Brighton has always been a go-to destination for families.
It’s not surprising; you have the beach and copious amounts of ice cream on tap.
You also have is an extortionate pier that charges you your right foot for a three-minute ride on the merry-go-round as well as dive-bombing seagulls that are likely to rob you of your doughnuts.
If you decide you want to take yourself away from the hustle and bustle of Brighton, get yourself on a number 12 bus, or get in the car and drive east for 20 minutes, and you’ll find there is more to the South than Brighton.
Areas such as Peacehaven, Newhaven, Lewes, Seaford and Eastbourne house a variety of places of visit with the kids, and some that don’t cost you a penny to visit.
Here are nine of my top picks.
1. Newhaven Fort
Located at the very end of Newhaven on, you guessed it, Fort Road, the fortress built during the 1860s overlooks Newhaven Harbour and Seaford Bay with 360-degree views.
The Fort is perfect for all ages interested in finding out about local history, and boasts scenic walks surrounding the fort and a wonderful cafe inside.
2. Paradise Park, Newhaven
Although primarily a garden centre; which has entertained my toddler many times (free zoo, anyone?), Paradise Park also houses the Planet Earth Museum and dinosaur park, a heritage trail and garden, a soft play arena and outdoor play parks, as well as a mini-train.
Attached to Paradise Park is also the historic Maritime Museum run by the Newhaven Historical Society which is the go-to place for local archives and heritage, as well as a diverse collection of photographs and artefacts.
3. Sky High, Peacehaven
One of the very few wall-to-wall trampoline parks, Sky-High is a brilliant alternative to soft play, with 11,000 sq ft of interconnected trampolines and angled walls.
There’s also a variety of balls games to play as well as a freestyle bounce area.
4. Piddinghoe Park, Peacehaven
Piddinghoe Park is an absolute haven for all ages.
Whether you fancy building sand castles or flying on a zip wire there will be something for your little ones, or you for that matter.
There’s also a scenic walk surrounding the park, a skate park, and a modest cafe serving hot and cold food.
5. Monkey Bizness, Lewes
I’ve visited a fair few soft play arenas in my parenting life and there aren’t many that top Monkey Bizness in Lewes.
Located just on the outskirts of Lewes, the arena houses a huge soft play area as well as two smaller arenas for younger children.
6. Lewes Castle
For those that prefer to leave the soft play for a rainy day, there’s Lewes Castle.
Located in the middle of the high street (blink and you’ll miss the entrance), the almost 1,000-year-old castle stands at the highest point in Lewes; which you’ll quickly learn after you climb the dozens of steps.
Modest in size, Lewes Castle is perfect for an afternoon with a toddler, or future knight.
7. Lewes Priory Park and ruins, Lewes
Just down the road from Lewes Castle is Priory Park; home to the ruins of a Saxon Church built in the 11th century, with links to Thomas Cromwell.
It’s free to visit and perfect for little ones to explore.
There’s also a brief history available during your visit; showing what the priory would have looked like during its time.
There’s plenty of room for a picnic.
Dogs are also welcome.
8. Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park
Travel behind the one-eighth scale miniature locomotives as they journey around the beautiful country park.
Once your journey has finished, enjoy a pleasant stroll around the five-acre lake where you can spot a variety of wildlife in their natural habitats.
There’s also a cafe and an adventure playground for kids to let off steam.
9. Princes Park, Eastbourne
Opposite the seafront, north of the pier, Princes Park is a delightful play park with a seasonal splashtastic water park.
There’s also a large artificial lake for model yacht and motorboat enthusiasts and a pleasant circular route that visits the rose gardens and informal lawns.
Next door is the Buzz Active watersports centre for those wishing to learn a thing or two about sailing.