“Oh I just wish I could wake up at the seaside” I said to my husband on the last weekend of June. It was the week the heatwave was forecast. My husband said, ” Well, why don’t you? Just book a hotel” And that’s how it came to be the first mini-holiday for me and my boy on our own! I chose Southend as I know it so well, and easy for walking with a toddler, so we didn’t need to bring his buggy. We just brought a little trolley bag and his toy pushchair. Luckily I had taught Tyler how to stop at roads and cross safely, so it wasn’t so heart-stopping walking!
The day before I splashed out a seaview room at the Park Inn on the seafront, and booked my train ticket. And we set off on Monday on lots of little train journeys. We got to Liverpool Street and got settled on the train to Southend. As it’s the first stop, we got to choose where to sit, and ate our lunch here while we waited for it to depart.
Here is what we did:
1) Check into the hotel
The journey from London takes an hour, and we arrived at Southend Victoria station at 2.30pm. Out of the station there are escalators and a lift immediately to your left. This takes you straight into the Victoria Shopping Centre, and good place to do a nappy change etc – they have the cleanest, brightest baby change ever, top tip 🙂 We then walked through the High Street, stocking up on food at the Morrisons Local, and checked in at the Park Inn which is right at the end of the shops, after the Royals Shopping Centre. And to my surprise, not only did we get a seaview room, but a balcony too! It was shared with the neighbours, but still, what a bonus. Tyler was so so happy, running out shouting ‘seaside!’ Here is the view, it looked over Adventure Island and the seaside 🙂
2) Three Shells Beach
To get to the seafront, we stepped out of the hotel and there is a lift to the left that goes directly down to the seafront. It’s very slow, but really handy. The beach I recommend going to is Three Shells Beach, to the right of Adventure Island, which you’ll see as you come out of the lift. It’s a sandy beach, and has a seapool and a playground in the sand!
I said to Tyler “Do you want to put your feet in the water?” He goes, ‘YES!’ and ran into the mini seapool with all his clothes on before I could stop him. It’s a shallow pool, and I’d never seen him so happy running in the water and splashing with the other kids. Suddenly he wasn’t shy anymore – amazing.
Afterwards he played in the playground which is by the entrance, before we walked back to the hotel so I could shower him. Sand is great, but oh so messy! How does it get everywhere, even under his toenails?!
This is the walkway from the lift, and that building is our hotel, the Park Inn. We were on the third floor with the balcony.
It was so nice going to sleep that night, I kept the curtains open so I could watch the sunset, and Tyler fell asleep really excited – one minute he was laughing away, the next he was asleep! And then the next morning, I awoke seeing the seaside – ahhh. Check out at the Park Inn is at 12pm, which I was very pleased about – no rush to pack, I took my time!
3) Shopping at the Royals Shopping Centre
We left there at 11am, and headed for the seafront when I realised my sunglasses had snapped. So we nipped into Primark which was just behind the hotel and had an impromptu shopping trip. All the big High Street brands are in Southend if you fancy a spot of shopping.
4) Southend Pier Train
As it was now midday, I didn’t want to be out in the sun, plus Tyler was bugging me to go on a train. So we went on the Southend Pier train. The pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world (1.3 miles), so there’s a train that takes you to the end and back for £4.30. It’s a cute little trip, and you can get out at the end and walk around. We stayed in the train though. The views are lovely.
5) Southend Pier Museum
As you get out of the train on the return journey, there’s a hidden museum underneath called the Southend Pier Museum. You’re not allowed to take photos, but it’s basically got vintage train carriages inside which the boy loved, plus lots of history, photos, bits and bobs. It was here I saw a photo of our hotel in the exact same angle as my photo above, and it turns out that it was a naval hospital in the olden days!
6) Adventure Island
We walked through Adventure Island which you see as you come out of the pier. It’s got roller coasters and rides and you have to buy a wristband to take part. We went to the Jungle Cafe hoping for lunch, but it was shut! So we had some of our snacks on their picnic tables. Tyler had to sit at a table that had a view of the roller coaster (or train as he called it).
7) The Pebbly Beach
This beach has no official name that I know of. It’s to the left of Adventure Island and is pebbly, which I wanted as I couldn’t deal with sand in feet again! The boy played with his cars and I just chilled out before we set off back to the train station.
It was so much fun, we are planning to go again this week! I love Southend seaside, it’s perfect for going with little ones and so easy to get to from London. Totally recommend it.
Next week’s Toddler Trips post will be about Paignton in Devon.