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Skegness family staycation: Five brilliant things to do on a traditional British seaside holiday

12 August 2021, 16:37 | Updated: 12 August 2021, 16:40

We found there was loads of brilliant things to see and do in Skegness
We found there was loads of brilliant things to see and do in Skegness. Picture: Emma Gritt / Alamy
Emma Gritt

By Emma Gritt

After months of being cooped up indoors we couldn't wait for a change of scenery and to enjoy some time away as a family - so off we went to Skegness!

The pandemic has made us appreciate our loved ones more than ever - and all the gorgeous places the UK has to offer.

With covid tests, red lists and quarantine rules making planning an annual family getaway even more stressful than usual, we decided to stay closer to home and visit Skegness.

Located on the Lincolnshire coast, it was the site of the first ever Butlins (opened in 1936), and is synonymous with traditional seaside fun. These days, it has so many arcades it's known as Skeg Vegas to the locals.

But there's more to do there than just pump coins in to slot machines, there are two theme parks, an old fashioned pier, crazy golf, bowling, places to get close to wildlife and of course the beach and sea waiting to be enjoyed.

My boyfriend and I decided it would be the a great place to enjoy a break from real life, and the perfect opportunity to show his 8-year-old son the pure joy of a family holiday to the seaside.

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The town was so colourful, with all the public spaces filled with beautiful flowers
The town was so colourful, with all the public spaces filled with beautiful flowers. Picture: Emma Gritt

Despite having a bit of a negative reputation I thought Skegness was a lovely town. The promenades were wide and clean (great for kids on scooters), public grassy spaces were neat and full of flowers, and there was loads to do!

After a whirlwind three days packed with 2p machines, theme park fun, unexpected thunderstorms, and getting up close and personal with some seals, it's a trip none of us will forget!

Skegness Pier

We couldn't wait to start our holiday off with a visit to Skegness Pier
We couldn't wait to start our holiday off with a visit to Skegness Pier. Picture: Emma Gritt

The first place we went to in Skegness was the pier. There's something so invigorating about the first time you hear the roar of the sea, but it was the clattering and beeping of the arcade machines that captured the smallest holidaymaker's imagination.

Skegness Pier is one of the largest Entertainment Centres on the East Coast of Lincolnshire, and has loads to do along with arcade machines, and 2p games, like 10 pin bowling, clip and climb, and air hockey.

The owners of Skegness Pier want to transform it back to its original glory
The owners of Skegness Pier want to transform it back to its original glory. Picture: Alamy

It juts out in to the North Sea, so make sure you take a stroll outside to get lungfuls of fresh sea air, and take in the incredible views.

Excitingly, the owners of the Pier, Mellors Group, want to restore Skegness Pier to its nineteenth century glory and extend it from its current 118m length to its original 582m.

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Skegness is famous for its donkey rides, but other equines are available
Skegness is famous for its donkey rides, but other equines are available. Picture: Emma Gritt

The proposed restoration of the pier promenade and pier head will bring a sense of the natural beauty of Lincolnshire’s wild coast into the heart of the town, and create new jobs.

Just next door is a Skegness Pleasure Beach, which has rides, bars, and a huge ferris wheel perfect for a sunset ride.

Fantasy Island

We definitely weren't brave enough to ride The Odyssey
We definitely weren't brave enough to ride The Odyssey. Picture: Alamy

Fantasy Island is much more than just a theme park - it is almost like a little town unto itself.

It’s got a Papa John’s, a nightclub, several tattoo parlours and a huge market where you can pick up everything from World War 2 memorabilia to garden ornaments, Versace rugs and clothes - if you were on the hunt for TikTok branded hoodies and leggings, you’d be spoilt for choice.

The Starflyer towers over the park, and offers gorgeous views of the Lincolnshire coastline
The Starflyer towers over the park, and offers gorgeous views of the Lincolnshire coastline. Picture: Emma Gritt

And there is no chance of any dogs being upstaged by their owners’ new threads - there are also pet shops specialising in elaborate studded leather harnesses and cute clothes for smaller pooches, we even saw some doggos proudly wearing their new bits.

Driving through the agricultural heartlands of Lincolnshire in to Ingoldmells, row upon row of static caravans flanked the road, the park’s rollercoasters on the horizon, growing bigger and bigger.

The market was bustling, and packed full of all sorts - including pet accessories
The market was bustling, and packed full of all sorts - including pet accessories. Picture: Emma Gritt

The biggest rides in the park are The Volcano, The Millennium and Odyssey, and people come from all over the UK to ride them - sometimes repeatedly!

Three miles - roughly an eleven minute drive from Skegness seafront - Fantasy Island is the biggest theme park in the area, and you don’t need to pay to enter, only if you want to go on any of the rides.

There is even a party bar at Fantasy Island
There is even a party bar at Fantasy Island. Picture: Emma Gritt

I think this system is brilliant for larger families who might want a day out to make memories but have relatives who are too young, old or frail to brave a ride… and for people like me (‘coat and bag holders’) who still want to join in the fun but get queasy on an escalator, let alone being dangled upside down!

There are loads of caravan parks near Fantasy Island
There are loads of caravan parks near Fantasy Island. Picture: Alamy

For those wanting to ride, the park has broken the attractions in to three categories, which let you choose - and pay - for the attractions based on which ones your kids (or you!) are tall enough to go on. Wristbands start from just £10, and it's possible to buy a wristband that is valid for up to a week.

The park was a hub of families soaking up the atmosphere and watching the rides, groups of teens egging each other on to have another round on a ‘coaster, and older people enjoying a spot of shopping - it was actually quite emotional seeing so many happy people in one place after the nation spent the last year cooped up and worrying.

There are multiple places to get inked at Fantasy Island
There are multiple places to get inked at Fantasy Island. Picture: Emma Gritt

Despite my best attempts to stay on terra firma, my family got me on to two rides, the Log Flume and indoor water rapids 'Mystical Dragon Mountain' - and were both amazed that I didn’t die of fright.

To be honest so was I - and in that moment it became clear to me why some people might think theme park is perfect place for a tattoo… you’ve gotta commemorate being brave somehow!


Skegness beach

Skegness beach is one of the cleanest in the UK - pictured here on a sunny day
Skegness beach is one of the cleanest in the UK - pictured here on a sunny day. Picture: Alamy

There had been points in the run up to our holiday - admittedly during the mid-July heatwave when I feared I would sweat off my own skin - when I declared I would "100 per cent go in the sea in Skegness, even if it's raining!"

Well, this turned out to be a lie, as when we did finally make it to the beach it was absolutely freezing - and according to my other half and stepson, the sea was so cold it made shivering on the sand seem like a better option.

While they splashed around in the North Sea, I lay cocooned in several towels on the beach watching people walk their dogs, and admiring the thousands of tiny crushed up shells in the sand.

Skegness beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the UK, and is the proud owner of a Blue Flag.

It also has small sand dunes and is a great place to enjoy a lovely stroll if sunbathing isn't your thing (or it's too cold!)


Food and drink

Posted by Seafood • Café & Bar Skegness on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My most unforgettable taste sensation from Skegness didn't come from the sea.

While there are places to enjoy a traditional seafood platter of prawns, dressed lobster and cockles, it was a different local delicacy that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Skeggy is the epicentre of boozy slushies - and despite being almost 40 years old, I can confirm that a raspberry slush with a double shot of Malibu is the best cocktail on Earth.

Hands down these are some of the most delicious seaside treats in the UK
Hands down these are some of the most delicious seaside treats in the UK. Picture: Emma Gritt
There's plenty of places for fish and chips in Skegness
There's plenty of places for fish and chips in Skegness. Picture: Emma Gritt

Love cider? That can also be transformed in to a frozen delight, with Koppaberg and Strongbow both given an icy makeover.

There’s also plenty of places to pick up fish and chips, and loads of shops selling candy floss and sticks of teeth-shattering rock.

Away from Skegness, there are loads of family friendly pubs - and further out really nice villages that would make for a perfect adults' only getaway.

Seal sanctuary

At Natureland you can meet rescued seals who are being rehabilitated to return to the sea
At Natureland you can meet rescued seals who are being rehabilitated to return to the sea. Picture: Emma Gritt

Natureland is located on the seafront and does really important work recusing and rehabilitating seals from the Lincolnshire coast.

They particularly help pups who are separated from their mums and need feeding up ready to return to the sea when they're fattened up and strong enough to survive on their own.

Since it opened, it has helped many unusual animal visitors including dolphins and whales, a “lost” walrus and pelican, plus numerous oiled seabirds and injured birds of prey!

During our visit we were lucky enough to see seals splashing around in their recovery pools, as well as feed the alpacas who also live on site.

For more information and for tickets, click here.