Southend-On-Sea: Where to stay, what to eat and fun things to do

Things to do in Southend on Sea | Essex Life

Southend-on-Sea at night - Credit: Ol' Pete on Flickr

Southend-on-Sea was once the poor southern neighbour of nearby Prittlewell, and home to a few fisherman huts and farms, but that all changed when, in the 1790s, landowner Daniel Scratton decided to sell some land either side of what would become the high street.

On this land, the Grand Hotel (now Royal Hotel) and Grove Terrace (now Royal Terrace) were built by 1794, and the town was born. However it was in Victorian times and the arrival of the railway when the town really arrived as a popular seaside destination.

Southend-on-Sea is particularly known for having the world’s longest pleasure pier, which stretches some 1.33 miles (2.14 km) into the Thames Estuary.

There are seven miles of seafront and a great selection of sandy beaches that offer everything from water sports and relaxing sunbathing spots to entertainment and restaurants.

For those wanting to explore both the town and the beach front, the Cliff Railway (a funicular railway) links both, and is a great way to travel between the two and save your legs.

For those venturing away from the sea, there is a good selection of shops, restaurants and bars as well as art galleries, museums and historic places of interest to discover.

Things to do with the family

Sea Life Adventure Aquarium: Well worth a visit, this aquarium is home to all different types of sealife including seahorses, frogs and tropical fish

Belfairs Wood: Take a stroll through Belfairs Wood. There’s even a play area with an assault course and wooden fort, large enough to entertain the children for hours while you await the cyclists.

Adventure Island: For those seeking some adrenaline-filled time Adventure Island amusement park with more than 40 rides and attractions, has to be the answer. From blue banded rides for maximum thrills and those over 1.2 metres tall to the red banded for the smaller people among us and those liking a tranquil life, there is something for everyone.

READ MORE: 12 of the best beaches in Essex

Where to stay

Roslin Beach Hotel: The Roslin Beach Hotel, situated on the seafront in the popular area of Thorpe Bay has 62 rooms including three luxurious suites. The hotel has been awarded four stars by the AA and VisitEngland and has an AA Rosette restaurant.

The Ilfracombe Hotel: Awarded four stars by the AA this seafront hotel is ideally situated adjacent to the promenade in the town’s conservation area and just minutes from many of the town’s attractions and restaurants.

Suenos Guest House: This five star guest house is situated in the popular Thorpe Bay on the Thames estuary. It has five individual gorgeous room and has a certificate of excellence from Trip Adviser.

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Where to eat

La Petit Petanque: Situated in Cambridge Square Gardens La Petit Petanque is a previous winner at Essex Life’s Food and Drink awards and serves light bites as well as mains, from sandwiches and jacket potatoes to homemade fishcakes and vegetable korma.

Billy Hundreds Fish n Tapas: Head here for seafood. Owner and head chef Graham along with his father Gordon, who has been a fishmonger for over 40 years, personally select the fish they serve at Billy Hundreds. Treat yourself to chilli prawns, crab tacos, whitebait and some superb crayfish tails. 

Legend Deli: A quirky gourmet café situated in the Market Place, it has a certificate for excellence from Trip Adviser and serves a diverse range of tasty food with influences from all over the world.

Love Thy Burger: This casual, rustic joint offers great burgers. Go large with the Greedy Burger, with red onion marmalade, cheese, pickle, onion rings, bacon, house slaw and a fried egg, or try the Scorchio, with chilli jam, streaky bacon, cheese, jalapenos and a hefty drizzle of LTB’s spicy sauce.  

Padrino: This traditional Italian restaurant and pizzeria overlooks the stunning seafront. Choose from pasta, pizza and various meat and seafood dishes. Padrino is also well-known for its weekday special: two courses for just £9.95.

 

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