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Hastings Old Town & Pier
ShutterstockHastings Old Town & Pier

Five great days out in Kent and East Sussex

By Time Out in association with Southeastern
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Make the most of your summer holidays by planning a few day trips out of London that all the family will enjoy. With Southeastern’s fantastic advance purchase Off-Peak ticket offer this summer, you can get to selected seaside destinations in Kent from £10 day return, and East Sussex from £15 day return*. So why not get out and start having fun? We’ve picked some of our favourite destinations for families on the Kent and East Sussex coasts.

Hastings

As well as a pier, rides and a beach, there’s plenty more to this seaside town that might surprise you. For a start, you can scale the cliff face by using not one but two Cliff Railways – little wooden carriages that run through a tunnel by funicular railway to the top.

Hasting has a distinguished place in the sporting sphere as the setting for the World Crazy Golf Championships. Happily, unlike St Andrews, you don’t need a superior par to play on one of the three (yes, three) mini golf courses at Hastings Adventure and Crazy Golf at Sturdee Place.

For older kids there’s a subterranean secret – a vast underground skatepark at Source. There are age-specific and gender-specific sessions as well as mixed sessions for BMX riders and skateboarders.

Get there by train with Southeastern to Hastings

Margate

There are rides for all ages at the renovated Dreamland, including the Octopus’s House play zone for under-eights and the Dreamland Ark, with reptiles, fluffy animals and all manner of wildlife to say hello to.

Away from the seafront, the Shell Grotto is a curious hidden gem consisting of underground tunnels adorned with millions of shells. No-one knows how or why it was made, but its mysterious caverns are open daily for tours.

Even if you’re just here for a day at the beach, make time for an hour at the Viking Adventure Playground or the Motiv8 Beach Sport Court on the sand, at the clock tower end of the beach. This month there are daily free family sessions at the Sport Court.

Get there by train with Southeastern to Margate

Broadstairs

Broadstairs is one of the prettiest coast towns in Kent for easy seaside pleasures and has a wealth of top-rated ice cream parlours and cake shops to satisfy tastes young and old. Lilliput Minigolf is a must on any family day out.

With older children, take your bikes and follow the Viking Coastal Trail – there are stunning beaches like Joss Bay along the way to reward your efforts.

Time your visit for the Water Gala on August 23. There will be games and live entertainment on the beach, funfair rides, air and boat displays, costumed characters, a Punch and Judy show and a fabulous fireworks finale.

Get there by train with Southeastern to Broadstairs

Deal

For a laid back day out, take the kids to this lovely little town with its long pebble beach. Deal has a pier with a café at the end of it and maritime curiosities like the Deal Timeball Tower. The Timeball on the roof climbs up its pole and drops down at 1pm every day. In summer it drops hourly from 9am to 5pm but do check ahead for occasional service stops.

The stunning, circular bastions at Deal Castle form a beautiful flower shape. It’s well preserved and can be explored from top to bottom, including the warren of dark passages within the bastion walls.

Keen cyclists? Head out from Deal station to Betteshangar Park for family-friendly cycle routes, nature and wildlife spotting, archery activities and fossil-hunting.

Get there by train with Southeastern to Deal

Ramsgate

Budding sailors will love a day out to Ramsgate. Take a walk to the Royal Harbour and have lunch overlooking the yachts and boats, then put your sea legs to the test and book a Sea Searcher Boat Trip out to spot seals or opt for beach and bay trips with RIB Request.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, why not venture underground at the Ramsgate Tunnels? Built to keep locals safe from air raids during World War II, it’s a fascinating place to visit and see where over 300 families lived below ground in 1940.

Get there by train with Southeastern to Ramsgate

*Southeastern ticket terms and conditions
Thousands of advance purchase Off-Peak day return train tickets from £10 on Southeastern trains from London Terminals and Stratford Int to Margate, Whitstable, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Chatham, Faversham, Broadstairs, Dover and Deal and £15 on Southeastern trains from London Terminals to Hastings and St Leonards for travel until August 25 2017. Tickets can be bought any time up until 6pm the day before the date of travel, up to August 24. Valid for outward travel all days departing between 10am and 2pm. Valid for return travel on the same day departing after 2pm. Railcards excluded. Find full T&Cs at southeasternrailway.co.uk/summer-hidden-gems.

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