a fun fair at the end.  The beach is pebble, which makes a pleasing crunch sound under foot. The long promenade has lots of shelters to sit and places to buy ice cream.   For a seagull’s view take a trip 450ft above the city on the British Airways 360i, a moving observation tower installed in 2016.

Brighton manages to be the every essence of traditional seaside and über cool, with boutique stays, a mix of hight street shopping and independents, combined with a good restaurant scene. Personally, I’m only interested in fish and chips when I’m by the sea. However, Brighton’s ‘Food for Friends’ deserves a mention as a long-established (since 1981) vegetarian restaurant.

Brighton rocks for me amongst the Lanes. The South Lanes are narrow and known for antique jewellery shops, alongside familiar hight street offerings in a space squeezed between the sea and the Pavilion. The North Laines have the edge for me, a little more unconventional that your normal high street,  I love the indie shops and cafes.

Favourite shops in the North Laines:

Sass and Belle on Bond Street. Quirky home-ware.

All things stationery, Pen to Paper on Sydney Street, particularly lovely wrapping paper.

Utility on North Road, beautifully basic items for the house; simple chopping boards, enamelware and traditional brushes.

Vegetarian Shoes on Gardner Street, which has been a Brighton stalwart for as long as I can remember.

Afternoon Tea

One of my favourite tea rooms in the world is Mock Turtle Tea Rooms, woven into my memories of Brighton. Loose leaf tea served in a china tea pots. Their own blend makes a soothing afternoon cuppa. Scones as big as a builders fist, cream or jam on first – you decide.

Fish and Chips

Bardsley’s on Baker Street, used to be my go-to fish and chip takeaway. The draw-back the distance from the beach. Ideally, fish and chips is eaten on the beach. I didn’t get a fish supper on this visit, and can’t comment on whether they have maintained their quality, but they get good Trip Advisor reviews.

Brighton is well loved and that makes it busy. Escape the crowds by strolling the coloured streets of Kemp Town or white Georgian terraces behind Western Road. Leave the city behind and explore West Sussex.

Littlehampton

Littlehampton is a few stops up the coast. It has the same pebble beach and coloured Georgian houses as Brighton. The pace is slower and the centre of town is small. We visited for the draw of the East Street Beach Cafe. This very individual structure is inspired by drift wood and sits right on the beach. A great cafe with a friendly atmosphere and no pretensions.

We didn’t visit the Look and Sea Centre, in Littlehampton. It was raining and after a damp walk around town we retreated. There is a cafe with terrace, viewing tower and museum. I think we missed a trick, as it looks great.

Worthing

I have a photograph of my cousins and me sitting in a row on Worthing beach, all boney legs and arms. Worthing is a gem on the coast with a lovely pier and plenty to do. On the off-chance it should rain, try a film at the Dome Cinema. An unchanged traditional cinema and one the country’s oldest.

Away from the Coast

Chichester

We spent a lovely day mooching around Chichester. Rooted in history, start at the museum to understand Chichester’s Roman past. Visit the 900 year old cathedral or take a boat trip on canal. For something more current, the shopping area is pedestrianised and really pleasant. 

Places we didn’t have time to visit this trip (due to rain and time).

Arundel Castle

Arundel was on my to-do list: Medieval castle, chapel, stately home and ornamental gardens (definitely next time).

Cass Foundation

I found a very positive mention of the Cass Foundation in the visitors book of our holiday cottage. A display of contemporary sculptures set in woodland – perfect for a sunny day.

Some great ideas for places to visit and things do in Brighton and West Sussex.

Best of Brighton. Places to visit in West Sussex. Littlehampton, Worthing, Chichester and around. Cafes, shopping, culture, museums.

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