Southend-on-Sea is Essex’s largest town and its close proximity to London makes it a popular tourist destination year after year. Better still, it is located in the south east of the country in an area widely regarded as the driest part of Britain.
The town is chock-full of interesting attractions which are aimed at all the family, whether you’re looking for local history, the arts and culture, or family-oriented activities to keep you occupied. Some of Southend-on-Sea’s most popular attractions are:
Southend Pier. Measuring in at 1.33 miles, Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the entire world! Built in 1830, it has recently been refurbished and hosts an RNLI lifeboat station and an exclusive Pier train. Nowhere will you experience better sights of the beautiful coastline of the Thames Estuary.
Central Museum and Planetarium. If you’ve never visited a planetarium then now’s your chance; there are live presentations throughout the day. Meanwhile, the museum reveals plenty of secrets about Southend’s eventful history.
Jubilee Beach. This sand and shingle beach stretches from the Pier to Thorpe Bay; there are also regular pleasure boat trips available.
Southend Cliffs. If you appreciate the beauty of nature, you’ll love these ornamental gardens, which also offer amazing views of the south east coast.
Prittlewell Priory. An excellent museum with the focus on educational activities, housed in the remains of a 12th century priory.
When you arrive in Southend-on-Sea you’ll discover a myriad of activities and things to do, just waiting to be discovered. The town is packed with a mixture of shops, making it one of the most popular shopping areas in the entire southeast, and there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants where you can rest your legs and take a break. Just a few of the things to do include:
Shopping at The Royals Shopping Centre. Overhead, you’ll see a beautiful glass dome, which protects from the elements whilst letting the sun in. Down below, you’ll find shops ranging from Debenhams to Ottakars, Evans, Sarah Beth and more.
Visiting Adventure Island. This exciting theme park is host to more than forty rides and attractions that will appeal to the kids, as well as the inner child in all of us. Not only that, but the low rates make it one of the best value theme parks in the country.
Checking out Kursaal on the Eastern Esplanade. Here you’ll find an astonishing thirty lanes of ten-pin bowling, many themed restaurants and bars and a unique Mardi Gras play area. Better still, admission is free!
Taking a trip to the Sealife Centre. Lovers of nature will be in their element when visiting this marine centre, which offers an authentic voyage beneath the ocean, where you can glimpse colourful and spectacular marine life in a huge aquarium.
Take part in the Carnival! If your visit coincides with the month of August, you’ll find the annual Carnival in full swing. Events include special processions, fancy dress competitions, fairs, arts festivals, fireworks and more.
As you’d expect, Southend-on-Sea boasts a wide variety of places to eat. The scale ranges from the simplest café, where you can sit down with a sandwich and a cup of coffee, to the finest restaurant establishment, where you can enjoy a range of courses. There are also plenty of takeaways enabling you to grab a bite to eat and enjoy it as you stroll down the beach. Here are just a few of the choices:
The Waterfront Café. Choose from a wide selection of favourite English food – fish and chips, roast dinners, or steak. Fish is freshly prepared on the premises and is cooked to order. Many other choices of meal are available, including scampi and lasagne.
The Golden Lion. Plenty of traditional English fare is on offer in this friendly pub, which also caters for special diets.
Camelia Restaurant. Offers French, Italian and English meals with a range of different specials every day. Fresh fish is a speciality; the restaurant also offers pleasant sea views to take in whilst you eat.
Mr Ping. This Chinese restaurant offers two options, eat-in or takeaway. In 2003, it was a ‘Restaurant of the Year’ finalist.
The Grapevine of Tuscany. An Italian restaurant serving up a la carte menus, pizzas and pasta. You’ll get a choice of eating in or a take-away; fresh homemade pasta is The Grapevine’s speciality.
As Southend-on-Sea is such a popular tourist destination, there are lots of hotels and guesthouses located in and around the town, with many of the finest quality. The good news for the visitor is that all the hotels are vying with each other to offer the most competitive rates, which means you can guarantee quality and value in equal measure. Alternative accommodation ranges from campsites and caravan parks to self-catering cottages, traditional inns and plenty more besides.
Essex County Hotel
The Gleneagles Hotel
The Westcliff Hotel
Ilfracombe House Hotel
Southend-on-Sea has plenty of entertainment going on, meaning you’ll never get bored. The town is packed with pubs and nightclubs, enabling you to while away the long twilight hours. For the family, the Odeon Cinema is a massive multiplex that shows all the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Meanwhile, if your tastes are of a theatrical nature, then you’ll no doubt enjoy the Palace Theatre, which consists of a modernised Edwardian building hosting professional shows and entertainment. Alternatively, if you enjoy big spectacle, then the Cliffs Pavilion will be for you; this massive theatre has a huge programme of concerts, ballet, performance artists, musicals and more.
Visitors flock to Southend-on-Sea all year round and it’s easy to see why. With hundreds of things to do, ranging from numerous attractions, family-focused fun and more, it’s impossible to find yourself at a loose end. Alternatively, the town itself is close to places like Leigh-on-Sea, which offer quieter fare, so if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, you can explore the surrounding villages and countryside. No matter what your tastes, age or needs, Southend-on-Sea is sure to provide exactly what you’re looking for as a tourist destination.