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7 Things to do in Southend with Kids

Southend in Essex is a wonderful Victorian seaside town that can still pull in the crowds in the 21st century regardless of what the weather is doing. Take it from someone who used to live there, Southend-on-Sea is a fantastic day out with kids. Here are 7 fun, easy & cost effective things to do in Southend with kids.

Southend-on-Sea with kids

The Beaches

Three Shells Beach

If you are visiting Southend with kids, they will probably enjoy Three Shells Beach and Lagoon the most.

The Three Shells Beach is a small protected bit of sandy beach that is home to a small play area for little which is great for little ones of all ages to have a play on.

Behind the play area is the lagoon which visitors can swim in and splash about in the water without worrying about the tides along the estuary. The beach also has fresh water showers and public toilets very near by.

We have spent many an hour eating ice-cream, playing around and splashing about at Three Shells Beach. There is even the option of hiring a deck chair so complete your Victorian day out at the seaside!

It’s worth keeping in mind that Three Shells is very close to Adventure Island and the Pier, so can get very busy at peak times.

Three Shells Beach and Lagoon Southend-on-Sea with kids

Jubilee Beach – Southend with Kids

Jubilee Beach is on the east side of the pier and is much larger. There are cafes and food outlets on the beach and it is opposite the Southend Fountains.

Jubilee Beach is generally much bigger, although can still get very busy when the mercury is on the rise. However, you should find lots more space for your picnic blankets and beach towels.

Playing around on the beach at Southend-on-Sea

Southend Pier

When visiting Southend with kids it’s impossible to ignore the world’s longest pleasure pier measuring 1.34 miles!

You can choose to walk the length of the pier or take the train on a single or return ticket.

Once at the end you might like to have a cuppa in the Southend Pier Tea Rooms, play a game of mini-golf or have a portion of fish and chips!

On a May day in 2021 in the last week of my maternity leave I took both my boys for a walk along the pier. We absolutely loved it!

The weather was perfect, the sea calm and there was no wind whatsoever. We walked the 1.34 miles to the end and then we caught the train back. To my train obsessed 3 year old this was the best thing ever!

The one thing I did learn on this day is that scooters and bikes are not allowed on the pier. The gentleman on the ticket booth told us that they had had problems with people falling off… the pier!

There’s also the opportunity to visit the Southend Pier Museum. Learn about its history from its conception in 1889 to the devastating fire in 1959.

The Pier at Southend-on-Sea

Adventure Island

We absolutely LOVE Adventure Island!

It is hard to miss right on the sea front and I guarantee you wont be to stop yourself from going down the ramp to have a little look to see what’s going on!

To go on the rides at Adventure Island you can purchase bands or you can pay per ride. All depending on how long you are planning to stay. Visitors under 120cms will need to ride with adult and there will be some rides they wont be able to go on at all – especially the rollercoasters.

Adventure Inside is also a brilliant option in the winter months. There are a group of rides open all year round, arcades and penny falls to play and an amazing soft play area which my munchkins absolutely love!

All the games are cashless, which means you need to get a free game card from the kiosks inside. You then top it up with a minimum spend of £2 on the first go. Then swipe the card at each game you want to play. The simple games start at 30p a go.

Arcade games at Adventure Island

Sealife Adventure

Sealife Adventure is billed as the South East’s number 1 Zooquarium in Essex.

We have had annual passes to Sealife Adventure and it has been brilliant for us! The kids all love visiting. It doesn’t matter how many times we go the kids really look forward to seeing the dinosaurs, the penguins, the fish, the monkeys and even the crocodile again and again and again!

Adventure Golf

The Adventure Golf can be found right next door to Adventure Island. If your kids are a little older this is the perfect option. The price is fair and the dinosaur theme is a bit of fun for everyone!

Adventure Golf in Southend-on-Sea with kids

Seafront Arcades at Southend with Kids

One of the main reasons we love visiting Southend with the kids are the penny falls in the seafront arcades!

There are so many places to choose from along the front such as: New York New York, Electric Avenue and Sunspot Amusements.

We can stand for ages posting our two pence pieces, trying to win a keyring or notebook! The kids love it, it takes a good chunk of time, it’s cheap and it’s a bonus if they they win something!

Snacks in Southend-on-Sea with Kids

There are lots and lots of places to buy the British seaside staples: ice-cream, donuts, cup of tea and fish and chips!

There are lots of eat in and kiosk options so you will definitely not go hungry or be short of choices for food.

If you visit Sealife Adventure or Adventure Island you will be given vouchers for various restaurants and cafes along the seafront. These can give you up to 20% off or a free kids meal. These are definitely worth doing for some cheaper fish and chips.

Seafront Arcades Southend-on-Sea

Things worth knowing – Parking in Southend with Kids

Parking in Southend is all paid parking seven days a week. Many of the meters will only take card and the others require you to download an app so you can do it on your phone.

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Southend-on-sea with kids. & fun and easy things to do


Looking for other places to visit in Essex? Why not try:

Tilbury Fort
Stickman Thorndon Country Park