If you're planning a trip to Brighton over the summer, I'm sure you'll be heading straight down from the station towards the pebble beach and famous pier. But Brighton has a lot more to offer families than the obvious stuff you might have heard about like the pier and the pavilion.
I've lived here for the last six and a half years, so here's my local's guide to family fun in Brighton:
- Brighton Museum is next to the Pavilion, and entry is free. They have a variety of changing exhibitions, newest of which is the Egyptian room. There's also a history of fashion exhibit, including clothes from the eighties and nineties. Yes, the stuff you used to go clubbing in before you had kids is now in a museum. So don't go upstairs if you're sensitive about your age.
- Look to the left of the pier as you face it, and you'll see the delightful Volks Electric Railway. This little electric train runs from the pier to the Marina and back. Stop off half way and visit the Peter Pan playground and Yellowave sports centre with its outdoor climbing wall (suitable from age 6).
- An ice cream is essential when you're at the seaside, and if you walk up the coast a little towards Hove, you'll find some great ones at Marrocco's traditional Italian restaurant. Or if you go to the Marina, there's a lovely gelateria and patisserie called Zingarella's which will supply your dessert needs in true Italian/Brightonian style.
- If you want a posh (though not too pricey) lunch check out Terre a Terre in the city centre, and tell them you heard about the box of toys they keep behind the bar for bored children. Fantastic food and great service here.
- Brighton's Jubilee Library is in the middle of the North Laine shopping area, and a good place to stop if you need a sit down. The children's area has a lovely sculpture wall to spark imaginations.
- If you go further into Hove, St Ann's Well Gardens is a lovely park, with an adventure playground, a scented garden for the blind and a seriously nice, children-welcoming cafe. When I tell you that the previous cafe was full of ants and served Pot Noodles, you'll realise how grateful the locals are for its replacement.
- Hove Lagoon is a centre for watersports, including a skateboard park and playground. Heather Mills' new vegan cafe, VBites, is opening there on 4th July. I assume she won't be serving Pot Noodles.
For more information about what's on when you visit, check out the VisitBrighton website.
So come on down and visit us in friendly Brighton. And if you see a woman with square eyes from squinting at the computer screen too long, accompanied by two of the finest children in the land, that'll be me. Do say hello.