I live near Brighton, we normally go to the IOW but i fancy a change this year. I'll be travellng with 6 kids 2-10 years and my long suffering mother. I'd rather avoid holiday camps and would like to try and rent a cottage for a week but don't know of good spots where there are nice beaches and places/things to do to visit nearby.
Southbourne beach, Bournemouth is lovely. Sandy beach, the added option of beach huts which can be hired daily. There is a little kiosk that sells ice-creams etc but thats it. If you wanted more lively and commercial type beaches, the next one along is Boscombe which is building a surfing reef and then next one after that is Bournemouth with all its attractions. Info here. THe New Forest is nearby and there is loads of lovely places to visit in Dorset. We had a week there in the summer 2 years ago and it was glorious. Went to the beach every day, parked the Granny's in the beach hut. This year over half term we stayed in the New Forest but went there on 3 of the sunny days, again had a beach hut.
Oh how funny, they call it a seafront restaurant, its more of a big kiosk really, it does chips etc and sells a few toys and inflatables. In the summer months the Punch & Judy goes on all beach as well, mine loved that.