We are having a week in Brighton in a few weeks time - me (5 months pregnant), DH and 20 month old toddler. We are staying self catering in a flat near the sea front. I have happy memories of visiting the pier as a child but otherwise our knowledge of the area is based on googling things to do.
Anyone have recommendations of good things to do with a toddler in tow? We will have a car so not just in Brighton itself. I had heard the South Downs were beautiful- anywhere in particular to visit there? I realise Brighton beach is not sandy - if you were going to have one day at a sandy beach where would you drive to? Also any eating out recommendations?
Thanks in advance for any help. In the very unlikely event anyone is planning on holidaying in Doncaster I can make recommendations in return
There's not really any sandy beaches around that neck of the woods I'm afraid. There is one in Newhaven but it's inaccessible (due to a long standing dispute with the French port authority).
I'm sure your toddler would like to go to the Sealife centre whilst you are in Brighton, but I'll give you a heads up that it is pretty expensive. Keep an out though for money off vouchers which are usually available somewhere which can help. I'm sure your toddler will also love the pier. If you intend to do a lot of rides on the pier it may work out better to buy wrist-bands rather than pay for each ride as you go on them. My brother also really enjoyed the toy museum when he went (it's near the train station), so that may be worth a look. If you go down to Brighton marina you can also visit the cinema and bowling alley, and they have a nice marina area with lots of cafes and restaurants.
The Cuckmere haven / Friston forest is a nice day trip if you are looking to do some country / forest walks. And for a change of pace Lewes makes a nice day trip too (it's a historic old town with castle ruins etc).
Plenty of restaurants in Brighton, although there is a bit of a glut of mediocre Italian places. Donatellos is a bit of a local institution as far as Italian places go, and if you eat off the set menu pretty good value. If any of you are veggie / vegan you will be spoilt for choice in Brighton. Food for Friends being good, as well as Terre a Terre (although quite pricy). If you are after fish and chips it has to be said that the fish and chip purveyors on the pier and Harry Ramsdens are over-priced and not that great. There are loads of independent places that are much better.
Oh, and if you are willing to travel a reasonably short way (40 minutes drive roughly) your toddler will love Drusillas zoo. Again it's not cheap but perfect for toddlers.
I love Brighton.
There is a great fenced off paddling pool area (with sandy bit!) on the seafront,close to cafes and ice creams, which I take DS to a lot.
The pier is good for small ones, but bit boring for adults I find!
Devils Dyke is well worth a visit, particularly if there are hang gliders there, lovely to watch them swoop about the sky. Nice walk there through woods etc and a pub IIRC.
Also I would recommend the Prince George pub down the lanes.
It's veggie, v family friendly (3 types of chips!!) and does nice beer on tap.
And obviously shopping in the Lanes, especially vintage denim for a £5 etc!
Oh and the Prince George isn't too pricey either (for Brighton!) mains are about £7-£9ish.
Devils dyke and Ditchling beacon are both great places to explore the South Downs. Cuckmere haven is also incredibly beautiful. High and Over which is between Alfriston and Seaford is a great view point for enjoying the cuckmere a valley and you can park for free.
There is a lovely park on the seafront near the west pier which is great fun. Just the walk along the seafront from Brighton to hove is fabulous.
Donatello's in the Lanes is a great place for cheap Italian food.
I hate the sea life center but that's probably because I've been once too often. The ambience is quite nice because of the building.
A trip round the Royal Pavilion is always worth the effort, it's not that big so probably not long enough for a toddler to get really fed up iyswim. It's so iconic and very impressive inside.
Beachy head is great if you fancy a trek that far.
In terms of sandy beaches, West Wittering is very popular to the west, I think it's Camber sands to the east which is beyond Hastings.
I lived in Brighton for 8 years and now live just outside (for 4 years). I have a 2 and 1 yo. There are loads of things to do. But my first question, will you use a sling or buggy for your 20 mo? Access can be pretty tight in some parts of town. Something to consider.
Here are my top tips:
- there are 2 amazing playgrounds: 1 on the seafront & 1 on the Level (back from the Steine, towards Lewes Road). Both have coffee shops, the Level is a better cafe, and facilities for little people & loos for you. There are water fountains at the level and a big paddling pool on the seafront. Plus you can get in some shopping / people watching or just let your toddler burn off some steam on the way to / from.
- depending on budget lots of nice places to eat out. Highly recommend the Chilli Pickle if you like curry. It's amazing. A bit on the pricey side though. My toddler loves the Italian ice-cream shop on Kensington St, amazing gelato, tables to sit at inside & out plus coffee. There is a great pub on this street too, called the Dorset. Better at the weekend, as there are tables outside. Bills is a good solid pick, they are child friendly and you can have a walk around the North Laine too. This is my place of choice for lunch with my girls.
- The Witterings near Chichester is sandy but a long drive from Brighton and traffic can be horrible.
- Washbrooks family farm is a 20 min drive and is fab for little ones. Set in lovely countryside too. Lots of free parking (parking in Brighton is HORRIBLE btw, have you got this sorted out / space with your flat?). You could easily spend a day at Washbrooks. Loads of play equipment, animals, tractor ride. £7.50 / adult and children under 3 free. Fab in nice weather. Lovely extremely friendly tea room. They have loads of huge sandpits, if you really want easy sand
- DD loves scooting along the seafront. Wide, flat, off the road & quiet in the week. You can make this classic seaside with chips, souvenirs, ice cream etc.
- I dislike the sealife centre. I think it's terrible value for money, dark, old fashioned and boring. Druscilla's is great.
- Treatment Rooms is lovely if you wanted some me time.
- Real Patisserie cakes / pastries are to die for. You can make an amazing picnic of really gorgeous food. Very reasonable. They have several branches. I like the one on Trafalger Street but access can be tricky.
- Pavilion gardens for a picnic, chasing birds.
- Brighton Museum is pretty good but they charge now. DD loves the telephones that give you information on displays! Bit of a marmite one really.
One of my favourite things to do is mooch around taking in the sights, grabbing a coffee and just being in Brighton.
You will have a fab time!
Thanks everyone for the great tips! Sounds like loads of good things to do. Getting excited now - counting down the work days until we go.
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