With the summer sun making an appearance we headed off to the seaside resort of Southsea for a family outing. It has a great variety of activities on offer for everyone to enjoy, with lots of traditional seaside activities.  We are focusing our attention on the heart of Southsea, which retains its seaside resort vibe but with an engaging range of cultural and historical hotspots to enhance any visit.  Plus, we love the presence of so many independent shops, bars and restaurants to enhance the sense of discovery, alongside the traditional seaside entertainment such as the funfair. We suggest arriving hungry as you are bound to leave full!

What is also great about Southsea is the sense of space and greenery that the parks provide, just a pebble’s throw from the beaches. You can walk or ride right along the waterfront from Old Portsmouth to Eastney with its views over to Hayling Island. You can even catch the ferry over to extend your coastal exploration. We brought the bikes, and the flat routes ensured the kids made the most of the flat and easy off-road routes. We were lucky that on the day we went the winds were low. Park riding with Spinnaker Tower in the background, fantastic!

Brunch at Southsea Beach Café

Our chosen brunch stop was the Southsea Beach Café, which is by the beach near the Canoe Lake on Eastney Esplanade. It promotes locally sourced seasonal foods and welcomes children and dogs. We loved sitting on the terrace tucking into dishes ranging from smashed avocado and eggs to an SBC breakfast burrito. Plus being a traditional location you still have established British breakfast favourites like kippers and full English.

Looking out over the sea, whether seated inside or out, watching the world go by – what could be better? People enjoying the beach, sitting, swimming, paddleboarding, or boating, there is never a dull moment.

Canoe Lake

After brunch, we were up for some exercise so we headed off to Canoe Lake, one of the oldest parks in the area, dating back to 1886 and providing plenty of colour with its traditional rose and flower beds.

With the lake providing shelter for scores of nesting mute swans who nest here, we decided to join them and hire a pedalo to head out onto the boating lake. It makes sense to choose a swan boat.  It was hard to get the children to leave with the great playgrounds to burn off energy, miniature golf, and even tennis courts. Victorian houses provide the heritage backdrop around the lake.

Take in the Southsea history

After our visit to the Lake, we made our way along the esplanade, using the handy bike lanes, to visit Southsea Castle to take in some of the history of the area, blended with its maritime heritage. For families, a great aspect is the free entry. The castle dates back to 1544, built during Henry VIII’s reign, but the lighthouse was not built until the early 19th century.

For history lovers, the castle site provides a wealth of information on its fascinating history. It was built as part of Henry VIII’s coastal defense plans in readiness for a potential attack by French forces on Portsmouth. The castle was designed for firing multiple cannons from different vantage points. There are a number of large cannons all with their history along the waterfront which the kids enjoyed!

Today, the Southsea Coastal Scheme is a new form of defense, a project that is well underway. This time around the defences are focused on the force of Mother Nature to defend against flooding rather than invaders. More than 4,000 properties are at direct risk of flooding. The local authority is responsible for implementing the scheme and the scale of the work is evident by the huge mounds of boulders providing rock armour and large machinery operating in the area. The scheme shows how Southsea constantly changes and evolves to respond to the ever-changing environmental and social needs of the time.

Fun times at South Parade Pier

No visit to Southsea is complete without a trip to the funfair, either on South Parade Pier or Clarence Pier Amusement Park., Whether to go on the rides, spend some pennies in the arcades, or eat fish and chips, ice cream, or candy floss. The pier has been restored and you are free to stroll along the wooden decks and look out over the Solent, watch the people fishing, or try crabbing yourself. The amusement park is one of the largest on the south coast and whilst it shows its age there is no doubt children still love the fun and excitement of the fair!

There’s lots more to do there, so make sure to have a look at their website before your visit: https://www.southparadepier.net/

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