Hastings has all the ingredients of a contemporary chic seaside resort and is a hotspot for Sussex family beach holidays. Acclaimed museums, art galleries, theatres, historic sites including Hastings Castle, fishing, fish markets, fine restaurants and a host of family seaside amusements and attractions all jostle for position in popular Hasings.
Outstanding Hastings family attractions include the Blue Reef Aquarium, Smugglers Adventure and the 1066 Story on West Hill and the Clambers Indoor and Outdoor Play Centres at White Rock Gardens. Family funfairs, go-karting and Adventure Crazy Golf are along the bustling seafront at Hastings. The Pelham Beach stretch between the Pier and Hastings Old Town is the most popular family beach area with eight zoned areas marked by cartoon seaside characters to help children find their way. Two historic character cliff lifts are at Hastings taking you to the top of West and East Hill and to the east of the resort sits the spectacular Hastings Country Park. Here is where the High Weald reaches the sea to stunning effect. The Hastings cliffs stretch for three miles along the coast from East Hill to Fairlight.
For family attractions Hastings is a top spot in Sussex. Take your pick from crazy golf, go-karting and Flamingo Fun Park with funfair rides on the seafront to Clambers Indoor Play Centre and more crazy golf at White Rock Gardens. More family attractions include Hastings' secrets of smugglers at Smugglers Adventure, the Bluereef Aquarium and the 1066 Story attraction on the Hastings Castle site.
Hastings benefits from acres of beach space stretching from the Old Town in the east to the far western promenade at Bulverhythe. Pelham Beach is especially designed for families and has eight cartoon animals to identify the eight beach zones helping children to find their way. It won't take long to identify Pelham Beach which sits between Hastings Old Town and the pier backed on by the town centre and numerous seaside amusements and restaurants lining the promenade here. Pelham is always the busiest stretch of Hastings beach in the summer season. Find a choice of family restaurants and hotels lining the beachfront promenade which is flat level and perfect for strolling. Hastings Pier is another family favourite with more family eateries and amusements.
For lovers of cultural pursuits at the seaside Hastings ranks with the best of British seaside resorts. A choice of theatres are here including the White Rock Theatre and the Stables Theatre and Arts Centre. Museum choice includes the Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, the Fishermen's Museum, the Shipwreck & Coastal Heritage Centre and the Old Town Hall Museum. Hastings is also positively brimming with private art galleries and studios as well as some recently installed spectacular public artworks. The cliffs are a distinctive feature at Hastings and heritage West and East Hill Cliff Railways whisk you up to the top for panoramic views of the resort and on West Hill Hastings Castle. There are nature reserves and green spaces in the Hastings area too. Just to the east sits the Hastings Country Park and the spectacular Hastings Cliffs, all a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In total six local nature reserve are in and around Hastings including Filsham Reedbed and the South Saxons Wetlands to the west and Church Wood and Robsack Wood to the North. Ample parking facilities line the seafront including underground carparks.
Hastings Tourist Information, Queens Square, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1TL. Tel.0845 274 1001. Furuther tourist information is in Hastings Old Town at The Stade Coach Park, Hastings TN34 3AR.
The Blue Reef Aquarium in Hastings sits near East Hill on the seafront and is one of the resort's top family attractions. The 15 metre long Tropical Tunnel here is a highlight with black tip sharks, butterfly fish and a variety of exotic species swimming right over your head.
Talks, feeding displays and special events run throughout the year and Blue Reef offers plenty of hands-on opportuntity for kids who can handle various rockpool animals such as crabs, sea cucumbers and starfish. A successful captive breeding programme operates here. Under 3s enter free and a sea view cafe and gift shop are on-site. Tickets are valid for a full day.
Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium, Rock a Nore Road, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3DW. Tel.01424 718776. Open daily from 10am.
At West Hill within acres of caverns is Smugglers Adventure which brings alive the history of Smuggling in Hastings for children and families. Around 70 life size figures accompanied by dramatic lighting effects, spooky sounds and a few gentle surprises make Smugglers Adventure a great fun attraction with an educational slant.
The site is Clements Caves, a genuine smugglers hiding haunt in Hastings of old. From a historical perspective the caverns which burrow underground - Monks Walk is 140 feet long - are an amazing engineering construction! The West Hill Caves have long been a top attraction in Hastings. The Victorians were particularly fascinated by them and the Prince and Princess of Wales paid a royal visit in 1864. Fascinating facts emerge of residents who made their home down here in the 1780s having been evicted from the Workhouse. Find out more via the Smugglers Adventure webguide.
Also atop West Hill is the remains of the Norman Hastings Castle and the 1066 Story attraction set within a medieval seige tent. Perfect for families and children, the 1066 story consists of a 20 minute audio visual journey through the Battle of Hastings, the Norman Conquest and the history of Hastings Castle. Also inclusive are the 'Whispering Dungeons' and the remains of the Hastings Castle Eastern Gateway.
Access to both the 1066 Story and Smugglers Adventure is via the West Hill Cliff Railway picked up at George Street. Alternatively walk up the pathways which leads off from the Pump House Pub on George Street. Smugglers Adventure, St Clements Caves, West Hill, Hastings TN34 3HY. Tel. 01424 422964. Open daily 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day). Allow around 1 hour for the attraction. Free loan of baby slips are available and the attraction has low tunnels and steep slopes not suitable for pushchairs. A pushchair park is on-site. Hastings Castle & 1066 Story, Castle Hill Road, West Hill Hastings. Tel. 0845 274 1001. Open Oct to Easter 11am to 4pm, Easter to Sept 10am to 5pm.
Hastings is positively brimming with outdoor and indoor family attractions. Head to the Hastings Old Town Seafront for Hastings Adventure Golf consisting of an 18 hole floodlit golf course set within pretty landscaped gardens. This is one of Britain's top Crazy Golf courses and site for the World Crazy Golf Championships! Open from April to Oct 9am to 11pm daily and Nov to Mar 11am to 4pm daily. Tel. 01424 437227.
The Clambers cluster of indoor and outdoor attractions sits at the elevated White Rock Gardens just inland from Hastings Pier. The walk up the cliffs is a gentle climb up steps. Clambers is a popular area with families boasting indoor and outdoor play areas, a paddling pool, cafe, picnic areas and more crazy golf. See the Clambers webguide for details. Stunning views of the Hastings seafront and across to Hastings Pier can also be seen from the Clambers site.
With seaside cliffs come heritage cliff lifts and Hastings has two cliff lifts - one at East Hill and one at West Hill. Pick up the West Hill Lift from George Street and travel through a naturally formed cave on up to Hastings Castle and Smugglers Adventure. When renovation on the striking East Cliff Railway is complete, this outstanding engineering wonder cut and completely visible in the cliff face will provide easy access into Hastings Country Park. Spectacular views are from both East and West Hill.
Clambers Play Centre, Cafe, Gardens & Adventure Golf, White Rock Gardens, Hastings TN34 1LD. Tel. 01424 423778.
Great family attractions, family friendly beaches, seafront funfair rides and a choice of theatres, museums and art galleries - Hastings delivers all of these but there is another string to the resort's bow - the glorious Hastings Country Park to the east of the town covering 267 hectares.
The park contains a mix of maritime cliff top grassland alongside ancient woodland and heathland. The cliffs stretch for 3 miles along the coast towards Fairlight. This is the stunning High Weald coast where the High Weald ridge meets the sea to great effect. The 1066 Country Walk starts/ends at Hastings Country Park (see details via the Visit 1066 and Wild Hastings webguides).
Habitats in the Hastings Cliffs are amazingly diverse and both bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise are regularly spotted off the coast here. The park stretches all the way from East Hill at Hastings towards Fairlight and the Fairlight Cliffs (a map of the park is on the Wild Hastings webguide).
A main footpath runs through the park and a visitor centre sits at the eastern end. You can reach the visitor centre by car via Fairlight Road located just before Fairlight Church on Battery Hill. (see 344 bus service from Hastings). The centre opens most weekends from 10am to 4pm during winter and 10am to 5pm in summer. Also open most weekdays except Thursdays. Contact the Ranger Service on 01424 451338.